A Conversation with Joe Hertler

By: Kate Fletcher

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This Friday, Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers are bringing their electric sounds to Madison all the way from Lansing, Michigan. Known for their fantastic live shows full of energy and positivity, the band has been off and on the road for the past year, touring for their latest album Terra Incognita which came out in the early months of 2015. I was lucky enough to ask Joe a couple questions over the phone as he relaxed in his hometown for a breather between tour dates. It’s been a whirlwind of a year for this uplifting artist, but his passion for his musical creations became clear to me within the first minutes of the conversation.

Trying to describe Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers to someone who is unfamiliar with the band can be quite challenging. Terra Incognita features a very broad variety of different musical styles and truly demonstrates the range of songs that the band can produce while still remaining unique with their own Rainbow Seeker brand. Hertler is well aware of this fact. While describing the writing process, he said, “I jump around a little bit! I just get bored easily, so when I write too many pop songs I’m like, ‘Alright, I gotta bring it down, get a little more sentimental.’ So that generally is the trend that usually goes from like 2-3 songs… like a couple pop songs then a couple live jams then we’ll kind of gear back towards more folky singer-songwriter style.” This mixture of tunes, stemming from a writer drawing from many different angles, makes the album an extremely interesting one to listen to.

No matter what your music taste, there will be at least one song on the album that resonates with you. His personal favorite track is ‘Betelgeuse’, explaining, “It’s definitely like a low-key track on the record and probably catered to some headphone listening… just from the song-writing perspective, it’s probably one of my favorite songs.” However, this free-flowing writing process and melodic diversity does raise some eyebrows on the corporate side of band’s music production. “With our label, I feel like the business people involved at the end of the day are always like, ‘You guys really should think about sticking to a genre’” Hertler described, “but it almost seems more natural to go with what you’re feeling at the time rather than like trying to write to, like, a certain style.” Though their label might find it more convenient for them to settle for a more specific genre, the Rainbow Seekers do not plan on doing this anytime soon. And so far, this strategy has been working, as they receive acclaim and growing crowds for their live performances.

From the back roads of Colorado to the festival circuit in Michigan, Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers have seen all different sides of America, refining their live performance all the way along. “I would say we’re a live band,” Hertler explains, “and I kind of preach that mentality to the band… The big idea behind the band is definitely the live show; that’s what we’re most proud of.” Forming relationships with good people from across the country has been one of the best parts about going on the road, Joe recounted. Genuinely friendly crowds, including some fans welcoming enough to open up their homes to the band when hotel rooms hadn’t yet been booked, are what make the shows so special. The concerts “are just a warm environment, and that’s mostly due to just people being nice.” Whether it’s the audience or the band that it emanates from, positive energy fills each venue with the sweet sweeping tunes of Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers as a vessel to spread it throughout.

After the show Friday, and the following day of binge-listening in an attempt to cope with post-concert depression, you will surely wonder, “Will there be another Rainbow Seeker album soon?” The answer isn’t clear but Joe did show his interest in getting back to the studio. “I think we’re all really craving the studio. I know I am just because we’ve been traveling around and touring but…” Hertler explained, trying to figure out how to summarize the tour vs. studio experience, “It’s spastic. Despite all the downtime, its still very one place to the next. You don’t always get a chance to hang out and get to know the area”. After the next 11 gigs coming in the October, perhaps the band will take a well deserved break before beginning the recording process again.

Ultimately, when coming to the show on Friday, leave any expectations you may have for Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers behind. They are known to surprise even seasoned fans with their fun sets and good vibes. “At the end of the day, I think the band is fully realized in a venue, in a live setting” Joe affirmed. The atmosphere in the Sett will surely be different than it has ever been in the past, and it will not be a show to miss.

square-madisonBecome a “sprightly young groove doctor” and experience Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers yourself at the Sett at 9 pm on October 9th, 2015.

Listen to Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers HERE!

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WUD Music Presents: Bryce Vine w/Chris Labella, Der Rathskeller at 8pm

The only way this Friday the 13th will be unlucky is if you don’t check out these young talented fellows. Chris LaBella, a local rapper will be opening for Bryce Vine all the way from LA! Check them out at Der Rathskeller tonight (Friday 13th) at 8pm!

