the members of Rigometrics, three young white men with shaggy hair and colorful clothes, stand smiling at the camera near a graffiti'd bus
The members of Rigometrics pose near a colorful bus (Photo credit: Cassie Marie)
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If you’ve ever wondered what exactly it is that Rick Rubin did with Slayer’s Reign in Blood, The Cult’s Electric, or Tom Petty’s Wildflowers, you might want to read his relatively new book, The Creative Act. No, it doesn’t give any of the history or pivotal choices he made on any of those or the dozens of other big-time albums he’s produced, but it does give you an idea of the aura he creates, the creativity he inspires. And it has lots of zen-like koans. 

While the concept of “producer” has largely lost all meaning, encompassing everyone from the person who fronts the cash to the person who does the audio engineering, what Rubin embodies is the idea of the facilitator, the person who helps the band find what they didn’t even know they were looking for. 

As rock trio Rigometrics looked to create the follow-up to last year’s debut record, Rig n’ Roll, and build off the positive feedback flooding over them at 100+ live shows in the 10 months since, they found themselves getting pretty zen in the studio with Dave Gutter, frontman of Rustic Overtones and a man who has become a touchstone for Maine’s music community. 

an album cover for the band Rigometrics shows some people disembarking a bus
Rigometrics – “No Time to Waste” EP, out July 28th

With Anthony Gottie doing the engineering at his Bulkhead studio in Scarborough, Gutter “just brought to the table a lot of things that we don’t have experience with,” says Rigometrics vocalist and keyboardist Keenan Hendricks, “utilizing the studio as an instrument, as a vehicle to expand what the songs are.” 

Recording in a studio can be the ultimate don’t-know-what-you-don’t-know situation for young bands, especially ones like Rigometrics that come from musical theater and live-performance backgrounds where you’re making music with only the tools available to you in the moment. In the studio, the bassless trio can suddenly acquire a bass player, like the inimitable Stu Mahan, who laid something down as part of a chance opportunity at the Studio, where Ryan Ordway had them record a demo of “After School” as part of a class demonstration. Or Gutter, who plays bass on the rest of the five tracks on No Time to Lose, an EP the band release with a show at PHOME this Saturday. 

They even sound like they’ve acquired a gospel chorus of backing vocals in “Not the Day.” But the experience of finding a song’s final form in the studio goes well beyond augmenting the number of instruments in play and layering in extra tracks. 

When they went to properly record “After School,” they saved Mahan’s bass track and, “Dave just had this idea to add this whole intro to it, as if he’d already had this intro written and was waiting for the right moment to add it to a song,” says Hendricks. “And were like, ‘Alright, let’s sit down and learn it’ … and then we wrote the lyrics together, right then and there.” 

Like the best of producers, Gutter made them feel a little uncomfortable. They weren’t sure about it at first. But it takes their K.I.S.S.-like dramatism and turns it up to 11, Hendricks showing off his piano chops and using his operatic pipes to create an explosive dynamic when Josef Berger and Derek Haney come crashing in on guitar and drums: “After school/ No rules!”

Rigometrics playing a set at Portland House of Music in April 2023 (Photo courtesy of the artist)
Rigometrics playing a set at Portland House of Music in April 2023 (Photo credit Ryan Moreschi)

There is a bit of silliness — “Beetlejuice!” — to it you’ll just have to embrace as part of the Rigometrics charm, as Hendricks likes to string out vowels and let his vibrato rip and there is a jauntiness to the way they play, in general, driven by Haney’s urgent kickdrum. And they are unashamed of letting Berger rip a guitar solo. If you’re the sort of listener who likes to envision the band as you listen, these guys are spot on. It’s a party no matter where you listen. 

Maybe the most straight-ahead piece likely playlist-add is “Gone,” coming in at a crisp 2:38 and establishing the melody from the jump via guitar and a slightly toned down Hendricks: “We’ve never felt this way/ Too good to be true, so I threw it away.” When, in the bridge, we’re told “if you don’t know the words, sing what you want” it sounds like both an in-show suggestion to the crowd and like an inside-baseball piece of advice for in-studio songwriting. 

Just start singing. See what happens. Go where it takes you. 

As the band head down to the Levitate festival in Massachusetts later this summer, do a three-date run with Spose, and travel to Tennessee and back on tour this fall, they have new tricks up their sleeves, new insights on songwriting and composition, and the air of a band that’s still just getting started. 

Sam Pfeifle can be reached at [email protected].

2 weeks, 5 songs

Sara Cox, “Draw the Line” | After 16 years, Sara Cox returns with a delicate tune that resonates with the voice that fronted the best Maine album of 2003, “Arrive,” augmented by that of her daughter Lila’s — “Don’t let your worries take hold/ Hold my hand, instead.” The late call-and-response is everything you fell in love with when alt-country lilt was fresh and new. 

Cryin’ Caleb Aaron, “Pictures of the Weeping Trees” | Longtime scene vet Caleb Aaron Coulthard (Draudiga, Big Meat Hammer, Kip Brown, Mink Wilde, The Coalsack in Crux, Down to Kill) has released his first full-length solo effort, a gritty and grimy bit of roots Americana. This is a classic boom-chick Western strut, a cowboy dressed in black. 

Jason Roman, “Always” | The opening track from “In from the Cold,” this album isn’t “out” until August, but Bandcamp doesn’t care. Some really beautiful stuff, recorded in Nashville with some top-notch session guys, built on acoustic guitar and Roman’s gravel-road vocals. 

Ron Harrity, “2019.05.27” | Old Peapod Recordings honcho Ron Harrity (now of the noise-rock quartet An Anderson) launches a “Ron in 60 Seconds” project, featuring 30 one-minute recordings of beeps and boops, like radio waves being caught by a space telescope. 

Water Babies, “Side A” | A 10-minute jam that sounds like it was recorded in a practice space, but is some seriously excellent psych-rock, like Jefferson Airplane in 1965. 

Rigometrics + Gnocchi | July 29 8 pm | Portland House of Music, 25 Temple St, Portland | $15-20

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