Rubblebucket
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Rubblebucket

New York City, New York, United States | MAJOR

New York City, New York, United States | MAJOR
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And the winner is (drum roll, please) . . . Rubblebucket Orchestra! From Boston! Huh? Granted, bandleader Alex Toth, vocalist Kalmia Traver and several other members of this ass-shakin’ 10-piece Afro-funk ensemble claim at least some Green Mountain roots — Traver is a Vermont native and, like Toth, a UVM grad. But it seems Daysies voters need a geography lesson. While it’s a wicked pissah to bestow this honor on one of the most talked-about regional acts of the year, Boston ain’t in Vermont. Tune in next year when the award goes to Chicago.
-Dan Bolles - Seven Days VT


by Darek Fanton
April 29, 2008

I like a new band dropping a little knowledge on me, even if it’s just discovering their name’s etymology. As it turns out, a rubblebucket is a tool used by stonemasons — a profession both drummer Andreas Brade and percussionist Craig Myers of Boston’s Rubblebucket Orchestra [1] once practiced. Good to know. While that definition was but a Google search away, it proves far more difficult to define the band’s sound on their debut disc, Rose’s Dream . Equally challenging is avoiding any variation of the cliché, “rock-solid.”

The seeds of what would eventually become Rubblebucket Orchestra were planted in June 2007 at an impromptu Burlington Jazz Festival jam session featuring trumpeter Alex Toth of John Brown’s Body. Inspired by the all-night Afrobeat bonanza, Toth took to convening the rest of the ensemble, including fellow JBB vocalist-saxophonist Kalmia Traver, trombone player Adam Dotson and Derek Beckvold on baritone sax.

Brade lays down the beats on drums, joined by conga player Ari Diaconis and Myers, who in turn occasionally plays the n’goni, a type of West African lute. Rounding out the band are John Rogone on bass, guitarist David Sleininger and keyboardist Darby Wolf. The sonic result of all these players is a mix of soulful Afrobeat and funk with Latin leanings. It is a world-music feel and vibe that pretty much forces you to boogie in whatever fashion you can.

Rose’s Dream is impressively tight for a group that began recording just three weeks after its inception. Frenetic percussion and vibrant horns give the album a driving pace and upbeat timbre — think a more focused and horn-centric Rusted Root.

Traver’s lilting vocals often seem part of the instrumentation, rather than a means for delivering the album’s sparse lyrics. If Basia had been the front woman for a full band, the result might have sounded a bit like Rubblebucket Orchestra — especially on Latin-flavored tracks such as “World Is Gonna Drown” and “Rivers.”

Bouncing between styles and genres, sometimes within the same song, Toth and Co. make a concerted effort not to pigeonhole themselves — semi-obscure, Polish-jazz-pop-singer references aside. When an artist counts Bjork as one of his biggest influences, it’s safe to say his music will be anything but predictable. That holds true for Rose’s Dream n the best way possible.
- Seven Days VT


The buzz surrounding the Rubblebucket Orchestra echoed through Rochester on a busy Friday as the members of the band made their rounds through two radio interviews, a short set at the Record Archive and an over two-hour set at the Lovin’ Cup. The chaotic day came just prior to the band’s soon-to-be released self-titled sophomore effort on October 13th.

The place was loud, maddening loud, with eight musicians crammed together on stage, equipped with brass, woodwind, vocals, electric guitar, bass, and drums. The band delivered a raw, unfettered punch, as bits and pieces of several genres came to mind for comparison—none clever or fitting enough to match the far-reaching sound beaming out of the speakers. The horns derailed all conversation in the venue, easily infiltrating listeners’ ears, and remaining there. Lead vocalist and sax player Kalmia Traver took a stab at narrowing down the band’s boundless sound: “We’re trip-rock, psychedelic funk, with really bangin’ horns."



From the first crackle of Traver’s vocals flowed a gritty and unwavering energy. Honest and verbose, lyrics like, “baby you cookin’ hot beauty with pain/cutting into me, chopping into me,” set the tone while carrying through the entire set with a lingering intensity.

