Why do the chips fall where they may?
Sometimes it’s best to remember that out of the randomness of life comes the predictable emotions we all experience. Like bipartisan support for Amendment 64 or Tim Tebow winning a playoff game, we may not know how things work together, but we enjoy the sum of the parts. Such is the case with RNDM, who despite their moniker are virtually certain to appear Nov. 18 at the Fox Theatre.
RNDM was formed by Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament, drummer Richard Stuverud and guitarist/vocalist Joseph Arthur. Ament and Stuverud have worked together for more than 20 years, and met the songwriter Arthur when his solo gig opened for their side project Three Fish in New York 13 years ago. After a jam session earlier this year turned into a creative feast, the three knew they had something special going.
Arthur fed his songwriting prowess and artistic talents (he’s also an accomplished painter) into the hard rock and roll filter Stuverud and Ament have forged over the years. The resulting creative spark stoked excitement within the group for what was at hand. After four days together, Pearl Jam engineer Brett Eliason was brought in to record their progress. The result is the band’s debut album, Acts, 12 tracks that grow on you with repeated listening.
Tracks that jump off the album include the peppy opener “Modern Times” and the exercise of “Walking Through New York.” In songs such as “Darkness” and “Hollow Girl,” Arthur dishes out copious helpings of emotion while Ament and Stuverud deftly tease out the rhythm. Rocking selections like “Look Out” and “The Disappearing Ones” deliver enough pace to make the album flow rather seamlessly. Since this is a new band, audiences will get to hear most of Acts on tour. It suits the members of the outfit just fine, since they seem to enjoy this phase of their careers.
“Richard is an amazing force — he’s pretty intense,” Arthur says. “Of course Jeff is super-strong as a bass player, and together they have great chemistry. It leaves me a great foundation to build on. When I go into a guitar solo or something like that I just feel completely supported.”
Ament seems to relish his foray from arena rock god back into the smaller venues of America, driven by his understanding that true chemistry between bandmates should be allowed to grow organically. After participating in the fullness of sound that Pearl Jam brings to a stage, he truly seems to enjoy the task of making his trio fill in the void.
“It’s super-creative, you know?” Ament says. “Everybody sings backup vocals. [Arthur] might add a loop texture over the song on the fly. There’s a handful of songs where the rhythm section is extra busy because there is so much space to fill. You can also go completely to the other side of it and play sparsely and leave those spaces, so it’s kind of fun.”
While the band was excited about their work in the studio, they were still kind of unsure of what they had. The album was released on Oct. 30, and the band is taking advantage of breaks in their individual schedules to participate in the ongoing 16-stop tour.
“The whole reason that I’m out touring with this band right now is because I feel like we made a kind of phenomenal record in about four or five days,” Jeff Ament says. “I felt like there was a real connection between us. It’s totally a learning experience. You not only feel the growth as a group of three guys playing together but you also feel some sort of growth as a musician and probably even as a human being.”
Despite the kickoff of the tour coinciding with the recent East Coast perfect storm, RNDM is already seeding the clouds of creativity with new collaborative moisture. Only days into the tour, the band is already playing three new songs and testing the waters with other creations. The taps of music-making are constantly flowing.
“[Arthur] writes some amazing lyrics almost every night, so he’ll throw something at us and we’ll get a couple chords going and just kind of develop it as a band,” Ament says. “The good part is we kind of feel like we don’t want to create any rules for ourselves at this point. Any song or style could be a RNDM song.
“I feel like we’re really finding our feet. With a new band, new gig, it’s definitely a lot to work out and work through,” Arthur says. “We’ve developed a new thing, and it’s evolving. It’s definitely a living thing, and the band has this excitement to it that I think everybody who comes out to see us feels.”
“It just feels like a genuine band,” Arthur says. As in real relationships, “you can’t really decide when those happen, and the same thing with genuine band chemistry. You wander through life playing music with various people, so when things like this happen it is very special.”
“It’s that early period of a band where everybody’s really excited and kind of up for anything. It’s definitely still kind of the honeymoon stage as far as the creative side of it, so we’re just kind of going with it,” Ament says.
Arthur encapsulates the mentality of this RNDM project that is morphing into a more predictable force in commercial music.
“I’m pinching myself. I think we’re a really great band that could become amazing,” he says. “I can already sort of see our evolving in the new songs that we’re playing now. Not to take anything away from the record we’ve already made, but I just feel like the potential of the band is limitless.”
RNDM plays the Fox Theatre Sunday, Nov. 18. Doors at 8 p.m. Call 303-443-3399.