|Origin||Waukesha, Wisconsin, USA|
|Labels||Slash, 429, Zoë, Oarfin|
BoDeans is a rock band formed in Waukesha, Wisconsin, between Madison, Wisconsin and Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1983. In 1985, the band signed a contract with Slash Records and recorded their first album. Early on, the BoDeans' sound was largely influenced by roots rock and heartland rock, but they soon moved more into the genre of alternative rock. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the band had several singles in the top 40 "mainstream rock" charts. In the mid-1990s, the band had two top 10 songs in the "Adult contemporary" charts.
Early years 
Kurt Neumann and Sam Llanas met at Waukesha South High School in 1977. After discovering that they both had similar music interests, the duo began writing songs together. In 1979, Llanas entered college, but soon left after Neumann urged him to pursue music with him. At the time, Neumann did not sing much and considered himself to primarily be a drummer, while Llanas had little experience as a guitar player. However, the two decided to get serious about music and both began to sing and play guitar. In 1983, they began playing around Milwaukee's East Side music scene under the name Da BoDeans. Though there are several stories of how their name came into existence, Sam has often explained that he got the name from The Beverly Hillbillies character Jethro Bodine. For Kurt, BoDeans conjured up the image of Rock n Roll icons Bo Diddley and James Dean for a familial name, similar to The Smiths and The Connells. Early on, Neumann and Llanas were often credited as Beau and Sammy BoDean.
In 1984, drummer Guy Hoffman joined the band. After the trio became popular around Milwaukee, they decided to add bassist Bob Griffin, whom Neumann and Llanas had met while roadies for his band The Agents in high school. In 1985, the quartet signed a contract with Slash/Warner Records and shortened their name to simply BoDeans. Under the guidance of producer T-Bone Burnett, they entered Hollywood's Sunset Sound Factory in October to record their first album. The critically acclaimed debut Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams was released in 1986. Later that year, drummer Guy Hoffman left the band.
Rise in popularity 
In January 1987, a Rolling Stone reader poll voted them Best New American Band. That year, the band traveled to California to work with an unnamed producer, but the sessions were halted after disagreement broke out between both parties over direction and sound. They went back to Wisconsin and accepted an offer from Talking Heads member Jerry Harrison to produce their second album and were given more freedom to experiment. Outside Looking In was released in October 1987 and featured a more modern 80's-rock sound unlike its roots-influenced predecessor. However, though the band liked the album's experimentation, they decided to stick to their roots, stating that it was not able to capture the true essence of the band. The album's lead single, "Only Love", made #16 on the US Mainstream Rock charts. In support of the album, the band toured extensively with U2 on The Joshua Tree Tour, increasing their fanbase. Drummer Bo Conlon and keyboardist Susan Julian toured with the band throughout the rest of 1987. That year, they also contributed to Robbie Robertson's debut solo album alongside U2 and Peter Gabriel.
In 1988, the band began recording with Jim Scott, whom they had been introduced to by Robbie Robertson. Unlike their two previous albums, the tracking was mostly done live in their warehouse rental space. At least 22 songs were recorded during these sessions, but only 15 made it past the mastering stage and onto the record. In 1989, their third album, titled Home, was released. It was more reminiscent of their rootsy debut, but showed a diverse range of influences including Motown, U2-inspired arena rock, and heartland rock. This album was also the first with keyboard player Michael Ramos. Drummer Kenny Aronoff (best known for his work with John Mellencamp) also played on the album.
In 1991, in search of a different take on their music, the band began recording with David Z. (producer and sideman of Prince) at Paisley Park Studios, and released their 4th studio album Black and White that year. The album's electronic-influenced sound was a sharp departure from most of their previous efforts, with more emphasis on synthesizers, drum machines, and processed guitar tones. The album also explored darker and grander lyrical themes. Though not a single, the album's first track "Good Things" achieved some success and became one of their best-known songs. The rebellious and political "Black, White, and Blood Red" was the only single released from the album, though it did not perform well in comparison to their previous songs that made the charts.
