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!

Friday Night at The Sett: Red Rose

Their music has been described as “a mixture of EDM, instrumental music, house, trip-hop and more.” So if you want to hear something new, stop by The Sett this Friday.

Red Rose, a local Madison group (click for their website), will be performing for free in Union South at 9:30pm on Friday.

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“But it’s finals time; I should study,” you say. What better way to study than to escape the monotony of college library for a little ambiance and environment? You can even reward yourself with a pitcher of your favorite tap beer (emphasis on “reward”. You should probably write a substantial amount of your paper before imbibing.)

The group’s live show is notable; combining a well executed mix of improvisation and live compositions, the performance is incredibly unique.

This free concert is open to UW-Madison students and their friends and families. For more information on upcoming concerts, be sure to sign up for our mailing list!

Saturday in the Sett: Dessa w/ No Bird Sing

Dessa makes her triumphant return to Madison after an album tour that’s brought some of the lowest lows and highest highs of her career.Dessa

When Doomtree emcee and brilliant, whiskey-swigging lyricist Dessa played in Madison last spring, she had yet to release her most recent album. Though that show consisted mostly of well-loved tracks from her previous albums, A Badly Broken Code and Castor, The Twin, the enthusiastic fans in attendance were teased by some new songs as well, leaving everyone with the sense that the upcoming release of Parts of Speech was going to be something special.

And whaddya know, we were right. Since that show, Parts of Speech finally dropped, charted at #72 in the U.S., was universally adored by listeners and reviewers from The Current to The A.V. Club to Mezzic, and the subsequent album tour sold out shows all across the country. Along the way, the crew’s van was robbed in Buffalo, NY and though they lost almost all of their equipment, they promptly experienced an outpouring of monetary support from their fans ($33,000 via Indiegogo in less than a day) to replace everything. And through all of this, they did not miss ONE. SINGLE. SHOW. This woman, this band, is a MACHINE. Check out this video of their one day, statewide tour of Minnesota (that’s four cities in 24 hours, folks), and just try to tell me that you don’t agree.

I don’t think I need to spend much time singing Dessa’s praises in this post (not to mention that I already did enough praise-singing to last us all a lifetime in my post from last April), but I will say this: There are few artists out there right now that work as hard or as passionately or with as much incredible skill as Dessa does. Listening to her music is an experience that affects every fiber of your being because you feel every single ounce of joy and pain that she pours into her music. Her whole ethic is pretty much summed up in this line from the song ‘Fighting Fish’, off of Parts of Speech

I didn’t come looking for love/ I didn’t come to pick a fight/ I come here every night to work/ And you can grab an axe, man, or you can step aside.

No Bird Sing, a trio of artists from the FIX Collective that also hails from Minneapolis, will open the show at 9:30. Weaving intricate guitar melodies and snare hits with stormy lyrics, their brooding, intense sound incorporates elements of rap, punk, and electronic, while still maintaining perfect cohesion. Check out ‘Don’t Think’, off Definition Sickness, which drops on November 12th.

Dessa, No Bird Sing, and the rest of this indie-rap extravaganza wrap up this leg of the tour at the end of the month, so grab an axe (metaphorically, as The Union tends to frown upon real weapons) and join us here on November 2nd. 

The Sett,11/2, 9:30 PM, FREE

Saturday Night on the Terrace: Lords of the Trident w/ Thunderunderus and Beast Warrior

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BEHOLD, the most METAL band on Earth! Or at least that is what Madison-based group Lords of the Trident claims. With an epicly extensive legend on the formation of the band, and musical arrangements that harken back to the 80s metal sound of bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, the question of their being the most metal band in the world at least warrants debate.

In all seriousness, the band is more a parody of itself than anything, and more comparable to Tenacious D (minus the wussy acoustic guitar) than Iron Maiden. I mean, come on. They have a song called “Rapeshore”.

But despite the ridiculousness of their image and the pyrotechnics and confetti cannons, Lords of the Trident is a talented group of individuals playing the music they love and having as much fun as they can on stage. Because of their talent and attitude, they actually have a strong core following from Madisonians. Their most recent release was funded by Kickstarter, and with only 108 backers, they more than tripled the amount of money they needed to fund the project. If that’s not fan dedication, I don’t know what is.

Lords of the Trident will be headlining Saturday, 8/10 at the Memorial Union Terrace. The first stop on their fall tour, fellow metal bands Thunderunderus and Beast Warrior will be providing support. The show starts at 9:00PM, and admission is FREE!

WUD Music Summer Lineup

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It’s that time again where the sun sets over Lake Mendota and musicians take over the summer stage on The Terrace. Below is our ENTIRE summer lineup, plan ahead, or don’t, just know this summer will be one to remember.