If anyone in the crowd was hesitant to feel the groove at the start of the set, they broke free by the end of the second tune, “Bad Mr. Kurtz.” The drums of the jazz/funk composition carefully treaded the atmospheric buildup that was to follow. With a steady walk of the bass backed by a confident African-influenced guitar hook and vocals that climbed ominously, the song finally peaked with an eruption of powerful, chaotic improvisation and a crescendo featuring overpowering horns getting the last word. The crowd was thrashing around by its end—it was nearly impossible to stand still.

The set consisted of old and new. The band played a good amount off its upcoming release and touched on its debut album, 2008's Rose’s Dream.

The night ended with the same intensity as it began: high energy coupled with a near euphoric rush. Traver, trumpeter Alex Toth and trombonist Adam Dotson came offstage to get down with the audience during the last few tunes. By set’s end, Traver was rolling on the floor with her sax, pouring every last bit of air she had into the instrument, while Toth and Dotson played shoulder to shoulder to a crowd that was evidently hooked. - Relix Magazine


by Charlie Weeks
August 12, 2009

The lounge and bar area of Brooklyn’s The Bell House had less people sitting on the stools and chilling on their couches Friday, August 7, than usual. Instead, most of the people were in the back venue listening to some extraordinary live jams while chowing on waffles (Funk ‘n’ Waffles that is).

By a quarter to midnight Syracuse’s own Sophistafunk had ended their high energy performance that included a guest horn section from Utica whose saxophonist was especially feeling the groove. They blew the audience away with her insane improvisations. After such a finale it was hard to see how anything could follow up such a tour de force. Yet based on this writer’s experience, Rubblebucket Orchestra (or Rubblebucket—as they seem to be calling themselves now) have developed reputation of always miraculously exceeding expectations as they did in this show.

The way they entered the stage at The Bell House was uncharacteristically low-key, as the nine-piece band simply walked on stage by midnight and put their instruments on. My encounter before, with Rubblebucket was much different. It was at Syracuse’s Funk n Waffles and the show started with lead band members Alex Toth and Kalmia Traver entering from the front door — with a confident swagger that personified cool as they blew into their respective instruments and banged on a bucket, heading toward the stage and jamming into their first number as if it were nothing.

Despite their more modest demeanor this time around, they more than made up for it by breaking into an amazing opener entitled “Afro 5.” In this new song, bandleader/trumpet player Alex Toth drove the heavy rhythm by banging on a tom-tom drum in a style that channeled Radiohead’s Hail to the Thief classic “There, There.”

What soon followed was a rendition of their debut-album track “World is Gonna Drown”which took a darker and more intense tone than what was heard on Rose’s Dream. This was the first evidence of the night that, after tireless touring, Rubblebucket have developed already well-done songs into performances that can blow away year-old original recordings.
This was also evident in their fourth number, the classic “Kuma,” which was played an even more powerful and fierce horn section — as well as a more harmonized call-and-response part to “Who shot your leg down” than what’s on the studio recording. Touring has clearly made them a tighter and more entertaining band.

Although there were brilliant and well-revised renditions of their older songs, this show was more about getting the audience ready for their upcoming album Rubblebucket.Ten out of the 15 tracks performed were new and all of them showed how the band had been influenced by timeless artists — yet are crafting their own distinctive sound out of those influences. Their third number “Time” has a guitar riff which sounds as if you could find it off of “Thriller,” while another song “Landing” is led by keyboards that sound similar to Depeche Mode.

Nevertheless, as the show ended, Rubblebucket didn’t fail to do their trademark routine. Towards their last song, trombonist Adam Dotson and trumpeter Alex Toth walked off the stage and into the crowd where they ran around and battled each other with their respective instruments. All while the audience surrounded these seemingly possessed musicians doing what they do best in amping up a crowd and putting on a spectacular finale.

