Philly indie-duo, Rubber, hosts Earth Day’s “Root Rot”, a climate-focused livestream event raising funds for youth internship programs from Bartram’s Garden.
For the post-Earth Day start of Earth Month, Philly’s Rubber have prepared a new, ringing soulful single, “Root Rot”. Rubber, Andrew Loper and John Della Franco, will host an event in the bucolic confines of Southwest Philadelphia’s Bartram’s Gardens.
What makes the Hyperpop soul of Rubber unique? Reckless abandon and an unusual vocal tone, they tell me.
As is expected when you visit John Bartram’s tucked-away sanctuary, Rubber’s climate-focused livestream event, featuring GentleJawns, and Dante Robinson, along with gardening demonstrations, cooking workshops and panel discussions on nature-based will raise money for Bartram’s Garden’s youth internship program. You can stream the event Friday, April 23 at 6:30 p.m. on YouTube.
Andrew Loper and John Della Franco responded to my questions.
A.D. Amorosi: Andrew and John, where are you from? And how, why and when did you get together for Rubber? Was it solely to do Rubber or were there other motives or ideas around that in the first place?
Andrew/John: We are both from just outside of Philly and met while studying at Temple. We just started writing music for fun but after our first performance at a campus coffee shop we were approached by the Temple University Campus record label. After that, the project became more formal. We started to stir up some buzz, and we decided to pursue music professionally.
A.D. Amorosi: What do you believe makes your pairing unique? Something that two other men or artists in this configuration could do?
Andrew/John: We’re not sure that the dynamic is necessarily unique, but it is built on mutual respect and admiration as well as brutal honesty during the creative process and we’re happy with that.
A.D. Amorosi: Whether in the past, before your start in music or now….. who are your greatest Philadelphia influences, where music is concerned? Elders or contemporaries?
Andrew/John: Philly has definitely shaped our sound fundamentally. From Jill Scott to Teddy Pendergrass. To Grover Washington Jr. to Tierra Whack to Orion Sun, there’s just so much talent that has made a name for Philly and carved out a path for us. As far as contemporaries? Great Time, 4VR, Sam Bekt, and Taylor Kelly are all amazing local musicians that have inspired us a great deal.
A.D. Amorosi: What can you tell me about your previously recorded music, be they released or unreleased, that would have made “Root Rot” a logical conclusion?
Andrew/John: “Root Rot”, the song, is an experiment with Hyperpop aesthetics and very much in the lane of “Cloudy” and “Vitamin E”. Our music is moving in a more modern and electronic direction due to Covid, but we’ve totally embraced it.
A.D. Amorosi: What most inspired you to write “Root Rot”?
Andrew/John: “Root Rot” is about deteriorating mental health. It’s about hiding your problems under a smile. It’s about an unsustainable relationship. It’s about foundations rotting away.
A.D. Amorosi: What inspired you to curate a show at Bartram’s Gardens and are the two of you truly ecologically aware-astute? This is all particularly interesting to me, not only because my wife is an expert gardener and garden organizer. I grew up very near to Bartram’s Gardens and used to hang there as a kid.
Andrew/John: Environmentalism and climate action are not core aspects of either of our lives but we like to believe that we make an effort. But the whole point of Root Rot, the event, is to make climate action more accessible and to use our platform to benefit a program that we think does great work for the community it serves while elevating marginalized voices and voices of experts in the space. I (Andrew) studied policy in school and intended to become a policy researcher at a graduate-level until music became my primary focus. Climate justice is a fundamental part of social justice policy work and Community and Urban gardens, especially those focused on food sovereignty like Bartram’s, are on the frontlines fighting for climate justice so it felt very natural to use our platform to elevate their cause.
A.D. Amorosi: Is it fair to say that you brought in or booked acts with similar concerns to yours?
Andrew/John: Definitely! But once again, the focus here is to make this info accessible and elevate marginal voices. Not every participant is a climate expert, but we think that diverse perspectives make this event more whole.
A.D. Amorosi: Tell me a little bit about the late afternoon, evening’s additional cooking and gardening demonstrations and panel discussions on food sovereignty and youth activism… It is raising awareness about climate action initiatives?
Andrew/John: I would love for all the readers to check out the detailed event description! But essentially all of the programming is designed to be educational and entertaining! The panels are really special. The local food sovereignty panel has a lot of info on how Philly folks can get involved locally and provides a lot of basic accessible info about what food sovereignty really means. The International youth activist panel features inspiring young activists from the US and the EU talking about their work, and what the different experiences are for activists in their respective cultures.
A.D. Amorosi: Please give me your opinions on celebrating Earth Day. What we should we be doing? And also feel free to tell me what you, Rubber, will get up to next. What upcoming projects, next recorded musics look like for you?
Andrew/John: Buy something locally made or sourced. Donate to a community garden. Eat vegetarian or vegan for the day, or for a meal. Call your state and local representative and ask them what their office is currently working on to address climate change. Volunteer with a local organization planting trees! Donate to mutual aid organizations serving communities of color. Social justice and climate justice are intrinsically linked. As far as what Rubber has coming up next? Another single coming up in May as well as our first show back after quarantine at Sunflower Philly.