"Closer to Free" 
After Black & White, the band decided to shift their focus to making the album that pleased them instead of searching for a hit. For their 5th album Go Slow Down in 1993, the band reunited with T-Bone Burnett and took a more homemade approach with Kurt playing many of the instruments himself. Unlike their previous album, Go Slow Down was more acoustic and marked their transition into 90's alternative rock.
The first song from the album, "Closer to Free", brought them to a much larger audience after it was selected as the theme song to the TV series Party of Five. (The band would return in 1999 to perform a cover of The Beatles's "I've Just Seen a Face" as the theme song for the show's short-lived spinoff Time of Your Life.) Due to the new-found exposure, "Closer to Free" became the group's biggest pop hit, peaking at #16 on the U.S. Hot 100, three years after its release. "Closer to Free" was also the opening song used in the movie Heavyweights, and is the theme song (and namesake) for an annual fundraiser at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven, in New Haven, Connecticut. The Smilow Cancer Hospital uses the modern multidisciplinary approach to patient care which allows the patients to receive the highest level of care, making them "closer to free" from their disease.
Solo efforts 
In 1995, Joe Dirt Car, a 2 CD live set, was released. The album included live tracks recorded between 1989 and 1995, some of which were acoustic. In 1996, the band released Blend, produced by Greg Goldman. Two of the tracks were mixed by Bob Clearmountain, and Danny Federici (best known for his work with Bruce Springsteen) contributed accordion to the album. This album expanded upon Go Slow Down's alternative rock guitar-driven sound, though it has sometimes been regarded by fans as one of their weaker albums. The single "Hurt By Love" achieved minor chart success while the song "Hey Pretty Girl" was used in an episode of Dawson's Creek. In the late 1990s, Neumann and Llanas released solo albums. Sammy created the band Absinthe and their album A Good Day to Die. Kurt released his solo album called Shy Dog on which he plays all the instruments. In 2001, the 17-song compilation The Best Of BoDeans - Slash and Burn was released on London/Slash/Rhino. In 2003, they also released The Leftovers, a collection of previously unreleased songs that never made it to studio albums.
In 2004, the band returned with their long-awaited 7th album Resolution, released on Rounder/Zoe. Being their first album in 8 years, it was well received by fans. A live album recorded during the Resolution tour was released in 2005, entitled Homebrewed: Live from the Pabst. The group released the DVD for Homebrewed: Live from the Pabst at the end of 2005. In January 2006, Bob Griffin left the band for personal reasons. During this time, the band was involved in a lawsuit for nearly 5 years against their former manager Mark McCraw over copyright and contract disputes. The case was settled in 2005.
The BoDeans released an album, entitled Still, on March 4, 2008. Produced again by T-Bone Burnett, the album moved away from the modern rock sound of their previous albums and was more reminiscent of their heartland-esque sound of the late 80s. "Everyday" was the first single to radio from "Still". It was stated that the first 15,000 copies of "Still" had some errors in the lyrics booklet. The record company recently re-released the album with the corrections in the booklet. A live, acoustic CD became available on The BoDeans Official Website. It was recorded in Schaumburg and Arlington Heights, Illinois, the 16, 17, and 18 of November 2006. It features only Sammy, Kurt, and Bukka, and has 13 rare live, acoustic songs.
Recent work 
The BoDeans' 9th studio album, Mr. Sad Clown, was released on April 6, 2010. Similar to their 1993 release, Kurt produced and played most of the instruments on the album in his home studio. Though critics lauded the album for its homemade approach, reviews were mixed due to the overall melancholy theme with at least one review citing possible commercial anxiety. Their song "Headed for the End of the World" was used in the antiwar documentary film "Countdown to Zero".
The band released their 10th studio album, titled Indigo Dreams, on July 26, 2011. The album was originally scheduled to be released on June 28, but was pushed back. The first single, "Blowing My Mind", was released to radio stations and posted online. The second single, "How Can We" had moderate success at radio.
On August 10, 2011, Sam Llanas failed to arrive in Colorado for BoDeans performances at KBCO Radio in Denver, the Triple A Convention in Boulder (August 11), and a concert in Winter Park, CO August 13. On August 18, Llanas officially left the band due to "differences of opinion" that had been "going on for years", according to Neumann. His departure was also related to his rekindled solo career, with a new solo album titled 4 A.M. having been announced one day after Indigo Dreams was released. The band stated that they will continue on without him with the addition of new member Jake Owen.