Look out for these guys on their upcoming Northeast tour that’s going on in the coming months — especially at Funk n Waffles September 5 where you’ll find me among the many dancing and jamming away. - 20 Watts Magazine


by Mike McKinley
May 1, 2008

When Rubblebucket Orchestra performs‚ everyone in the band is intensely into it. The 10-piece ensemble sways back and forth‚ eyes closed‚ a lot of times letting the pulse of the music ignite uncontrollable movement. Their foundation begins with a groove. The horns blaze in and out‚ while guitar ripples and organ comps flavor and fill the air. Everyone in the band adds their complimentary part to the train of sound; it's all psychedelic and Afrobeat‚ making you‚ hopefully‚ shake your ass and let your mind wander. Take a look up at the band: Yep‚ nobody onstage is worrying about how they look. Beautifully stoned‚ their youthful exuberance is matched with skill‚ and immediately they remind you‚ or inform you‚ that it's all right let your guard down and leave your snarky baggage at the door.
Their debut album‚ Rose's Dream‚ strongly carries their spirit. When David Sleininger starts to build his guitar solo on "Red Line Beat" it sounds so refreshing‚ not only in originality-part jazz phrasing‚ part acid rock exploring-but also because there's only one‚ maybe two other moments on the album where he becomes the center of attention. That's what makes this band so spirited: for a ten-piece ensemble‚ they play great together as a unit. They epitomize the sum being greater than its parts‚ as nobody is out in the spotlight too much. When "Kuma" begins with the beautiful sound of Craig Myers' n'goni‚ it's only moments later that you hear lead vocalist Kalmia Traver come in‚ step up‚ dig deep and lay it all out. It feels like nine other people are urging her with full support to take it to the next level with a call-and-response chorus.
There's not a bad song on Rose's Dream. The band feels like musicians playing for only the sake of playing. You feel that spirit. If anything‚ listening to Rubblebucket is a moment in time when you feel like everything is going to work out-one of those small reminders that give you faith. - State Of Mind Music


by Meghan Chiampa
February 2009

The completely awesome Rubblebucket Orchestra will be playing Metronome Friday the 13th at 9pm. It will be Rubblebucket’s last Burlington show before they head into the studio to record the follow-up to their first record, “Rose’s Dream.” They will embark on a tour of the Midwest and Colorado beginning Feb 18, and then enter the studio for the majority of March.

This is an interview with the bands amazing lead vocalist and sax player, Kalmia Traver.

Deli: How would you describe your music?

Kalmia Traver: Rubblebucket music is part journey, part slap slap, part screaming.

Deli: How would you describe your performances?

KT: We love the big many-colored lights and we love to shake bells and sometimes go out in the crowd and dance with them (the crowd and the bells). Our songs have tight arrangements but our shows are different almost every night. The horns make up new parts and sometimes we do big drones. We want people in the crowd to see all the colors on stage and feel comfortable to dance and feel the invitation to be themselves, and be brought to a new place.

Deli: If your act was a series of colors, what colors would they be?

KT: It varies from night to night... you can't limit us to just a few, because they're all in there at different times. But today I'm feeling fuchsia, silver and orange stripes.

Deli: Animals?

KT: Well, our two mascots are Puppy- our big white van, and Rody- a green blow-up elephant dog that goes with us everywhere (he's our roady but he usually just stands around while we do all the work). If our music was a bunch of animals they would probably be big cuddly fat things with tusks and claws and tails, and color-changing pelts... like Totoro.

Deli: Eras in Earth's history?

KT: Pre-history. (Post-future?) A time when humans could easily inhabit both dream-time and reality. A time when humans weren't at odds with their landscape. If I were alive then I would wake up at the first sounds of birds and grind up the cornmeal for my family and make the corn cakes and then go fishing and fry it up and then play drums and penny whistle and climb trees all the rest of the day.

Deli: So, where are you from? Where do you call home?

KT: Craig lives in Burlington; Alex, Adam, Geza and I live in Jamaica Plain (Boston); Darby lives in Amherst; Maria and Ian live in Brooklyn; and Rusty Flynn lives in Long Island.

Deli: What's the best part about touring with a shitload of bandmates and equipment?

KT: The jokes and the feeling of having a family. Also having lots of hands (and brains) to help with work required to keep a machine like this running.

Deli: Worst?

KT: A stiff back. Not much besides that.

