The day after famed keyboardist Ikey Owens passed away in October 2014, a song came to Rubedo vocalist Kyle Gray.
Owens produced every Rubedo album, and was like a brother and honorary bandmate to the Denver trio — constantly providing connections, companionship and words of wisdom. Gray, overcome by grief, felt compelled to write the acoustic track dedicated to Ikey, then called “Ikey the One Thing.”
Just a couple of weeks later, the band travelled to Long Beach, California, Owens' hometown, and their second home, for an Ikey Owens memorial show. There at Jazz Cats Studio where the band recorded Love Is The Answer, they and some musical friends recorded “I Give You One Thing.”
“We were just in a place where we were hurting really bad and all of us just didn’t know what to do, so we decided to make a song,” drummer Gregg Ziemba says. “We tried to channel Ikey’s energy that was in the air and put that together.”
Ikey Owens, who played with Mars Volta, Free Moral Agents, and others, was on tour with Jack White's band when he passed away at a hotel in Mexico. Rubedo and other Denver musicians who had been influenced by Owens held a memorial for him. His influence is lasting, as indicated by this release.
The song is somber and contemplative, a departure from the band's usual blast of psych pop. Ziemba says the band finally released it now, over a year later, because December 1 is Owens' birthday.
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“We shared it with some close friends that knew him,” Ziemba says. “We did it for him and ourselves. It was his birthday today so it was like, ‘oh let’s put it out.’ It’s easier to reflect now on how much impact he had on all of us and the music world in general. it was so hard then, anything we did felt hard to release we didn’t know how to handle it. We’ve never felt those feelings before.”
Owens' passing left Rubedo a little lost, especially since Owens was supposed to produce the next album, and was in talks with Ziemba to start their own label. However, while recording “I Give You One Thing,” Rubedo bonded with Jonny Bell, owner of Jazz Cats, who agreed to be their new producer.
“Jonny, who owns the studio, he came in and he’s all funny, he’s like ‘this is what Ikey would like,’” Ziemba says. “He gave us a cool perspective…part of that experience of recording that song made us feel like it would be cool to work with Jonny.”
Rubedo will be heading back to the Long Beach studio in January. For now, fans of theirs and Owens have this track to hold them over.