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Rubblebucket: The Interview

On Omega La La, Rubblebucket takes a dramatic step forward with their sound, grafting their afrobeat rhythms with a creative take on dancey indie pop. Listening to the crystal-clear, minimalist production of the album, DFA veteran Eric Broucek's influence is apparent. The album opens with 'Down in the Yards,' a track that builds off the ebb and flow of a droning, two-note guitar riff, only to explode into a triumphant chorus anchored by the band's horn section. That track is followed up by the bouncy, Afro-Cuban-inspired rhythms of 'L homme,' a buoyant psych-pop gem. 'Silly Fathers'and a reworked version of 'Came Out of a Lady' show off the band's penchant for creating pop songs that stick in your head.

SHAKEFIRE: What was the inspiration behind the "Silly Fathers" video?
KALMIA TRAVER: We had a great firecracker brainstorm session with Alexis Bolling in Bed-Stuy we're he, Alex and I live. We knew it had to be something simple that we could shoot all in one day, because we had a few other videos on our plate concurrently. We started with an idea of juxtaposing the fast big city and the free wild country. We also wanted to depict some sort of journey. Early on we decided that we wanted it to have a "real" feel, maybe even blurring the lines between a production and a documentary. The super 8 camera was an inspiration in itself because of it's inherent limitations and perks (not much total shooting time, fun features like speed ramping and single frame capture). And Alexis, as the camera man on the day of the shoot, was a natural at capturing amazing moments and sights- he's got such a beautiful eye. Ultimately I'm really pleased with how the amazing magic of that day was caught and condensed.

SF: Your new album is titled "Omega La La", where did this title originate from?
KT: Sometimes when ideas come into our lives they are really planned for, goaded and promoted. Sometimes they just pop up, and we know instantly that they are right. That is how Omega La La arrived, and we quickly were able to associate so much meaning. It can be loosely translated (for me at least) as "ultimate song", and that fits, because this album is more song-associated than our music has ever been before. I also just love the way it sounds, and I think it gets across better than any other word a certain spirit that we and our music have. It's a mixture of movement, attitude, and elation. Like being caught red-handed, midair in a dance party wearing a coconut bra and only one shoe on, and bloody scraped knees, and the biggest smile in the world.

SF: In a past interview it was mentioned that Kalmia was not only sewing the backdrop for the stage but a pair of pants, does she have any plans of perhaps delving into the fashion world?
KT: I've definitely been diving into the world of fabric more than ever. I'm not that skillful yet, but I'm driven by a HUGE admiration for some of the wildest stage fashion of self-made women like Bjork, Lady Gaga, and Sabina from the Brazilian Girls. So I think my first goals in couture are probably just stage-oriented. I'm not closed to producing for the public though. I've already designed and printed our t-shirts, and I've been getting lots of requests to start just a simple line of wild-patterned stretch pants. So we'll see...

SF: Your videos, music, website, etc. all have a very artistic quality to them do any of you showcase these artistic talents in mediums outside of the band?
KT: Up until now all of our our work has been largely focused on this band. I'm pretty much just so thankful to have Rubblebucket as a venue to express ourselves in so many different mediums. And it's all an awesome learning process. I'm also glad to be living in NYC because whenever we have a free moment in our lives there are so many opportunities and people to collaborate with outside of the band inner circle.

SF: Your fans seem really connected & loyal to you, why do you think that is & how do you maintain that connection?
KT: I would say we work at it, and it would be partially true, but I think really we've learned the value of fans by touring so much, and so we have an inherent deeeeeep appreciation and love for the people that come out and support us over and over again. The point gets driven home out on the road- were playing in a new town, with maybe 10 people in the room. Suddenly 5 die-hard fans from a town 8 hours away come bursting in and dancing up a storm! It's happened to us more times than we can count, and it's one of the most warming, affirming feelings in the world!

ALEX TOTH: What she said. We've built this from the ground up. We've played countless dirty basements and small shit-show festivals. So many live shows! Everything that can go wrong does go wrong but we just always do our thing with as much fervor and sincerity we can muster. 'Our thing' can be pretty quirky and unconventional which seems to draw people even closer.

SF: After giving your album away for free to fans on your website are you at all concerned about sales of it once it comes out June 21st?
AT: No idea really about how it will effect sales of the actual album in the short versus long term. Ultimately its expanding the awareness of Rubblebucket in the world. The thousands of free downloads in the short ideally lead to a lot more people supporting our music via live shows, merch and digital/album sales in the long term.

SF: In your song writing process have things always just flowed & come together or have there been any songs that you had to just walk away from until a later date? And are there any of those still waiting for inspiration to strike again?
KT: Yes totally, we have so many works in progress. Alex especially. I think he really tends to go back again and again to his music, re-working and re-working. I'm more of a gush-it-all-out kind of girl. I also like to be open to any process that presents it's self. I don't really have my set "way", beyond just carving out space and time in my life to get quiet and listen to the air in and around brain.

AT: I tend to have 3-5 things I'm working on at any one time. Some songs come out really smooth (Triangular Daisies, Came Out of a Lady) and some took a lot of re-working (Yards and Worker, Landing and Ba Donso from '09 album). It's really helpful to have Kalmia there to bounce or hand stuff off too since most of the time she's going to be singing the melodies and words! We're still uncovering so much about our process and this is probably the most exciting part of the whole damn thing to me: new discoveries.

SF: As a band what are some of the things you do in order to keep harmony with one another even after numerous tour dates and/or being on the road for awhile?
KT: That is as much a learned art as anything!!! We've had our share of battles, and there will always be battles. Some are really important, and some are just the opposite of important. Picking and choosing which battles to fight is probably the #1 best way to keep harmony and momentum within the group. That and fearless, caring communication.

SF: Anything you would like to say to your fans & potential new fans?
AT: Our love for you is boundless. Your love is so moving. When we're together there's nothing better.

Interview by Kara Johnson