Music Interview: Rubi Ate The Fig And It Rocked

Band Moves Through Music And Into Space

August March
6 min read
Rubi Ate The Fig and It Rocked
Rubi Ate The Fig (Courtesy of the artist)
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Rubi Ate The Fig is the name of a band that conjures a variety of esoteric references from Biblical to sensual. Their music is something else. Their sound is otherworldly; it’s mystically inclined with deft instrumentation, passionate vocals, stunning guitar work and enough Middle Eastern and prog-rock influences to fill their growing audiences with grateful wonder.

The seven piece outfit, led by long-time, Israeli-born, Santa Fe resident and rhythm guitarist/composer Sharón Eliashar also features the talents of axe-man Marc Mann, a dude whose work with George Harrison, Oingo Boingo and System of a Down adds deep rock influence to the proceedings.

Rubi Ate the Fig also features an A-list of players that include Polly Tapia Ferber, a drummer that specializes in hand percussion of the Middle East; drummer Danny Montgomery, a session man who has worked with Taj Mahal and Jerry Harrison of the Talking Heads; Souren Baronian, a clarinetist who has recorded with jazz greats Phil Woods and Steve Gadd; composer and oud player Adam Good and bass player Kenny Blye, who among other impressive aural experiences, studied with Motown legend Jamie Jamerson.

In concert and on recordings, Rubi Ate The Fig have an effect that is intimately, intoxicatingly intense as well as captivating, bridging the gap between rocanrol and its Middle Eastern and Asian antecedents with poly-rhythmic aplomb.

Eliashar stopped by
Weekly Alibi to chat about the ensemble’s upcoming AMP Concerts gig at The Cooperage (7720 Lomas NE) on Wednesday, Aug. 31. We chatted blithely and with positive energy about where she has been musically, where she intends to go—backed by one of the finest groups on Earth—and how all of that complexity fits together to create a soulful and singular sound.

Weekly Alibi: So I asked around town about your band. The folks I’ve talked to say you all are an essential live experience, with dancers, ornate sets, Middle Eastern prog-rock, y todo. Tell me about all of that.

Sharón Eliashar
: My husband, Leo Hubbard; is an architect; he designed the sets. When you come to our show, it’s like entering The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. You are entering a faraway place. The sets create that first impression. We’re primarily a rock band, but the Middle Eastern rhythms, Middle Eastern modes, solos that focus on traditional instruments and expressions are different from rock music. Yet in many ways, we’re a straight-ahead rock band. With Western compositional techniques and rock instruments, we really create an unique fusion. My whole vision of the band was to create a new world, another world for audiences to explore.

What’s your musical background?

Ok, so, I’ve had this band for many years now. It has morphed over time, people have come and gone. This particular group has been playing together since 2013. The players literally live all over the world. So it’s a special thing to bring us all together. I studied classical music, but have a degree in mathematics. But I was always into music. When I moved to Santa Fe, I decided to focus on music. I studied with Joseph Weber at the College of Santa Fe. What was great about that experience was his honesty. He told me to write honestly. He said if you’re from the farm write about the farm. If you’re from the city, write about the city. So I had this big realization. I’m from the Middle East, but I was raised on rock and roll. So, that’s what I ended up writing about, that is what informed my compositional style. I started studying with Polly [Tapia Ferber] and Souren [Baronian]. They became my teachers. I wanted to play the Arabic drum in a rock band. They’re much better players than me and became part of the ensemble. As I was coming from math, classical music, rock and roll and the Middle East, I started to form this idea about a fusion of those influences. At a certain point, I said, “here are my players, this is my dream ticket.”

Why this band and where did the name come from?

Everyone wants to know about the name [Sharón laughs heartily]. It’s kind of a mystery. We don’t tell people where it came from. It alludes to an alternate story for Eve. It evokes the Old Testament. I’ve spent a lot of time—I was born in Jerusalem—in the Sinai Desert, living among the Bedouins. All my music and lyrics come from those encounters. So I draw from being in the desert, from the Song of Songs to evoke ideas about eroticism and the sensuality of human experience. The poet Rumi also plays a role, has an influence in what I write about. Ultimately, it’s a type of math rock, but not in the typical sense. But the compositions are filled with a lot of time odd changes and poly-rhythms. I don’t write intellectually, though. I write organically. In ensemble, with the players in the band, the process is seemless.

Besides creating a mysterious presence, all of this forward movement has resulted in a Western tour this year. What’s that about?

Our first gig is at the Cooperage at the very end of August. It’s a small tour. After Burque, we head up to Colorado and play in Salida and Boulder. We have a big show booked in Denver. Then we have a really big show in Santa Fe at the Scottish Rite Temple. That happens the weekend Fiestas de Santa Fe peaks. It’s a coincidence, but a cool one. Our dancer, Travis Jarrell, will be performing with the band that night.

The dancer part, along with the sets, speak to an all-inclusive sonic and sensory experience for participants. How important is that to your work?

It is, overall, a theatrical experience. Our intention, when the listener comes to our show, is to provide an entrance to another world. We transport you to another place. We go. We go to the desert, we go to outer space. And we bring our audiences with us.

Amp Concerts presents Rubi Ate The Fig

at The Cooperage • 7720 Lomas NE

August 31, 2016 at 7:30pm

Tickets: $17 in advance; $22 day of Show

Rubi Ate The Fig

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