Deseret News Review of Brand New Shoes
Bouncing back and forth: RubberBand invents its own musical style:By Carma Wadley
Ryan Shupe and the RubberBand had to invent their own genre in order to play the kind of music they want: PostHeeHawFunkadelicHipHop-NewGrass.
?What that means is that if you listen to their music, you will hear some country, some bluegrass, some rock and some whole lot more.
The band has always been hard to pigeonhole.
"Country folks think we are bluegrass, bluegrass folks think we are country. We think we rock," says Shupe. Los Angeles thinks the band is one thing; the East Coast thinks it is another. In the meantime, they keep churning out the songs, playing the concerts, having a good time at whatever they are doing.
Composed of Shupe, Craig Miner, Roger Archibald, Ryan Tilby and newcomer Nate Smeding, the group has been performing together for 14 years. "RubberBand is the perfect name," notes the description on their website. "The group is known for its ability to stretch out musically in all directions, pinging back and forth with a joyful spontaneity most bands could barely imagine let alone achieve."
The group is less concerned about sticking to one style than being true to its sound, says Miner. "We are not confined to any one genre."
"We all play acoustic-based instruments," adds Shupe. "We try to push the boundaries in ways that are unique to our instruments." And they do it with not only a great deal of musicality but also a lot of humor.
They have always been more of a show band than a radio band, says Shupe. "Our fans come to our shows to have a good time. They are less concerned about whether they've heard our hits on the radio."
And they don't go away, "just thinking they have listened to a CD," says Miner.
Their sound was "born out of necessity," Shupe says. "When we first started out, nobody had heard of us, so we looked for songs that would catch people's attention. We do songs that you have to listen to the lyrics to pick up the nuances of humor."
There have been radio hits; most recently a single called "Dream Big," from an album released by Capitol Records. It came close to Billboard's Top 20 and hit No. 1 in some markets.
"But we still find most of our success in markets where we are not big on the radio," says Shupe.
Fans have a chance to hear Ryan Shupe and the RubberBand in concert Saturday at the Kenley Centennial Amphitheater in Layton. which is sponsored by the Davis Arts Council.
After that, they'll be on the road for awhile, with concerts in Montana, Colorado and Florida, as well as a lot of private gigs.
Their popular blend of genres, their musical talent and their humor is also evident on their newly released CD, "Brand New Shoes."
It's the seventh CD the band has released. "We like the sound of seven," says Shupe. It has mystical, good-luck connotations, he says. "Seven sounds complete. Maybe it will represent the 7 million copies we hope to sell."
Or, maybe, jokes Tilby, "maybe it means if at first you don't succeed, try six more times."
But whatever the number signifies, the album is quintessential RubberBand, says Shupe. "There's a little bit of everything we do: rock, bluegrass, world music, country, even a country parody. There are songs about cars, about karate, and being bald and about a pair of brand new shoes. But they are all true to our focus on acoustic instruments."
And although PostHeeHawFunkadelicHipHopNew Grass sounds like it might be a generational thing, it actually appeals to people of all ages. "A lot of parents tell us how much their kids like listening to the music. "There's something true about it that rings with people's souls, that feels right. There's something natural that draws the kids in as well as the adults. Our shows are for the whole family," says Shupe.
Smeding, who joined the band when drummer Bart Olson left, likes to tease the other band members about how even he grew up loving Ryan Shupe and the RubberBand.
All the band members grew up in musical families. Shupe is the fifth-generation violin player in his family; Archibald's mother played the accordion; Miner's father played the bass. They all started performing before the age of 10. "Collectively, we have a combined 121 years of experience," says Miner. "That's a lot of rocking."
But they can't think of anything else they'd rather do. "It's an addiction," says Archibald.
"You know how you meet guys who just seem like they were born to make cheeseburgers," says Tilby. "That's true for us. This is where we're meant to be. We can't do anything else. It's so apparent that we are supposed to make music that to use our talent for something else would be kind of a shame."
And where do they go from here? "World domination would be nice," jokes Shupe. "We'd settle for Jay Leno. We'd even settle for beating the a cappella group T Minus 5 in Ultimate Frisbee. We keep challenging them, but they fail to respond. We'll give them one more chance, and then we'll have to move on to the Jonas Brothers."
Having fun, making music, connecting with fans, that's what it's all about for Ryan Shupe and the RubberBand.