“Let’s Start a Cult” is the new record from legendary Portland rock band Rustic Overtones, and the CD-release show is later this month.

It all began in 1994 with “Shish Boom Bam.” Since then, the band has weathered hiatuses, side projects, line-up changes, record label implosions and a heck of a lot of live performances. Through it all, their fans have remained loyal, and they’ve certainly grown in numbers.

Currently, the band consists of vocalist/guitarist Dave Gutter, bassist Jon Roods, drummer Gary Gemitti, alto saxophonist/synthesizer player Ryan Zoidis, baritone saxophonist Jason Ward, trombonist/synthesizer player Dave Noyes and keyboardist Mike Taylor.

GO caught up with Gutter to talk about the new record, the band’s history and the big show.

What do you want people to know about the “Let’s Start a Cult” record?

“Let’s Start a Cult” is probably the most emotional record we’ve ever made. By “emotional” I don’t mean “sad” — it’s very upbeat — but the metaphors hit upon some pretty personal stuff that we’ve gone through in the last year. Selling yourself and your music is like starting a cult, whether it’s adoration or failure; both can screw with your head. I liked the idea of making a record about this subject matter, because it has a hint of lunacy. The sound of the album also has a similar frenetic feel to it. It teeters back and forth between focus and loss of control.  

Who wrote the songs for it?

I wrote the lyrics for the album and came up with the concept, but much of the lyrics and concepts are based on the guys in the band. I never came out and said, “Hey, I’m writing this song about your situation,” I just did it. We collaborated on the music and arrangements. There are less instruments than our last album, and a lot of the final versions were originally demos. If we captured something on a cassette 8-track with coughing and murmuring in the background, we left it. You can also hear other bands practicing next door on some of the tracks. I hope they don’t sue us. Ha ha. There is no studio trickery or even fade-outs on the album. We just let it play. It sounds honest.

It’s hard to believe it’s been 18 years since “Shish Boom Bam.” What were some of the lows and highs of the band during that time span?

“Shish Boom Bam” was a low. Listening to it now gives me a lot more respect for guys like Justin Bieber. It’s hard to write a record when you’re going through puberty. Music is a weird thing, because the “lows” inspire the music that brings you “highs.” When my life sucks, I am very prolific, and when everything is great, it just introduces distraction that kind of lulls my creativity. I can’t speak for everyone in the band, but I cherish both success and failure equally.

Highs are better for performing live. Seeing people sing my lyrics is like a drug for me. I think that’s why I put an emphasis on lyrics. As for specific highs and lows meeting our heroes and selling out shows were highs. Breaking up, being broke, not getting along those are lows.

Why should people come to the CD-release show?

We’re gonna dig through the vaults and play some fan favorites. We’re gonna play a long time, and we are going to play very hard. We play Portland like twice a year, so we’re gonna make it count.

Staff Writer Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at:

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