Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband is the perfect name for the Utah group, and with their

versatility and having one foot in each genre, it would be hard to call Shupe

and the band anything different.  

 

The release of their new album, “Last Man Standing,” is a

testament to their talent and ability to expand musically and challenge

listeners to not turn up the volume. It’s not rock, it’s not country and it’s

not bluegrass — it is all three crammed into one. 

 

“Its rootsy because it has the banjo and fiddle, but with

kind of a commercial twist to it,” Shupe said, “and a little more rockin'

sound.”

 With electric guitars, banjos, fiddles and drums, among

other instruments, “Last Man Standing” is their best sounding album yet. At least Shupe says

it is, and with Tuesday’s release fans will have a chance to find that out for

themselves.

 

I had a chance to speak with Shupe over the phone as he took

a few minutes out of his Memorial Day holiday and a family breakfast. While

taking a walk down to the market to buy milk, Shupe told me about growing up

around music and instruments.

 

He recalled his father saying the best way to get experience

is to play in a band. That was the beginning of the Pee Wee Pickers, and Shupe

was still under the age of 10.

 

“I come from a long line of musicians, so it was kind of

expected in my family to play music,” Shupe said.

 

A descendant of fiddlers, he’s the fifth generation to play, and Shupe's bio says that he has been playing nearly as long as he could

walk.

 

The music bug never receded, but rather succeeded in making

Shupe not only the lead singer of the band but also songwriter, producer and, of

course, fiddler and sometimes mandolin player.

 

Music is what he does, because music is something he has

always done.

 

“I love it. I can’t think of any other reason to do it,”

Shupe said.

 After speaking with Shupe, it is hard to miss the humor in the new album, as well as the serious and complex sides to it. Joking about the name of the band, Shupe said that the name

alludes to the fun side of the band.

 

With songs like “Corn Dog” and the title track “Last Man

Standing,” the album shows how well-rounded the lyrics are, how talented the band

really is and how much fun they have together as a band and group of friends.

 

“It would not be worth it to me if that was not the case,”

Shupe said of the friendships he and the other band members have together.

 

So… Corn Dogs?

 

Shupe said corn dogs were a favorite food of his during his

college days and “just the name corn dog is funny to me.” His bio says the band was

playing an educational show at an elementary school and wanted a folk song that

was easy to learn and fun to sing, which is how “Corn Dogs” was

born, Shupe said.

 

Being local, Shupe and the band keep it local.

 

They live in Utah, they

record in Utah, and yes, being local to Utah, all five members

of the band belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and are returned missionaries. So the church is a very important

aspect to them.

 

As a band, they decided not to perform on Sundays.  “When we did in the past it seems like things never worked

out, so we decided not to,” Shupe said.

 

“We're kind of a family-first band,” Shupe said when

describing their touring schedule. “We tour enough to get things done, but not

enough to drive ourselves crazy.”

 

Other band members include bass player Ryan Tilby, guitarist

Roger Archibald, drummer Bart Olson and banjoist Craig Miner. All

play numerous instruments and have been playing together for about 10 years.

 

What they don’t mostly do in Utah is perform. They tour nationally and

can be seen May 31 in Mesa , Ariz., at the Family Music and Arts

Festival.

 

As Shupe made his way back from the store Monday morning,

he described performing at the Merlefest in North Carolina.

 

 “It was really a big

thing to play there,” Shupe said. “The audience there are lovers of

music, not lovers of stars.” 

 

Shupe wrote in his journal — found at www.shupe.net — that Merlefest is one of the

great bluegrass and roots musical strongholds in the

United States.

 

“I was pleasantly surprised to find an enthusiastic crowd

looking for a good time and soaking in every musical note they could hear,”

Shupe wrote. “They were eager to hear new music from acts that

they had never heard before, like us.  It was truly a music lover's

festival.”

 

To find out more about Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband, visit www.shupe.net. To buy the new CD

“Last Man Standing” released today, please click here.