By Brent Wells
It was the 1990s, and grunge arrived to scrub smeared makeup off the faces of hair-metal bands everywhere. It guaranteed that flannel shirts and Doc Martens were worn on fashion runways around the globe. You remember, right? Distortion was heightened to deafening levels. Business was good.
It was a time when Michael Glabicki was busy touring alongside a slew of other acts enjoying the fruits of the vibrant music scene that defined a generation and rightfully earned its reputation as one the most influential eras in rock 'n' roll.
Glabicki's Pittsburg-bred collective Rusted Root embodies a certain global village vibe and wide-open, freewheeling style. This doesn't exactly fit the mold of a card-carrying tortured soul, like, say, Kurt Cobain. But Glabicki hasn't forgotten that decade when the rules had seemingly changed overnight, when the industry of writing original, artfully inspired songs engulfed the mainstream, and pure, raw emotion was king.
"It would be a lot easier if those days still existed, if that palpable energy was still floating around," Glabicki said by phone last month from the comforts of his hotel room. It was only hours before he took the stage in bitterly cold New Hampshire. "It was definitely alive, you know? ... It was more about coming out and saying who you were and having this beautiful venue for it. And nowadays, it's hard to get through who you are. It's hard for bands that have a real voice, a real unique thumbprint and something unique to say; it's just harder."
Nevertheless, fighting to be heard has given Rusted Root's principal songwriter a renewed perspective on the importance of honing his craft. "The struggle has been good," Glabicki noted. "The struggle has taught me a lot, as far as what I need to do to become even 10-times better than I ever was, in order to get through. So I can't complain that much."
Indeed, the musician -- along with seasoned vocalist Liz Berlin, multi-instrumentalist Patrick Norman, and guitarist Dirk Miller -- has earned a fairly faithful following over the course of the band's 25-year career. It has produced seven studio albums steeped in the group's signature blend of earthy rhythms, percussive melodies, and finely layered harmonies.