Talking with Ryan Shupe, one gets the impression he isn’t excessively serious. The same could be said about his music.
Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband will perform a Christmas concert Saturday, Nov. 30 at 6 p.m. in the Rexburg Tabernacle.
It’s part of the band’s Christmas tour across Idaho, Utah and Colorado.
Shupe spoke recently with BYU-Idaho Radio about the path he’s taken with his band and what’s influenced his songwriting over the years.
He said he originally formed the group during his college years, “because everybody wants a band in college.”
The band’s memorable name was an idea coined by Shupe’s sister in reference to how often the actual members of the band were changing at the time. In fact, Shupe himself was the only common denominator between the band’s inaugural and sophomore performances.
The group quickly solidified into a more regular lineup, however. There are currently five members in the ensemble, though old members will return as guest performers with the band on occasions. Shupe lovingly calls these the “Rubberband extended family.”
Pinning down exactly what kind of music the band plays is a challenge. Even Shupe admits he has a hard time describing their music.
“We end up playing a lot of different things,” he said. “We have some reggae songs, we have some [rap elements]. I say I’m the first person to invent banjo-mandolin rap. Maybe I’m the only person.”
The music is often an acoustic take on rock n’ roll. Their concerts feature heavy banjo, mandolin, guitar, bass and drums.
In looking for a simple way to categorize the band’s style, Shupe hesitantly referred to it as rock n’ roll bluegrass. Shupe is a fifth-generation fiddler raised on bluegrass. He also developed a love for rock at a young age.
“When I got to the point that I was going to make a band, I thought ‘you know what I should do is make a band where we play music with a rock sensibility but with acoustic instruments.’” he said.
Ed Sheeran meets Zac Brown Band. That description—offered by the band’s lead—might be the most accurate description.
Shupe said he writes the songs himself and works to mix in elements of humor. He said a bit of comedy is something missing from the music world, playing well into a “not-so-serious” theme that surrounds the band.
When they perform this week in Rexburg, though, The Rubberband will be celebrating Christmas with the audience.
They’ll offer their unique take on many Christmas classics, including a “jazzy” rendition of “The Little Drummer Boy” and a reggae take on “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.”
Other songs to be featured at the concert include a vocal harmony of “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “Carol of the Bells” on a mandolin quartet, and even some a Capella.
A Rubberband original written by Shupe, “In Bethlehem,” was inspired by the artist’s upbringing around southern Christian gospel music. He created it after being unable to find any music in the genre focused on Christmas.
The concert promises to be a bit like the band: unexpected and energetic.
As for the songs they’ll be performing, Shupe said, “All of them are kind of my favorite in a certain way. They’re all just so different and fun.”
Tickets for the Nov. 30 concert are available on the band’s website.