Thirty-year-old punk student endures chaos on the road

IMG_2651Stephanie Saddlemire | The Hudsonian
Jenny Caulfield

Junior Creative Editor

Colin Betor has had unique experiences within the last 13 years, from a record deal offer at the age of 17 to touring in weather 65 degrees below zero.

Growing up with punk influences, Betor knew from a young age that nothing would stop him from being a punk rocker. He learned to play the guitar by seventh grade and later taught himself the drums and bass guitar. “The older I got, the more I wanted to play music,” said Betor.

Experiencing an intense concert as a teenager, Betor knew what he wanted to do with his life. “I realized, ‘You know what could be better than this? Being [the band] and making people act like animals’ and that’s been the goal ever since,” he said.

At the age of 17, he started playing drums for his first band, The Sleaze. They already began recording their first demo during his second week in the band. The band almost had a record deal, but it fell through once the bassist and vocalist had a falling out.

Moving on to his second band, Scag Rotter, Betor saw a darker side of the punk scene. “We were all drunks, we were all ridiculous — we just lived off of beer,” he said.

Betor started to hang around “Punk Houses”, houses where punk rockers reside, with his band members. After visiting a Punk House called “The Panic Zone”, he witnessed his first knife fight.

He found himself in a newfound world of drug use. Although Betor never did crack cocaine or heroin, he used various other drugs. “I used to eat a bunch of mushrooms, eat a bunch of pills, blow coke, drink a lot of cough syrup. We pretty much did whatever,” he said.

In 2009, Betor formed Neutron Rats. The band soon released their first demo which was well-received. With their immediate success, they had their first two-week East Coast tour which was was problematic from the beginning.

During their first stop in Boston, they had to scramble to find gear once their bassist’s basshead cut out during their third song. Neutron Rats tried to play on a loading dock in Raleigh, N.C., but were removed by police. “It was one shitty thing after another,” he said.

One of Betor’s favorite tour memories was during a show’s cancellation in Hartford, Conn. in a motel when the band’s driver, Joey, who was intoxicated, started to prick himself with a button taken off of his jacket. He took down a painting to write “Rats” in his own blood on the back of the painting. “We’re hoping somebody finds it eventually, and obviously makes them uncomfortable,” said Betor.

Mayhem didn’t stop at the band’s first tour. During a midwest tour in January 2014, the band ended up in the middle of a polar vortex in a van without heat. “The windchill was freezing over so fast on the windshield, I kept scraping it off so our driver could see,” he said.

During their six hour drive, the band stopped at every rest stop they could to find heat. “I had two pairs of socks on and my combat boots and I still felt like my feet were submerged in ice water,” said Betor.

At the moment, Neutron Rats are playing for audiences of 50-60 people and are struggling to get by. “We’re a DIY punk band, we’re not making any money,” said Betor. “Hopefully we’re breaking even, that’s the idea.”


Even though Neutron Rats are making little money, it doesn’t stop them from sharing their music. Betor loves the feeling of being able to play with the people that influenced him so much as a child. “I get to play with bands that I still listen to regularly,” he said.

What: Neutron Rats

Where: The Low Beat, Albany

When: Jan. 16, 8 p.m.

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