I got to ask Bryce a couple questions during his busy route to town.

Where were you born, and what brought you to Los Angeles?

I was born in a small apartment in Manhattan. I moved to LA when I was about ten because my mother who was an aspiring actress at the time landed a role on a daytime soap opera.

Did you start as a rapper?

Actually, no.  I started as the lead singer of a punk band. 

How did you come about the name (of the new album)? 

Laissez-faire was the name of the little party boat my mom used to have.  My friends and I spent many summers on the lake drinking and rock jumping. The album title was a tribute to those memories.

Who is/are your biggest inspiration(s)

Stephan Jenkins of Third Eye Blind and Frank Ocean are some of my favorite writers.  Big fan of Kid Cudi, Brother Ali, and The Wombats, also.

Would you be looking for a girl to go see 50 Shades Of Grey with? 

I’d Probly rather go alone and pretend to weep next to happy couples.

kama-surfing-pigWhats your spirit animal?

Kama, the Hawaiian Surfer Pig…Google him. –>

What would you do to get some free sour patch kids?

Murder.

 What is your favorite thing about performing on College Campuses?

College students hold nothing back when they are feeling the music.  They go ape shit.

What is the weirdest talent you posses?

My perfect impersonations of Macy Gray and Shaggy.

Is there anything crazy we can expect from your show tonight?

Two words…Panda Cannon

Thank You

Saturday, February 14th in Der Rath: White Arrows w/ CHAPPO

Spend your Valentine’s day with a night of upbeat, feel good indie pop.

White Arrows have been described as “psychedelic pop” and that encompases a lot of their sound.  With electronic undertones and it will be hard not to dance as they play. This is what good pop music sounds like. Originally getting their start in New York but now based out of Los Angeles, they released their first album, Dry Land Is Not A Myth in 2012. Their newest album In Bardo was released in September of 2014. Previously they’ve toured with the likes of Cults, White Denim, The Neighbourhood, Santigold, and The Naked and Famous. Fans of any one of these acts plus fans of groups like Animal Collective and MGMT will LOVE this show.

Here’s a super cool/visually appealing White Arrows music video they released in the fall:

And here’s a live video so you can get a peek at how awesome this show will be:

Along with White Arrows, CHAPPO is playing. I swear you’ve heard their song Come Home before, it was definitely in a commercial or something a couple years ago. It’s infectious and poppy and is one of the most fun songs to get stuck in your head. It’s off their full length album Moonwater which was released in 2012. More recently though, CHAPPO released an EP entitled Celebrate in December.

Come Home:

Celebrate (lyric video that came out only a week ago):

Why spend money on a Valentine’s dinner when you can enjoy free fun indie rock music instead? 8:00 pm in der Rath in Memorial Union.

VUD Music Presents: A Vednesday Valentine’s Playlist

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Because alliteration guys! The smells of dating culture are in the air, and ve couldn’t help exercising our poor German accents to make a cool blog post about our collaboration playlist vith The Visconsin Union! Check the Valentine’s Day-themed tracks below, and have a Vonderful Vednesday!

Need more Valentine’s Week Music? Local favorite Ben Ferris is curating a special Valentine’s Day show in The Sett at Union South Saturday night at 5:00 PM. You can check you out the full event info by clicking anywhere on this sentence!

WUD Music’s List of Lists #6: The Spring 2015 Lineup (So Far)

This is Mod Sun. (Photo copyright by Evan Dell)

This is Mod Sun. (Photo copyright by Evan Dell)

We’re just over a week away from free live concerts picking up again at Memorial Union and Union South, and we have a solid bunch of shows we’d like to share with you. Save the dates!