Deli: How do you do it and any advice or other touring bands?

KT: Keep it light and playful. Respect everyone that you meet everywhere you go. Learn how to relax even it tight quarters.

Deli: What are your influences?

KT: As a band we've got such broad tastes, and we cover a lot of bases. Recently in the van the following music has been playing: King Tubby, Lee Scratch Perry, Smashing Pumpkins, James Brown, Mahavishnu, John Zorn, the Animal Collective, the Dirty Projectors, Scriabin, Radiohead, Midnite, Fear Factory, Sonic Youth, Of Montreal, Led Zeppelin, Dinosaur Jr., Hot 97 - Blazing Hip Hop and R&B (NYC radio station), hair metal, Haitian compa music, Bernard Herman, random soft-rock radio, Portishead, and lots of African stuff that Craig brings. We also love the Talking Heads, and the drummer Bernard Purdie is our band hero.

Deli: Can you remember the first time you heard any of the influences and what did they make you feel like?

KT: The first few times I heard Bjork I went from a normal happy day to crying, shaking on the floor in fetal position. I've gotten a little bit stronger now, but I still get blown away by her music-- her compositions, colors, sonic textures, emotion, and her devotion to originality and beauty.

Deli: How did you and your bandmates meet and decide to start the Rubblebucket orchestra?

KT: Alex had been thinking about starting a big dance band for a while. At the Burlington jazz fest two summers ago we were hanging around town for the week and Craig invited us to come play a party with him and his friends who are all gifted West-African style percussionists. It was a really fun party - it felt like everyone in Burlington was there. We played a set of raw percussion, n'goni and flute music and then the rhythm section arrived and we basically made up a set of music on the spot. Bass lines, horn lines, even some singing... we recorded the whole then and Alex took it back and for the next month solidified those songs and wrote a few ones and then we got a band together and started playing gigs that fall. We all wanted to be in a band that was creative and could still move a crowd, and could be satisfying to play night after night (i.e. have room to expand a - Deli Magazine - Burlington


October 23, 2009
3 of 25: RUBBLEBUCKET

Hometown: Jamaica Plain, MA

Sounds like: A Bonnaroo-ready hybrid of world music influences as re-imagined by well-educated collegians.

Recommended if you like: Antibalas, Toubab Krewe

You should know: The band's tour van is nicknamed "Puppy." (You may exhale a collective "Awww" at this time) - SPIN Magazine


by Meghan Chiampa
February 2009

The completely awesome Rubblebucket Orchestra will be playing Metronome Friday the 13th at 9pm. It will be Rubblebucket’s last Burlington show before they head into the studio to record the follow-up to their first record, “Rose’s Dream.” They will embark on a tour of the Midwest and Colorado beginning Feb 18, and then enter the studio for the majority of March.

This is an interview with the bands amazing lead vocalist and sax player, Kalmia Traver.

Deli: How would you describe your music?

Kalmia Traver: Rubblebucket music is part journey, part slap slap, part screaming.

Deli: How would you describe your performances?

KT: We love the big many-colored lights and we love to shake bells and sometimes go out in the crowd and dance with them (the crowd and the bells). Our songs have tight arrangements but our shows are different almost every night. The horns make up new parts and sometimes we do big drones. We want people in the crowd to see all the colors on stage and feel comfortable to dance and feel the invitation to be themselves, and be brought to a new place.

Deli: If your act was a series of colors, what colors would they be?

KT: It varies from night to night... you can't limit us to just a few, because they're all in there at different times. But today I'm feeling fuchsia, silver and orange stripes.

Deli: Animals?

KT: Well, our two mascots are Puppy- our big white van, and Rody- a green blow-up elephant dog that goes with us everywhere (he's our roady but he usually just stands around while we do all the work). If our music was a bunch of animals they would probably be big cuddly fat things with tusks and claws and tails, and color-changing pelts... like Totoro.

Deli: Eras in Earth's history?

