Rusted Root celebrates 25 years, but looks to the future
For the past quarter of a century, Michael Glabicki and his band Rusted Root have brought communal jams that feature African rhythms, jazz, folk and world beats to audiences around the world.
The guitarist and lead singer said the band is on the brink of stepping into the future.
"I feel like our last record, ‘The Movement,’ was like the peak of the past 25 years and the next record we’re getting ready to do represents the next 25 that are coming up," Glabicki said in an interview with The Park Record during a telephone call from Milford, Connecticut. "So this is an interesting time for us."
Before the band hits the studio, it’s taking a tour and one of the stops at Park City Live on Monday, Oct. 27. When Glabicki heard that Park City Live was formerly known as Harry O’s, he lit up.
"We used to play at Harry O’s," he said with a laugh. "I remember those crazy times and the shows were always on the edge of insanity. So I’m sure we’ll recognize some ghosts when we play."
Glabicki took a pause and reflected fondly on Rusted Root’s career highlights.
"First off I would say [one of those highlights] was capturing our innocence at the beginning," he said, laughing. "When we made our album ‘When I Awoke’ in 1994, we really didn’t know what we were doing."
Still, the album, which was the follow up to the band’s 1991 debut, "Cruel Sun," made an impact and was the band’s first platinum album, selling more than 1 million copies.
But the success of that disc led to maneuvering through record-label and intra-band politics.
"We had to get through the turmoil after that," Glabicki said. "There was a lot of pain, but to get to the other side of all of that and realize that I wasn’t too affected felt pretty good.
"I found myself back in a place where I had more of an understanding of music but also realized we still didn’t know very much," he said. "So that made us want to explore more."
Another highlight was meeting Grammy Award-winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Carlos Santana.
"He was a great teacher and really gave a lot of his time to us," Glabicki said. "I can look back and see how much I’ve learned from him."
Then there was meeting and going on tour with Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant and Jimmy Page.
"That kind of tore down a veil for us," Glabicki said. "To me they were beyond legends in my mind and to meet them and realize they were like little kids like us was pretty profound."
In addition to the musicians Glabicki met outside of the band, he is grateful for all of his current and former bandmates.
"I have special memories for each of those people and what we learned together," he said.
The idea of creating a band that combined various styles of music sprouted while Glabicki was a teen and developed over time.
"I had a friend in high school who came across this African drumming tape and she learned the rhythms," he remembered. "After school we would work a good three hours on one rhythm and I would improvise and crank my guitar through a PA and we would play loudly.
"I felt the power of those rhythms and alternate tunings on the guitar," Glabicki said. "We would see if those would mesh together. Those were some of the best days of my youth, actually."
In college, Glabicki and his cousins would catch concerts around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
"My cousins played world beat music, reggae and they would join African drumming ensembles, and at that point, I realized playing music was for real and I could do it," he said.
A trip to Nicaragua solidified his thinking.
"The energy of the creativity in that place was immense and on every street corner there were poets and jazz guitarists," Glabicki said. "I was in this weird world of dual identities by living in South America and hearing jazz music and then coming back to Pittsburgh and hearing African and Latin music. That opened up so many possibilities."
To focus his efforts on songwriting and musical experimentation, Glabicki dropped out of college.
"I auditioned musicians and we became Rusted Root," he said.
When the band recorded "The Movement" in 2012, it knew it was going to be a different experiment.
"This was the first record that I fully engineered and produced," Glabicki said. "In that regard, it was all about setting up the gear in the right environment in order for the band to feel totally relaxed. And we spent a lot of time in that environment, having a good time."
The sessions also meant the band put the brakes on certain parts of its experimentation.
"We decided to utilize what we had learned in the past 25 years and captured it all," he said. "I had to really focus because I was running in and out of the booth finding sounds and getting inspiration."
After the sequencing and down mixing of the tracks, Glabicki emerged happy.
"I found that I really enjoy listening to the album and it’s a real celebration for me to hear it," he said. "In the past, I have moved on quickly from the other records, but this one really means something to me."
Looking toward the future is a little daunting, Glabicki confessed.
"It is because there is a lot of work that needs to be done to get there," he said. "The easy part is having fun and finding new landscapes of music that relate to our past, but are completely different at the same time.
"In the end, you have to break down what has been and identify the patterns the band has been stuck in before we can move ahead," he said. "That will take a lot of confrontation and a lot of explaining and truth telling, because if it’s really going to fly, we have to be brutally honest with each other."
Rusted Root will perform at Park City Live, 427 Main St., on Monday, Oct. 27. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased by visiting http://www.parkcitylive.net . For more information, visit http://www.rustedroot.com.
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