Q&A with Michael Glabicki of Rusted Root

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Jam band faves Rusted Root, which had a taste of mainstream stardom with the 1995 near-hit single "Send Me on My Way" and a popular cover of The Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want," is touring in support of Stereo Rodeo, the group's first studio album in seven years. Rusted Root kicks off its fall tour with a trio of gigs in Colorado. The Pittsburgh-based band plays Monday, October 19 at the Ogden Theatre, then at the Belly Up in Aspen on Tuesday, October 20, and closes its Centennial State run at the Fox Theatre on Wednesday, October 21. We caught up with bandleader Michael Glabicki while he drove through Indiana last week to knock out some solo dates. Glabicki explained the recording hiatus, why he's glad to no longer be on a major label and what Rusted Root plans to do in celebration of its twentieth anniversary.

Westword (Wade Tatangelo): What's the craziest thing that has ever happened to Rusted Root while performing -- or partying -- in Colorado?

Michael Glabicki: What kind of publication is this (laughs)?

WW: It's an alt-weekly. You can say whatever the fuck you want.

MG: We had a blast just sort of driving over toward Breckenridge from Denver once. We picked out a bowling alley and just did a show there and had a really good time.

WW: Rusted Root finally gave fans a new album this year with Stereo Rodeo -- after a seven-year wait between studio albums. What took so long?

MG: We had to take a break and live life a little bit. People went out and did solo tours or just cut loose and vacationed. It was necessary to not jump right into another project. Coming back, we knew it was the right thing to do. There's a lot of energy, feels like 1990 all over again.

WW: Did working with other people help you come up with fresh ideas when you returned to record with Rusted Root?

MG: For sure. Also, performing the songs solo and really getting to know them that way before bringing them to the band was very helpful. Being able to sit and look people in the face, and hear them breathe, and then be able to bring that feedback to the band really helped. I'm very proud of the intimate and magnetic elements of the new record, which I think really worked out well.

WW: Is it a pro or con no longer being on a major label?

MG: It's a pro. Six or seven years ago we were trying really hard to get off the label. With the technical availability to record today and the fact that we're well known for our live performances, it's better for us to work the record off that than trying to work at a Top 40 radio hit.

WW: It seems the burgeoning jam band scene, which has steadily grown now for the past fifteen years or so, has made record labels almost completely irrelevant for acts like yours.

MG: Yeah, I mean, bands that have hit singles are playing shows the same size as us, and then they'll be gone next year. What we do is really about evolution and sustainability and not the quick hit.

WW: Stereo Rodeo has less of a bluegrass bent than previous releases and more of this terrific Talking Heads vibe. How big an influence do you consider them?

MG: Big. Yeah, for sure. When we first started out people started comparing us to Talking Heads and I hadn't heard of them yet. I started checking 'em out and realized they were doing a lot of stuff we were doing, before us. Maybe not the same way but some of the things were similar and such. I really fell in love with them. Talking Head Jerry Harrison produced our [1996] album Remember. It's nice to have that connection.

WW: And there's that interesting interpretation of the Elvis Presley smash "Suspicious Minds," which you guys slow to a simmer. What prompted you to make that the album's lone cover song?

MG: I always kept that song in the back of my mind. I love it, it's very mysterious. I kept in my back pocket, and then we did it at soundcheck, and it worked, and then at the show, it was a big success, so we had to put on record.

WW: Rusted Root is closing in on its twentieth anniversary. Any celebrations planned?

MG: We have a list going on of things we want to happen: free shows, DVD release, audio releases of past demos might come out. Stuff like that.

WW: Do you see the band performing together for another two decades?

MG: Definitely, for sure. We have kids coming out who have heard us from movie soundtracks.

Rusted Root, with Crowfield, 8 p.m. Monday, October 19, Ogden Theatre, 935 E. Colfax, $25.25 - $30, 303-830-8497; 8 p.m. Tuesday, October 20, Belly Up, 450 S Galena Street, Aspen, $25-$28, 970-544-9800; 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 21, Fox Theatre, 1135 13th Street, Boulder, $25-$30, 303-443-3399.

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