On the rocks

JAHNA PELOQUIN | Updated 12/6/2012

Life is good for punk-rock bartender Patrick Costello -- with an exception.

Patrick Costello

Patrick Costello is best known as the trou-dropping bassist of the influential Twin Cities punk rockers Dillinger Four. But on most nights, he moonlights as a bartender at Grumpy's and Muddy Waters.

Even rock stars have to pay the bills.

After a lifetime of odd jobs -- working in kitchens and supermarkets, doing security, and even spending some time as a litigation copy specialist -- Costello found his way behind the bar, where he's been slinging drinks for the past 12 years.

"The service industry tends to be rather forgiving to touring musicians," Costello explains. "I have been fortunate enough to continuously find myself surrounded by co-workers cool enough to help me figure out schedules that allow me to dash off and play 'rock star' for a night or a summer."

But it's about more than just the flexible hours. "My attention span is garbage," he says. "Behind the bar, every shift is a steady stream of stories. I feel like I'm earning a living by being constantly entertained."

Costello points to Grumpy's eclectic patronage, in particular. "On any given shift you might find an off-duty cop shooting the breeze with an actor from the Guthrie sitting next to some construction guys trying to ignore the dude leaning on the jukebox singing along to the Buzzcocks," he says.

When he's not tending bar four to six shifts a week, Costello volunteers at Extreme Noise Records and plays rock 'n' roll, splitting time between Dillinger Four and his other bands, the Slow Death and the Chicago-based Arrivals. Keeping busy between his music projects is key. "There's an ebb and flow," he says. "I might go a month without even a band practice, or I might find myself on tour for two months straight."

In addition to his typical bartender responsibilities, he also holds the impressive title of "Jameson ambassador."

"I was asked if I wouldn't mind gallivanting around town enjoying Jameson and celebrating its virtues," says the Irish-blooded Costello. "They essentially gave me a snazzy jacket and a box of personalized business cards to do what I've been doing for 20 years. I guess I'd been practicing long enough, I finally got sponsored."

Tending bar does come with some downsides, though. As he puts it, "The pride I feel at looking at a dining room full of folks enjoying drinks I made is inversely proportionate to the disdain I feel when I remember I'm gonna have to wash all those goddamn glasses."