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Weekend Riff: Joe Hertler Talks New Music, Mac's Bar Show and More

Lansing-based indie rocker band Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers is eyeing a handful of Michigan dates this January and February, kicking off with a gig at Mac's in Lansing this Friday.

I recently caught up with Mr. Hertler to chat about the band’s tour, his love for local hip-hop guys Jahshua Smith and Red Pill and more. Check out the hilarious interview below, and download the band’s latest single, "Home for a Funeral," via Bandcamp at http://joehertler.bandcamp.com!

You guys have a ton of shows coming up throughout Michigan this winter. What drove this current tour?

I would say that mainly it's because if we aren't performing we kinda just start losing our minds. And not to mention, being that we are musicians, we kind of suck at everything that's not music. Relationships, cooking, driving, talking, working... you name it: we're not good at it. For instance, I wanted to play pro basketball for most of my life. It's always been my biggest dream. But how many Lebanese basketball players are in the NBA? The answer? None. It's a reality I came face to face with about two months ago, so I decided we should probably do a ring of shows.

Music is all we really know how to do and all we really like to do, so that's why!

2575623680-1What’s new with Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers?

Welp, we just had a Daytrotter session released, which was pretty rad. We had a fun chat with Meridian Entertainment (who put on Common Ground) about summer festival dates, which is even more rad. I'm pretty sure we're going to be doing a string on SXSW dates this year, too. 

We're also releasing what will be our most ambitious project to date. It should be coming out within the month and I've yet to give it a name. All I can say is that it consists of five live videos shot by a team who worked on Skrillex and ICP videos, because that's the kind of the vibe we're going for. Yes, our new record is going to consist of entirely dubstep and juggalo covers. Folk music died in 2011. 

All in all it's going to be a strange few months. I'm going to be student teaching in the middle of releasing a huge project with a busy show schedule - and I'm currently panicking as to how the heck I'm going to pull this off. Playing rock n roll and teaching don't really mix. At all. But my fingers are crossed! Send me good vibes, Lansing!  

Your upcoming show at Mac’s also features El Dee, Flint Eastwood and East Harvest. Tell me about the lineup.

Lots of times headlining bands pick supporting bands based on that a) they provide decent music but not so good as to upstage the headliner and b) sell tickets. We pick bands who we think are better than us and can make that ticket price seem totally worth it.

In another life, I would have been a professional party thrower, so my intrinsic party throwing sentiments also secrete their way into our shows. Also expect: Macy Gray, dancing, swords, and TJ Duckett walking around incognito. 

Do you have a favorite song to perform live?

There's this new-ish track called “Red Wings.” It was one that we decided to keep as a solo track, but recently performed a full band operation on. I freak out when I play it solo and now I freak out even harder with the full band. A lot of these new songs are extremely personal and sometimes they hit me pretty hard on stage.

What’s the last album you purchased/downloaded?

I don't always like to give him the credit, but I think Griz is one of the best producers in bass music right now. Not that it matters, but the cat is gonna be bigger than pretty lights. His music is better. I was right about Skrillex and no one believed me at the time, so now I'm claiming this one publicly. And I also bought his record. 

Outside of EDM, I've been listening to tons of Erykah Badu and Macy Gray. I'm probably going to name my daughter Erykah, if I have the liberty of doing so.

Have you seen any great local shows lately?

I saw Marco Carola at City Club and nearly died of sheer bliss. I love techno and tech house more than anything and it was one of the best DJ sets I've ever heard. I also saw my favorite dubstep artist, Figure, at the Guv in Toronto, which was phenomenal as well. 

For local records, John Bonham (American Opera/Your Best Friend) is about to release an album and is going on tour. John is probably the coolest songwriter in Michigan. It was once rumored that John, who does not drink, was pressured into taking a shot with my guitar player. He was so manly that he threw down a double of fireball and gargled it while chewing on a piece of red hot, then spit it out. Not only did he hold true to himself, but he also one upped by guitar player, which is totally awesome in my book.

I'm also super stoked for my Blat! Pack homies, Jahshua Smith and Red Pill, to release their records. I'm no expert on hip-hop, but by my own musical standards, these cats are two of the state's finest MC's and I see big things for both of em. Also, I sing on a couple of Jahshua's tracks!

For bands, we'll be sharing the stage with the Soil and the Sun and Flint Eastwood, both who are making major waves in Michigan music. As far as musicianship goes, Soil and the Sun are unparalleled right now. Flint Eastwood has slayed every time I've seen them. Jax, their singer, is a dominating frontwomen. She will make you dance harder than any other Detroit band. That's a promise.

East Harvest and El Dee will also be on the bill.

Show details: Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers, El Dee, Flint Eastwood, East Harvest, Mac's Bar, doors 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11, Mac’s Bar, 2700 East Michigan Avenue, 484-6795, tickets start at $10 via FusionShows.com.


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