5/24/13  Behind the Beat: John Christiansen Jazz Quartet- Memorial Union: The Terrace

5/25/13  Handphibians + Gomers- Memorial Union: The Terrace

5/31/13  Behind the Beat: Brett Newski and the Corruption + The Thriftones- Memorial Union: The Terrace

5/31/13  Tweed Funk- Memorial Union: The Terrace

6/1/13  Roots Collective + Sebeh Tree- Memorial Union: The Terrace

6/5/13  Colorphase- Memorial Union: The Terrace

6/6/13  Sortin’ the Mail- Memorial Union: The Terrace

6/6/13  The Orwells + Twin Peaks- Memorial Union: The Terrace

6/7/13  Behind the Beat: Louka Patenaude- Memorial Union: The Terrace

6/8/13  Bailiff + The Outfit + The Sharrows- Memorial Union: The Terrace

6/12/13  Whiskey Farm- Memorial Union: The Terrace

6/13/13  Northern Comfort- Memorial Union: The Terrace

6/13/13  Adelyn Rose- Memorial Union: The Terrace

6/14/13  Behind the Beat: Cork N Bottle- Memorial Union: The Terrace

6/14/13  3 Pill Morning- Memorial Union: The Terrace

6/15/13  Natty Nation- Memorial Union: The Terrace

6/19/13  Anna Vogelzang + Dietrich Gosser- Memorial Union: The Terrace

6/20/13  Cajun Strangers- Memorial Union: The Terrace

6/27/13  Off the Porch- Memorial Union: The Terrace

6/27/13  Field Report + John Mark Nelson- Memorial Union: The Terrace

6/28/13  Behind the Beat: Little Margie’s Soul Band- Memorial Union: The Terrace

6/28/13  Mac DeMarco- Memorial Union: The Terrace

6/29/13  Jeffrey Broussard and The Creole Cowboys- Memorial Union: The Terrace

7/3/13  Sincere Life + Tefman- Memorial Union: The Terrace

7/4/13  Mad City Jug Band- Memorial Union: The Terrace

7/4/13  Bassel and the Supernaturals + Vic and Gab- Memorial Union: The Terrace 

7/5/13  Behind the Beat: Louka Patenaude- Memorial Union: The Terrace

7/5/13  Wild Child + PHOX- Memorial Union: The Terrace

7/11/13  Stillhouse Six- Memorial Union: The Terrace

7/11/13  Oberhofer- Memorial Union: The Terrace

7/12/13  Behind the Beat: The New Breed- Memorial Union: The Terrace

7/12/13  Lowdown Brass Band- Memorial Union: The Terrace

7/13/13  Trapper Schoepp and the Shades- Memorial Union: The Terrace 

7/17/13  4 Aspirin Morning- Memorial Union: The Terrace

7/18/13  Daylight in the Swamp- Memorial Union: The Terrace

7/18/13  Saintseneca- Memorial Union: The Terrace

7/19/13  Behind the Beat: El Clan Destino- Memorial Union: The Terrace 

7/19/13  Sidewalk Chalk- Memorial Union: The Terrace

7/20/13  EI-P + Killer Mike + Despot + Kool A.D.- Memorial Union: The Terrace

7/24/13  Pushmi-Pullyu + Icarus Himself- Memorial Union: The Terrace

7/25/13  Boo Bradley- Memorial Union: The Terrace

7/25/13  A Hawk and A Hacksaw- Memorial Union: The Terrace 

7/26/13  Behind the Beat: Megan Moran’s + 1- Memorial Union: The Terrace

7/26/13  Whiskey of the Damned + The Kissers- Memorial Union: The Terrace

7/27/13  Seabird- Memorial Union: The Terrace

8/1/13  Al Scorch- Memorial Union: The Terrace

8/1/13  Wook- Memorial Union: The Terrace

8/2/13  Behind the Beat: Alison Margaret Jazz Quartet- Memorial Union: The Terrace

8/2/13  Steez- Memorial Union: The Terrace

8/3/13  Pokey LaFarge- Memorial Union: The Terrace 

8/7/13  Land of Vandals + Oedipus Tex- Memorial Union: The Terrace

8/8/13  Sparetime Bluegrass- Memorial Union: The Terrace

8/9/13  Behind the Beat: Composers Quartet- Memorial Union: The Terrace

8/9/13  Maxmillion Dunbar- Memorial Union: The Terrace

8/10/13  Lords of the Trident + Thunderunderus + Beast Warrior- Memorial Union: The Terrace 

Tuesday Playlist: 82 degrees and perfection

It’s 82 degrees outside and perfect.  This weekend is your last chance to get any fun out of the way before finals week rolls around and you grind your hands into little nubs with ink on them.  At least your new hand deformity is a good ice breaker.

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Anyways, this playlist is stuffed with some music that is perfect accompaniment to any walking or running (preferably running) you do in the sun. Summer is almost here, and that’s terribly shocking, so ignore it and sprint! Move your eyes a little further down and you’ll see some little blurbs about the songs in the playlist. I promise they might be entertaining.

Tame Impala – “Apocalypse Dreams”: You know all of those psychedelic poppy songs The Beatles wrote?  Imagine if a band only heard those songs and then decided to write as many catchy songs as possible.  And reverb.  Oh man the reverb.

Glocca Morra – “Y’all Boots Hats (Die Angry)”: I wrote about this punk band a week or two ago, and it takes all the exuberance of driving cars quickly on an interstate–then shoves it into your ears.

