Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers set to play at Cafe Eleven

Sure, their name sounds more like a children’s book than a pop-rock band from Michigan, but Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers are on their way to full-fledged adulthood. 


Formed in 2011, the sextet are on the road in support of their third full-length LP, “Pluto” — a 10-song record influenced by everyone from The Flaming Lips to D’Angelo. 

The group, which is fronted by vocalist Joe Hertler, will perform at 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Café Eleven. 

Compass caught up with Hertler as the band was making their way from Oregon to a show in San Francisco. We chatted about everything from songwriting to showmanship. Here’s part of that conversation. 

Compass: I read that this is your first national tour. How has it been going?

Joe Hertler: We’ve done some smaller national stuff before, but this is definitely our biggest and longest [national tour]. I want to say this one is like eight weeks. This is the first time that we’ve kind of gone for it and been able to support ourselves as a band on the road. It’s super great. You try and take care of yourself the best you can and play the best you can at shows. It’s oddly repetitive. You get up, you drive four to eight hours, you play a show and meet a bunch of people and hang out. A lot of times, people we meet will open up their houses to us. We’ve had some really incredible hosts. 

Compass: How did you get your start as a musician?

J.H.: In school, early on, I played bass and cello. But I had kind of left it behind. Upon getting into college, I realized how much I missed music. I ended up buying a guitar and writing songs. A couple of years later, I started singing with the guys that would end up being my band mates. It was really a chance meeting. I was fixing computers and my guitar player brought his [computer] in to be fixed. We said, “Hey, we should jam some time.” And we actually ended up jamming. The rest of the guys went to a school nearby called Michigan State University, and some of us went to Central Michigan University. They’re about an hour away from each other, so we were able to hang out and do some cross-school partying. We eventually started playing tunes together. 

Compass: For your latest album, “Pluto,” you ran a KickStarter campaign and raised more than $12,000. Why did the band decide to go that route to fund the record?

J.H.: We didn’t have a specific goal for it. Obviously, we wanted to offset the cost for production of the record, but we really just wanted it to be a simple way for people to pre-order the album. We thought it would be a convenient way for people who wanted the record to be able to pre-order it and get something more out of it. We had some bonus options. It’s kind of standard as far as music acquisition these days. 

Compass: Will you be playing the entire new album on this tour or mixing it up with some older songs?

J.H.: We’ve actually been playing the whole album. It’s about an hour and 20 minutes or so. There were a couple of songs that we were going to skip because they didn’t work for the full band or we didn’t really figure them out for a live setting, but we decided to go ahead with the songs. It’s been challenging, but it’s actually worked out really well. It took a lot of work and a lot of practice. The way you play a song live evolves over time. The more you do it, the more you realize that the live version of our songs is very different from what we do in the studio. 

Compass: Do you write all of the songs or is it a collaborative effort?

J.H.: Everyone has their role. I write the songs, but everyone kind of adds their spot within the band. We certainly give each other suggestions and stuff, but for the most part, I’ll bring a skeleton of sorts — the basis of a song — and then we go on to flesh it out and make it something greater. 

Compass: Your live shows feature everything from confetti to crazy outfits. What should the audience expect for your St. Augustine show?

J.H.: Yeah, we’ve always worn costumes and we’ve always been adamant about dressing colorfully on the road. It’s just a pretty high-energy show. 

Tickets to the show are $12 in advance and $15 at the door.