Podcast: Dan Kaufman on growing up in Madison in the ’80s

The musician and writer shares his memories of soaking up Midwestern post-punk as a teenager. (Photo by Gabrielle Plucknette.)

Dan Kaufman was a teenager in Madison during the Midwest’s fertile early-’80s boom of post-punk and noise-rock. He spent a lot of his formative years admiring bands like Tar Babies, Killdozer, Die Kreuzen, and, most dear to him, Appliances-SFB, whose singer, Tom Laskin, died last week.

Like Laskin, Kaufman went on to become both a musician and a respected journalist. He plays guitar in Barbez—an excellent band whose interests span from Eastern European folk music to the avant-garde—and writes for publications including The New York Times and The New Yorker. Though based in New York City, he’s still maintained deep ties with Madison and Wisconsin—his best-known Times stories have examined environmental and labor issues in the age of Scott Walker.


Kaufman was back in Madison this week and joined me for a conversation about the Appliances, the process of musical discovery, and what Barbez is up to next. Give our conversation a listen here. Kaufman also spoke with me in 2013 about Barbez’s last album, Bella Ciao.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes and catch WORT-FM’s weeknight local news show, which partners with us to produce these. Thanks to Dylan Brogan for producing this interview.

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