Jake Bunger Interview

They've opened shows for Blue Oyster Cult, Little Feat, Nightranger, Paul Rodgers and the Jerry Garcia Band. John Popper of Blues Traveler has called them "A great band." Their CD. has been getting airplay at college stations around the Northeast as well as commercial stations in Syracuse and Utica. They've even had a Pizza named after them! We're talking about Rattlebasket.

Guitarist Jake Bunger spoke with us about the band.

Q - Jake, this band of yours has been getting a lot of attention lately. But, you didn't start it did you?
A - No, actually I didn't.

Q - So, who put this band together and when?
A - Rattlebasket has actually seen a bunch of different incarnations throughout time. The only original member left is basically Dan Austin. The current incarnation, which has felt like the most professional, has about 2 years. That was when we brought Frank Andrello, our bass player, onboard. Before that, we'd play mostly cover songs. We had some of our own music thrown in. I said if we're gonna try it again, let's just do our own stuff. And so from that point on that was it. The music starts with me and I bring it into the band and we put it together. Then Teresa and Dan work on the words together and we all kind of arrange it. When Frank came on we were just like this is how it's gonna be. We're gonna do our stuff.

Q - Is Teresa or Tre the only one in the band who sings?
A - Nope. Dan sings backup and he does sing a couple of songs by himself. We give him some spotlight. (Laughs). Basically it's all Tre except for one song now.

Q - What were you doing before Rattlebasket? Were you in another group?
A - Actually, it's funny. I had played with Rattlebasket when it was 4 piece and Teresa wasn't with the band. It was me and Dan and a couple of other guys. Then I moved out to Seattle for awhile. When I came back, myself and Pat our current drummer and our old bass player had started putting a band together. I think Dan and Tre were kind of doing something like the acoustic thing. Then we're like here's a rhythm section and here are a couple of singers. Dan and I had always remained friends. Dan and Pat were good friends so we said, let's do it. Let's be a 5 piece band and be a rock 'n' roll band. Teresa's roots had really been folk singing and acoustic stuff. I don't think she knew what to think getting into a rock 'n' roll outfit at first, but man, she took to it. (Laughs).

Q - What were you doing in Seattle?
A - Enjoying myself. I was done with college. It was just a very liquid point in my life, and I thought this is the time I can do it. So I packed what would fit in the car which was clothes and a guitar and left.

Q - Where did this name "Ratllebasket" come from?
A - Somebody went and visited a museum of art down in New York City. Down there they had an exhibit that was part of one of the ancient African cultures. The judicial system of this culture was nothing like we would know it, but, it was kind of like charades. It wasn't so much as who was right or wrong, it was kind of like, who told the best story. But, the rattlebasket really comes down to just a noisy egg timer. They had kind of like the rain sticks. They're a long stick with a bunch of small pebbles in 'em. You turn 'em upside down. I can't remember or pronounce the African name for it, but basically it equated to a rattlebasket. So, that was the amount of time they had to tell their side of the story. So that's where it started from.

Q - How are you selling this C.D. of yours, at shows?
A - Yup.

Q - On the Internet?
A - Well, at the moment, I'm the webmaster for the Internet. I wish I did have more time to keep that stuff going. For that and the rest of our merchandise, I'd like to sell it on the Internet, but there's some things as far as the security issue goes, that I'm not comfortable with, as far as getting set up which we haven't done yet. But, it comes with us to the shows and we've actually got it in a bunch of stores around Syracuse and Utica. One of the proposed things for the Website is at least a list of where you can pick it up. But, it travels with us to all the shows. We actually do have people who've either written to us, or e-mailed us and said I saw you guys or I heard about you guys, where can I pick up a CD.? And, they've just rnail-ordered. We've got a PO Box so we'll have someone send us money and we'll send them a CD. ( PO Box 8038, Utica, NY 13505). We usually toss in other goodies as well. We've got T-shirts, bumper stickers, and hats.

Q - You've really got it together haven't you?
A - We're working on it.

Q - Is it your intention to get this band a major label deal?
A - That would be nice. We all do something during the day, and this is a big part of us. I've played some instrument since I was about four. Music has always been a mainstay of my life. Same thing with everybody else. We all work together. We all really get along well. We all like our music, and we all believe in it. If that's what happens, yeah, but we're kind of working on shipping it out, playing shows and getting the music out, and getting it heard. If that happens, then we'll go for it. So, that's where I am and I think everybody else is too.

Q - When John Popper of Blues Travelers calls Rattlebasket a great band, what does that do for the band?
A - It gives us great, big swelled heads. (Laughs).

Q - I know that, but what does it do for you professionally? Does it mean anything to agents and club-owners?
A - We've had a lot of people take it like, that's interesting. How did that happen? There's not a whole lot of other bands that get that chance. I don't know if it's garnered any kind of, "OK, you guys are a shoo-in", attitude. Hopefully, it's gotten some doors to open, and if not at least made people a little more amicable towards us. The fact that we can hold a stage with a seasoned professional with a famous musician... I haven't heard anything other than wow, that's really cool as far as opinions. I'll admit I really don't do much of the booking.

Q - You've played with The Jerry Garcia Band, Little Feat, and Blue Oyster Cult. Where have you appeared with all of these people?
A - We played with The Jerry Garcia Band in Sylvan Beach at the T-Rex Club. That was pretty neat. They're a great band. Post Jerry, unfortunately. We played with Little Feat in Vernon ( New York), at the Fireworks Show with them. We played with Blue Oyster Cult a couple of times. Once at one of the fireworks shows and we opened for them at the T-Rex Club, a different night.

Q - Since Rattlebasket is an all-originals band, is it difficult to find work on a regular basis?
A – I know some bands play out five nights a week and we're not doing that but we're booked every weekend through the end of June. I think there's a week off in July. Someone's on vacation.

Q - What’s the name of the restaurant that has a Rattlebasket Pizza?
A - The Creative Cafe in Utica.

Q - Rattlebasket was asked to perform in the "Best of the Unsigned Bands Showcase". Did anyone ever tell you what it was that made your group stand out over the 10,000 entries?
A - Not in so many words. That was a pretty big contest, and they kind of did it in levels. So, just getting picked was a great feeling. We sent in two songs, one of which was a version of the first track on the CD. "World Today” and another song which is gonna appear on the second C.D. called "Wish For". We felt like those were some of our strongest songs and hopefully considered radio-friendly. We're kind of hoping that's what caught their ears. The recording we did, we actually did in one of our houses. It was an interesting way to record, but it came out pretty good. I was pretty excited. When we put the C.D. together that was done in the big studio, the real studio. Thev didn't give us a review or anything. They gave us a nod, and gave us directions. (Laughs).

Q - You have a song on your C.D., "30 Years and Counting". With that in mind, is Rattlebasket headed to Woodstock '99'?
A - I hope so. That song wasn't geared for Woodstock. That song has been around for over a year. But, the theme of it leads itself perfectly to Woodstock. We even mention Woodstock in it. We’re hoping. We’ve got some packages in. We’re doing what we think is right.

© Gary James All Rights Reserved