This particular story begins–at least for yours truly–in Chatham, Massachusetts during the summer of 2003. It’s hard to believe that night was nearly a decade ago now, but the numbers don’t lie. I was with a group of friends–doing whatever it was that the 16-year-old version of me did on my nights off–when I heard a flawless acoustic rendition of Message in a Bottle coming from a bonfire down the beach. The ensuing stroll by the shoreline resulted in my first encounter with the music of Russ from SoundRabbit.
At the time, SoundRabbit was one man with an acoustic guitar. Now, ten years later, the band has evolved into a rocking quartet; Russ accompanied by Anton on the electric guitar, Chris on the drums, and–as of last year–Mario on the bass. In anticipation of their upcoming Boston show on April 19th at Johnny D’s, I caught up with my old friend about the Colorado-based band, their strong Boston ties, and why they do what they do.
Natty: How would you describe your music?
SR: Eclectic. We tend to dabble in many genres.
Natty: Who are your influences?
SR: We have a very wide range, everything from David Byrne and Talking Heads stuff to Al Dimeola and Charlie Hunter to Pearl Jam, Peter Gabriel, The Beach Boys, Screaming Headless Torsos, Dave Matthews Band, Wilco, Bob Marley, etc.
Natty: Why do you do what you do?
SR: We really can’t help it – melodies are swirling in our heads as we do other things, which is a blessing and a curse, but mostly a blessing. We’re spending 100 hours driving on this spring tour to play music for a total of about 18 hours. A five-to-one ratio, but those two hours on stage are completely worth it, and the drives can be inspiring.
Natty: What is your connection to Boston?
SR: Three of the four of us grew up in MA, but we didn’t meet until here in Colorado. I had the good luck of spending a couple of summers bonfiring on the beaches late at night in Chatham, MA before the boys in blue decided to shut down the fun. Mario is the exotic international in the group, hailing from Naples, Italy.
Natty: Why do you love Boston?
SR: It’s a city with great energy and it’s a nice manageable size, and we can see some familiar faces.
Natty: Why should everyone out there come to your show?
SR: We will be ready to settle in and jam after a 10 hour drive from Virginia that day, so we will not disappoint – it should be a blast. And of course Johnny D’s is a fantastic room – it’s our first time playing that venue.
Natty: All right, now to some fun. If you could eat at any restaurant in Boston, where would you go?
SR: We’ll take Mario to the North End and he can learn about Italian food.
Natty: What’s your dream gig?
SR: We got to play the Main Stage at Red Rocks up in Morrison (Colorado) a few years ago as part of a festival. We played a couple of slots before the Avett Brothers and shared a dressing room with Band of Horses. That was a bit of a dream realized, but I think we’d all like to be back there on our own someday. Take a number, right?
Natty: I’ve heard a lot about your Backstage Program and the work that you do with charities. Could you talk a bit about that?
SR: We’ve hosted two benefit concerts in Boston over the last few years. We raised $2,500 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society at one of them, and $1,100 for “The Good Climb”–a local non-profit set up by a couple of students at Northeastern Univ, building a library in Africa–at the other. You can get more information on our Backstage website.
Photo courtesy of SoundRabbit.