KT: Pre-history. (Post-future?) A time when humans could easily inhabit both dream-time and reality. A time when humans weren't at odds with their landscape. If I were alive then I would wake up at the first sounds of birds and grind up the cornmeal for my family and make the corn cakes and then go fishing and fry it up and then play drums and penny whistle and climb trees all the rest of the day.

Deli: So, where are you from? Where do you call home?

KT: Craig lives in Burlington; Alex, Adam, Geza and I live in Jamaica Plain (Boston); Darby lives in Amherst; Maria and Ian live in Brooklyn; and Rusty Flynn lives in Long Island.

Deli: What's the best part about touring with a shitload of bandmates and equipment?

KT: The jokes and the feeling of having a family. Also having lots of hands (and brains) to help with work required to keep a machine like this running.

Deli: Worst?

KT: A stiff back. Not much besides that.

Deli: How do you do it and any advice or other touring bands?

KT: Keep it light and playful. Respect everyone that you meet everywhere you go. Learn how to relax even it tight quarters.

Deli: What are your influences?

KT: As a band we've got such broad tastes, and we cover a lot of bases. Recently in the van the following music has been playing: King Tubby, Lee Scratch Perry, Smashing Pumpkins, James Brown, Mahavishnu, John Zorn, the Animal Collective, the Dirty Projectors, Scriabin, Radiohead, Midnite, Fear Factory, Sonic Youth, Of Montreal, Led Zeppelin, Dinosaur Jr., Hot 97 - Blazing Hip Hop and R&B (NYC radio station), hair metal, Haitian compa music, Bernard Herman, random soft-rock radio, Portishead, and lots of African stuff that Craig brings. We also love the Talking Heads, and the drummer Bernard Purdie is our band hero.

Deli: Can you remember the first time you heard any of the influences and what did they make you feel like?

KT: The first few times I heard Bjork I went from a normal happy day to crying, shaking on the floor in fetal position. I've gotten a little bit stronger now, but I still get blown away by her music-- her compositions, colors, sonic textures, emotion, and her devotion to originality and beauty.

Deli: How did you and your bandmates meet and decide to start the Rubblebucket orchestra?

KT: Alex had been thinking about starting a big dance band for a while. At the Burlington jazz fest two summers ago we were hanging around town for the week and Craig invited us to come play a party with him and his friends who are all gifted West-African style percussionists. It was a really fun party - it felt like everyone in Burlington was there. We played a set of raw percussion, n'goni and flute music and then the rhythm section arrived and we basically made up a set of music on the spot. Bass lines, horn lines, even some singing... we recorded the whole then and Alex took it back and for the next month solidified those songs and wrote a few ones and then we got a band together and started playing gigs that fall. We all wanted to be in a band that was creative and could still move a crowd, and could be satisfying to play night after night (i.e. have room to expand a - Deli Magazine - Burlington


Frontwoman Kalmia Traver Discusses African Influence, Writing Lyrics

By S. Balaji Mani
ARTS EDITOR
October 30, 2009

Afrobeat groove specialists Rubblebucket Orchestra will play a special show tomorrow night at the Middle East Downstairs. The morning after a gig in Hartford, I caught vocalist and saxophonist Kalmia Traver on the phone to discuss Rubblebucket Orchestra’s past, the new record Rubblebucket, and the influence of African music on her band’s style.

The Tech: The first time I saw Rubblebucket Orchestra was when you opened for Mike Gordon (of Phish) at the Paradise Rock Club in 2008. What was it like playing with him? Are you a fan of his music?

Kalmia Traver: It was definitely special. He’s sat in with us before, and I’ve been seeing Mike and the Phish guys for years because they all hang around University of Vermont (UVM). The Christmas I got a CD player, it came with the Phish record Hoist. I never went to a show but I listened to Hoist and Billy Breathes and dug their songwriting. They write beautiful songs — I liked that more than the long jams.

TT: I find a lot of tight composition on Rubblebucket, but does your writing allow for a lot of jamming in the live setting?

KT: In the beginning we stayed from jamming. We had so much work to do to get the songs together. We do love to let ourselves go — there’s certain times in the set where we do that. People do take solos, but it’s taken time to build up that chemistry playing together.

TT: Did any songs not make the record?

