June 2002 - THE RUBES
THE RUBES are an amazing Ohio-based three piece and their debut "Hokum" on Underdogma Records was one of my favourite albums of 2001. You can listen to a lot of different influences in their heavy rock, that ranges from Gov't Mule to the heaviness of old Sabbath. It's not easy to pigeon-hole THE RUBES and that's what makes them so special. So I've talked with Mace and Greg about the band and more.
Your debut album "Hokum" was one of the the positive surprises of last year 2001. It was a real sensitive and tasteful combination of blues, metal, jazz and Heavy Rock and most of the tracks have a lot of interesting breaks and changes in it.Have you received a lot of positive critics for it and are you still satisfied with it?
MACE: Thank you for the kind words, Klaus. The response to "Hokum" has been really great, more positive than we could have ever imagined. As far as my own satisfaction is concerned, I'm satisfied with the material and the response it has illicted from people. We're really looking forward to what the future hold!
Before we go into details about "Hokum", please tell us when The Rubes were founded and is it still the same line-up as in the early days?
MACE: Well, I suppose the three of us first got together in 1999. The line-up is the same, as it always will be. We seem to have good chemistry, and I'm proud to be working with these guys.
Has everyone of you played in other bands before?
MACE: Yes, we've all spent time playing in various bands, playing various kinds of music for various reasons. We all three had at least fifteen years of experience behind us before we ever played together.
GREG: I've been playing in bands since 1984.
Have you released any other stuff before the album?
MACE: Brent and Greg were in a great metal band, Epitaph, back in the late '80's. I believe they did a self-release that you can find on the internet, if you're a savvy old-metal junkie.
Let's go back to "Hokum". The whole album has a very natural and positive spirit. When you're playing hard and heavy, it doesn't sound as: hey we're the toughest guys in town and the softer tracks aren't cheesy. Was it important for you to capture a special vibe in the album?
GREG: We always try to capture a good vibe, playing live or in the studio. The biggest obstacle we had to deal with "Hokum" was the studio arrangement. We've been battling the studio environment for some time now, but that will change with the future releases.With us, everything has always come together very naturally, and that har
MACE: With us, everything has always come together very naturally, and that harmonius "special vibe" is essential, in my opinion, to making good music.
I think, you must have had a good and peaceful time during the recording sessions. How have you spent your time in the Recording Workshop? Please, give us an insight in the two days you've spent there? Aside of that, have you only needed two days for recording? The result is so amazing.
MACE: Well, thank you for the kind words, I'm glad it sounds like we had a peaceful time, but it was actually kind of hectic. Recording the material in two days wasn't difficult, since we've always been oriented toward playing live. However, we ran into some difficulty with the studio environment itself ...it's not that we lacked experience working within the studio environment, but we had some differences between "how thing's are done" and how we intend to do things. We just did a session in a new studio and the approach and the vibe was really great, so we're all three looking forward to getting to work on our next album.
GREG: Actually, the two days we spent recording "Hokum" weren't all that peaceful, given we were trying to capture something we were happy with in that short amount of time.
You've released "Hokum" on Carlton's fine label Underdogma Records. Was it your choice or how did you get together with him?
MACE: Well, we sent out a handful of demo cd-r's to some labels to see if anyone was interested in what we are doing. Grant and Carlton at Underdogma Records were the first to get in contact with us. As we spoke, it became apparent that these guys are really great people, completely absorbed by music, and that they're the kind of folks we want to do business with. We're really fortunate to have hooked up with this label.
How do you compose the songs? Are all tracks based on jammings or do you work more in a "mathematical" way?
MACE: Everything for us seems to work in a very natural, organic way. Things come together. It happens.
GREG: The three of us all bring in riffs and ideas, and we just work them through until we find something we like.
There's another fact, that fascinates me about your music. Although there are a lot of lead breaks in some tracks, I won't describe The Rubes as a progressive or math-rock band. Am I right, when I say that melodies and harmonies are very important for you?
MACE: Music is melody, harmony, and rhythm. It is important that all those elements be present...and it's got to have soul.
Have you played a lot in the USA to promote the album and are there any funny or horrible experiences that you've made on stage?
MACE: Well, the USA is a really big place, and we not yet covered all of it...but we're doing as many shows as possible, playing anywhere and everywhere. We're planning on doing a full U.S. tour later in the fall. As far as funny or horrible experiences are concerned, all shows tend to fall into one category or the other!
Last month was the Emissions festival in Youngstown, Ohio and The Rubes are coming out of Ohio. Have you ever played there and have you visited the festival this year? If so, please tell us what was going on. I think, it must be very amazing!!!
MACE: Klaus, it would be hard to describe just how amazing the Emissions festivals really are. We attended all three days of last year's Emissions III in May of 2001. We also attended all three days of this year's Emissions IV, and we were fortunate enough to play this year's festival. This year was really well attended by great crowds of some of the coolest folks you could ever hope to meet. So much great music (34 bands in 3 days), nothing but good times!
What are your "tools" and is it important for you what kind of amps, guitars and basses you use (60's/70's or newer stuff)?
MACE: We're all three really interested in getting great tones. Consequently, that usually means old tube amps, but we're not really "gear snobs". I play an newer Epiphone bass through an old mid-seventies Ampeg SVT. Brent plays a Gibson SG through a mid-eighties Marshall.
Do you see it as a compliment when your music reminds some listeners to Gov't Mule and what do you think about their music?
GREG: The Mule are one of my favorite bands, so that's a great compliment! Thanks. I do miss Allen Woody, though. I hope they can capture that feel they had on the self-titled and "Dose" albums again soon. They've gotten away from that a bit lately, but their new album, "The Deep End", is on the right track.
MACE: I had the chance to see them five or six times with Allen Woody. Great band.
When you're not making music, what's important for you in life? Any special beliefs or philosophies that you feel inspired from?
MACE: Now that is a very substantive question, and one that I don't have a fast and easy answer for. I'll get back to you on that one.
GREG: Old metal is like a religion to me, if that counts. I literally spend hours hunting down albums from long lost metal bands that I don't already have.
One thing that's funny is that you Greg has talked to my friend and our drummer Marko some months ago in Cosmicdoom.com about equipment. Do you remember, Greg? Sometimes it's a small world we all live in, ha-ha!
GREG: Yes, Marko! I enjoy talking drum shop with him.Hopefully one day he and I will get to meet and we can discuss the finer points of playing doom, ha-ha!
What are your plans for 2002? Can we expect the follow-up of "Hokum" and if so, will it be also released on Underdogma?
MACE: We are, indeed, working on the follow-up album, and I'm proud to say it will be released on Underdogma Records. In addition, we've just recorded a song for the Lynyrd Skynyrd Tribute album, an upcoming Underdogma/Game Two joint release, as well as a Nazareth song for a Nazareth tribute album that Underdogma is just starting work on.
I really like to thank you for this interview and the last space in our talk is for you! Add what you want to add!
MACE: Thank you, Klaus, for the opportunity to chat with you. Keep the Cosmic Lava flowing free. You rock!
GREG: Thank you Klaus, for the interest and the kind words about "Hokum"! Keep up the great work here at Cosmic Lava!