Gram Rabbit jam in L.A.

In Music
Lauren Mooney

Jesika Von Rabbit asks from the stage in her Blondie-like rap
style, “Do you wanna play? Do you wanna stay?” And I am
willing to bet your answer would be “Yes!” if you were

Von Rabbit serves as ringleader for the four-member circus that is
Gram Rabbit. Todd Rutherford is singer-guitarist, Tracy Lyons-Tarr
is second guitarist and Travis Cline is the sample master.

Heralding from Joshua Tree, the aptly titled debut album
“Music to Start a Cult To” has something for everyone,
from your inner cowboy to your outer desire to dance.

They sat down with me outside their van behind the Echo in Los
Angeles and answered some questions.

LM: How long have you guys been together?

JVR: Todd and I met four years ago and that’s when the little
start began.

LM: What are your major influences, musical or otherwise?

TLT: How much paper do you have? (We all laugh)

JVR: For me it’s everything I have ever listened to my whole
life just growing up—taking piano lessons—I think I
have been influenced by classical stuff as far as my keyboard

Growing up when MTV first came out and watching all the new bands
in the ’80s and in high school going to see punk rock bands
and finding out about the ‘60s and everything that happened
then. And just anything that’s different—not one
specific thing. We’re not trying to be one specific genre,
just kind of influenced by anything that excites us.

TR: Everything really changed when we moved to the desert. It just
kind of opened us up to everything.

JVR: Todd wrote the song “Cowboys and Aliens” and that
was kind of the theme song of the band. That was kind of the desert
to us, the alien aspect and the old west that kind of tipped
everything off, being out there, the mystical, spiritual and cosmic

LM: What kind of feedback have you been getting from fans?

TR: The residency here at the Echo has been really cool because
we’ve gotten a lot of publicity. We got a huge feature in The
L.A. Times and the Weekly did a little piece on us. Our crowds have
been getting a lot bigger, which is cool.

Our record release party in the desert, that show was really
awesome. It’s a building process but the residency has really
helped in getting our name out there. I’m actually feeling a
little sad. This is our last night at the Echo, our fifth week in a
row. I’m feeling kind of nostalgic. We’ve got to move
on I guess.

LM: What do you want your audience to come away with?

JVR: I want them to feel something that maybe they haven’t
felt for a long time, like feeling some kind of emotional niche and
making them think or giving them a new sensation that they
haven’t gone out and seen or felt for a long time; just
something really exciting and new, like they just found this little

TLT: The idea that each individual can walk away with something
that is their specific experience, and that it still will translate
into a larger form of communication. Each individual part is as
important as the whole.

As I was leaving I stopped to say goodbye to my new friends.
Lyons-Tarr wanted to know how I enjoyed the show.

I let him know that he seems to really enjoy himself onstage and
that gets reflected onto the audience.

He seemed really enthusiastic and happy and said, “This is
really what LA needs now.”

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