KT: We had two songs that didn’t make the cut. One was instrumental and the other one a little rock-and-roll.

TT: Who in the band are the primary songwriters?

KT: Alex has emerged as the band leader. He’s written most of the music and I wrote the words to a lot of the songs.

TT: How do you write lyrics? Are you trying to fit words to the music, or do you rather see it as writing poetry?

KT: Usually Alex will write a groove or a beat with a form, and it’s pretty much there. And then I’ll sit down with it on Garage Band. Sometimes I’ll start out with shapes and melodies, random word shapes. I’ve had a few instances of being into poetry, but that’s not my inspiration. It comes from the music and the vibrating sounds in my body. The shapes become lyrics, and the lyrics come up from experiences I’ve had.

TT: I really like this one track in particular, “Ba Donso, We Did This.” There’s an interesting string instrument being played — is that a kora from Mali?

KT: Actually it’s an n’goni. It is from Mali, though. It’s actually one of the feed instruments for the whole Rubblebucket project. Craig, our percussionist, played it on the album. He had just come back from Africa and was so excited. He invited us to jam with him during a jazz festival, and it turned out to be a great party. He brought his West African friends, and we jammed all night long. It was good chemistry, and that was back in 2007. Eventually we transcribed a lot of what came out of those jam sessions.

TT: Is Ba Donso a foreign word or phrase that Craig picked up? What does it mean?

KT: The title of the song came last. I wrote those lyrics; they were coming from word shapes. Alex wrote the melody. Images came into my mind and I wanted to write something about a dirty horrible circumstance because I had been writing happy songs. I wanted to write a dirty song. It’s about living in a cardboard shack, in a hole, and being oppressed by evil. It’s a kind of metaphorical adventure of people in sadness but then they get saved by this spirit being. Ba Donso is Craig’s African nickname. It comes from Mali. Ba means big — not physically but as in grand, like a great, big person. Donso means hunter and it comes from n’goni tradition. Hunters would hire n’goni players to celebrate their return from a big hunt.

TT: Have you or any other members in the group besides Craig traveled to Africa to study music?

KT: That is such a dream — I’d love to do that! I have friends who’ve gone to Jamaica and played with reggae bands. Craig is the only one to have visited Africa. We haven’t talked about a group trip specifically, but that would be good. I’ve traveled to the Dominican Republic and studied music there. I was studying at UVM and we took a 2 week trip for a class called “The Study of Cuban Music.” We weren’t allowed into Cuba, so we went to the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico instead.

TT: Though you’re the lead vocalist of the band, I know you also play saxophone. Do you see yourself stepping away from sax to focus solely on vocals in the future?

KT: From the beginning I was singing. When it started out, I was one of the group and I was playing more saxophone and switched back and forth. Over the years I’ve emerged as a frontwoman. I was singing a lot before, all throughout college, and in my old band, but I was never a frontwoman. It’s been a crazy journey! I wouldn’t want to step away from sax. First of all, it’s cool for - The MIT Tech


12/02/2009
by APRIL S. ENGRAM

Rubblebucket
(self-released)

Though they bear a downright silly name, Rubblebucket (nee Rubblebucket Orchestra) has crafted a fine sophomore album that wakens the senses and ramps up the adrenaline. It simply kicks ass. So what warrants the high praise? With eight to nine members playing instruments ranging from saxophone, trumpets, and bass to guitars, keyboards, and everything in-between Rubblebucket's album is far from dull.

Alex Toth (trumpet, hyperkinetics, percussion) and lead singer Kalmia Traver (tenor sax, baritone sax) gathered fellow musicians Adam Dotson (trombone, percussion), Darby Wolf (synths, organ), Craig Myers (percussion, n'goni), David Cole (drums), Ian Hersey (electric guitar), and Mark Stewart (bass). Together they combine several styles of music-world, reggae, jazz, dub, rock-to produce a fun and eclectic album that piques your ears right away. Full of lush horns, thumping bass and Kalmia Traver's powerful voice that manages to soar over the music; Rubblebucket takes you on a great ride from the first note to last and does not disappoint.

