Twenty-five years is a long time for a band to be together, but Rusted Root frontman Michael Glabicki feels like the group is just getting started.
The band’s upcoming record “is the first record of the next 25 years,” he says, “so I’m really fleshing it out and writing some different things on it, making sure we got it right before we put it out.”
The Pittsburgh-based band, which has always had a strong following in New Jersey, headlines the second night of this weekend’s free Maplewoodstock concert, Sunday, at Memorial Park in Maplewood. The Wailers will play reggae classics at the end of the festival’s first day, Saturday, and singer-songwriter Alejandro Escovedo will perform immediately before Rusted Root on Sunday. Rounding out the lineup are 21 local acts; for the complete schedule and more information, visit maplewoodstock.com.
Rusted Root — which will return to New Jersey later in the summer for a show at the Ocean City Music Pier, Aug. 17 — has a percussion-heavy sound as well as a way with a pop hook. Its song “Send Me on My Way” — used in many movies, including “Ice Age” and “Mathilda” — will undoubtedly be familiar to many of the youngest Maplewoodstock attendees.
Glabicki says the band is trying to be as adventurous as possible on its upcoming album, and to cover lots of different stylistic ground, sometimes even within the course of a single song.
“We’re really making sure that everything we do is sort of out of bounds of what we’ve done before,” he says. “We’re having more flexibility now because I think the band is much more relaxed — to go in between different feels, in between the different grooves, and the different dynamics. We have more flexibility and we’re able to go in between those with more efficiency and confidence.”
He says the band has reached a point of “fearlessness” now that it didn’t have in its early days. It’s not that that “fear” — something that every musician or artist has, he believes — has vanished. He’s just able to deal with it better.
“If it does arise, I’m able to move beyond it, and throw it off,” he says. “Before it was something that you pushed against, and came up against, and at times you could break through it. Now, you’re able to pick it up and move it whenever necessary. Like, I’m automatically beyond it now. It doesn’t have any grip on me, at this point.”
As a result, he and the band are able to achieve, more routinely, the kind of transcendent moments that all musicians aim for, he says.
“When you’re into the music, and ‘in the zone,’ you really have to leave your body,” he says. “And in the past, I’ve been afraid to do that. … But now, we’re beyond that. We know our legs are going to be beneath us, and it’s going to work out. Which is really great, because if you’re able to go there, then the music is alive. It’s truly alive in the sense that we are sitting back and watching it happen, as much as the audience is sitting back and watching it happen. And we are as surprised as the audience when something happens that they haven’t heard before. Because we haven’t heard it before either. It just comes through. And we’re just part of this thing that is part of the audience, part of us, part of everything, really. It swirls around.
“I think in the past we’ve let it happen a little bit here or there. But now, it’s every night for us. We allow it to happen every night, and every night we’re surprised.