Rusted Root front man Michael Glabicki doesn’t really need an introduction, but let’s give him one anyway. As the primary voice behind one of the most energetic and musically textural groups still touring today, Michael’s signature voice and impassioned delivery continues to inspire new and old fans alike.
When not on a bus with his primary band, Michael also performs as a solo artist and will be taking his show on the road in early 2013 to lucky cities across the East Coast. I got in contact with Michael prior to the tour to talk about his solo works, his influences and experiences as front man for Rusted Root, and where he places his solo work in the grand scheme of his lengthy career.
G- Hi Michael and thank you for taking the time to speak with Live High Five today!
M- Yea thanks for having me!
G- Absolutely! You are getting ready to embark on a little solo tour starting this week… How has everything been going thus far into 2013, and how have your rehearsals been for this upcoming run?
M- They’ve been going great! We just got off of tour with Rusted Root and jumped right into this solo thing and it’s great! It’s chaos right now and there’s a lot of creativity flying around the room, and I kinda like it that way.
G- Yea I’m sure. You were on the road for a few months… I know you played Syracuse a couple of times on the last run, but how long were you on the road with Rusted Root, and how long did you give yourself to take a break before your solo run?
M- We were on tour I guess, before Christmas, for 4 months and that was a long haul. We had a little break for the holidays, and then we went out for New Years and did 4 shows, and we’re back home now.
On the road, I’d been working and writing and kinda organizing the songs and ideas for the songs, so it was fun to get home and jump into it with a new drummer here and a bass player I’ve been working with. It’s just been going great! We’ve turned some acoustic songs into electric, full band songs, and some, you know, electric songs just exploding with more rhythmic stuff that we’re doing… some African highlights and Afrobeat stuff… It’s pretty exciting!
G- That’ excellent! Now, I’m new to your performance as a solo artist, so what I want to know is are you currently touring off of a release, or do you have any plans to head into the studio for your solo work in 2013?
M- Well, I haven’t put out a solo record, but I have done some EP’s where I’d kinda do some Rusted Root material in a different fashion, acoustic or whatever. So this is actually the start of developing the music for my first solo record. I’ll be going in (to the studio) in May to do that.
G- Right on. Now, you talked a little bit about the music, maybe you can go over a few of the inspiration behind your solo work and how they might compare with the Rusted Root output… Do you have any political/social bend you may be approaching with your songs, or is it more straight up and to the point?
M- Well, there’s multiple layers of writing going on here. Some of it… There is sort of a thing I’ve done in the past where it’s kinda in back taking another view of where we’re at as the human race or society, kind of dealing from a distance and being able to talk about that in the songs and also reach people through that. It’s a different kind of doorway, and I think that’s been part of my successes in the past, being able to do that and I’ve connected to people in that way.
There’s a lot of that going on, which is turning out really great, but I’m also getting back to just coming in the room and focusing on the undertones and under-meanings of music in the voice, and creating emotions musically with the voice. Once that emotion is created, then the lyrics sort of come out like it’s a dream being explained to me, you know, like emotions, you know? And that’s been great to get back to, too, so that’s really exciting.
Some of the music is just straight up personal and introspective and I know what I’m talking about when I’m writing it, and that’s kind of what would noticeably make the material different than Rust Root.
G- Right on, and how may songs do you currently have prepared or are in the working stages for your solo project?
M- Well, right now we’ll be playing 9 of them during the set.
M- And, like I said, some will be acoustic and some will be electric… Some will have drums and bass, and some won’t. So, I’m bringing that, and by May I’m looking to have 6 more written to go into the studio.
G- Great! And of the songs that you currently have, do you have a particular favorite song that you’ve written so far, or to take it a step further, if you could only give 1 track to someone who’d never heard your solo work before to make a new fan, what track would you offer and why?
M- Hmm… That’s a good question.
G- Thank you.
M- (laughs) Let’s see… Well, there is this one song that is just straight up raw emotion, and I kind of liken it to maybe John Lennon’s first solo album, Plastic-Ono Band, where it’s just raw and you know the experience when you go into that personal experience. It’s called “Not Playing Games.”
