Rectifier keeps on truckin' with debut album release
American roots rock is a music that taps into the beginning spirit of rock 'n' roll, which itself was a hodge-podge made up of blues and country.
When thinking about artists like Tom Petty, John Mellencamp and Bruce Springsteen, among others, you can't separate the working-class mentality out of their lyrics and sound.
This is the kind of sound and attitude the band Rectifier brings to the conversation with the music found on their debut album, "Something Warm," that's being released through a party Oct. 21 at Shank Hall.
With the vocals of Katie Mack pushed forward by the guitar and vocal work of Brendan Shea, guitarist Brandon Tushkowski, bassist Scott Oakes and drummer Sean Feather, Rectifier's tunes are perfect for any roadhouse, Harley-Davidson lover and those who are willing to mix their beer with whiskey and/or tequila on any given Friday or Saturday night.
I talked with guitarist Brandon "Brando" Tushkowski about the genesis of their band and exactly what gives them their rock 'n' roll swagger.
OnMilwaukee.com: There's a country rock quality to your music. What gives you all the sound that you have as a band?
Brandon Tushkowski: Telecasters, honest vocals and hard luck. Our lyrical approach is very classic storytelling, like classic country and western or American roots music: stories of tough breaks, bad decisions and fast cars, but with hints of humor. As far as the sound goes, we love raw, bare-bones, no frills rock 'n' roll guitars with a little alt-country spank. The secret, plug straight into the amps and turn them up. That bare-bones approach is evident in all aspects of the band. No fancy electronics, no vocal effects, just straightforward in your face "Northern" rock 'n' roll, played and sung by real musicians.
OMC: Your song "Another" is reminiscent of "Tuesday's Gone" in some of the guitar work. Was Lynryrd Skynyrd in mind when laying the guitar down on this track?
BT: A little-known fact about the boys in Skynyrd is that they were time travelers, they likely studied our work and they'd have gotten away with it too if not for this interview.
OMC: How did you all meet and then decide to start playing together?
BT: Brendan, Katie and I got together with a couple acoustic guitars and began writing a few years ago. We were friends from the Milwaukee music scene. Once we had about seven or eight songs written we asked Sean, who Katie and I played with for years, in to play drums. We took our time finding the right bass player while we continued to write and were extremely lucky to find Scott Oakes, who had played and recorded with the Heavyheads in Milwaukee.
OMC: When you were writing for this album, did you have jam sessions or did you demo track different parts and email them off to each other, which seems to be more of a common practice these days?
BT: All of the above. Brendan does a lot of lyrical writing on his own, without any musical ideas in mind, Katie will often jot down lyrics while we're strumming chords or bring full ideas to the table that she has been working on, I refuse to share how and where I get my lyrical ideas from. From there, the music starts with two acoustics and Katie or Brendan humming melody lines. For us, the creative process works best when we are in the room together, working it out. We may email song ideas or lyrics around, but the music and how the lyrics are sung all happen in the round, in the same room.
"Burn Bright" is a fine example of how a Rectifier song comes to fruition. I had some rough chords I was digging. On a Martins and Pabst night, Brendan, Katie and I sat down and worked out the basic idea. Brendan changed up some chords and made some fresh suggestions. Katie started working out a melody line. Lyrics were roughed in to help the song along and were filled in fully the following night. At the next full band rehearsal, Katie and Brendan worked out some sweet harmonies. Sean and Scott put down some tasty beats and a mean bass line, respectively. With this group, within couple days or so you go from having nothing to a completely written and arranged song. It's a rush.
OMC: What do you bring to the stage when you are live?
BT: Equal parts swagger and sweat. We are all students of classic rock and the "show." We work hard up there! Katie and Brendan's voices mesh perfectly together. They are both singing on most of the songs, they take turns backing each other up and sometimes both sing the whole song together. There is a lot of call and response between the two and a great, dynamic push-and-pull thing going on.
The rhythm section is extremely tight. Sean is a power drummer and Oakes is very musical bass player. It makes for a great combination. Oakes' clever yet always on-time bass lines lock in perfectly with Sean's aggressive rock 'n' roll beats.
Then you have the guitars – usually Telecasters – equal parts meaty and twangy. Brendan and I both love the blues, old country and classic rock, and you hear all of that in our playing.
OMC: What's next for Rectifier?
BT: Album release show at Shank Hall on Oct. 21. A great band out of Seattle is opening the show for us, Star Anna and The Laughing Dogs. We're going to be playing a lot of shows in Milwaukee to support the album, get over to Madison as they have a great live music and alt-country scene over there, work into Chicago. While we were recording and mixing the album over the course of the past year, we already have enough material to get working on album number two. Basically, we plan to just keep on trucking.
If anybody has any questions about what kind of Rock N Rollers these guys (and gal) are, hang out at the bar with them for a night. If you don't wake up somewhere South of Tijuana in the back of a pick-up with a bunch of empty Pabst silo's rolling around, consider yourself lucky. This is real deal rock n roll, played by true life rock stars. Keep kickin' ass, Rectifier.
1 comment about this article.
Post a comment / write a review.
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.