By Al Kaufman
It’s been 20 years since Rusted Root formed, and almost as long since “Send Me On My Way” was all over the radio. These days, “Send Me On My Way” is an Enterprise Car commercial, but the band, who have sold over 3 million albums, is still pumping out new material. They recently released The Movement, an album full of fun jams and worldly beats. The album was funded through their own version of Kickstarter, Fortunate Freaks Unite, named for the song “Fortunate Freaks” on the new album. The band also has its original line-up in place, with Michael Glabicki on lead vocals and guitar, Liz Berlin on vocals and percussion, Patrick Norman on vocals, bass and percussion, Colter Harper on guitar, Preach Freedom on percussion, and Dirk Miller on guitar.
Michael Glabicki answered some questions about the history of the band and where they are now.
When Rusted Root first started out, did you think you’d still be doing this 20 years later?
Yes, I kinda knew I was a musical lifer.
You really haven’t had a hit since 1994’s “Send Me On My Way,” but you still have a very faithful fan base. Thinking back to 1994, do you wish you were still that popular, or was that too much for you and you’re happy where you are now?
It was a bit much. I am very happy now as far as the fame level thing, although some days I wish there were paparazzi in the bushes, but that is an inconsistent feeling.
“Send Me On My Way” is now being used as a commercial for Enterprise. You have a pretty liberal, some would say “hippie,” fan base. Have you taken any grief for “selling out,” or do you think at this point most people understand music is a business?
Most people understand that it’s a business and very unstable one at that. As long as people are excited about the new music we are generating then we continue to be golden.
You’ve said that The Movement is for the fans. How is this album any more for the fans than other albums?
I think in the past we experimented musically to find the scope of who we are. Sometimes we would go too far. Those records were more of a process. This album we sort of brought home the gifts of what we have learned over the past 20 years. When I was writing and selecting the songs for this album I was constantly thinking of the live show. As we were developing the music we performed the songs live to get the instant feedback from fans. Through our fan funding campaigns or the album we had fans in the studio with us to give it a live energy. I just think overall our intention was to party with the fans more on this album, and it’s working.
This album was funded by fans, much like the Kickstarter model, but you call yours “Fortunate Freaks Unite.” Why did you choose to go that route instead of just using Kickstarter?
I think we just wanted it to be completely our own. We kept it down home and creative. It was a lot of fun!
“Monkey Pants,” off the new album, is so much fun. How do you keep it fun for yourself for every performance?
I have really bad memory at this point so I constantly hit the stage with a fresh perspective. Just kidding, that’s only partially true. I think as long as we can keep hitting that mysterious and all-encompassing zone on stage then we will continue to surprise ourselves joyfully.