Tuesday, 28 March 2017 15:14

Rainbow Connection: Rising star Joe Hertler is set to break out with the stellar 'Pluto'

Written by  Eric Mitts
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In the mystical, musical universe of Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers, everyone is invited to the interplanetary dance party.

The fast-rising Michigan band has always centered its colorful live shows around the idea of connectivity. It should come as no surprise to anyone who has watched the band’s steady ascent to stardom that the latest album, Pluto (due out March 31), is an extension of a collective musical spectrum.

Ironically enough, Hertler started out alone. Like many lonely college students, he got his start in music by writing songs about heartbreak and performing them at coffee shops around Mount Pleasant. He then met guitarist Ryan Hoger while attending Central Michigan University, and around 2011 they started the Rainbow Seekers together after joining with producer/bassist Kevin Pritchard and drummer Rick Hale (aka Pinetop Deadfish).

But the group’s kaleidoscopic sound has only grown since then, as the Rainbow Seekers welcomed keyboardist Micah Bracken (aka Mickey Soho), saxophonist Aaron Stinson, violist Joshua Holcomb, and bassist Jason Combs into the exuberant ensemble.

“Even from day one, when we were playing co-ops in East Lansing and stuff, we’ve liked being from Michigan,” Hertler said. “It’s a real communal thing and it’s cool to be a part of that.”

A Lake Orion native, Hertler is proud to call Michigan his musical home and describes his band’s music as “Post-Motown folk-rock.”

After signing with Universal Music label imprint Bad Mascot Records in 2014, he and the band toured the country, representing the Michigan music scene at big-name music events like Bonnaroo and South By Southwest (SXSW).

The Rainbow Seekers’ brand-new LP, Pluto, follows a 2015 full-length debut, Terra Incognita. The album’s title comes from a sparse, lonely, twisting synthesizer Hertler stumbled upon while working on demos in his home studio. To him, the synth sounded “like a tornado siren, heard on Pluto. If Pluto had an atmosphere.”

“I feel like everyone was a fan of Pluto and then it got voted out of the solar system,” Hertler said. “It’s kind of like the lonely rock, but it’s still connected to this profound system of planets and stars. There’s something kind of weirdly intriguing and somber about that.”

Immediately after releasing Pluto on March 31, the Rainbow Seekers will make a triumphant return to Grand Rapids’ newest live music venue, 20 Monroe Live, on April 1. The band last played the space as the first-ever band to publicly grace the stage, when opening for Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue at 20 Monroe Live’s grand opening on Feb. 1.

Best known for live shows — featuring everything from confetti and flower crowns to strobe lights and sword fights — the Rainbow Seekers have a reputation for taking music to a whole new dimension onstage.

“Just wear some colorful clothing and show up with a smile and try to connect with what we’re doing,” Hertler said to those new fans who might be considering joining in the Rainbow Seekers experience for the very first time. “Music is a very connective thing. It brings people together and I think if you’re going to come out to a show, come with a willingness to embrace the people around you.”

Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers
20 Monroe Live
11 Ottawa Ave. NW, Grand Rapids
April 1, 7 p.m., $15-25, all-ages
20monroelive.com, (844) 678-5483

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