Eclectic Music From Beyond
Rusted Root consists of six musicians -- four males, two females -- and a range of instruments from the guitar to the penny whistle. Their first album, When I Woke (1994) featured the hit “Send Me On My Way” and went platinum in 1996. Their new album, Welcome to My Party, features an electric guitar and computer sounds not used in their previous songs. The Tech spoke with vocalists Mike Glabicki and Jenn Wertz.
The Tech: Who has influenced you most?
Mike Glabicki: Neil Young, Radiohead.
Jenn Wertz: Rolling Stones, Blues.
TT: Where do you get ideas for your songs?
MG: I write most of them on acoustic guitar, then we just get together and build around them.
JW: Have you heard the new album? “Union 7” is basically about all of us, these characters in a bar.
MG: And “People in My Village” just started on drum, this groove with Jim.
JW: In the past, we’d all just build around Mike, but I think this album we’ve all been more collaborative. Liz and me both wrote our own songs.
TT: You’ve been compared a lot to Dave Matthews, and your music combines Latin, African, soul, and rock. How would you describe your music?
JW: Well, like you say, it can’t be compared, and it’s hard to describe. It’s just us, made up of our personalities. We play a little bluegrass, folk, rock, African, soul. It just comes from beyond.
TT: You’ve toured with groups such as Dave Matthews Band, the Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers. What’s been your favorite tour?
JW: Page and Plant. Ratdog.
MG: Santana. We went onstage and played about six songs with them that were basically all improv.
TT: What’s your favorite city to perform in?
JW: New York
MG: Kalamazoo. Milwaukee. Chicago.
JW: Yeah, now I remember Chicago. They have this great crowd; they’re our friends.
TT: Favorite song to perform live?
MG: Well, it changes, but right now, I’d say Blue Diamond.
JW: Yeah, that’s what I was going to say. Blue Diamond is this ballad, but it’s not delicate. It’s this duet between Mike and me.
TT: How is listening to you perform live different from listening to the recording?
JW: There’s this connection you get with the audience when you perform live. It’s wild and uninhibited. Frequency. Modulation. There’s definitely this alchemy because the audience takes part in it. It’s meaty.
MG: Yeah, there’s just something you get out of hearing it performed live, and if you hear a recording of a live show, it might not be there. It’s too big for CD, too big for audio, too big for television.
TT: Who are you listening to now?
MG: Ryan Adams, The Frames, The Outcasts.
JW: North Mississippi Allstars, Doors, R.E.M., Radiohead.
TT: What advice would you give to other bands out there trying to make it?
JW: You have to develop an audience first. Grassroots. So definitely just get out there.