In November 2011, the band began recording at The Village in Los Angeles with producer John Alagía. Their eleventh studio album titled American Made was released on June 12, 2012. On March 26, the album's first single, "All The World", was released. In November 2012, the band announced the upcoming release of "Amped Across America", a double live album recorded at several venues from the American Made tour.
Studio albums 
|Year||Album||Billboard Top 200|
|1986||Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams||115|
|1987||Outside Looking In||86|
|1991||Black and White||105|
|1993||Go Slow Down||127|
|2010||Mr. Sad Clown||172|
Live albums/compilations 
|Year||Album||Billboard Top 200|
|1995||Joe Dirt Car||161|
|2001||Slash and Burn||-|
|2005||Homebrewed: Live from the Pabst||-|
|2012||Amped Across America||-|
- Homebrewed: Live from the Pabst (2005) (DVD)
Music videos 
- She's a Runaway (1986)
- Fadeaway (1986)
- Only Love (1987)
- Dreams (1988)
- Good Work (1989)
- You Don't Get Much (1989)
- Good Things (1991)
- Black White & Blood Red (1991)
- Closer to Free (1996)
- All The World (2012)
- American (2012)
|US Hot 100||US Modern||US Rock||US Adult||US Top 40 Mainstream|
|1986||"Fadeaway" (Promo Single)||-||-||-||-||-||Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams|
|1987||"Only Love"||-||-||16||-||-||Outside Looking In|
|1989||"You Don't Get Much"||-||15||20||-||-||Home|
|1991||"Black, White, and Blood Red"||-||-||34||-||-||Black and White|
|1993||"Feed the Fire"||-||-||34||-||-||Go Slow Down|
|1996||"Closer to Free"||16||-||-||3||6|
|"Hurt By Love"||-||-||-||33||39||Blend|
Solo albums 
- Sweet Valentine (1998) (Bukka Allen solo album)
- A Good Day To Die (1998) (Absinthe/Sam Llanas solo album)
- Shy Dog (2000) (Kurt Neumann solo album)
- Loteria De La Cumbia Lounge (2004) (Charanga Cakewalk/Michael Ramos solo album)
- Chicano Zen (2006) (Charanga Cakewalk/Michael Ramos solo album)
- Confidante (2008) (Bukka Allen solo album)
- El Brown Recluse (2011) (Charanga Cakewalk/Michael Ramos solo album)
|1983-1984||Kurt Neumann||Sam Llanas|
|1987-1988||Bo Conlon||Susan Julian|
|2009-2011||Noah Levy||Ryan Bowman|
|2011–2012||Jake Owen||David Sierra||Michael Ramos||Warren Hood|
|2012–present||Noah Levy||Michael Tarabay|
Mockumentary Spoof 
Jethrine and Da Rickshaw Riders was a video spoof of Da Bodeans. This Spinal Tap-like mockumentary was made early in the Bodeans' musical career and it aired on a Milwaukee cable access channel in 1987. Directed and filmed by Milwaukee filmmaker and musician Ron Faiola, it starred musicians from Milwaukee punk bands as satirical versions of the members of the Bodeans and was supported by several live performances.
- Smith, J. Sharpe (2008-08-04). "And the BoDeans played on ... and on". The Post Crescent (Gannett News Service). pp. D–6. Retrieved 2008-08-05.
- "Sound Pass with BoDeans". YouTube. Retrieved 2011-10-18.
- Rohde, Marie (2007-10-28). "BoDeans search for a way back to the top". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 2009-05-11.
- Muckian, Michael (2010-05-24). "For the BoDeans, a Melancholy Album and an Uncertain Future". Expressmilwaukee.com. Retrieved 2011-10-18.
- Jackie Loohauis-Bennett (2011-08-18). "Sam Llanas leaves the BoDeans". JSOnline. Retrieved 2011-10-18.
- Chart Positions at Allmusic.com