RUBIKON – Crossing All Borders for The Record

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Jae Sims – Photo Credit: Geoff Tischman

For the better part of two decades Boston area bad boys have crossed and crushed boundaries blending different genres into  unknown and unexplored pathways, and have boldly gone where no country, rock or metal band have gone before.

Imagine combining Skynyrd, Corrosion of Conformity and the top crop of today’s hottest country talent into one band.   have taken all their background and influences, slammed them together creating a sound with an always open spinning revolving door.  With a new album, humorously dubbed The Record, they’ve already made their newest effort a novel collector’s item right off the shelf.  All they need now is their version of Led Zeppelin’s The Object.

They’ve taken inspiration from their famous Toxic Twins area kin with The Record.  Their newest batch of musical Mulligan’s stew is mixed with country, blues, rock, metal and other tasty experimentations.  “It’s a big mixture,” vocalist Jae Sims says.  “We listen to a lot of different music.  I think that lends to our style.  We write whatever we like, and hope it translates to other people.  Ultimately it’s to make us happy whether it sounds country, like COC, Clutch or whoever.”

formed when Sims and guitarists Josh Gruss, Dave Raymond, bassist Hugh Eaton and drummer Doug Arsham were in different bands.  “We sort of lusted after each other.  We kicked around hundreds of names.  We‘d played a show in New York and some girl we were talking to suggested Rubicon, meaning crossing the Rubicon.  A point of no return, something you can’t go back from, and 18 years later we’re still saddled with that name.”

The Lost September video stems from Sims’ very real dislike of Led Zeppelin.  “It just never resonated with me personally.  A buddy came up with the concept of a hit man trying to kill me but doesn’t because we share a common love for Led Zeppelin.  The whole video’s a rib on me.  You can’t deny they have great songs, it’s just not my bag.”

The company that shot the video found a Zeppelin tribute band called Zep Leppelin and got some of their merch for on camera use.  There are also a few funny Caddyshack moments in the video, “There’s some really funny golf course footage they didn’t use, I’m hoping we get a blooper reel or something.  It’s hilarious, how much shooting we do for a music video, so much ends up cut.”

Yes, the viewer’s supposed to think it’s a body bag in the Blood on My Hands video, “The concept is the death of physical media, CD’s and records.  We shot both videos in three days.  I went to Nashville and shot Lost September the first day, did some pick up shots the next day then hauled everything down to a farm in Alabama.  One of the videographer’s parents had a farm and finished Blood on My Hands the next night about four in the morning.”

Sims was exhausted by the end of the morning shoot.  “The scene where I light the match and throw it into the grave, all they had for fuel was gasoline.  I told them it was gonna blow up and it did.  They all fell back with their $15,000 cameras which is why that scene cuts so quickly.”

There’s a video for Devils Footsteps and Broken Hearts that came from New York’s The Paramount.  “They managed to get a lot of footage and throw together a live video, much easier than filming a storyline video.”

Humor is always the root of their work, “We don’t take ourselves too seriously.  We’ve always wanted to make a video that was just monkeys.  We want to put guitars and drums on trained monkeys and just film them banging around, but it’s high dollar to get trained monkeys these days.”

Among other big names they’ve shared the stage with Damageplan. “We did a festival they were on,” Sims remembers.  “We hung with them for a little bit.  A couple months later Dime was killed in Columbus.  That was a tough pill to swallow, we’re huge Pantera fans.  We read recently that Phil, Rex and Zakk Wylde were talking about doing a tribute tour.  I don’t know how I feel about that.”

The recording of Live That Lie was a total studio freak out moment, recording the Delta album in 2014.  “There’s about five songs that have organs.  Reese Wynans, he played with Stevie Ray Vaughn in Double Trouble.  He came in and smoked about five tunes.”

They live to experiment with different sounds, “On the new record we have a song called The Gun with this gnarly distorted sax solo.  That’s a nod to one of my favorite bands of all time, Morphine.”

The title track The Record is a weird trippy Pink Floyd sounding thing, “I don’t know who came up with it.  It’s a great title.” Graves could be the ballad of the record.  “Funny thing about that song was it caused a huge fight in the studio.  I was doing vocals and went off at the end of it. I used to scream a lot on our older records.  I wailed on it and thought it was awesome and everyone else hated it.”  They worked it out after a few more takes.

They did the DIY stuff way back in the day when they were on the road for three to four months playing for five people one night and 200 the next.  They’ll play with anybody.  “There’s a lot of great bands out there, Rival Sons is great.  Even without Scott, [touring with] STP would be amazing.  Dirty Honey is killing it right now, Black Stone Cherry, any opportunity to get on stage and turn on new fans.”  Going to Europe’s a huge dream for them as well.

If resurrection or communication from the other side was possible Sims would love to talk shop with Prince.  “He’s my all time favorite just because of how smart he was and how incredible of a musician.  I’d love to hang out with him, and Freddie Mercury, greatest front man of all time.  Living, I’d love to hang out with Dave from Rival Sons.

Sims loved Queen’s creativity and unwillingness to conform to whatever the label wanted them to do.  “Nothing was off the table. You can listen to Anther One Bites The Dust and it’s different than Bohemian Rhapsody and different from Bicycle Race. They wrote whatever they wanted to and it didn’t matter.”

Everybody’s got their own thing and tastes, “We’ve had a couple reviews online of the new record, some people love it and some despise it.  That’s just the nature of music.”

Photo Credit: Geoff Tischman

Sims’ parents are musicians as well. “They figured out real young that I could sing.  The first time I sang in front of people I was four.  That was all I ever wanted to do, that and play baseball.  I was the starter on my team in the ninth grade.  I practiced with a couple seniors and they were blasting KISS in their car.  I thought it was the greatest thing I ever heard and dove head long into metal and hard rock.  I still listen to everything else but it will always be my first love.” At 18, he decided to pursue a singing career and has done it ever since.

They’re not arena size yet but are happy to play House of Blues, Troubadour and have played The Whisky.  “It’s one of those venues when you’re coming up you dream of playing it, like CBGB’s.  Then I played [CBGB’s], and realized it was a hole and filthy.  But it was cool and steeped in history.  We did a show at The Whisky.  It’s really not big at all.  I’d say shoulder to shoulder 400-500 people, great stage and sound.  The same as The Troubadour, small club but those places are awesome.”  Playing the Budokan and MSG are in the long term extended plan.

Photo Credit: Geoff Tischman

Back in the day they played clubs on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights, just to have a show booked.  “We played Biloxi Mississippi on a Monday.  There was maybe four people, in a bar holding 100.  One of those people was a guy named Mike.  He introduced himself as ‘Mike, but people call me Sex Machine.’  We played, sold a couple CD’s and a shirt so we had 35 dollars.  We left the club with this dude running behind our RV screaming ‘I’m a sex machine!’”

On the touring schedule they have four New England dates with Candlebox.  “It’s a homecoming for us.  We got some California dates on the horizon and toured a lot this last year with Tesla.”

The rest of the year sees a new baby for the band in October with California dates in November and other opportunities lurking.

The Record is now available, on all streaming platforms. “I hope everybody digs it because we do.”

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