(photo by Shervin Lainez)
The story behind high-spirited, highly baroque Brooklyn dance-rockers Rubblebucket’s new video for “On the Ground” begins where most music videos do: a friendly family rivalry that plays out annually during Christmas Eve service at a Unitarian Church in Vermont.
It is there that two families — the Travers and the Ralphs — each perform holiday songs every year. While the Traver family — including Rubblebucket singer Kalmia Traver and her boyfriend, bandleader Alex Toth — busted out their fiddles, horns, and accordions this year, the Ralph crew employed handclaps, beautiful chorus singing, and “a very charismatic hype woman” in Mrs. Ralph. It was hard to say who won, but what matters is that Toth found himself after the service talking to Andrew William Ralph, one of the family’s sons and a director/visual artist the band had worked with previously.
“Outside the church Andrew mentioned he had a concept involving a ‘normal’ man falling in love, only to find out she was actually an alien who would abduct him for the purposes of reproducing,” Toth tells Flavorwire. “Sometimes unexpected scary things happen in life and in love. Maybe he knew what he was getting into all along, or maybe his alien captor drugged him so he’d be okay with it all. Either way, Andrew is nuts slash brilliant.”
Flavorwire is pleased to premiere the “On the Ground” below.
The vulnerable, horn-heavy opening song off Rubblebucket’s third full-length, 2014’s Survival Sounds, “On the Ground” has just as interesting a backstory as its video. “Initially my friend Ben Davis came by my studio at 2am playing this beautiful guitar part and singing the verse melody,” Toth says. “The night before we’d all been out dancing in Brooklyn and running down the street drunk. Our friend was on Ben’s shoulders and they fell to the ground laughing. His palms were all cut up as he was played the sketch for me. When I think about them lying on the dirty Bushwick concrete laughing, my mind immediately zooms out into outer space, outside the beautiful life-filled orb spiraling in cold dark space. I don’t know why. The lyrics and chorus I wrote took on a lot more emotion for us in the face of Kal’s diagnosis a few months later in 2013 [Kalmia was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, completed treatment, and was free of cancer as of last spring]. I guess this song is about holding on.”
Rubblebucket will be touring throughout the spring and early summer (dates below), working on new music all the while. “I haven’t stopped writing since we finished ‘Survival Sounds,’ Toth says. “So many songs. It’s more about learning and sharpening the craft than anything else, I think. Kalmia and I each started writing for side projects. It’s so refreshing and inspiring. We also have various ‘batches’ of songs under the possible Rubblebucket category. And I’ve been learning how to play guitar which is opening up new discoveries in my writing process. I want what’s next to be more unleashed, wild; more rhythmic.”
Upcoming Rubblebucket tour dates: * = with Vacationer
APRIL 09 – Boston, MA – The Paradise * 10 – Hartford, CT – Infinity Hall * 11 – Ithaca, NY – The Haunt * 16 – Syracuse, NY – Westcott
MAY 14 – Raleigh, NC – Lincoln Theater * 15 – Charleston, SC – The Pour House * 17 – Gulf Shores, AL – Hangout Festival 19 – Nashville, TN – The High Watt * 20 – Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel * 21 – Pittsburgh, PA – Rex Theatre * 22 – Cleveland Heights, OH – Grog Shop * 23 – Grand Rapids, MI – Founders Brewery *
JUNE 20 – Waverly, IA – Gentlemen of the Road 24 – Washington, DC – U Street Music Hall 25 – Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg 26 – Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer 27 – Portland, ME – Port City Music Hall