Rustic Overtones’ self-titled album comes out Nov. 29, the day after Thanksgiving. Cover design by Patrick Corrigan

When Rustic Overtones trombone player Dave Noyes laid out his vision for the band’s next album – one based around the Brazilian psychedelic rock movement of the 1950s – frontman Dave Gutter told him his ideas were too complicated and avant-garde for their band. So, they went about making what they considered to be more commercial music.

That all changed in March.

Nearly four years into the making of the album, Noyes died unexpectedly at the age of 45, leaving behind a wife, two sons – one yet to be born – and bandmates that consider each other family. As the remaining members of one of Maine’s most popular acts in recent decades grieved, they also set out to fulfill Noyes’ vision. The resulting self-titled record comes out Friday.

“After he died, we trashed the easily digestible stuff and dug into his ideas like they were codes we needed to crack. Trying to think the way Dave did sent us new places musically,” Gutter said.

“Rustic Overtones” is the band’s eighth album since 1995 and a tribute to Noyes, who in addition to playing trombone, among other instruments, was the group’s musical and spiritual leader. His influence is all over the album, as is his horn, piano, cello, organ and backing vocals, which appear on nine of the 14 tracks, and his face is on the cover.

Rustic Overtones members, left to right, Lucas Desmond, Jason Ward, Jamie Colpoys, Dave Gutter, Gary Gemmiti and Jon Roods.  Photo by Scott Mohler

To realize Noyes’ vision in finishing the album, the band used recordings that he had made in voice memos on his phone.

“Some of the songs are us playing along to Dave’s demos and practice tapes ‘as is’ in all its lo-fi glory,” Gutter wrote on the album’s liner notes. “We also couldn’t bring ourselves to cut out any parts of the album that had Dave talking in between takes. It was comforting to hear and gave us the sense that he was there with us.”

The Brazilian, psychedelic rock movement that inspired Noyes started in the ’50s and was heavily influenced by American rock and roll.

“In the end, I feel like what we took most from this style of music was the mindset and freedom to go anywhere we wanted – and the inhibition to do so,” Gutter said.

To my amateur ears, the Brazilian influence is especially apparent on songs like “Brazil” and “Volcano Mountain.”

Aside from studying artists of that genre, band members found inspiration from Noyes by visiting his gravesite at Portland’s Evergreen Cemetery, about a mile from their recording studio.

“Dave guided us through this record more than any other because his vision and ideas were sacred to us,” Gutter said. “His words weighed heavier on us than our own opinions of what this record should be. There was no more debating a musical idea. What Dave wanted was in stone.”

“Black Shirt,” the album’s first single, comes out swinging with a throbbing bass line and a whirling dervish of synths, organ, horns, strings and drums.

Rustic Overtones Photo by Scott Mohler

The album’s opening track, “An Ode To Nodes,” is about the vocal affliction Gutter has had since 2000, but the band likes how it looks like a typo of Noyes’ name. Noyes plays piano on the song, and you can hear him talking and laughing in the background.

The horns usher in the song on a mellow note before Gutter’s gravel digs in about his hurting vocal chords and the song ratchets up and slides into a fantastic refrain before ending with a few quiet piano notes from Noyes.

Jamie Colpoys, who was tasked with picking up where Noyes left off, plays trombone and sings backing vocals on “Ode to Nodes” and eight other songs. She’s also a member of The Fogcutters, as was Noyes, and knew him for more than a decade. When she listened to rough cuts and voice memos of the tracks that needed her horn parts, she felt stuck – overwhelmed and unsure where to begin. So, she followed in her new bandmates’ footsteps by visiting Noyes’ grave.

“I initially didn’t go with the intention of writing the lines there, but as I sat and listened to the music, things just started to open up for me,” she said. “It’s really a difficult experience to put into words and may sound macabre, but writing sitting at his grave was incredibly peaceful, and I think necessary for me to start the process.”

Colpoys holds Noyes’ writing skills and sound in the highest regard and had no intention of emulating it, but wanted instead to pay homage to it. “It’s like I needed to have the thought, ‘What would Dave write here?’ and at the same time, let it go.”

The track “Government Shutdown,” with Gutter’s politically charged lyrics about current state of affairs in America, is also based on a Noyes memo, and its corresponding music video shows artist Patrick Corrigan creating a mural at Battery Steele on Peaks Island, which became the cover art.

Corrigan has been making album art and imagery for Rustic Overtones since 1995. He was also Noyes’ best friend. The mural he painted is based on the flag of Maine, but instead of a pine tree in the middle, there’s a photo of Noyes holding a flower that was taken by former Rustic Overtones member Spencer Albee during the making of the band’s 2001 “Viva Nueva!” album.

Noyes’ widow, Anna Maria Amoroso Noyes, said how much Corrigan’s creation meant to her.

“This latest album artwork was an undertaking like no other for Pat, as painful as it is heartfelt and beautiful. I was so very excited with how Pat and Dave (Gutter) chose to pay tribute to my Dave.”

Amoroso Noyes said she knows how proud her husband would be of the record, which she said she was “blown away” by. “The sound they have, what they create together, is everything and why my Dave loved this band so much.”

Band members include drummer Gary Gemmiti, Lucas Desmond on alto sax, Jon Roods on bass and Jason Ward on baritone sax, in addition to Colpoys, Gutter, who sings and plays guitar, and Noyes, whom the band considers a permanent member, pledging to share its proceeds with his family.

Gutter said he and the rest of the band feel they’ve accomplished their mission of realizing Noyes’ original hopes for the album, which will be available for purchase Friday at Bull Moose stores and on streaming platforms. Although there’s no official album release show, Rustic Overtones will play at the State Theatre in Portland on New Year’s Eve, opening for The Ghost of Paul Revere along with the duo of Geneviève Beaudoin and Spencer Albee called Bell Systems.

“Dave wasn’t with us, but more than ever, he guided us in making music for music,” he said. “This was music that we had in us all along but were afraid to make. Dave’s passing brought much needed honesty, compassion and humility to everyone who mourned him.


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