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Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers at the Blind Pig, 5 Things To Know

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Since forming six years ago, Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers have been on an upward ascent that this week takes the genre-blending Lansing band to...well, "Pluto."

That's the title of the group's four studio album and follow-up to 2015's acclaimed "Terra Incognita." Recorded "all over the place" -- mostly Lansing and Ann Arbor -- the 10-song set is more Hertler and company's most polished outing yet, sporting the usual heart melodies with lush and more intricate instrumentation that never loses the buoyant, organic flow that's the group's stock in trade.

"Pluto's" release on Friday, March 31, will put the Rainbow Seekers hard on the road heading out all points east and west as well as to the Electric Forest Festival in Rothbury. The trip will be long, Hertler attests, but hopefully not too strange...

Hertler, who was raised in Lake Orion (his parents are now in South Africa, working for Volkswagen), finished working his day job with the American Cancer Society this week -- "possibly forever," he notes, in order to devote full time to music. "I'm sad to leave. I have a lot of really good friends there. It's a cozy little day job and they always let me do shows and stuff. It's a good organization to be part of."

The "Pluto" album "was challenging to make," according to Hertler. "The first couple of months of it were...To be blunt, it wasn't going well," he explains. "The songs weren't turning out the way we wanted them to. We scratched a lot of stuff and went back to the drawing board, and fortunately about six, seven months into the recoding process all of these ideas came to life and they started sounding good. It was by far the most rewarding production experience I've had."

Hertler says part of the solution was producer Kevin Pritchard's decision to insert some of the original synthesizer parts Hertler used on the demos into the actually recordings. "I used a lot of airy, atmospheric synthesizer notes, simple stuff," Hertler says. "It added this weird, ethereal, atmospheric lift to it, gave the songs different layers of atmospheres that get more dense as they get down to the ground. Going back and adding some of those really airy top-end things added a shimmer to a lot of songs. I didn't like it on the demos as much, but our producer made them sound better."

Hertler says the more polished sound, while deliberate, is also a result of experience and a basic desire to improve. "For better or for worse, you tend to get more picky about stuff as you keep going," he explains. "That could've been one of the reasons we weren't happy with it at first; You tend to notice the flaws more and get more picky with the stuff. I felt like we were a whole lot more anal about things being correct, especially with our instruments. I know I felt a lot more picky with the vocals. That just comes with time, and the more (time) you put into it, you tend to notice the things that aren't exactly what you want them to be."

Hertler is pleased that at this point the Rainbow Seekers are able to tour coast to coast and have fans in every region of the country. "We have our pockets in the U.S. that allow us to tour and allow us to do it at the meager financial level we're at," he says. "Once you hit Denver and Boulder, and California and the Pacific Northwest, we have listeners there. Every time we get there it's great. They're happy to see us -- and a lot of them are Michiganders, so in some way we're bringing a little taste of home to them. I feel very thankful 'cause without them coming out there's no way we could do it."

Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers

Thursday and Friday, March 30-31. Doors open at 9 p.m.

The Blind Pig, 208 N. First St., Ann Arbor.

Cover is $15.

Call 734-996-855 or visit blindpigmusic.com.

Web Site: www.blindpigmusic.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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