Catching up with Rubblebucket at Bonnaroo: Q&A with Kalmia Traver

How are you feeling, playing so many sets at Bonnaroo?

I don’t know – I feel like there are so many great artists and so much great music all in one little zone. I think they are going for that community vibe and I think that they nailed it. I feel more sort of connected to everything here than in a normal venue.

How would you describe the evolution of band’s sound and style?

We’ve evolved a lot since we started out. At first, we were really inspired by life and we took a more simplistic approach. I feel like we have really bolstered and changed our sound a lot. We are still totally drawing from the same places and trying to embrace the essence of being a live band, but we’re also open to change and growth, which is important.

You guys have been doing a lot of smaller performances throughout the festival. Do you enjoy that more than one large performance or do you have a preference either way?

Well, I think that the festival honestly peaks with that performance in front of you know, a hundred thousand people. That’s sort of always the goal.

I think, though, that the intimate audience is something that is so special and important and I think a lot of our shows allow our fans to be right there.

It also allows us to be right there with them, with the people who paid money to see us and who really care. I think that that is what it is all about. Festivals don’t always allow for that; the big crowds make it hard to give everyone the same experience. So I’ve totally been enjoying the smaller shows. I still have the goal of the huge headliner show, though.

Can you describe your creative process? Are you very collaborative or insular?

Alex, the trumpet player, and I write a lot of the songs together. We’ll get together write a song, show it to one another and then we bring it back to the rest of the group. The band throws in their ideas and that’s when the song really comes to life. Their insights and opinions help the song to evolve and become something meaningful and creative.

Do you have one piece of equipment that you feel you couldn’t live without?

My saxophone, not only in my musical career, but in my life as well. I could not live without that. I’m definitely someone who tries new things out. If it doesn’t work for me, it doesn’t work, but I like to give new pieces of equipment a shot. I have a set of pedals that I love and a Carbon Copy Analog box that I love, but I’m up for anything.

You have a very energetic and dynamic performance. How do you get that sound to carry over onto a studio-recorded album?

Yeah, its really hard and I don’t think we’ve figured it out yet.  We’ve really been honing in our awareness of our sound in the last few years and we really want to recreate our in-person presence on our recordings. We’ve been trying to make our live sound more universal on our projects and we’re actually going to be recording after this. I really think that there is something to be said about trying to capture a live performance and we’ve done some albums where it’s layers and layers of sound and instrumentation and others that were incredibly simple. “Came Out Of A Lady” for example, for the Masters of the Day project, we recorded that track all in one day. I know that that process isn’t always easy but I think it has a lot of potential to create something really great. It’s all about live.

Do you guys have any pre-show rituals, anything you do right before coming on stage?

Well, we do sometimes. Mainly we try to get as relaxed as possible. We used to get into a circle throw all our hands in and sing a little chant. Its sort of this inside joke, but it gets us all ready to go. I enjoy it, I think its important and I hope we continue with it.

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