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Rusted Root: Interview with band members Michael Glabicki, Patrick Norman, and Liz Berlin

By Michelle Vaccaro,
The "Send Me on My Way" band hits the road to support their latest album 'The Movement.'

Rusted Root broke onto the scene in the 90’s with their hit, feel-good song “Send Me On My Way.” Now, two decades later and with over 3 million albums sold worldwide, they’re still rocking venues with their mix of bluegrass and rock music. TheCelebrityCafe.com’s Michelle Vaccaro spoke with the band’s Michael Glabicki (vocals, guitar), Patrick Norman (bass, vocals), and Liz Berlin (vocals, percussion) about their influences, 20-year career and new music before their show on May 18 at NYC’s B.B. King’s Blues Club.

TCC: The band has an eclectic sound. Who are your influences?

Rusted Root’s Patrick Norman: Everything…pretty much. I know that that sounds like an easy answer, but I mean we all listen to different styles of music. I think life influences lyrically. I’m sure life influences you, right Mike?

Rusted Root’s Michael Glabicki: I think it [mostly] comes down to trying to find something on the guitar or in the voice that’s on an emotional, undercurrent level. Then, you kind of bring in these other influences to make that bubble up, and everybody in the band has had experience in percussion from other areas in the world. We really rely on that to bring everything about.

TCC: You guys have toured with music greats like Jimmy Page & Santana. Is there anyone that you learned something from while you were on tour with them?

Rusted Root’s Patrick Norman: Every single one of them. We were on tour with Santana,and he came into the room. We had a nice conversation, and he was just telling me the role of the bass.”You make the women move. The women moving makes the men want to come to the shows,so keep them moving.” Every single band that we’ve toured with has been fantastic to us and given us a lot of parting knowledge.

Rusted Root’s Michael Glabicki: Santana was really a teacher. His whole way of being was to teach. We didn’t realize,until later on in the tour, how much he had already observed us and our music. When we went up on stage and played with him the first night, he would just leave the stage and smoke a cigar on the side of the stage. We were like “why is he leaving us up here alone?” He already knew that we could fill that particular song because it was similar to something we had already done. He(Santana) had all of these thoughts going on already. I didn’t realize until much later [what] had happened. I remember him coming up to me and observing my guitar playing. He gave me all of these people to go listen to, [who] would help me out or [who] I was very similar to. Then, he actually took me in his dressing room one night and just goes “I’m going to teach you this certain thing that I think you’re missing.” It was just like wow. This guy has a lot of energy. As a band leader, I think he saw that I was afraid to get angry and cause conflict. He saw everything was just too nebulous on stage. He got to me,grabbed me ,and he goes, “You need to get angry! You need to get really angry!” I was like “What do you mean by that?” I figured it out a couple of days later.

TCC: You guys have been together for 20 years. How did you guys meet?

Rusted Root’s Patrick Norman: We all met in Pittsburgh, around schools and stuff. We were all friends of friends. I met Michael through my friend Jim, who was playing drums with him at the time. I knew Liz from school. We had been in the music department together. She was taking guitar lessons, and I was studying music there. When I came into the band, they had already been playing. It was cool because all of a sudden I realized there was this familiarity. I knew this person from this place. We all started playing there and jamming. We just kept playing, and we still do.

TCC: What’s the trick to staying together you think?

Rusted Root’s Michael Glabicki: As far as keeping it going,I was thinking the other day that it’s hard to remember sometimes where you were the night before. Someone says, “Oh where were you last night?” I’m like “Oh my God…” I’m thinking maybe memory loss is a really good way to [stay] happy and fresh. You show up, and you’re like “wow, what’s going on…”

TCC: How has your music progressed over the years?