The opening track "November" commences the upbeat thrill ride and of the eleven track album several singles stand out, "Landing," "Maya," and "Ba Donso, We Did This" among others. From darker, foreboding sounds ("Don't Exaggerate") to buoyant jam sessions ("540 Groove"), Rubblebucket is a great, unclassifiable album that deserves several listens.
Standout Tracks: "Bikes," "Phillips Van"
- Blurt Magazine


Frontwoman Kalmia Traver Discusses African Influence, Writing Lyrics

By S. Balaji Mani
ARTS EDITOR
October 30, 2009

Afrobeat groove specialists Rubblebucket Orchestra will play a special show tomorrow night at the Middle East Downstairs. The morning after a gig in Hartford, I caught vocalist and saxophonist Kalmia Traver on the phone to discuss Rubblebucket Orchestra’s past, the new record Rubblebucket, and the influence of African music on her band’s style.

The Tech: The first time I saw Rubblebucket Orchestra was when you opened for Mike Gordon (of Phish) at the Paradise Rock Club in 2008. What was it like playing with him? Are you a fan of his music?

Kalmia Traver: It was definitely special. He’s sat in with us before, and I’ve been seeing Mike and the Phish guys for years because they all hang around University of Vermont (UVM). The Christmas I got a CD player, it came with the Phish record Hoist. I never went to a show but I listened to Hoist and Billy Breathes and dug their songwriting. They write beautiful songs — I liked that more than the long jams.

TT: I find a lot of tight composition on Rubblebucket, but does your writing allow for a lot of jamming in the live setting?

KT: In the beginning we stayed from jamming. We had so much work to do to get the songs together. We do love to let ourselves go — there’s certain times in the set where we do that. People do take solos, but it’s taken time to build up that chemistry playing together.

TT: Did any songs not make the record?

KT: We had two songs that didn’t make the cut. One was instrumental and the other one a little rock-and-roll.

TT: Who in the band are the primary songwriters?

KT: Alex has emerged as the band leader. He’s written most of the music and I wrote the words to a lot of the songs.

TT: How do you write lyrics? Are you trying to fit words to the music, or do you rather see it as writing poetry?

KT: Usually Alex will write a groove or a beat with a form, and it’s pretty much there. And then I’ll sit down with it on Garage Band. Sometimes I’ll start out with shapes and melodies, random word shapes. I’ve had a few instances of being into poetry, but that’s not my inspiration. It comes from the music and the vibrating sounds in my body. The shapes become lyrics, and the lyrics come up from experiences I’ve had.

TT: I really like this one track in particular, “Ba Donso, We Did This.” There’s an interesting string instrument being played — is that a kora from Mali?

KT: Actually it’s an n’goni. It is from Mali, though. It’s actually one of the feed instruments for the whole Rubblebucket project. Craig, our percussionist, played it on the album. He had just come back from Africa and was so excited. He invited us to jam with him during a jazz festival, and it turned out to be a great party. He brought his West African friends, and we jammed all night long. It was good chemistry, and that was back in 2007. Eventually we transcribed a lot of what came out of those jam sessions.

TT: Is Ba Donso a foreign word or phrase that Craig picked up? What does it mean?

KT: The title of the song came last. I wrote those lyrics; they were coming from word shapes. Alex wrote the melody. Images came into my mind and I wanted to write something about a dirty horrible circumstance because I had been writing happy songs. I wanted to write a dirty song. It’s about living in a cardboard shack, in a hole, and being oppressed by evil. It’s a kind of metaphorical adventure of people in sadness but then they get saved by this spirit being. Ba Donso is Craig’s African nickname. It comes from Mali. Ba means big — not physically but as in grand, like a great, big person. Donso means hunter and it comes from n’goni tradition. Hunters would hire n’goni players to celebrate their return from a big hunt.

TT: Have you or any other members in the group besides Craig traveled to Africa to study music?

