Monday, December 10, 2012


RNDM's show was interesting on many levels. For one, I hadn’t really heard much of the band’s music. Generally I will listen to a group a lot the week I’m getting ready to see them perform. But the week of the show was the week after Sandy, and I had no power in my house, and hadn’t had the chance to upload their music to my iPod.

Actually, I think I only had one single; the album came out that week, but I was preoccupied and was living by flashlight;  going to iTunes wasn’t really on my mind. So it was the rare experience of going to see an artist whose music I was almost completely unfamiliar with.  Of course that happens at festivals or with opening acts, but I can't think of many times where I went to a show to see a band and really didn't know much of their music.

I should mention that I did buy their album at the show – I’ve listened to it often and I like it a lot. I thought RNDM was really great. They often wear masks in their press shots; I almost wish they kept them on, because people should hear them on their own terms. For better or worse, something that Jeff Ament is involved in will always be filed under “Pearl Jam side project.” There are benefits to that, to be sure, but I think this band can find its own audience, which doesn’t necessarily have to be a subset of the Ten Club (I think Brad has found a following like that as well).

 Anyway, the truth is, a band’s audience is often focused on the lead singer. And RNDM singer/guitarist Joseph Arthur has his own audience already. I’m familiar with his song “In The Sun,” and I am a big fan of his other band, Fistful Of Mercy. He’s a great singer and songwriter, I think he’s one or two hits away from playing places like Radio City Music Hall. I can’t say enough about drummer Richard Stuverud. He’s a wild man, and his joy at playing is infectious. He and Jeff have a tight bond: they’ve played together in Three Fish and Tres Mtns (who I hope we haven’t seen the last of) before RNDM. He’s a powerful drummer, the show kicks ass because of him. And Jeff? Well, it’s his band, but he seems to enjoy keeping it democratic. Everyone knows what’s on the back of his baseball card.  

Still, when you see RNDM on stage, in their photos and in their videos, you can see that he enjoys having a visual element that simply wouldn’t be welcome in his other band. He gets his Primus and Beastie Boys on, giving the band a strong visual identity; they even all have the same haircut (watch them sit under the scissors in the video for "Modern Times"). So, anyway, without knowing really much of the music at all (although they did one song that mashed up The Clash’s “The Magnificent Seven” with something else), I though it was great. I know that Pearl Jam are taking about a year off so Matt Cameron can return to Soundgarden (who I also will be writing about soon), I wonder if we’ll see any more RNDM in 2013. Not that Jeff asked what *I* would like to see him do. But I’d love to see a “magnificent four” tour – with Jeff, Richard, Joseph and Dug Pinnick, where they played RNDM and Tres Mtns songs. Hell, bring Joseph’s other bandmates – Ben Harper and Dhani Harrison of Fistful, along with their violinist Jessy Greene – and just call it “Magnificent Seven.” And this time, play the whole song!

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