If you grew up in Billings on a steady diet of rock and roll, then you remember seeing great local bands at one of the many old venues that no longer exist. Places like Gramma's, the 17 Club, Casey's Golden Pheasant, Magoo's, Charlie Brown's, and Thunderbirds gave us so many good times and memories. And while most of those Billings bars and bands from the 70s, 80s, and 90s are long gone, one band remains... D'tective.

D'tective, photo used with permission
D'tective, photo used with permission

If the Hawk had a house band, it would be D'tective.

These guys have been playing rock and roll together since 1979. That's FOURTY-THREE years of making music. Their crowd-pleasing setlist is straight from the list of Classic Rock's biggest hits.

D'tective, photo used with permission
D'tective, photo used with permission

Still rockin' the Magic City.

With family, life, and business commitments now occupying much of their time, D'tective has started cutting back on the number of shows they do each year, to a very limited amount of engagements. Founding member Rod Nielson stopped by our studio today to shoot the breeze, where I hit him with 11 very hard-hitting questions. Ok, maybe not really "hard-hitting", but I thought they were interesting.

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Photo by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media
Photo by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media

When did this crazy journey called D'tective begin? 

"You know, 1975 I met Sam (the drummer) and we started then. I kinda' remember some of it (laugh) them days are a little tough." 

How many of the original members are still with the band?

"Three out of four. One of them moved to Germany for about 13 years and moved back, and we snatched him up."

What is one song that you personally don't like, but you play at every show?

"Walk This Way by Aerosmith. It's probably because I learned it like three days after it came out and we've been doin' it ever since."

How many panties and bras have been tossed on the stage over the years?

"(Laughs) oh that's a good one. You know, we used to do those biker rallies, so probably about 20."

When you guys were frequently traveling, what was the worst road trip?

"When the booking agent booked us in the wrong club. It was the Green Dragon in Baker, MT. We didn't have any hats, I'll tell ya that. We walked in and thought, no way, but it turns out they liked rock and roll." 

What was your most memorable gig?

"I think back in the very early 80s we played with the Mission Mountain Wood Band, and it was up at Eastern Montana College (now MSU-B) in the gym. There was like 6,000 people there and everybody wanted Mission Mountain.. but they got us first (laughs)."

After 43 years of playing together, does the band still have to practice?

"Absolutely. We haven't played since September, and then so we got together a couple of weeks ago and thought, yeah we need some practice."

What's your favorite place to play in Billings?

"Right now it's the Squire. It's a fun bar and it's pretty much our crowd."

You play a lot of outdoor shows. Has the stage ever been hit by lightning?

"No, but we got caught in a tornado at Fathers Day like six years ago." (note, it was 10 years ago). 

Do you have any interesting "green room" requests?


Did you ever have any feuds with other local bands?

"I don't think so. We used to play down at the 17 Club a lot, and we used to play backup to all the bands that came through and one of them I didn't get along with was Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. I'm not gonna say anything bad, but I probably wouldn't go see him (laugh).

Take a listen to our conversation below, and swing by the Squire Lounge Wednesday night (6/22) to catch D'tective on the outdoor stage at Billings Bike Night.

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