In the 1990s, a couple high school boys in Portland, Maine began stringing tunes together in the basements of their homes. They then recruited a few more of their friends and eventually found the fusion of sounds that would become Rustic Overtones. It was the inception of a rock/soul/jazz band that would become one of Portland’s most celebrated products. The boys enthusiastically incorporated themselves into the town’s extensive music scene, demonstrating that with devotion and passion to their harmonies and to the local public eye, widespread success is not far-fetched.
Rustic Overtones was on the verge of a huge breakthrough when Arista Records signed a deal with them in 2000. The distinguished record company was working with P. Diddy at the time and boasting contracts with artists such as Alicia Keys and Aerosmith. Clive Davis, Arista Record’s then-president, seemed to be giving the band the opportunity of a lifetime. They produced songs with David Bowie, Imogen Heap, and Funkmaster Flex. Yet, all the while, the band felt they were being restricted in their freedom to create their own, unique tunes. They tolerated their advocates but felt they were losing originality.
Davis was soon dismissed by Arista Records, marking the end of the band’s relationship with the record company. Although Rustic Overtones was able to release their album ¡Viva Nueva! with Tommy Boy Records in 2001, they did not have the success they anticipated with Arista Records. After the tumultuous experience, Rustic Overtones disbanded in 2002 and each member pursued various projects. But it was not the end of them.
After a five year hiatus, they reunited in Portland and performed for thousands. In 2009, they released their latest album, “The New Way Out.” Throughout the album, the band’s eclectic amalgamation—a rich weaving of guitars, drums, synthesizers, brass, and woodwinds—is evident and potent. With the help of their hometown, they were able to collaborate with additional instrumentalists, further enhancing their melodies while representing the talented local Portland community. The 2011 New England Music Awards (http://nemusicawards.com/) acknowledged the band’s successful reunion when Rustic Overtones was named Maine’s best band, perhaps the first major step of returning to the national stage—to stay there.
In an interview with Worcester Magazine in July 2012, guitarist and lead singer Dave Gutter said, “Sonically, [‘The New Way Out’] took on a personality of its own.” To understand what this means, one only needs to check out a few of their latest songs. The album features an utterly unique quality.
Check out Gutter and the rest of Rustic Overtones—Jon Roods (bass), Tony McNaboe (drums), Dave Noyes (trombone), Jason Ward (baritone sax)—in what they call a “a smarter, stronger and, in every way, more refined band than the one who carried the same name in 2001” in “The New Way Out,” an album “motivated by nothing but a love for creation, expression, and each other.”