Joe Hertler and the Rainbows Seekers I didn't send it to the folder, but instead immediately opened the email and had to check out what this band was all about. The email included a video of a live performance of the band. Even on video I saw what the fuss was all about. Everyone playing and watching was having a great time. I knew that I needed to talk to Joe and wanted to see him preform live as soon as possible.
What I learned is that Joe is a very charming dude who loves music and preforming it. He told us about his musical roots and even admitted to loving Kanye West, who is one of my musical obsessions.
He is writing and preforming music with a talented group of musicians who are in it for the right reasons, to show you a good time and get the crowd involved in the show. One of the reasons I continue to cover the Detroit music scene is because I dream of a world where we all attend each others shows and support each others creative endeavors. I grew up going to shows where everyone partied together and wasn't afraid to let loose, but at some point people stopped interacting and having fun and started acting way too cool to be watching a band. It really took away from the experience of going to a live show and is the reason that a lot of friends will no longer spend their hard earned cash to catch a performance.
I think Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers may be exactly what we need to turn this around and start bringing Detroit back together. Read what Joe had to say about the band, their latest recording and their upcoming shows and festivals this summer. We look forward to seeing him play live and believe that Joe and the Rainbow Seekers are onto something great.
HipInDetroit- Why did you name yourselves Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers? What is the story behind 'The Rainbow Seekers'?
Joe- "There was a record called “Rainbow Seeker” by the late, great Joe Sample. When we first started hanging out, we were listening to that record quite a bit. It has an awesome picture of him surrounded by a rainbow – and we thought it looked super badass. Plus, he’s a scientologist and the whole record is about Scientology. We think Scientology is funny. So it just made perfect sense."
HipInDetroit- There are six members in the band. Four were former front men themselves. Do you feel like having so many people with experience in having the spotlight on them adds to your live show?
Joe- "I might write the songs, but we’re very much a band. We all very much have our own creative role in the band and we don’t tell each other what to do, that is, unless it sucks. I have a lot of bad ideas, and I trust my band to let me know when one of my ideas suck. Our music is truly a team effort. And also, I think my band mates are awesome, hyper creative people in their own ways. I always wanted their personalities to shine on stage and for them to have part in the “public” aspects of music. Sad folk singers are boring. At least I think so – so I recruited a bunch of fools who are willing to get real foolish on stage. It’s way more fun that way."
HipInDetroit- Speaking of your live show, the internet is a-buzz that you bring a room to life when you perform. What do you do to get the crowd into the show and make sure they enjoy themselves?
Joe- "I grew up going to hipster shows where people cross their arms and feel entitled about their exclusive scene. That’s great and all, but I’d rather create a musical setting that anyone can come and feel that they are a part of it. Contrary to popular belief, I feel that it is the audience that makes a show great – not just a good band. I make people introduce themselves to each other and give each other hugs.
People go to shows for a few reasons… A-they go for the music, B- they go for the social/communal experience. That’s what it’s about; experiencing music you like with others. When people feel comfortable, they’re more receptive to that experience. If people are going to pay money to see us play, I’ll be damned if they leave thinking they didn’t have a couple smiles with their friends. Plus, I love hosting parties – and our shows are an open invitation to anyone who wants to party with the Rainbow Seekers. I think my music can be depressing at times, so we try to make our shows as ridiculous as possible to dampen the sad feelings."
HipInDetroit- Your latest album and video were recorded live at the Russell Industrial Center. Can you tell us a little about the five songs and the video that came out of that session?
Joe- "I’m Lebanese, and in good Lebanese form, I have 10,000 family members scattered around the Detroit area. I’m not gonna lie and say I grew up in Detroit, because I grew up in the Orion/Pontiac area – but the theme of those five songs was impermanence. What better place to hammer in the notion of impermanence than in beautiful Detroit, MI. My familial and nostalgic ties, in addition to it's conceptual appearance were too good to choose anywhere else."
HipInDetroit- Your website describes your music as folk infused with Motown, funk and pop. Is that the publicist's take on your music or is that an accurate descrption? How would you descibe it?