Friday, January 23rd in Memorial Union – Raura w/ Xoe Wise
Friday, January 23rd in Union South – Pat McCurdy
Saturday, January 24th in Memorial Union – The Racing Pulses w/ Busy Living
Saturday, January 24th in Union South – F. Stokes
Friday, January 30th in Memorial Union – Saturday Looks Good To Me
Friday, January 30th in Union South – Chicago Afrobeat Project
Saturday, January 31st in Memorial Union – The Living Statues
Saturday, February 7th in Memorial Union – Barley Jacks
Saturday, February 14th in Memorial Union – White Arrows
Saturday, February 14th in Union South – A Ferris Ferris Ferris Valentine’s Day (featuring music curated by the one and only Ben Ferris)
Friday, February 20th in Memorial Union – TV Girl
Saturday, February 21st in Memorial Union – JMSN
Thursday, February 26th in Union South – Cakes Da Killa
Friday, March 6th in Memorial Union – Lust for Youth
Friday, March 6th in Union South – Sidewalk Chalk w/ Kiernan McMullen
Saturday, March 7th in Union South – Wave Chapelle w/ Charles Grant and Max Meridius
Friday, March 13th in Memorial Union – Mod Sun
Saturday, March 14th in Memorial Union – Jake Armerding
Friday, April 10th in Union South – Foxygen
Shows in Memorial Union will take place in Der Rathskeller, and shows in Union South will take place in The Sett. All showtimes are 9 PM, except for shows in Memorial Union in February, which will be starting at 8 PM (it’s a pet project!).
Hope you like the list so far! We will be announcing more shows periodically throughout the semester, so make sure to check back here, like our Facebook page, and follow us on Twitter! Peace!

 

Show Review: Horse Feathers with Special guests John Mark Nelson and Sara Jackson-Holman

Horse Feathers performing at Wisconsin Union Theater

Horse Feathers performing at Wisconsin Union Theater

Tonight’s performance by Horse Feathers at Wisconsin Union Theater was presented with openers Sara Jackson-Holman, then John Mark Nelson and band. Overall, I was exhausted from a late night of studying, a midterm in the morning, homework after that, and was still very impressed by the performances.

I arrived early to do an interview with artist John Mark Nelson and I took a front row seat in the theater. The theater seating was amazingly comfortable and the room was quite dark, which may have had an adverse effect on the crowd’s engagement with the artists. There was laughing and clapping as the artists interacted with the crowd, but no one stood or danced.

The first opener, Sara Jackson-Holman, re-started her first song just a line or two in. She asked for more volume on her vocals and continued. This awkward-laugh-inducing pause was well worth what followed. She sang, in my opinion, like a softer-voiced Adele. I unfortunately did not have time to research her music before this, so missed song titles, but my personal favorite included the lyrics, “I could be the one.” It had an awesome base, and even she got into dancing to it. The last song she performed was a cover of “Baby come back” by Player. Despite the completely different eras of music, she adapted it well to her voice and style. Her crowd interaction was pleasant, but minimal. She did say she was sick and when she spoke normally her voice was much higher. Given this, I still find it impressive that she went through seven songs.

John Mark Nelson and his band played next. He himself played electric and acoustic guitar, Kara Laudon sang and played keyboard, Steve Bosmans played electric guitar, Benjamin Kelly played base, and Gabe Hagen played drums. They came across as very crowd friendly especially as Nelson did a small introduction while playing his guitar. On a non-musical note, they presented themselves very well. Going across the stage they looked almost uniformed all in jeans cuffed at the bottom and either a light blue or plaid shirt. Watching how much they enjoyed themselves on stage actually made me smile back at them.

They opened with a song off of his album “Waiting and Waiting” called “Home.” It was well performed, but as I expected he asked sound for less base so his lyrics would be clearer for the next number. Slightly muffled lyrics were unfortunately common throughout the show, all artists included. The band interacted really well with each other and they were all clearly introduced. He next played “Boy”, and “The Moon and the Stars” which is about Duluth, from his album “Sings the Moon.” The band also played an original number by Laudon who is starting to compose. They played four other numbers with varying degrees of their modern folksy feel and connection to pop or singer/songwriter styles.