KT: That is such a dream — I’d love to do that! I have friends who’ve gone to Jamaica and played with reggae bands. Craig is the only one to have visited Africa. We haven’t talked about a group trip specifically, but that would be good. I’ve traveled to the Dominican Republic and studied music there. I was studying at UVM and we took a 2 week trip for a class called “The Study of Cuban Music.” We weren’t allowed into Cuba, so we went to the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico instead.

TT: Though you’re the lead vocalist of the band, I know you also play saxophone. Do you see yourself stepping away from sax to focus solely on vocals in the future?

KT: From the beginning I was singing. When it started out, I was one of the group and I was playing more saxophone and switched back and forth. Over the years I’ve emerged as a frontwoman. I was singing a lot before, all throughout college, and in my old band, but I was never a frontwoman. It’s been a crazy journey! I wouldn’t want to step away from sax. First of all, it’s cool for - The MIT Tech


01
Rubblebucket Orchestra
Boston, Mass

African Influenced Polyrhythmic Dance-Rock

"If you call us an Afrobeat band, I think you’ll piss off a lot of purists,” admits trumpeter and bandleader Alex Toth about his eclectic, world-influenced ensemble Rubblebucket Orchestra. “We’re doing something new with funk, rock and Afrobeat—there’s definitely something jazzy about it.” Though the outfit’s personnel often rotates, the group is anchored by saxophonist/lead vocalist Kalmia Traver—who left John Brown’s Body with Toth in 2007 to focus on Rubblebucket—and percussionist Craig Myers, who moonlights in Mike Gordon’s solo band. The band recorded and released its debut Rose’s Dream after being together for only two weeks and has built a reputation for euphoric live shows through relentless touring in support of its latest 2009 release. “Having the JBB and Mike Gordon connections have helped give legitimacy to the project,” Toth says of Rubblebucket’s visibility, which has increased on the heels of its new self-titled record. “Getting off the ground has been such an incredible and difficult feat and we’re finally at a spot where it’s working on its own.”

www.rubblebucket.com

Matt Franciscovich - Relix Magazine


01
Rubblebucket Orchestra
Boston, Mass

African Influenced Polyrhythmic Dance-Rock

"If you call us an Afrobeat band, I think you’ll piss off a lot of purists,” admits trumpeter and bandleader Alex Toth about his eclectic, world-influenced ensemble Rubblebucket Orchestra. “We’re doing something new with funk, rock and Afrobeat—there’s definitely something jazzy about it.” Though the outfit’s personnel often rotates, the group is anchored by saxophonist/lead vocalist Kalmia Traver—who left John Brown’s Body with Toth in 2007 to focus on Rubblebucket—and percussionist Craig Myers, who moonlights in Mike Gordon’s solo band. The band recorded and released its debut Rose’s Dream after being together for only two weeks and has built a reputation for euphoric live shows through relentless touring in support of its latest 2009 release. “Having the JBB and Mike Gordon connections have helped give legitimacy to the project,” Toth says of Rubblebucket’s visibility, which has increased on the heels of its new self-titled record. “Getting off the ground has been such an incredible and difficult feat and we’re finally at a spot where it’s working on its own.”

www.rubblebucket.com

Matt Franciscovich - Relix Magazine


Discography

Triangular Daisies EP - Oct 2010
Omega La La - June 2011

Photos

Bio

Rubblebucket’s second studio album, Omega La La produced by Eric Broucek (LCD Soundsystem, !!!, Holy Ghost) @ DFA Studios & mastered by Joe Lambert (Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors, Herbie Hancock) came out June 21st.

Paste
“Joyous jungles of worldly pop-funk, instrumentally rich but catchy enough to ass-kick Katy Perry off the pop charts (in a just world)—mega-melodic without sacrificing an ounce of atmosphere or creativity.”

CBS The Street Date
"Very few bands of the hipster generation care to challenge the confines of a song structure as vigorously and successfully as Rubblebucket does throughout Omega La La."

Spin
“A must-hear artist”

LA Music Blog
“They sound like hippies who have taken over a city, hog-tied any uptight citizens, and painted all the yucky grey/brown buildings in acrylic colors and neon war paint.”

SF Weekly
“What it sounds like when eight different freak flags fly in perfect unison.”