JamBase Questionnaire: Rubblebucket

Welcome back to JamBase's baker's dozen to the bright lights of the music world. Last time we heard from Big Gigantic.

New EP
Vermont-rooted, Brooklyn-based Rubblebucket is an astoundingly evolutionary creature. Since their 2008 debut, Rose's Dream, they've toured aggressively, becoming one of the liveliest good times on the circuit while taking a progressive thirst into the studio. Rock-broad, jazz-smart and dub-wise, Rubblebucket's music has whispers of Tom Tom Club, Nigerian funk, Lee Scratch Perry, Ethiopian soul, Roxy Music, Nyabinghi and The Police without kowtowing to any particular ancestor. Their sound sits along the same horizon line as Yeasayer and Akron/Family, but unlike these peers they possess a warm, imaginative use of horns and a lead singer, Kalmia Traver, whose tantalizing pipes soar somewhere between Dionne Warwick, Tina Weymouth and Portishead's Beth Gibbons – a siren tug so potent you'd drink her bath water just to get a taste. Listening to Rubblebucket one feels as if they're body surfing the edge of what's possible in melodic yet actively experimental rock. And better still, the whole damn band can play the hell out of their respective instruments while sometimes literally leaping into an audience's arms.

On October 19th Rubblebucket will release the Triangular Daisies EP , which includes three previously unreleased songs as well as three remastered tracks from the Came Out of a Lady Suite released this past spring. The EP is yet another wide stride forward for the band, revealing the flexibility of their material and the mindset behind it. The opening pair, the title cut and a sublime cover of The Beatles' "Michelle," is what radio would sound like if talent and real charm beat out the industry's corporatized widget mentality. "Came Out Of A Lady," a toasty little romp that whistles and skips in ways that make one glad they were born, follows, then a very different version of the same track and a fantastic remix of "Bikes" off their self-titled 2009 album that'll have you reaching for your pocket calculator and itching to race along the autobahn. A smoky, pleasantly disorienting live version of "L'homme" captured at Higher Ground in April rounds out the set.

This is not a band that's likely to stand still. Ever. No how. And that attitude and dedication vibrates outward from speakers and stages wherever their music plays. While still early in the game, gut instinct says Rubblebucket may one day create work as blindingly original as Radiohead's Kid A, Tricky's Maxinquaye or Peter Gabriel's Security, and one doubts the intervening journey will be anything less than fascinating. (Dennis Cook)

Kicking off the Triangular Tour, Rubblebucket plays a pair of rare San Francisco shows this coming weekend - Friday, October 15 and Saturday, October 16 - at the Boom Boom Room. Afterwards, they return to the East Coast for a run that starts October 27th in Syracuse, NY and will take them into the Southeast in November, sharing stages with likeminded futurists Toubab Krewe and Pimps of Joytime on select dates. Find the full schedule here.

Here's what trumpeter-singer Alex Toth had to say to our inquiries.

Rubblebucket - Alex in the bag, Kalmia Traver ensnared
Instrument(s) of choice: trumpet, floor tom, hyperkinetics
Nicknames: Toth, Al, GC (gargantuous cranium), boss

1. Great music rarely happens without…
Energy explosions inside the body and brain that make you want to scream. It can be helpful (in facilitating greatness) to shape those raw fiery impulses a bit.

2. The first album I bought was…
Oasis' Definitely Maybe and John Coltrane's A Love Supreme. Pretty different ends of the spectrum. Ha ha!

3. The last song or album to really flip my wig was…
Dirty Projectors' new EP with Bjork, Mt. Wittenberg Orca. Holy shit! Deerhoof's Offend Maggie got me really good, too.

4. When I was a kid I wanted to grow up to be…
In order from youngest to oldest: 1) a super hero that combined all the powers of Flash, Superman, the Ghostbusters (all of them at once) and Captain Planet. 2) A successful lawyer (I was really into Matlock). 3) A rock star. 4) Charlie Parker on the trumpet. The trumpeter thing is out the window to a certain extent, and now I just want to make awesome music.

5. My favorite sort of gig is…
A big awesome festival with lots of great bands. I love to be around great music and musicians. The hang can be so inspiring/uplifiting.

6. One thing I wish people knew about me is…
I think dub reggae is like air in its importance. I'm a lover AND a fighter. There's a third thing but you said one thing, so I'll stop at two.

7. I love the sound of…
Large droning vacuum/ventilation units. And wind chimes. When I'm walking down a street and I hear either of those things I instantly melt and get put into a space. I love big drone sounds in general.

8. One day I hope to make an album as fantastic as…
Gosh, that's tough. Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (The Beatles) and/or Bitches Brew (Miles Davis) come to mind, but both for VERY different reasons. Other candidates: Physical Graffiti (Led Zeppelin), Odelay (Beck), Electric Bath (Don Ellis Orchestra), Pet Sounds (Beach Boys), Remain in Light (Talking Heads) or Thriller (Michael Jackson). After Bathing At Baxter's (Jefferson Airplane) was big for me at one point in my life.

9. The best meal I ever had on tour was at…
A condo in Idaho. We got fresh fish and greens and potatoes and rice and cooked the most fantastic 'homemade' tour meal ever. Since we tour with nine people on the road, to save money we used to bring a Coleman stove and make our own meals at the venue. I remember a particularly good one we made at Quixote's in Denver. Sooooo much healthier and more delicious than most venue food (no offense).

10. I always find the coolest audiences in…
Costume. The coolest, most raging, interactive, crowd-surfingest audiences seem to always have people in costume in their midst - not the whole audience but just a person here or there. A sprinkling of costumed people makes for a vibrant, uninhibited, amazing time it seems.

11. The worst habit I've picked up being on the road all the time is…
Going to bed really, really late and drinking every night. But I kicked the drinking so, hmmm, maybe not flossing or not ironing my clothes. I often show up late to meetings, even if it's just a couple minutes. Did the road do that?

12. The Beatles or the Stones? Por qué?
The Beatles. Way more versatile and less easy to put in a box.

13. The craziest thing I ever saw was…
A moonrise. A large, orange, beautiful, quick moonrise on the horizon. Either that or two large busses half hanging off a highway overpass in Seattle during an ice storm in the winter of 2008 when I was on tour with John Brown's Body. Freaky.

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[Published on: 10/12/10]

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