IndiePulse Interview with Rachel of RACHEL & THE RUCKUS
Interviewed by Joseph Timmons: IndiePulse Journalist
Singer/keyboardist Rachel Alena and guitarist Alec Sims met in 2010 while playing together in a popular Colorado R&B band. They quickly discovered songwriting chemistry and formed R&R shortly thereafter. Alec, a published author born in Townsend, MA, has been playing professionally since the 80’s in a variety of high-energy blues and funk bands. Boulder based drummer, Kyle Comerford, joined in 2012. Kyle’s colorful musical journey began playing at such famous LA haunts as the Roxie and the Troubadour and evolved to touring with some acclaimed national acts including backing Carly Simon. Bassist Vince Carmellini came on board to round out the group in 2013. Vince is multi-instrumentalist whose work is featured on a couple of chart topping albums.
Rachel Alena grew up in the LA music scene and started making music before she learned to talk. She took her first musical cues from her mother and father who played in a band together and infused her with their deep love of music. Her father is often heard on the radio, playing guitar with classic Phil Spector produced bands such as the Ronettes and the Crystals on popular songs like a Da Do Run Run and Be My Baby. Rachel was a session vocalist, who toured and performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic before moving to Colorado in 2000 where her musical journey continues.
This multi-faceted band has since earned lots of positive attention from music lovers, bringing their vast musical influences and experience together to create compelling Pop music with Soul. It is the sound of the blend of powerful lyrics, Rachel’s enchanting voice and a band with rocking, in-the–pocket grooves.
IndiePulse Music had an opportunity to do a quick Q&A with Rachel and got a great perspective on the Lady that Sings the Blues oh so sweetly.
IPM: Since the release of “Bounce” and your self-titled album RACHEL & THE RUCKUS, the press, as well as crowds everywhere, have been dancing and singing for more, did you think you would get such a fantastic response so soon after its release?
We were hoping people would like it. We had no idea how the release would go over, though. Crowds at our live shows kept getting bigger and the feedback we were getting was positive. We signed with KeBo Music Agency and things were definitely on an upward swing.
We have played ‘Bounce’ at our live shows for the past 5 years and people cannot sit still when we play it. That is why we decided to record it.
IPM: I am sure you have been asked about everything from your beginnings to the present, how hard you have worked and more, but has anyone asked if this is the halfway mark? Do you see yourself moving as you hoped?
Being a musician and trying to make it in the music business is incredibly difficult. It’s hard on many fronts. You have a passion for creativity and expression that can easily engulf you. Then, mix that with real life issues such as paying bills, drawing in crowds so venues make enough money and balancing family. It is not like a job where you can clock your hours and know you’re coming home with results and income. I have been a musician for as long as I can remember. Even at one point, burning out and working in a corporate job. It’s a long road, but the passion of expression and connection make it worth while.
If I have learned one thing, it is that making music and measuring results is anyone’s game. I have no idea where the band or myself is on that continuum. I am just thankful to be doing what we are doing and for people to be enjoying it.
IPM: Who would you say is your greatest influence, if you could get their opinion of your work, what would they say?
My personal greatest influence is Billy Joel. He is an incredible piano player, writer, performer and singer. If he were to critique my work? Boy, he would probably laugh at my piano playing. But on the other hand, I think he might like my songwriting and I’m sure he’d like my vocals.
IPM: Your sound is far from traditional female lead blues, more rock and roll and a very deep down and dirty, somewhat sexy sound, how did you develop your style to make it yours?
Well, I have been a singer for as long as I can remember. It is really all I have ever wanted to do with my life. I studied voice for years, and then graduated from the Dick Grove School of Music in Los Angeles with a major in voice and a minor in piano. I was then a session singer for songwriters who were pitching their material to well-known acts in LA, so my job was to mimic artists. This gave me a lot of opportunity to try out different vocal styles. These days, I just do what feels natural.
IPM: How do you balance family and personal life with your performing life?
My husband, Jason, is amazingly supportive. I’m also a voice over talent and I have a studio in my home. This gives me a way to be home a bit more to be with Jason and my boys. They also come to as many shows as they can. It’s all about give and take. I think it’s good for my boys to grow up watching their mom pursue her passion.
IPM: From when you are in the studio to when you get on the stage, your drive is right up front. Your band is tight and the sound shows it, the energy and natural synergy is hypnotic, the natural chemistry of the artists you have in your support releases on stage in a powerful musical triumph, does it ever seem unreal, like a dream that is coming real?
Well, those are such nice things for you to say! I really do love what I do and I could not ask for better people to play with, both personally and musically. Any time I am making music and the fans are having fun, there is such a connection. There is a feeling of getting lost in the music. Nothing beats that.
IPM: What is next for RACHEL & THE RUCKUS; is there another album in the works, a tour to support?
We have a new release coming out early 2016 along with a video that we’re working on now. We also have some fun shows coming up. We plan to keep the music going and to keep putting new stuff out there. It is going to be a great 2016!
IPM: When the time comes “at the end of the day” when you look back at your career, what do you think you will see and what would you like to be remembered for?
That is a tough question! If I have made music that connects with people, then I’m happy. If they hear our music and feel a little more inspired or reflective or they are just able to let go of the troubles of real life a bit, then I have done my job.
IPM: Last question, if you had a chance to do a duet, who would be your stage partner, and what song would it be, and why?
Ray LaMontagne. He has such incredible sensitivity and authenticity. I would love to do a singer/songwriter style duet with him. That would be super dreamy.