M- It’s not a complicated song at all, but it’s just that big, raw emotion kind of coming down and smacking you.
G- Ahh the beauty of simplicity, correct?
G- Very good. Now, to get a it business sided for a second, obviously you said you’re going to be going into the studio in the future with your solo work, and as a musician who has experiences on both major and independent labels, how would you compare your experiences been with some of larger music companies, and can you mention some of the pitfalls to avoid for those looking to get signed?
M- Well, I think… Hmm. Probably the thing I know least about as far as what I do, and I mean that because I just focus on the music and the live perspective. If you’re connecting to an audience, the business side of things will be revealed.
If you can go out and play and turn audiences on at every show in every town, then you have power behind you. What I would tell everybody to stay away from is relying on somebody else to do that for you, and to create that excitement. You have to go do that on your own, or else you’re just kinda flimsy and flipped around out there in the business. So it’s always been my perspective to just go out and kill it live…
G- Right on!
M- Yea, and then see what happens from there. And that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go with a major label or any kind of label, but do it yourself and that will reveal the path for you.
G- Good. Now to talk about fan bases and audiences, as a renowned performer nationally and international, how would you say the international audience compares with your audience during performances in the states, both in terms of how you play, the audience reaction, and general hospitality between areas?
M- Well, we actually haven’t done that much internationally, just because we’re such a big band and it’s tough to go overseas. I think probably the most memorable time was when we opened for Robert Plant and Jimmy Page in England…
G- Oh yea!
M- That was a complete mind blowing experience, and it was funny because the audience didn’t know there was an opening band. So when we were up there on stage with the lights out, they thought ‘Here’s Led Zeppelin coming on stage,” and the lights come on and it’s us and they’re like ‘Who the hell is this?!”
So my experience with that is we ended up winning the crowd over and it was great and we had a good time with them. But we’re actually going to be getting back to a lot more international gigs later this year and getting back into that.
G- Very good. Any particular countries or regions of the world you’re going to be focusing on?
M- Pretty much Europe, and hopefully Australia.
M- But I’m not totally sure we’re going to do that this year.
G- Right on. Now, you touched on it already and I was going to ask what your most memorable show was, but I’m pretty sure you’ve already given up the goods… You’ve shared the stage with remaining members of Led Zeppelin already, so you have more bragging rights than most performers ever will, but are there any bands or artists that you hope to share a bill with in the future? If you could curate a feasible 3-bill dream lineup for your solo project, who would you want to share a stage with in the future?
M- Hmm… Another good question. I would have to say probably Neil Young. I mean, we’ve played on the same stage at festivals with him, but I’d love to tour with him. That’d be awesome! Let me see… Who else?
G- Take your time.
M- (Laughing) I’m really, like… it’s so up in the air right now in that it’s turning into different things every hour that I’m not sure where I would place it right now with other acts. It’s a tough call right now.
G- Right on. Well, you’ve got Neil Young!
Lastly, as a man who’s experiences many ups and downs in the music industry, your input and advice will be highly regarded by those looking to make a name for themselves in this business… What advice can you give some of the young, up and coming bands everywhere that want to make it in music, on the road, and as a professional musician?
M- Well, I would say really focus on making music that represents yourself and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable or to express something that might be crazy at first. I think, when wegot started, it was pretty weird… It was pretty odd some of the stuff we were doing, but we just kinda believed in it and for us it worked. Not to say that there wasn’t 50 songs that we tried that didn’t work, but I figure it’s more about being honest and going for it.
Nowadays, there’s a lot of people going to their computer and internet and attaching themselves to a scene and being able to create computer friendly music, but I think it’s more about playing live with a group of musicians, or playing live with just you and a guitar and finding something that is profoundly you, and profoundly undeniable at the same time.
G- That’s excellent. Well thank you again very much for taking the time to speak with me! Travel safely, play very well, and I look forward to seeing the show!
M- Great man… See you then!