Next Wednesday, October 2nd, Rubblebucket will be taking the stage along with U.S. Royalty, Roadkill Ghost Choir, Willy Mason, Silent Old Mountains, and the Yacht Club DJ’s at our first ever Communion DC show at Black Cat. In advance of the show, we talked with bandleader Alex Toth about the band’s unique live performances, recording at the DFA studios, and their dream collaborations. Check out the interview, and stream their new Save Charlie EP in its entirety below.
Your live sets seem to be more of an interactive experience rather than than standard stage performance, and there’s a huge art element in your music, videos and live performances. Where does that stem from?
It stems from a desire to break down the barrier between audience and performer and play with the senses on different levels. We had a lot of varied performing experience before starting Rubblebucket – from 20 piece funkadelic cover band to afro-cuban/jazz to avant garde performance art to pit bands of burlesque shows. We’re sort of just scratching the surface of our aspirations on the multi-media and theatrical front. I hope we can develop and get a lot deeper with it.
Kalmia and Alex–you two both went to the University of Vermont, which you’ve said yourselves is exceptionally free-spirited and excited about art. How does that inspire what you do with Rubblebucket?
Kalmia is like 10 generations Vermonter. I’m 3rd generation NJ/USA. Vermont has a totally unique family/community oriented approach to art and music. It’s very encouraged and its own thing. Before every meal, Kal’s family sings Appalachian folk songs while holding hands and everyone plays multiple instruments. There’s still a bit of secessionist movement up there… which i think is awesome. In Rubblebucket, we really try to preserve a non-formulaic approach to writing and performing. The Kalex combo is sort of the VT whimsy/grace/stubbornness mixed the the NJ angst and drive. I’m just making this shit up….
What was it like recording at the DFA studios with so many contemporary music heavyweights?
That was a huge step for us. First time working with a producer in the Big Apple, shortly after we moved to Brooklyn. To be using the same tools James Murphy used on albums we admire so much was surreal and inspiring.
How much has changed in your creative process between Omega La La and Oversaturated? Do you have a better sense of your sound, or are you finding yourselves experimenting more?
A lot more has been written just on keyboard – lyrics, melody, chords. If a song works naked like that you know you’ve got something. You can always give it bigger boobs later. The biggest revelation was this last year for our new Save Charlie EP and all the songs we are writing for our forthcoming full length. we took a break from touring so we could write and get better at self-producing. much greater volume of material to work with and so much more time to experiment. Since our demos sound way better we are able to work off them a lot more in the studio.
Not many contemporary artists cover the Doobie Brothers. What inspired your interpretation of that song?
Every sound check, our rhythm section, particularly Darby, like to piss off our sound guy by messing around on a countless songs array of pop hits from different eras, from Michael McDonald to Prince to Justin Timberlake, and many more. By mess around I mean play perfectly–Darby is a freak. “What A Fool Believes” got played so often that Kal finally learned all the lyrics. Kal’s interpretation just came to her; she derived the single note whistle line from the original keyboard part and continued a vibe from there.
You guys have collaborated with Foster the People, Questlove and tUnE-yArDs. Any other artists you would kill to work with on or off the stage?
I would metaphorically kill to work with: Bjork, Radiohead, Diplo, David Byrne, Jay-Z. Sorry if these are a bit obvious. There is so much genius brilliant stuff happening out there right now–newer artists–and it’s a pleasure to be surrounded by it. There are a lot of contemporaries we’d be super honored to work with.
STREAM: Rubblebucket – Save Charlie EP