Chance the Rapper – “Cool Ass Intro”: Dude actually has a new mixtape called Acip Rap out today.  Piano and beautiful backing vocals combined with a bouncy bass drum and some fantastic rhyming.  It’s stuck in my ears and it won’t go away.

Coping – “B”:  More punk.  They sound like a busy, sunny day.  That makes sense, right?

Machine Go Boom – “Lil’ Devil”: This was a weird little folk-ish rock band from Cleveland that seemed to be ignored since they were so strange.  The frontman could really write a song though, and Lil’ Devil is probably one of the most uptempo, giddy songs he wrote.

Ringo Deathstarr – “Slack”: So Ringo Deathstarr is a shoegaze band, but this song sounds like an attempt by them to make a good old fashioned high paced rock ‘n roll song, complete with a great chorus guitar hook and a grand amount of noise.

SPORT – “Saint Louis, 1904”: Yet another punk song.  They’re from France.  They sound a lot like the two other punk songs.

The Front Bottoms – “Twin Sized Mattress”: These are two witty New Englanders with an acoustic guitar, drums, and some tongue-in-cheek lyrics to win you over.  They have a new album coming out soon!  If you’re not yet convinced, look up their band name on Urban Dictionary.  Five year old Timmy probably shouldn’t read what it says though.

A Great Big Pile of Leaves – “Alligator Bop”: You know those big exercise balls you can sit and bounce on, and, if you’re mentally a five year old, it’s the most entertaining activity ever?  This song is that feeling.

The Deirdres – “Milk Is Politics”: I know absolutely nothing about this band.  I know that the website they link to on their Myspace page links to this sketchy site that is semi-pornographic, so I’m assuming that is no longer their website.  And if they still are only using myspace, it’s a pretty safe bet they either don’t know what computers are, or they no longer exist.  Either way, this song is absolutely ridiculous and poppy and catchy and it makes my fingers tingle.  It’s absolutely perfect to sing along to with fifty other people, the only other problem being fifty other people haven’t heard this song.

Andrew Bird – “Hole In The Ocean Floor”: Listen to this and feel happy.  It’s perfect.

Friday Night in the Sett: Dessa w/ First Wave Performers, Co-sponsored by the Campus Women’s Center

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Guys, I have a confession to make. I am more than a little bit obsessed with the artist I’m currently writing about. Some have called it a Level 3 girl-crush…Whatever. Basically, THIS is the blog post that I’ve been waiting for. Friends, WUD-ians, countrymen, lend me your ears. I’m going to tell you a tale. A tale that begins far, far away in the land of Minneapolis.

Dessa’s unique combination of musical talent and smart, biting lyricism first arose from participating in slam poetry competitions in college at the U of M. While living and working in Minneapolis after graduation, she befriended members of the Doomtree rap collective, and when they discovered her incredible talent for writing, they  asked her to join the group. She has since gone on to basically conquer the world, releasing four albums with Doomtree, writing and publishing a book, developing her own lipstick color with The Elixery in Minneapolis, and releasing two solo albums with one more, Parts of Speech, on the way on June 25th. Parts of Speech is being hailed as Dessa’s best work yet, with a wealth of different genres, beats, and instruments weaving together into a beautifully cohesive album that has critics falling over with pure excitement. The first single, Warsaw, was described by one reviewer like this: “The track boasts a beat like Azealia Banks playing Pacman, which provides a background for our emcee’s confident, hypnotic flow.” Couldn’t have said it better myself. You can listen to that here.

Dessa’s style is truly exceptional. It’s rare to encounter a rapper who makes amazing music without conforming to the genre’s stereotypes, but she accomplishes it, refusing to be put exclusively into the box of “singer,” “rapper,” or “writer.” She’s not shy about calling out the sexism and hypocrisy present in the world of hip-hop, with lyrics like “I found your steel ladder/Now your ceilings don’t matter/Check me out now I got glass floors.” Dessa will make you think. She will grab you by the collar and make you listen to her lyrics. She will change how you think of women in rap music.

She is what I listen to when I’m blissfully happy, and what I listen to when I’m so angry that I want to punt strangers through the Camp Randall goalposts. Dessa is an incredible artist, and a role model for women everywhere. Not just those in the music industry, but all the women who deal with sexism and stereotyping in their lives and work.

Of course, this night would not be complete without the incredible talent of an all-female group of First Wave performers, in honor of this event’s co-sponsorship with the Campus Women’s Center. For those who don’t know, First Wave is a multicultural coalition of artists who are also students here on campus. They perform spoken word and hip-hop, polishing their skills and showcasing their talents all across campus, the city, and the country. Anyone who has seen First Wave in action before knows that they consistently put on an energetic and passionate show, and will be the perfect intro to a night full of strong women with mad talent.

And as a final quick plug, the Campus Women’s Center does amazing work on this campus, and we are very proud to be working with them to put on an incredible show that honors and promotes female artists and their accomplishments. This show is going to be ridiculously awesome. Get there.

Friday 4/19, The Sett, 9:00 PM

Here’s some videos, to get you pumped.