Joe- "As a band, we really only listen to Neo-Soul and Motown (and lots of Kanye, too). My band also has a jam-funk residency at the Union in Kzoo. They’re all funk musicians, but I write folky pop songs. The songs we make are because of everything that has ever come before us. Everything that has ever influenced us, both directly and in terms of the degrees of separation. We’re simply a melting pot of everything we’ve ever experienced. And we’ve experienced a lot of Motown, funk, folk and pop.
Also, our publicist said it’s what we sound like. We think she was right on!"
HipInDetroit- I read that you are thinking about changing your legal name. What name are you thinking of using and why do you want to make the change?
Joe- "So… I have a degree in elementary education. Education is my #2 passion in life, with music being my #1. Sadly, to do a good job at both, they can’t be done at the same time. There’s a level of professionalism I try to uphold in the classroom – and that’s made increasingly difficult to achieve when a google search reveals hundreds of photos of my acting like an idiot on stage.
It’s a two edged sword, because my students really look up to the fact that I play rock and roll – but at the same time, it degrades that “teacher” presence that I have in a classroom. I debated changing my name temporarily merely to uphold that professional dispositions that are required to be a great educator! That being said, I’m not jumping into teaching right now and rather focusing on music for the next few years. Whether I like it or not, I feel in many ways that it’s my social role to play music. I also feel that way because I’m not very good at professional sports. There are no professional Lebanese basketball players… that’s for sure."
HipInDetroit- You're playing a lot of festivals this summer, including Common Ground Music Festival in Lansing on July 12. What other events or albums do you have planned?
Joe- "Regarding the ones I’m allowed to talk about right now, we’re playing lots of beer festivals and smaller local festivals this summer, which I’m super stoked about. We’ll be supporting Chicago at Coast West this year and we recently played the American Beer Classic at Soldier Field, which was a riot. We have Festival of the Moon in Lansing and Taste of Ann Arbor (which isn’t really a festival, I suppose) among others that will be announced later. As a retired raver and festival patron, it was one of my biggest desires to have a summer with a big festival circuit. Fingers crossed ;)"
HipInDetroit- Since you're from Detroit tell us your favorite acts in the area, restaurants, bars and venues. Tell us why you love or hate this city (and it better be love!).
Joe- "I’m not going give the typical white boy Detroit revival speech right now, but you should be proud of where you’re from, wherever that might be. Our homes make us who we are – and maybe your life was tough, or maybe it was wasn’t… you should still be proud of the experiences you’ve had and how they’ve shaped you. Never stop exploring and never stop creating. That’s what I love about the atmosphere in Detroit right now. People are excited. They’re working hard and creating. And they believe in what they are doing and are proud of where they are from. People might be different, but we all feel the same things. If there were ever a notion to unite under, that’s it.
There’s a similar vibe going on in Lansing right now, where we’re from. There’s a big developmental and economic push happening and people are exited. They’re proud to say that they’re from Lansing, Michigan. It’s certainly happening in its own way, but there’s coherence to be found. I’m just glad people seem to be more proud to be from Michigan in general, despite it having been kind of a tough place to live as of recent. But I’ll tell ya, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. We’re not a Detroit band. We’re not a Lansing band. We’re a Michigan band. And we’re fucking proud of that.
Favorite bands right now? We played with Prussia a few times in the past. I was a bit skeptical about Ryan's new music with Jamaican Queens that came out, but those videos sold me. They're making some awesome stuff right now. That being said, I heard the Javelins are working on new tunes... and I'll always be partial to the Hard Lessons. It's music I grew up looking up to. And it will always be my favorite... haha. And Slow's is about the greatest thing on earth. I know that's cliche, but I really believe that. For Mexican, El Zocolo rules pretty hard, too. That's what I ate throughout filming the Russell sessions... I mostly just keep tabs on what's happening, because 75% of my listening pallet revolves around obscure techno and house music. I'm at The Works way more than I'd like to be... haha."