Rusted Root’s Michael Glabicki: That’s hard to say. There’s not one direction in which we have progressed and matured. I think we’re constantly figuring out what we’re missing or what we can do to expand the band,our horizons and musical horizons. Those are little streams that are like little roots, continuous and ongoing. Like for example,I ended up doing a lot of acoustic, solo touring. Rusted Root was pretty much my first band, so I always had five or six people behind me. Whenever I would play something, everybody was on it. I never had that space of just the acoustic guitar and my vocals, and it was scary as h*ll. It took me four years to really figure it out and nail it. Then, I was able to bring it back to the band and go “Look, I can maintain this space here for a couple of measures, and then, we can go ‘bam’". It will be that much more explosive and much more emotional. I think everybody’s continually growing as musicians and through their influences.

TCC: I heard you have another solo album coming out. Is that true? Can you tell me a little bit about it?

Rusted Root’s Michael Glabicki: I’m working on that now ,and I’m about three-quarters of the way through. I’m starting to put little videos of me in the studio out on Facebook and such. People don’t know that I have [another album] coming out, so I’m kind of in the educational mode.

TCC: What can you guys tell me about The Movement, your latest album? How would you describe it?

Rusted Root’s Liz Berlin: Well, first of all,we took a different approach with this album. We have been independent(off a major label) for quite some time,and we decided to do a fan funding campaign with this one. It was the first time that we went to the fans. We put the music out, and said if you want us to have another album, we need your help to do it. A lot of people chipped in and supported us throughout the process. We feel really supported in that,and I think it shows in the music. I think it shows in how the album turned out.

Rusted Root’s Patrick Norman: Also, I think that being able to tour, while working on the album, helped a lot because we were able to try out the material on the road. We usually try to do. We were able to specifically take a few songs that we were working on and plug them into a set. We see what the fan reaction is and if it feels right live. Then, being able to take that back into the studio and rework the songs, I think that made for a concise period of writing. [We could] focus on what we were doing.

Rusted Root’s Michael Glabicki: This is the first record that I totally produced and engineered along with some other engineers. That’s what gave me the freedom and relaxation to put my own timeframe out there. We let it flow how we wanted it to flow. Overall, the whole theme of the production was getting back to just focusing on the live performance and where we can go in our set. We could envision the list of songs in the set and how we wanted to have it play out live.

TCC: Now what can fans expect from the tour?

Rusted Root’s Michael Glabicki: Well, sex, drugs and rock n’ roll.

Rusted Root’s Liz Berlin: Not.

Rusted Root’s Michael Glabicki: Or it might be my sandwich.

Rusted Root’s Liz Berlin: Our set is a really good mix between the old material and the new material. That’s cool because we developed the songs live on the road,so the audience already knows all of these songs. There’s not that lull where you go see your favorite band, and they play this new stuff. It’s [not] like “Oh, that’s the new song. Time to go to the bathroom.” It’s not like that. It’s consistent from start to end,high energy and people are just having a great time.

TCC: What’s up next for you guys? Do you have any other plans? Obviously, you have the tour and the album. Do you have anything else upcoming?

Rusted Root’s Michael Glabicki: Just a lot of touring. I put a few songs aside for the next record. Once these songs play out a little bit live on the tours,I think we’ll start bringing out the new stuff and performing that live in front of people.

Rusted Root’s Patrick Norman: I think we’re also gonna work on a video. We’re going to eventually put out a live video probably and maybe, a video or two for another single called “Cover Me Up…” Maybe, [we'll] start working on a live album…

Rusted Root’s Michael Glabicki: We’re trying to put together sort of a docu…what do you call them…docu…

Rusted Root’s Patrick Norman: Rockumentary.

Rusted Root’s Michael Glabicki: Rockumentary. It’ll be a full-length feature film.

TCC: Where’s that going to be? How can people see that?

Rusted Root’s Michael Glabicki: We’re not entirely sure where it’s going yet, but we have to get it into theaters. That’ll be awesome.

Rusted Root energizes the audience with their live shows. They love interacting with fans, posting videos and comments regularly on their Facebook page. They are currently on tour supporting their latest album The Movement. To find out when they’re coming to your town, go to their official site.

 

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