Combing the sounds of funk, afro-cuban, synth and rock music, Rubblebucket is one of the more creative and individualized bands in the music scene. The eight-piece band has a faithful following in Ithaca, and Staff Writer Evan Johnson spoke with Alex Toth — the band’s trumpet player — about his role in the band, the band’s eclectic musical tastes and what audience members can expect at Rubblebucket’s show at 5 p.m. today at Castaways.
Evan Johnson: Describe your role in Rubblebucket. What does hyperkinetics mean?
Alex Toth: I started the band and I don’t refer to myself as a bandleader. I use hyperkinetics because I connect everything. I’m in charge of connecting a lot of dots, band’s precision and shaking things up. I also write most of the music.
EJ: How has Rubblebucket been together?
AT: Two and a half years. September 27 will be three years. The seeds were beginning to get planted in June of 2007 but the first gig as Rubblebucket was September 26, 2007, in Boston.
EJ: You mentioned seeds getting planted. How did you all come together to create Rubblebucket?
AT: Well the singer is my girlfriend. She’s sings and plays saxophone. She also does all the artwork and the web design and we’ve been in bands for as long as we’ve been together. She also writes a lot of the music and lyrics, she’s an awesome songwriter and lyricist so we collaborated on that. We met our trombone player in Boston at a parade gig, which is funny enough. They’re these [awful] gigs that you show up to and they give you a cheesy parade hat and music and you march around Boston. He was playing euphonium at the time and we were giving him a ride to the gig when we told him about a band we were starting. He said, “I’d be in that band.” There’s a story behind how I met everybody. Our roots are mostly in Boston and Burlington, [Vt.]. Now we mostly all live in Brooklyn, [Mass.].
EJ: You have experience playing in funk, afro-Cuban and rock music. How do all of these combine to create a signature sound for Rubblebucket?
AT: It’s hard to put in words because it’s really our own thing. To be honest, I’m tired the genre “mashup.” Ultimately we’re doing our own thing and if it had a genre it would have to it’s own name and I don’t know what that is yet. I guess you could call it [Rubbebucket] part of the “Yes” wave, which is a lot of new pop and psychedelic indie rock that’s coming out. It’s very rhythmic, melodic and very imaginative.
EJ: What can the audience expect from your performance tomorrow night?
AT: It’s sort of a raging and beautiful, luscious party. It’s a dance party that hopefully stays with you for a while and opens up your mind. I think we’re doing something that nobody else is doing and people are going to have an amazing time.
EJ: What does a successful or enjoyable performance mean for Rubblebucket?
AT: The reality is that with an eight-piece band plus a sound engineer, we need to have tons of people show up at each show. From a business perspective, success would mean having enough people show up for us to keep doing what we’re doing. From a musical perspective, the amazing energy and the fervor from the audience brings the band to new heights and makes the band do things we haven’t done before. It’s amazing when new musical things happen when we’re inspired by the energy in the room. That would be the most exciting thing that could happen.
EJ: What are some of those really creative moments that happen with an eight-piece band?
AT: New rhythmic and melodic things. At our last show, we invited some of the members from the opening band up during the last show. When [the performance] was finished, the music didn’t stop. It turned into this crazy new dance song. Members from their band took over for members of our band and at one point there were twenty people on stage and it was pretty magical.
EJ: What do you like the most about playing in Ithaca?
AT: Kalmia [vocals and saxophone] and I played in John Brown’s Body and we joined that band right out of college. Our first gig ever was at the Grassroots Festival so we were coming to Ithaca for rehearsals. I was in Burlington, the Boston and then Ithaca. Ithaca feels like my third musical home in a way. There is so much musical creativity in Ithaca and so many good bands. Because of that, it’s a town worth coming to over and over again.