The Maine-based Rustic Overtones formed in the early 1990s and enjoyed a wave of success throughout the decade. The seven-piece group recently reunited after breaking up in 2002 and will bring its horn-fueled sound to The Haunt tomorrow. Staff Writer Byard Duncan spoke to lead singer Dave Gutter about the band’s long history and more recent news.
The Rustic Overtones played at The Haunt on April 4.
Byard Duncan: You guys had some problems with labels, which led to each member going his separate way. What inspired you to keep going?
Dave Gutter: Um, I don’t know. … You burn a couple pancakes before you get a good one, I guess.
BD: It was a pretty lengthy hiatus before the release of your latest album. How did that time apart affect your songwriting process?
DG: I think it made it better. We got better as songwriters because we went into, you know, songwriting individually rather than just as a band … So where normally I would bounce an idea off Tony [McNaboe] or Ryan [Zoidis], they were no longer there, and we had to all kind of hold our own. When we got back together, you know … [it was] definitely a different process as far as writing songs. … It was kind of like riding a bike again. It came back together pretty easy, but we’re all definitely more proficient after those four or five years.
BD: How are you guys keeping it fresh on the road this time around?
DG: Fresh? We’ve got a lot of … stuff off the new record, and actually we’re incorporating some of the songs we hadn’t played for the previous tours and stuff that were on our records that we just kinda brought back to life. … You keep it fresh by just being excited to play every night and giving a high-energy performance.
BD: Are you writing new material?
DG: We just got done building a studio up in Portland, [Maine,] — where we’re from — and we’ve been writing a whole bunch of new stuff. Probably 10 or 12 songs already for our next record.
BD: Rustic Overtones has a very eclectic sound. From which directions are you guys coming?
DG: Our main influence right now as far as songwriting goes is … not as much to watch everyone else for what to do, but kinda watch what not to do. Because there’s just a lot of crap out there, so we just try to make music that’s “not crap.”
BD: Who are your main influences?
DG: As far as influences, I mean there’s stuff we all grew up on, you know: Beatles, punk rock, jazz, James Brown is all stuff that kind of formed our musical taste. It’s all pretty much the same now. And I don’t think anything’s come out in the five years that we weren’t playing that really changed my mind about music.
BD: Any plans for the future?
DG: We’re always working on new stuff in the studio and writing. You know with all the other groups, are still alive and well, but we just do all of it — but yeah we just keep playing music and making records. There’s a lot of us and a lot of ideas, so we want to have a big Rustic Overtones factory that will just keep spitting out music.
BD: What’s your craziest Rustic Overtones memory?
DG: I mean there’s a lot of really crazy ones. … So far on this tour we’ve seen a girl get hit by a car, we saw a girl get a Brazilian bikini wax in the middle of a club — by one of our band members — … and we saw a car spin out on the highway going about 100 [mph]. … But those are just the last three days. I mean, there’s years of that sort of thing that I can piece together, but working with David Bowie was a huge, huge thing, and that’s now available on our vinyl release of the “Lead Paint” single. … We just shot a video for “Letter to the President,” and it’s gonna be mostly streaming online stuff for right now, but that was … a fun experience, and that will be out soon.
Rustic Overtones will perform at 9 p.m. tomorrow at The Haunt, 702 Willow Ave. Tickets are $15.