Dave Grohl, the nicest man in rock? My arse. RM ‘Hubby’ Hubbert wins this title by a country mile. He also has the tunes to back this title up to. It’s not very often that I proclaim my love for instrumental music, never mind when it’s flamenco-based.
Formerly a member of the now defunct Glasgow instrumentalists El Hombre Trajeado, ‘Hubby’ has crafted one of my favourite albums of 2010 so far. It sounds a bit wanky to say, but the album feels more like a crafted work of art, that deserves your full attention. It’s nothing like anything I am likely to listen to, but it’s somehow an album I will go back to time and time again.
Ladies and gents it’s my honour to present to you the legend that is the ‘Hubmeister’….
Would you care to introduce yourself?
My name is Hubby. I used to play guitar and mumble in a band called El Hombre Trajeado. I now do a solo, instrumental guitar sketch as RM Hubbert. I enjoy talking about open source software and music licensing models. I suffer from frequent bouts of chronic depression. I am a very large, hairy and heavily tattooed man. I am not as boring, miserable or scary as the last three sentences may suggest.
How would you describe the music you make?
Punk. It just doesn’t sound like it. One of my favourite people, Mike Watt, once said “Punk is whatever we made it be”. That has stayed with me for a long time. It is a good creed to live by. We can mould our own future, we can create our own art. If it needs a name, we can call it punk.
What inspired you to start making music?
In the beginning, the same as every other teenage boy… Nowadays, as RM Hubbert, it is about confronting, sharing and analysing my various demons. It is therapy for me. I tend to talk about each piece when I play live, it helps to say some of these things out loud. Helps me I should say, I imagine that it can be a little strange and intense for the audience.
The truth is that I would much rather that I had been able to talk to the people that I love about these things. If I had had that ability I would have had a far more fulfilling and loving relationship with my parents. I might even have been able to save my marriage. But I didn’t and don’t, so now I deal with it by writing and performing music.
Your album sounds very flamenco-ish, how did a guy from Scotland end up playing this kind of music?
Kind of randomly! I have been playing electric guitar since I was fifteen but when my father got very ill I decided to learn a different style of guitar playing to take my mind off of the situation. I decided on flamenco as I knew that it would be very difficult and would require a lot of focus. I realised after a while that I wasn’t connecting with the music melodically so decided to take the elements that I did love such as the raw emotion, energy, rhythms and structures and create something which combined those with different melodies.
Most of First & Last is based around these flamenco structures and techniques.
You’re second album is going to be more of a collaborative effort, who have you managed to rope in to play on the record?
So far, and presuming that everyone is still available, there should be collaborations with Alasdair Roberts, Aidan Moffat, Emma Pollock, Luke Sutherland, Stevie Jones, Stef Sinclair, Jenny Reeve, Kim Moore, Shane Connelly, Marion Kenny, John Ferguson, Michael Angus and David Gow.
I was working on a live collaboration with Drew Wright (Wounded Knee) today for a show we are doing on the 22nd April. That might make it on as well with any luck.
Will it be quite similar to your debut album, but with vocals?
No, it’s shaping up to be very different. I have been very conscious of not approaching it as ‘RM Hubbert plus friends’. All of the pieces are being written with the collaborators. i think that it would be a waste to not get as much input as possible from them as they are all incredible musicians.
The ‘limited edition’ version of your album came in a hand bound book made from recycled materials, do you make them yourself? And more importantly do you have any left?!
First & Last was originally conceived as a book with CD. Basically, I wanted to make an album that served as a snapshot of my life over the last five years. A lot of disruptive events had occurred such as both of my parents dying plus I had been given a diagnosis for chronic depression that explained a lot of my past behaviour going right back to my teens.
I felt that chronicling these events might help me deal with them better. Because I am neither a great lyricist nor singer, it seemed appropriate to write an instrumental album and augment it with some writing about each piece. This then extended to including art & writing from some of the people that had inspired me over the years such as Toby Paterson, Luke Fowler, Sarah Lowndes and Danny Saunders, amongst others.
I also thought that it would be nice to hand bind each copy so yes, they are all made by myself using hard covers made from recycled bottles bound using an ancient technique for bookmaking known as coptic binding. All of the materials are recycled and the book only uses open source fonts. It seemed like a good idea at the time!
As of today, there are nine copies of the original one hundred and five left. You can get them from http://rmhubbert.bandcamp.com/album/first-last-book-cd-download
There is also a standalone CD version, which also comes in 100% recycled packaging, and a download version available. Both include the writing that I did for the book and are available under a ‘pay what you like’ pricing model.
They are all also released under a Creative Commons license that encourages non-commercial sharing & remixing. You can get the CD version from http://rmhubbert.bandcamp.com/album/first-last-cd-download
Are you still doing your ‘Will Play For Food’ gigs?And what inspired you to do this in the first place?
Yes, they are my favourite shows to do by a long way!
Basically, I did a show a while back in a big hall to a tiny audience and was paid something like £6 for it. It dawned on me that it wasn’t even enough to get something to eat on the way home. It then dawned on me that whilst 12 people in a 300 capacity hall is seen as a failure, 12 people in someone’s living room would actually be quite intense and exciting.
My music suits being close up and intimate. The idea of getting the host to make everyone dinner seemed like a natural way to get to know each other beforehand and to ease into the gig.
It also has the added benefit of getting to reach people that would never normally come to one of my more traditional shows.
I’m always happy to do these shows, people can contact me through http://www.rmhubbert.com for more details.
Lastly, you’ve proven that you are going to be a busy man this year, is there anything else that you have coming up that I might have missed?
I’ll be going over to Belgium, Netherlands and possibly Germany to do some shows at the end of July. If anyone over there wants to put on a Will Play For Food show around then, you can contact me via http://www.rmhubbert.com
Other than that, I’ll be playing 22nd April at an undisclosed outdoor location in Glasgow as part of Cry Parrot’s 3rd birthday celebrations and 8th May at the Citizen’s Theatre, Glasgow with iSSHO, Lucy Duncombe & Nerea Bello and Cath & Phil Tyler.
RM Hubbert – For Maria
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Photo Credit: Alcluith