Special to theadvocate.com
Ever find yourself at a loss for words when trying to describe what a band sounds like? Welcome to Rubblebucket’s world, where even the band itself has trouble putting a label on their unique sound.
“We’ve always struggled with describing our music to people who ask about it,” said Kalmia Traver, lead singer and saxophonist for the band. “It’s kind of hilarious how hard it is…We’re all trained musicians, so we can be chameleons and be whatever we want musically. It’s a job for us to see where we fit in sonically and what our most unique traits are and to play to those. We’re still figuring that out.”
Rubblebucket is a seven-piece band based in Brooklyn, N.Y., who blend ’80s dance pop with a horn section and Traver’s Bjork-like vocals.
The title of their new EP, “Oversaturated,” handily describes the intense waves of ecstatic musicality that have become the band’s signature sound.
Perhaps the only way to understand Rubblebucket is to hear them perform live, and fortunately they will be bringing their unique sound to the Spanish Moon in Baton Rouge Friday, Nov 2. While it’s impossible to pigeonhole them into any one genre, the band readily admits that most of their music is designed to make the audience want to get up and dance.
“We’re party music at heart,” Traver said.
One thing that is easy to describe is just how wild and crazy their live shows can get, with Traver routinely jumping off the stage to start a dance party with the audience below. For her and the band, a live show is a two-way interaction, and they go out of their way to break the invisible barrier between the band and the audience.
When asked if some crowds get a little too energetic, Traver said, “First thing that comes to mind -- North Hampton, Mass. It’s almost silly how energetic the crowd is there. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s in the water… Usually I always go down and dance with the crowd, and that’s one place where I can’t do that anymore, because I always get beaten up,” she said with a laugh.
As if spontaneous dance parties and a full horn section weren’t incentive enough to lure crowds to Rubblebucket’s live shows, the band also likes to bring dancing robot puppets, “love tunnels,” and light shows along.
When asked if such an emphasis on visuals during the show help draw passive audience members into the fun, Traver said she thought so, but that she did not want the visuals to distract the audience from the music.
“There are also probably a lot of listeners who aren’t necessarily there for the music,” Traver said. “They’re just there to be with their friends and have a good time, and that’s what music does. It makes you have more of a good time.
“And having more of a tactile experience is huge for me,” she said. “I love all my senses, and I want to share that with people and remind them that it’s not just about listening with your ears.”
For Rubblebucket, spontaneity has been their modus operandi since the very beginning.
“The band’s first gig as Rubblebucket was at an art opening in Vermont, but everything was totally made up. We didn’t even know that we had the gig until that afternoon. We did some improvisations, and we had a really great response. There was a huge crowd, and they were all dancing. We were like, ‘Wow! We should probably remember these songs,’” Traver said.
Over the last few years, the band has been getting more comfortable in the studio. Their latest album marks a bold new direction, and Traver said that they also really enjoy making music videos.
When asked if they still preferred performing live over working in the studio, she said, “In this day and age, you really have to do it all, and I want to do it all. It’s all so fun! We haven’t done a new video in a while, and I’m already starting to miss it, although we really did start out as a live band.
“I think that’s our heart and soul and always will be,” she said, “and hopefully that’s something we can express in other mediums -- that sort of spontaneous combustion energy.”
Recently, the band brought that infectious energy to their first major TV performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Rubblebucket has also been touring extensively this year, and Traver said that she’s eager to start recording another album once they settle down.
“Our band is made up of some really crazy, wild guys who are great improvisers and make some awesome soundscapes. I’m just so excited to keep working with who we have and the sounds that we have to make something special,” Traver said.
You can join Rubblebucket and indie dance band Reptar at 9 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 2, at the Spanish Moon in Baton Rouge.