Horse Feathers, the headliner came on shortly after. Whereas John Mark Nelson had a unique sound because of creative composition, this band had similarly creative composition and unique instruments. They played a saw, a banjo, a trumpet and a harmonica throughout the show. The cast was introduced, but once again the sound was muffled and I could not make out who was there and who wasn’t. The band usually consists of Justin Ringle with Guitar and Vocals, Nathan Crockett on Violin, Mandolin and Saw, Dustin Dybvig on Drums and Piano, Lauren Vidal on Cello, and Angie Kuzma with Violin and Vocals. They were crowd pleasers but seemed less interactive than the earlier John Mark Nelson.

Horse feathers played several of their older numbers including “Fit Against the Country.” Next they played “Where I’ll Be” which is when they introduced harmonica to the performance. They played a total of ten songs and two as an encore. The encore included a catchy performance of “Belly of June” and it was in their last song that they broke out the trumpet. It was a total crowd pleaser and applause continued until the lights came on.

Interview: John Mark Nelson, touring the midwest with Horse Feathers

John Mark Nelson and band playing at Wisconsin Union Theater this past Wednesday night as openers for Horse Feathers.
John Mark Nelson and band playing at Wisconsin Union Theater as openers for Horse Feathers this past Wednesday night.

John Mark Nelson is currently, and for the last year or so, has been traveling with a band. It’s him and four other members. He plays electric and acoustic guitar, Kara Laudon sings and plays keyboard, Steve Bosmans plays electric guitar, Benjamin Kelly plays base, and Gabe Hagen plays drums. This group, with slight alterations has been working with Nelson for past year. They are playing here in Madison because Nelson’s manager caught word of the Horse Feathers tour and wanted the group to tag along with them for a portion of it. They have played in Madison before. They played at the Terrace about 2 years ago, then the Rathskeller, High Noon, and now Wisconsin Union Theater.

Are you excite to open for Horse Feathers on this First National Support tour?

Absolutely. I think it should be a blast. We are super excited to be along with them. As we were driving out here we listened to some of their tunes.

What are you working on right now? Any new music?

We’ve just wrapped up a long series of writing so we’re going to get into the studio and record a new record in January. We’re kind of in the process of starting to introduce some of those tunes and get a feel for playing them live. I think as I move forward my songs still speak to a lot of different elements of my life – people I know or stories I’ve encountered. They are all very much story songs and have elements of who I am woven into them.

How did you develop your style and do you have a favorite artist that inspired you?

I actually like a lot of different kinds of music. I can point to a couple of different artists. A lot of the music I listened to as I was growing up I think shaped what I do now. My mom was very much into the pop music of the 60’s and 70’s so Peter, Paul and Mary and Simon and Garfunkle. My dad was very influenced by classical and jazz music. I think somehow a lot of what I make is sort of influenced by a meeting of those two worlds where there’s arrangements and compositions with different instruments, but blended in a very kind of like pop-relatable way.

How old were you when you started writing and what inspired you to start doing this?

I think I started really having a sort of idea that I was making songs with lyrics and stories and stuff when I was maybe 13 or 14. What inspired me was a very slow gradual process. When I was younger my dad brought home one of the first Mac computers with Garage Band on it, where you can take the loops, drag them around and rearrange them. I would make horrible loop songs and then I bought my first microphone. I started recording myself playing guitar. I just fell in love with recording and capturing sound. That slowly, over a couple of years, morphed its way into writing original songs.

What was the first song you ever wrote?

I don’t think I could pinpoint one exactly because the first record I put out was called “Still Here.” It was just a hand-picked assortment of different songs I had done. It wasn’t that I sat down at the beginning thinking I wanted to make an album.

How did you learn to play all the instruments featured in your videos?

I don’t actually play all of them but I can play guitar, drums, and accordion. Those are the three instruments that I actually feel comfortable playing. I certainly tinker on the keyboard and can play a base, but I shouldn’t.

Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?

As soon as you can start doing what you love, do it. If you have a passion for songwriting or for any form of art, just find outlets for it. There is that intimidating first step of “I want to do this but I don’t know how” or “I don’t know where” and you just need to find an outlet. If you’re a songwriter, start going to open mic nights. Don’t be afraid to jump into it and figure things out as you go.