By ALEXA MITCHELL & EMMA CUMMINGS-KRUEGER
A&E EDITOR & NEWS CO-EDITOR
Last Thursday afternoon, I had the exciting opportunity to become friends with a member of the Rubblebucket band, the trumpeter, Alex Toth. This unlikely and surprising bonding happened through a tweet (inspired by Emma’s Facebook status) that I posted, publicly shaming Rubblebucket and The Chainsmokers for declining interviews with The Hill News. However, much to my bewilderment on that Thursday afternoon Rubblebucket replied to my tweet saying they never had known about the possibility of an interview and requesting a personal one with myself and Emma. So without further ado here is our personal interview with our new inspiring and philosophical friend, Alex Toth!
1. What was your favorite song to perform at SF?
AT: Probably “On The Ground.”
2. What was the SLU crowd like?
AT: When the show started out, it felt like it was crazy to see this wide-open field and then all the kids packed in so tight to the one space. It was a unique, kind of wild energy coming off of the field and coming from the student body. It was like woah. It’s really interesting to see these different crowd energies and this definitely almost made me think of a soccer riot or something like that. I think initially there was a smaller part of the student body and a higher ratio of actual Rubblebucket fans, so the audience was super into it with this kind of visceral energy but they were really engaged. As it progressed it just got crazier and crazier and it felt like we were playing and they were playing and it was just two different energies, it was awesome but different from a typical Rubblebucket show where you’ll have people fully engaged the whole time. It was like we were part of a kind of bigger thing where the the student body just got to be completely rambunctious together. It was pretty cool.
3. What made you guys reach out over social media (Twitter) to the Hill?
AT: False tweet info, can’t hang with that. I’m on the twitter, we’re sitting around in the van, we drive like six hours a day. I try to do more productive things with my day than just dick around on social media. I try to meditate and read and listen to music but I end up just like messing around on twitter and I saw the tweet and I was like “hey no we didn’t turn down an interview!”
4. Would you come back to SLU again to perform?
AT: Of course yeah I mean we’ve been playing at St. Lawrence University since very early on as a band. Kal and I used to be in this reggae band, “John Brown’s Body.” We played at Java Barn as early as 2007 I think, maybe 2008, and it’s so cool because it’s this same wild energy but it’s even crazier because it’s this tight space and for those shows the kids were definitely fully there for the music. I remember being like “oh I have this side project, Rubblebucket” and as a new band to come and get to play a gig with a packed house of highly energetic people and it was really cool and they just kept inviting us back to Java Barn as our side project, Rubblebucket, before we were even fully doing it. And so now everywhere we go in the country there’s Java Barn kids. Literally every city, they’re all, “I was at Java Barn!” Probably more than any other college we have a kind of deeper intense connection. I just see you guys everywhere. I think you’re probably our biggest current college love affair. So I hope to never stop coming to Saint Lawrence.
5. Do you guys have any pre or post show traditions/rituals that we may be surprised to learn about?
AT: There’s a preshow tradition of blowing up balloons. We didn’t do it Spring Fest because it was too windy and pointless. We blow up four huge trash bags of little balloons and then we blow up four to six big balloons and we throw confetti inside the bigger balloons and we’ll do a balloon within a balloon and sometimes our lighting guy will throw candy and stuff inside the balloons. We have these big heart shaped ones. It’s kind of a fun thing, an insane thing that happens everyday. Especially, in our small green room. The green room is just filled with balloons. So that’s something. And then I’ve been getting into this thing where thirty minutes before I go on I do fifteen minutes of yoga, warm up my trumpet, and Kal does similar stuff. We have these head-space things we do, stretching and kind of meditation, so we’re totally in the zone: consistently, physically, and mentally before the show. It doesn’t really take much time, and it’s the worst to step out on stage in front of eight hundred and then be all, “Oh shit, my shifts are sore” and then I end up stretching on stage in front of people and just doing yoga on stage.
6. Who is your inspiration?
AT: You guys. You’re my inspiration Alexa [Mitchell ‘16].
7. Advice to other musicians?
AT: Maybe when I’m fifty or something, I’d like to be a teacher or professor at a liberal arts college somewhere and have a class where I teach whatever I want, all the advice, I have a lot of advice. All I know is like… fuck! All I know is you have to be persistent, whether you’re doing comedy or acting or modeling or music or screenwriting, anything in the arts. Typically when you take classes in school they’re not telling you how to make money off of doing it or how to survive and get gigs. It’s a lot. For the first many years, I just feel like it’s a lot of failure and you kind of have to be almost a little bit insane to keep doing it. If you keep doing it means you really really really wanna do it. It’s just harder than people think or something and a lot of people give up. If you really really really wanna do it you shake off the constant obstacles and failures and you just keep doing it. And if you keep doing it you’ll probably get to keep doing it, hopefully. It sounds kind of dumb, but certain people give up and it’s just what separates the people that end up doing it and the people that don’t end up doing it. There’s some quote, “talent is just showing up everyday.” That kind of thing. Not everybody comes out of the gates with a hit song. Not everybody is twenty years old, incredibly good looking, has the perfect style and nails their first song, and then a record label picks them up and they break through right away. Some people it takes time and years and that whole ten thousand hours thing. It takes a lot of time to get really good at your craft. It’s important, whether it’s music, carpenter, or psychology you just have to know that you’re always a work in progress and to not get discouraged. There’s no I’m good at this and that. You might be weak at doing one thing, but you have the potential at being the best in the world at that thing that you’re currently weak at. You know what I mean? If you stay kind of grounded and centered and work on it without beating yourself up too much. Its kind of mind blowing how the ability humans have to learn and improve are. Like “woah how did I just get so much better at this thing?” It’s just through careful practice that your brain can be amazing at what it can do and how it works it’s just like “woah!” and it’s really kind of rewarding.
8. Do you have any future band plans?
AT: I feel like at a certain point you evaluate “is this working?” and “do we keep doing this?” With anything in life you don’t wanna, whether it’s a relationship with a significant other or a job that you’re doing, you don’t wanna just do it because you’ve been doing it and you just think you’re suppose to keep doing it, you wanna make sure you feel like “ I woke up today and I honestly love doing this thing and this thing is honestly working” versus getting stuck in things. I think a lot of people stay in situations because it’s easier than changing something or their scared of what would happen if they did something else. I really try to be like “is this working” and I really feel it is. I feel like people are responding well to what we’re doing and it feels really good for us. I think we’re just gonna keep making music. We’re gonna record another record at some point and do some writing and Kal and I each have side projects and we’re starting a punk band and we’re playing a few shows and we’re starting an electronic record, which is really beautiful sounding. We’ll be doing our side projects and we’ll be writing more Rubblebucket stuff and we’ll just be continuing. I like this idea that none of us have reached our full potential, we can always be more better at what we do. The performance aspect of what we do feels amazing right now; it feels like we’ve really sharpened it a lot and I wanna just keep doing that and getting deeper into what we do.
9. Are you guys celebrating 4/20 today?
AT: Yea haha. Our roommate’s playing at Brooklyn Bowl tonight, “John Ram’s Body,” he’s the bass player and its his last show and we’re gonna go to do and then Kal’s doing a performance as part of series of female artists in Brooklyn and she got kind of hooked up with four other random female artists: a beat boxer and a violinist and she’s playing tonight at midnight. And I actually randomly am wearing my marijuana socks and I totally didn’t plan that at all!