Some people have it. Some people don’t. I’m here to tell you that Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers have it.
Unlike so many current artists, musician Joe Hertler combines just enough old funk with current, catchy hooks to create a modern collection of songs underlined with beats from an earlier time. In the band’s music, there are streaks of Motown, folk, funk and jazz that gel together to form a superior sound. In an industry that often produces basic pop tunes, Hertler’s music is a breath of fresh air for music lovers. Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers, who sport anything from wild headdresses to fur coats on stage, are a band of free and talented spirits who make music that could make anyone smile. Check out an inspiring and insightful interview with front man Joe Hertler…
The DC: ITunes categorizes your music as traditional folk, but is that how you would describe your music?
Hertler: “Not really. I tend to bounce around genres. I guess I just get bored of a certain sound. Honestly, I think what happens is I write the songs myself with an acoustic guitar, so I guess they kind of come off as folk music, but then I have a band that ‘funkifies’ them and turns them into something much greater than simple folk songs. The band is heavily influenced in jazz, R&B; and funk, and I happen to be a huge house and techno fan, so there’s a lot of weird influences sort of dipping their fingers in the folk song skeletons that I give my band to work with.”
The DC: Are their certain artist that inspire your sound?
Hertler: “Yeah, it’s really silly because a lot of the artists that I listen to and the band listens to are like completely different from us, but we will find ourselves kind of taking from them. I love D’Angelo. There’s a lot of influences there, and I have a lot of the typical singer/songwriter influences too. From what I actively listen to though, I feel like I pull from a lot of R&B;, classic funk, and house music as well.”
The DC: What is your favorite song right now?
Hertler: “I’ve been really into Robert Glasper lately, so I’ll say ‘Afro Blue’ by Robert Glasper with Erykah Badu. That’s just one of my favorite songs of all time.”
The DC: Can you give SMU readers some insight into what you are working on now?
Hertler: “We have this new record through Bad Mascot and Universal, so that obviously takes precedence over everything. It actually took a really long time for this record to come out. We finished it about a year ago, and right when we were about to release it, the record label came to us and was like ‘hey we really would like to release this for you.’ It took about a year and a half to get everything figured out, so now it’s ready to be released. Honestly though, I’ve been working on a lot of new music. I pretty much have another record that is going to be ready to go within the next couple of months here. After about six months, we will probably hop right back into the studio. But the big focus right now is pushing this new record. We’ve all quit our jobs to give this a go, so hopefully it will work out, and we can make another record.”
The DC: Do you have any interest in coming to Dallas on tour?
Hertler: “Oh, yeah absolutely. You know, we are still a baby band outside of the Midwest, and sometimes dates don’t quite line up. I think once we get out there and show the world what we do, it will be a lot easier. But yeah, we will be in Dallas for sure.”
The DC: What does “Rainbow Seekers” signify in the band’s name?
Hertler: “Yeah, there’s a concrete story and a philosophical one as well I guess. You know, we are just a really colorful band, and I just like the word color. The band is very lively, and each member kind of has his own personality displayed usually through colorful costumes. Our stage is also well lit with weird crap happening. Really, just the personalities of the band run rampant at the live shows. As far as where we got the name, we used to make hip bop beats for a local rapper, and around that time we listened to something conveniently called ‘Joe’s Sample Record.’ He was like a fusion jazz artist back in the 80s kind of like Herbie Hancock. He just had this great record called ‘Rainbow Seeker’ where he was standing on the record face like a total bad*ss. I was like ‘hey if we are ever a band, we should totally be called the rainbow seekers, and then lo and behold a couple months later we were a band.”
The DC: What is your favorite part about being a musician?
Hertler: “I guess I sort of see my role in society now as someone who makes music. You know, prior to that I was a teacher, but I think guys especially think that they need to have a place in society like you are contributing to something. I think music is something that is indicative of a strong society. My brain is like ‘good job! You are going to help the human race continue.’ It’s like my body knows that that’s a good thing. You know, this is what I’m supposed to do, and music is really a glorified version of communication, and music is how I best communicate, and I know it’s how my band members best communicate. So when you connecting with however many people, as long as that connection is there, it’s something really special, and you can lose yourself in it. You get like a high from it, but there’s no hangover.”
The DC: What encouragement can you give students at SMU aspiring to be musicians?
Hertler: “In music and other art fields, you can kind of count on never being content, but I think the more success you have, it’s like the more success you need to validate what you are doing. Try not to focus on that stuff, and really treasure the moments of creation like when you are writing a song and it’s really coming along, and you are in the moment making something. Focus on the times of creating something great and the times you really felt in the moment performing. And you know, just hustle. If you have a good product then work really hard. I think this is the biggest thing: how much do you want to sacrifice to push your art? But make sure to give back to the people who support you and keep it local for a long time. I think another thing is that artists feel the need to go out and tour relentlessly right away, but it’s important to focus on your home and where your friends are. Because when it takes off there, it will allow you to have the resources to support yourself when you go out on the road.”
Needless to say, Joe Hertler is the real deal. Make sure to go check out Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers on iTunes, Soundcloud or however the cool kids do it these days and follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @joehertler. Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers are going to do big things. Mark my words.