Perhaps at the most simple level musicians view it as their job to deliver the music their fans love them for and to put on a good, entertaining live performance. Beyond that however, making and performing music is about much more. For world jam rockers Rusted Root, this means a new devotion to consciousness, focus, and discovering the vibe and light of being for both themselves and their community of fans. Released in October of this year, The Movement is the latest record from Rusted Root which seeks to conceptualize these ideas into a musical form that marks a turning point for the band while not only maintaining but strengthening the tie to their listeners.
After two decades together, the six piece Pittsburgh group has a good idea of what they’re after and how to achieve it, and yet the making of The Movement marked many firsts. For lead vocalist and founder Michael Glabicki, that first was distinguished by his production and engineering of the album. “It’s probably the most work I’ve ever done in my life,” said Glabicki in a telephone interview. It was his first time acting as producer and engineer and in the beginning, he said, “I didn’t know if it was going to work because it was really madness.” Glabicki and the rest of Rusted Root grew into the process though, learning that despite their desire to capture a live sound with single takes, that it would require many takes with Glabicki running back and forth. Madness aside, Glabicki said he enjoyed the experience, which he found inspiring for directing the band and opening them up to a new level of communication among the chaos.
Outside of their own communication and ideas, Glabicki said that is was also in part of fan contribution to the album that the band was able to push their creativity into new territory. Fortunate Freaks Unite, a fan-funding campaign, was created in tandem with The Movement to allow fans to make personal contribution and participate in the recording process. By buying into various packages, fans were able to get involved on a variety of levels, “Anywhere from getting their name on the record to people coming to sounds checks to getting their favorite song played while sitting in on recording,” said Glabicki. Aside from fans’ contribution to the sound of the record and the effects of their physical presence, Glabicki said they also interacted directly with the music, generating hand claps and other such nuances during actual recording. “It really got us creatively out of our box,” said Glabicki, a fun experience that got the band thinking in a different light while allowing listeners to be involved in the music they love.
As Rusted Root’s songwriter, Glabicki also sought ways in which to push his lyrics into a new light. “I also ask myself what is inspiring me, is there something I need to do to refuel the tank,” said Glabicki, a difficult and constant personal question. Just as the band strives to bring new aspects to their music, so too does Glabicki try to incorporate both the world and himself into the lyrics. On The Movement the result was a personal side that Glabicki said he’s not really touched on before. “On this record I’ve had a lot more personal relationship type songs I don’t normally tap into, which was new for me,” said Glabicki.
Whatever it is he’s singing about, Glabicki said it’s like a whole other world comes out in his voice and in himself in connection to the music. Such a connection creates feeling, Glabicki went on to say, which then leads to a spark that creates an image which builds the final story of the song and music. “I don’t know what it is I’m tapping into, but that’s it,” said Glabicki, and that’s what it is he wants to keep focus on.
Realizing and maintaining that focus has been a whole other story, however, one which Glabicki said he feels the band has finally approached after many episodes of trial and error and general experimentation. “As we look at the past we just experimented” without a lot of direction, allowing for any focus to turn into craziness, said Glabicki. This time around, Glabicki said they went into the studio with a handful of songs already picked out and of those took the ones that worked rather than bringing every piece of material in from the get-go. While Glabicki did note that some bad experiences have resulted from past experiments, he emphasized that such an experimental nature is important to have in the creative process. “We just do what we gotta do and do it best,” said Glabicki. In an atmosphere where experimentation can either lead to something spectacular or simply more experimentation, Glabicki said that with The Movement,“The main priority was to have fun and keep it a little bit lighter.”
While Glabicki and Rusted Root wanted the album to be fun and light in both its sound and ambiance, The Movement was recorded with a much greater idea behind it that called largely upon community and a state of being. “I feel like as a band our devotion is light,” and it is at live shows among the Rusted Root community that that light is created, said Glabicki. Much of music is about the perception of the people, said Glabicki, that people hear the music and they hear a happiness, and it is that togetherness which Glabicki seeks to transfer to listeners with The Movement. “It’s about getting a vibe on where our consciousness is...about being in it completely and going for it,” said Glabicki. And like Rusted Root’s experimentation and creation in the birth of a new record, such a state of mind and the capturing of that light can be brought about only by focus. It’s about keeping focused in the crazy moments among the rush of social media, meeting people, and the general rush of life, said Glabicki. “There’s just a lot of work being done,” he said, “and all you can do right now is give all you can give and just give that light.”
It may have taken the two decades that Rusted Root has been together for them to really focus themselves individually and as a band to achieve such a light. Yet over that time they have developed a community of Fortunate Freaks who Glabicki and Rusted Root seem ready and eager to communicate with in a new light, bringing about their ideas with the music of The Movement.