There are bands that defy classification, putting on a fun time whenever and wherever they perform. . Brooklyn’s Rubblebucket is one of those bands with vocalist and saxophonist Kalmia Traver and trumpeter Alex Toth the creative nucleus. They fuse an abundance of styles to create a stellar dynamic and an infectious sound that usually results in dancing
The band just released their sixth full-length album Earth Worship on October 21 on Grand Jury Music and they’re going to be kicking off a tour in support of its release at Space Ballroom in Hamden on Nov. 30.
Philadelphia indie pop duo Crooks & Nannies will be starting the night off at 8 p.m.
Traver and I had a chance to talk ahead of the show about the experience that came with making the new album, incorporating some disco into the songs, diving into other projects, foraging around New York City and what people can expect from Rubblebucket’s live performance.
RD: What was the experience like for you and Alex when it came to the making of Earth Worship? I know you both recorded a lot of it from your homes during the height of COVID back in 2020 while taking care of the rest up in the Catskills in March of last year, so it must have been unconventional in a lot of ways.
KT: I’ll say that it was unconventional in terms of how COVID was unconventional. We all have our own relationship to COVID, but that time really allowed both Alex and I to have space from Rubblebucket because we’ve been such a live-focused act for so many years. During that time away, for me, I actually spent it mixing my other album with my other project called Kalbells and I learned so much from that. I had never mixed an album before so I came into the Rubblebucket process with a whole bunch of fresh new skills and experience. Alex had also completed his album for his project called Tōth, so the space was really healthy.
In terms of our process for approaching the Rubblebucket album, I would say that it wasn’t too far from convention. Every single time we’ve made a record it’s been different, I think as far as our trajectory goes we’ve been moving more and more towards self-production and we’ve both become producers in our own right since the beginning of the band. I feel a lot more at ease inside the studio and in my home studio while having way more skills to express with.
RD: It’s mentioned that Alex wanted to forge a disco foundation for the music within the album, so how did you go about artistically countering that artistic vision during the songwriting and recording process?
KT: I was into the disco idea, for sure, and there’s just so much history there to open up and explore sonically. From a recording standpoint, there’s such an incredible body of work to get inspired by. I think that what he brought to the table with his production set up for the earliest sketches of songs that he brought in were really interesting. He had a set template that we both used mostly to compose with, so it meant that all of the drum sounds were consistent in all of the tunes he brought in and it was him playing the bass on everything. It created an idiosyncratic vibe and it sounded like itself and nothing else.
I think it’s funny because in the spirit of disco it felt like we were very inspired by that and also the spirit of wanting to make people dance and realizing how much we need that coming out of COVID. I did a lot of dancing in my own bedroom during that time but being able to be with people in a room and inspiring people to dance felt like a good niche for us.
RD: Absolutely, I definitely get that dancing, rhythmic vibe from listening to the record. You mentioned how you were working on a record with your other project Kalbells. When it came to either the vision or the approach of the music within Earth Worship, were you able to transition anything that you were doing with Kalbells into the album?
KT: Yeah, absolutely. The song “Sexual Revolution” off of the album was actually originally a Kalbells song. It wasn’t fitting anywhere on any of the albums that Kalbells has put out and so it ended up fitting perfectly in the album just thematically with what it’s about. There’s so much talk these days about sex positivity and consent in the wake of the #MeToo era and it feels very timely to be able to talk about this so that was really cool. I’ll also say that from a mixing standpoint, I didn’t mix Earth Worship but Alex and I were very much involved with Claudius Mittendorfer who did mix it.
Every day he would be sending us mixes from London overnight and we would wake up with a new mix in our inbox, it was like Christmas morning. I think that after going through the process of mixing ten tracks on an album, my ears are so much more aware of intricacies and really knowing what to listen for to get that balance and place ourselves with the whole range of recorded music or pop music or whatever else we’re going to be on the radio with.
RD: You’ve gotten to dive into the layers of a track rather than what’s just on the surface so I can see why you’re more in tune with the intricacies.
RD: Outside of music, you’re adept at foraging around New York City. When I think of foraging, I think of going into the woods and finding mushrooms. edible plants and legumes, so what does foraging entail when it comes to doing it in an urban environment?
KT: I’ve foraged a lot in New York City and a lot pretty much wherever I go, I’m always on the lookout for things I can identify as edible. It’s also very important that I’m harvesting in a way that’s not too greedy while allowing that plant to keep thriving there and making sure the people who want to use it get what they need too. I grew up with that in my family in Vermont, I had parents who were both ecologists and they were really interested in the type of relationship that can come when we’re foraging with the greater than human world. New York is a whole other story, there aren’t as many woods there but there are some really great spots. There’s also an amazing waterfront, there are great beaches in New York.
I think my favorite thing about foraging is that it keeps me more in touch with the seasons. When I was into it in New York, I would say “Oh, we’re in summer”, but now I’ll say that we’re in shadbush season when I can eat all of the juneberries. Months later it’ll be mulberry season and the mugwort is just coming out so it can be harvested for greens to cook in an omelet, but in two months it’ll be harvested more for the flower extract. It’s just cool, it breaks up the year and it brings a lot more joy into my days.
RD: It all sounds very interesting and it’s cool how it forms your relationship with nature a bit with the seasons while giving you a different perspective. Earth Worship just came out last month, so how does Rubblebucket plan on incorporating the music from it into their live performance?
KT: We’ve been building the live show and we’ve always really loved doing live performances. It’s just a very incredible feeling to be in a room with that many people while bringing joy and making memories. We’ve always tried to have a lot of interactivity with our live shows and things that will be surprising and out of left field. When I go to a live show I hope I can get shaken off my daily routine while coming away with a new perspective and that’s definitely what we’re aiming for this time around. We’re going to be playing a bunch of new music, so that’s going to be a whole new adventure because we’ve got quite a big catalog now.
In our past few tours we’ve incorporated a lot of songs across many records, and we’ll still do that but it’ll be fun to have it really be focused on Earth Worship. We’re working with our “party facilitator” Neil Frid who is out of Nashville and he’s been with us to think through the live show, create those interactive moments, keep everyone on their toes and have a really good time. That’s where we’re at with it right now.
with Crooks & Nannies
295 Treadwell St., Hamden, CT
Nov. 30, 2022
Doors open at 7 p.m.