London's rubber soul
By Paul Fruitman
There are certain obstacles every new band must overcome: the need for rehearsal space, experience in front of a live audience and an avenue through which to reach record executives and industry types.
London's Rubber has found a way to kill this trio of birds with one stone. Every Thursday night at The Embassy, Rubber hosts an open-mike night of sorts, offering a sampling of its own melodic alt-rock and stage time to some upstart bands in search of a venue.
"The reason we do this Thursday night thing is that it's a rehearsal for the live show," explains Rubber vocalist Gord Prior. "We use it to bring friends out and play with other local bands. It gives a chance for bands to come out that haven't played a lot before."
Rubber is providing a service for up and coming acts and though he stresses the music is paramount, Prior and company do nothing to hide the fact they are using the Thursday gigs as a springboard to bigger things.
Besides serving as a way of tightening its chops, Rubber has used its shows to showcase its talents to record companies and high-profile musicians like D'arcy of Smashing Pumpkins. One Thursday in November, the bassist for the Chicago outfit took in Rubber's show after her husband's band, Catherine, performed at The Whippet Lounge next door. Since the show, Rubber and D'arcy's Scratchy Records label have been in constant contact.
Of course, Prior and guitarist Boris Novosel have tread this work-a-day musician road before, as members of the now-defunct Blu Bones. Prior attributes the band's break-up to an absence of total commitment.
"Blu Bones was an awesome experience but it went as far as it was supposed to go," Prior says. "Our rhythm section found the stress of touring affecting their family lives.
"We were in a band where I don't think half the band was willing to sacrifice everything. And you have to house, kids, car. But everything we gained and learned in the past has helped us [for now]."
Rubber, on the contrary, appears to be totally devoted to its music. Though Prior has difficulty describing Rubber's sound, he does claim it to be entertaining, a factor he stresses is essential in the band's quest for world domination.
"There's a lot of concerts and people only have so much money," he says. "When it comes to live music, you need more than a band staring at their feet and whining about how miserable they are. We really try to entertain.
"I know this sounds crazy," says Prior as he pauses a second in thought. "But this is a band that wants to be a household name."