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
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
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
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
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.
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