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Published: 2013/10/01
by Rob Slater

Alex Toth: Communion, New Music, and Rubblebucket’s Future

Transitioning to the Communion shows. What should fans expect? I’m sure there will be some collaborating.

On this upcoming tour, half the dates are Communion dates and the other half will be regular Rubblebucket club shows. The regular clubs shows will be longer sets. The Communion dates we are headlining, they’ll be nice, but they will be short and sweet. One of our favorite experiences as a band was playing SXSW in 2012. We were down there with thousands of bands. And people were warning us, ‘Oh man, it can be really awful.’ But for us, it was really exciting to be part of this thing. One thing that Rubblebucket has going for us is that we’ve played almost 1,000 shows and we know how to play live. We know how to connect with the audience and how to put on a good live show. A lot of these bands on these bills do also. I think it’s going to be these wild nights.

Because we have horns, we used to end up playing with every band we come across because it’s easy to fit horns into everything. I’m sure they’re will be some collaboration. We’ll be playing some new songs too.

Kal will be coming off her treatments and stuff like that from the chemo, and we’ll have a touring room that will allow her to take naps. We’ve all been really strong through all that. Music is such a healing thing, it’s what we love to do. We love playing live so we’re really excited to get back on the road. Kal will be back in full force. It will be nice to have the support around, the love and community around us, throughout that.

Coming off something so traumatic like that, this has to be one of the best ways to begin to recover, right?

We’ve spent most of the year off the road and doing some shows here and there. It’s so invigorating to play for people. After writing so much it’s really exciting to bring new material. The songwriting is getting better and better lyrically, but also bringing the horns back to a forefront in a much bigger way and utilizing that. Not shying away from that.

Last year when we toured with Reptar, it was so great. You become best friends with these people you’re on the road with and it’s great to see them every day. It’s just a much bigger family vibe backstage. It’s not just a band, it’s the other band and now we are going to be with a bunch of other bands.

It’s really fun. I gotta say. It’s an honor and extremely rewarding to go around the country and meet new people in new communities and also meet artists from around the country and sometimes outside the country and have that kind of energy and idea exchange.

Earlier, you mentioned touring less to focus on songwriting. Is that a model you want to continue in the future?

The reason we are doing shorter stints on this one is because Cal will have a chemo treatment before the run. It takes about eight days to get your strength back and then you’re still pretty weakened. She’s going to have her last treatment on the 13th, that’s why the run is broken up.

I think we want to be, as we get older, more efficient with how we do things. You can’t substitute especially these days or ever, playing live shows and going out there and bringing your thing alive to human beings all around the world. I do like the idea of having periods where we are songwriting and making recordings and collaborating with other artists and doing all kind of different projects. We’ve been doing avant-garde jazz gigs, and doing some songwriting collaborators with “freak folk” writers and bands. I want to keep diversifying and collaborating with different artists. It sounds like through Communion, I’ll have the opportunity to work with other artists on arranging and writing and stuff. That, to me, is one of the most exciting things in the world. I think this year it was an important thing to step back and cut down from touring.

Once the album comes out we are going to be going full-force for a while, like we have been. Hopefully with a slightly more comfortable touring situation. The 15 passenger van and trailer can really wear on you especially when there is seven of us in there plus a sound engineer. So it’s eight of us crammed into this little van. I think we’ll continue to be touring. That’s what you have to do. It’s a blast.

I think a lot of people are really excited for these Communion shows. There is still a little unknown to it as well. I imagine that’s exciting as an artist.

It’s like an affirmation to have the support of a label like that. To an extent, when Kal and I are writing songs and the bands developing songs we are following our hearts and years, but we’re shooting in the dark. We’re not like a throwback band or writing with a formula, we are constantly evolving. If I’m sitting in my bedroom and I’m working on music, who is going hear this? I have no idea. Is this something that makes sense to a broader world of music? I don’t know. It’s something that my ears are doing right now and I’m trying to obey them.

It’s just such an affirmation to have that support and to have that tying you into a greater global community of musicians and artists. It’s really exciting. I don’t know what will come of it. Due to the fact that it’s extension of our ethics and want to things I see it as a positive.

To be so artist driven has to be great, especially for a young band like Rubblebucket who clearly want to continue to grow.

And God forbid something hits in a really big way. I don’t know how that works. I feel lucky to be doing what we are doing. It is stressful at times. It’s a lot of hard work and I can work 24/7 on music and put tons of blood, sweat and tears into it and still the reward stream is not directly for money. You can be a really successful musician but still make less than your sister working at a gym, it’s a whole other reward stream to be out there and playing music for people.

You want things to catch on in a big way, but touring is a grind. You’re driving all day and staying up late every night, not getting much sleep. Every night is a party, which does get old. As we get older we get better at that. And you can work really hard on something, but it won’t really get that far. If you have a label it really helps shoot the music out there and get it to more ears. That’s important to anyone trying to make some noise, having people to hear it. That’s really exciting.

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