It’s hard for a hermit like myself to imagine being surrounded by a whole band. That’s the reality for Joe Hertler though because he’s part of a seven-piece band. While it’d be my nightmare, it’s his dream come true. Together this grand band of musicians work together to blend a variety genres that range from soul to indie rock. Well, with that many people – it’d be weird if they didn’t have a number of styles coming to the table.
The size of the group wasn’t the only thing we touched on, so continue on to see what Joe had to say about the obvious – music, as well as CGI and being a free spirit.
Kendra: You go by your own name but are sometimes joined by the Rainbow Seekers. Do you have one mindset when approaching things solo verses with the rest of the gang?
Joe Hertler: While I might write the songs, we are truly a band. I don’t tell my bandmates what to do. We always throw ideas at each other, but at the end of the day, we all have a great deal of trust in each other to fulfill our musical roles in the band. That being said, I find myself more often writing songs with more space, like… room for the band to fill. When I was playing solo a long time ago, I would write songs that had big, thick chords, constant melody, and quickly flowing structuring. It’s tough to make a six minute solo song interesting, but with a band, there’s much more freedom to play and experiment in that space. Watching my bandmates figure out their parts to my songs is one of my favorite things, and will always be one of my favorite things, about playing music.
Kendra: Speaking of, being part of a 7-piece ensemble can get tricky. What are some of the biggest hurdles you’ve come across when dealing with everyone’s personalities, or have you been lucky and everyone just meshes well enough?
Joe: Honestly, I think we really do mesh well enough to make it work. Most of us were good friends before we became a band, so there’s an understanding and general comfort that comes with that. But yeah, sometimes we have a tendency to all talk over each other when we get excited, especially when working on a new song we really like. We’ve been debating using a talking stick as of late… it’s probably something we should implement asap…
Kendra: There are a lot of elements to Terra Incognita from Neo-Soul to indie rock. Do the styles come naturally when you’re recording or do you make conscious decisions like, well this one needs to have more funk here and less rock there?
Joe: Absolutely, we put a lot of thought into the direction of these songs. But the vibe is usually already established … the vibe of the songs are inherently there – at least it is to me. Songs are often the product of the vibe, or whatever I’m feeling at the moment. However, we do tend to discuss other aspects of the song to great extent – for instance, the intensity or composition… like, will an epic build or jam make this song better? Or perhaps should it be minimalistic, with sparse, detailed arrangements… Stuff like that. Regardless, it’s pretty easy to know when something is or is not working. You just have to listen carefully and trust how you feel. My bandmates have taught me time and time again that less is (usually) more. But sometimes life calls for a ripping guitar or sax solo (or two, or three…).
Kendra: As a huge fan of Beetlejuice, I have to ask since you have a track called “Betelgeuse,” what are your thoughts about this sequel they’re working on?
Joe: While the movie is in no way related to the song, it’s easily one of my favorite movies of all time. I just hope it’s not bogged down by CGI. It just doesn’t seem like the right movie for CGI. There’s just something so timeless about Tim Burton’s art direction in the original – and I’m worried it might not translate well. I suppose a good story will always be a good story, but I will for sure be seeing it in theaters.
Kendra: I totally agree with that! Back to you and the music now. You had a nice string of shows this summer. What are your plans for the rest of the year in terms of touring, will you be leaving the Michigan area?
Joe: Yep! We’ll be doing the weekend warrior thing all summer, with some heavier touring in the fall. There’s some particularly cool stuff happening early this winter, which I’m super stoked for. Keep an eye out 🙂
Kendra: With such a free spirit sound, do you feel you guys have more fun playing shows this time of year? You all just seem like an outdoor gang.
Joe: Oh…absolutely. Our band was made for outdoor stages. I mean, I love club rooms and always will. But there’s something particularly liberating about being outside. Beautiful days are universally intoxicating – and when everyone’s in a great mood, it makes for the best shows.
Kendra: If you had to make a mixtape for a garden party, what five songs would have to be on it?
Joe: Ahhh…a Garden party…sounds like a party that would benefit from some chill, thoughtful tunage.
Aphex Twin “Avril 14th”
Robert Glasper feat. Erykah Badu “Afro Blue”
Quasimoto “Low Class Conspiracy”
Tycho “Coastal Brake”
Kendrick Lamar “These Walls”