>> Live tattooing on stage, giant buckets of confetti, crowd surfing inflatable pool animals, and a farewell march through the crowd while still performing just skims the surface of the live Rubblebucket experience.
“Peacockin’” is how the indie band chose to describe themselves during our photoshoot and interview. We had the chance to speak to Kalmia “Kal” Traver, lead vocalist and saxophonist, and Alex Toth, band leader and trumpet player (and proof my own last name wasn’t an Ellis Island fuck-up). Floated picked their brains about anything and everything our tiny brains could think of — from fashion and touring to the modern political moments affecting our lives.
Rubblebucket, an indie dance-pop group, is based in Brooklyn, N.Y. The group has its roots in Burlington, Vt., where Kal and Alex met at the University of Vermont and began playing music together. Eventually the pair moved to Boston in 2006, did odd jobs and made their own style of music at every opportunity. Rubblebucket came into existence after Traver and Toth started playing with other musicians in 2007, releasing their first album in 2008 as the Rubblebucket Orchestra. (What a dope name, right?) Currently, the group’s nine members tour the world, but most of their time is spent in a 15-seat van affectionately known as “Puppy.”
For you poor souls who have never experienced the sound, lights and colors of Rubblebucket, buy a tent, camp out in Williamsburg and head to the Brooklyn Steel or The Bowery for the band’s next life-changing show. They are loud, upbeat, and ready to kick ass. Whether “Came Out of a Lady” leaves you comatose on the couch or a live performance of “If U C My Enemies” leaves you stunned, Rubblebucket is always guaranteed to rock the house.
On this sunny, bitterly cold day in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, we began our photo shoot by discussing fashion. When asked what inspired his onstage apparel choices, Toth told us he liked the authentic street styles of Bill Cunningham and described his “anti-shopping” method: “You go to like, Salvation Army and thrift stores […] You pick out an item and you don’t look at the price tag. You only buy it if it’s below a certain price.”
Traver went on to tell us about her fascination with fashion shows and her appreciation for Marc Jacobs. “In the past few years I’ve started watching runway shows because they’re ridiculous and so entertaining […] I like Marc Jacobs the most. His are the most weird.”
These creative sentiments do not stop with the clothes on Toth’s and Traver’s backs; their individuality comes across in the group’s music, as well. Rubblebucket’s sound is definitely unique, indie pop that leans heavily on synth alongside a kick ass horn section. It’s not the “normal” mix for a band, sure, but where’s the fun in normal? Toth commented that sometimes he wonders if the band’s music is too strange. “Maybe I should make it less weird, because I want to be successful,” he said. “[But] it never really feels good when you compromise like that. Even if it does do well, it doesn’t feel honest. And if it doesn’t, you’re like, ‘Fuck, why didn’t I just do the thing I wanted to do?’” Toth continued, “What I’ve learned, 100 percent, is [to] notice the self-doubt and go with your own thing.”
This attitude might not make Rubblebucket billionaires, but that’s okay with them. “I don’t have to make all 7 billion hearts on earth weaken,” said Traver. “We can kind of build the world that we want on a smaller scale, like [a] more manageable human scale.” And this doctrine of kicking ass and not creating what is going to be traditionally popular, but what will be good, has built them a large and extremely loyal fan base...
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