January 31, 2002

Homebaked Beats

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This past Saturday (January 26) Portland, Maine’s own rock pioneers, the Rustic Overtones, left many ears ringing for hours, as any true rock concert should. The funky six-piece took the stage at the Community Commons after opening acts Bandana Grey and NYC’s funksters Mamma Cat.

The band has been gaining a following with its relentless crossbreeding of genres. They released their most recent album, Viva Nueva, on Tommy Boy Records.

On Saturday, the hooks of the radio single, “C’Mon,” and the trademark melodic aggression of “Hardest Way Possible” provided two of the evening’s high points. The band gave fans something to look forward to, as well, debuting new songs, including the Latin-tinged “She Gets Me High,” one of the catchiest tunes of the night.

Before the show, daze had a chance to sit down with singer/guitarist Dave Gutter, whose sardonic lyrics and ability to make screaming an art are the fuel of the band, and we discussed the record industry, David Bowie, and Britney.

daze: I was wondering what your feelings were on the whole current industry.

Dave Gutter: For me, it’s not even a thing I calculate into my daily life. As far as labels go … we write albums … What the record labels do, they focus on singles and what’s going to sell. And while I realize that’s important … to me it’s just like an advertisement for a band … So, I mean, as far as who does my advertising, I just don’t care. We’ve had a bunch of different labels. We’ve met good people and bad people at all of them. There are honest people in the industry, unlike everyone says. They’re not all bad. There are some dishonest people, and we just don’t really care as long as we can put out albums … [Arista] had held us up for a while, and we were like, “That part in the contract where they hold us up for a year and we can’t put out an album — next time we do it, let’s take that part out of the contract and we’ll sign it.” So, that’s basically how our lives changed … The day I turned eighteen, I signed my first record deal … You really can’t get absorbed in the industry business, because it’s so terrible right now. There are, like, three labels running the whole thing, and whoever pays the most money gets their artists on the radio … And we can’t compete with Britney and N’Sync and all that stuff.

daze: So, what do you think draws that line between the marketable, commercial success and the edge of breakthrough?

DG: I mean, we try to write songs, and hopefully there is something about them that’s timeless. You know, we listen to the Beatles, so we write songs. And every once in a while, people will find one and say, “Oh, this will be good for the radio.” If it blows up, cool. But we’re still not making a lot of money, and there are a lot of artists out there whose albums go gold, and they’re still not making much money.

daze: You mentioned the Beatles. I was wondering what other bands or artists you guys listened to growing up.

DG: I listened to a lot of punk rock. A lot of indie, skateboard, punk rock bands. The Misfits, the Ramones, the Clash. I started off with a lot of punk and then I heard the Clash, and they did this totally different thing. They just used that punk spirit, and applied it to whatever music they wanted to do. So that’s like where we got our style. It’s all over the place. We approach any style we want to.

daze: So, how was working with Bowie [He lent vocals to “Sector Z” from Viva Nueva]?

DG: It’s still this lasting memory. Every time I lay a vocal now, I definitely think of the time when I sat and watched Bowie lay vocals for my song and he called up to the control room, [taking on a British accent] “Dave, was that ok?” “Yeah Mr. Bowie, that was good.” “No, take it again, that sucked!” You know? Just remembering him asking me to write my lyrics down. That’s unforgettable.

daze: How about your future plans?

DG: We have seventeen new songs we’ve written during the last month for a new album.

daze: And you’ll be sticking with Tommy Boy?

DG: Well, there’s so much weird stuff going on in the industry. But, yeah, we’re sticking with Tommy Boy … But a lot of these labels that are going against the bigger labels aren’t able to stay afloat. So, as long as Tommy Boy can remain afloat in this climate, we’re with them. But I think that … and a lot of people will say I’m an asshole for saying this, but when the World Trade Center shit happened, I felt honest-to-goodness pain for that, but one of my first thoughts was, maybe now music will change. I knew this was going to have a drastic effect on the entire world, and that was the only optimistic thing I took from it. And so, I think there’s definitely a curve now. There’s some bands out there that are doing something different but are in the mainstream. Like, the Strokes are definitely an example of that. They’re not like one of my favorite bands, but if it’s like, root for the Strokes so that Fred Durst gets out of there, I’ll do that. I’ll wave the Strokes flag all day long.

Archived article by Ben Kupstas