Monday, July 30, 2012
Spotlight piece on The Rationales in the Brockton Enterprise
The Rationales ply those time-honored rock 'n' roll staples, potent melodies and dynamic guitars as they rock the Boston area. The quintet's music crosses many boundaries, with elements of Americana, mainstream arena rock, power pop, alternate rock, or what some have termed "radio rock," but whatever it's called, audiences have responded. In April the Rationales surprised many by advancing to the semi finals of the 2012 Rock Rumble, that venerated local showcase pioneered by the late WBCN.
More recently, the band released a new single, "Radio," and it's already won a notable plaudit, voted 2012's Local Song of the Year on Salem State College's WMWM. Last year, the Rationales released their debut full-length album, "The Distance In Between," and even that was proof of their burgeoning popularity, because when the band got bogged down in the expenses of recording, they started a Kickstarter fan-funded campaign, and were amazed at the number of fans who helped out.
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"One of the advantages to the Rock Rumble was the networking aspect," said Rationales singer/guitarist David Mirabella from his Boston home. "Obviously, competing in an event like that, which covers nine nights with 24 different bands helps raise your profile, but we also got to meet and enjoy a good number of bands and musicians we had not previously known. Having those other bands and thier fans hear us also led to us having more fans than ever. But now, it's also been really cool to put shows together with some of those bands we played with. Like on this show, the guys in Susan Constant were a group that really impressed us, and it's great to be able to bring them onto this lineup. So, the Rumble had a double benefit for us: new fans, and a chance to meet new friends from the musician community, whom we can start putting shows together with."
The Rationales include David Mirabella and his brother Mike Mirabella on drums, and they are both Revere natives. Although David had been a teenage musician, and played in a college band, he'd put that aside after graduation, immersing himself in his work and marriage. But after his marriage dissolved, and his career was reasonably stable, David began turning more and more to his musical hobby.
"Real life had interceded for me in the mid-'1990s," David Mirabella noted, "and I had gotten away from playing music. But my brother had always been in one band or another, including the band Scamper, which was pretty successful locally. So I had been peripherally connected to that scene, and I still had the bug. Going through some of those life changes, I began writing more songs. I started doing some solo acoustic shows. Eventually I realized I still wanted to rock out and be in a band."
The Mirabella brothers went to Craig's List to build their band, beginning in 2007. There were stops and starts and several members of brief duration, but before long they had found a good bunch of musicians who shared their musical vision. One big revelation was when they discovered bassist Matt Goldfield, a Northampton native, could also play killer keyboards. They switched him to fulltime keyboards, and recruited another bassist. Now the lineup includes Toronto's Sean Black on bass, and Elmira, N.Y. native Pete Zeigler on guitar.
David Mirabella writes the majority of the music, although all of the other members bring in their own material too, and often collaborate on new tunes. "I tend to be the one who comes in with finished songs, and the other guys will bring in bits and pieces that they think we can work up into songs," said David Mirabella. "It's becoming a more collaborative process every day, and we work together well. All of our different sensibilities results in our stylistic diversity--there's a lot of influences in our sound."
"I always enjoyed original music and was drawn to those kinds of original writers like Bob Dylan, and original acts like Pink Floyd," said David Mirabella. "I never really felt a calling to be in a cover band. Obviously that can be an easier way to get gigs, but I aspired to create my own music."
The Rationales first began turning heads with their 2008 EP, "The Going and The Gone," and as the lineup has solidified since then, Mirabella's writing has gotten sharper and sharper. They had plenty of material to put into their highly anticipated debut album, and were pouring most of the money they earned from shows into paying for their sessions. But after a year or so, the grind was wearing them down, and tapping into one of the fan-funding websites seemed like an option worth considering.
"Working with Kickstarter was both an amazing, and very humbling experience," said Mirabella. "You are basically asking your friends and fans to chip in. It's also a sort of harrowing experience, because you don't know if you've reached your financial goal until the very end. But we had been recording for a year and half, and as we started looking at the two year-mark for making our record, we felt we had to try and speed up the process. We made a budget of what we figured we needed to push across the finish line, and put that up as our Kickstarter goal. We finally raised what we needed and more, and it's a very humbling thing to have so many people show that kind of faith in you."
Naturally, original rock isn't the easiest path to glory, with most suburban clubs catering to cover bands week after week, and Boston/Cambridge clubs overflowing with underpaid original acts. But The Rationales' Rumble exposure, as well as their debut album and the latest single, have allowed them to venture beyond Beantown. Since all five players have fulltime jobs--David Mirabella is in office management, Black is a cabinet maker, and the others work in software-related jobs--and a couple of them have kids, arranging tours is a complicated task, and short weekend jaunts are more the norm.
"We have a solid little circuit we play around Boston," said David Mirabella, "and we've playing those clubs for years now. Branching out beyond Boston is the next challenge, and we just played New York City last weekend. The Rumble has made it easier to break down some of those doors out -of-town, and we expect to go back to New York in October, and have gigs lined up in Portland too. Ultimately our ambitions include putting together trips down the coast to Washington, D.C., or out to the midwest as far as Chicago. But that involves coordinating everyone's schedule, or guys getting vacation time, so it is a bit more difficult but definitely something we all want to do."