Rubix Shoes: The haunting soundtrack

by Elyse Tan

Rubix Shoes is quickly gaining attention in the Bellingham music scene for their experimental approach to instrumental music. Their sound, textural, evokes a powerfully haunting basement experience.
The three-piece band composed of Nick Emard (bass/guitar), Matt Melrose (guitar), and Erik Fure (drums), started in the basement of the Sloth House last year. Joined by common musical interests and an infatuation with the soundtrack of Final Fantasy IV, the three amigos have since gained a reputation as basement heroes.
Bringing “face melting slashing shred” to Bellingham, their live shows are intense, oftentimes accompanied with performance antics, props, dancing, and weeping… yes, weeping.
“You get lost in it – this spiritual rapture that will take you,” Melrose said.
Self-taught musicians, they each contribute a unique element to the band. Their diverse preferences for unusual sounds and things that are particularly big and melodic, mesh together to create Rubix Shoes.
Despite some differences, the members can agree on Steve Reich, Weather Report, Tony Allen, and the soundtrack of Final Fantasy IV soundtrack as mutual influences. They also encourage each other’s solo endeavors and other bands. Both Melrose and Fure play in folk group Katey and the Quilts; Melrose just released an electronic EP under his moniker, One O’Clock Comm Class; and Emard plays in New Lungs while working on his solo project, Reasoner.
You can find them transforming some basement or living room into a musical event whether they’re playing a show, recording a tape or exchanging beats on Sucker Free Sundays.
“As Rubix Shoes, we try to make music that can be looked at from a variety of angles,” Melrose said. “Music doesn’t have to be looked at in a linear way; it can be anything as far as the imagination goes.”
Melrose, a psych major, aims to capture the idea of music as an abstract representation of thought processes, thinking without words.
“I just like to play music that I’d like to hear in a basement,” Emard said. Meanwhile, Fure, with a love for animal bands, thinks in terms of imagery and tastes… in your mouth. If there’s a message he hopes to convey to listeners, it’s to believe in yourself and that you can really do anything that you want to – the mind is an amazing place, added Fure.
At their February show at the Loud House, a mesmerized crowd responded to the spectacle. “This is so badass,” one guy said. “It sounds like the soundtrack of a horror film,” another whispered. Rubix Shoes is doing something right with their presence.
Emard is amazed by the number of people opening their houses to this community, who is all there to have fun and be really invested in the music.
“We’re trying to bring back the intensity,” said Melrose. “We try to have people jump around and slam into stuff but not regret anything.”
In reference to the weeping, Melrose says he likes it to be a performance release; a cathartic experience where you get off and question what just happened. Each show is a new experience as they try different things.
Rubix Shoes recorded five new songs in the basement of The Mini on cassette, a deliberate, physical medium in a digital era, noted Emard. When asked about the appeal of tapes, Fure likes the practicality and compactness. “You can wrap your hand around it, you can slide it in your pocket, and stack them together like an accordion,” he said.
See what they’re all about at their upcoming cassette release show at Make.Shift on March 23 with Lures and Whitney Ballen (making her Bellingham debut with new album Falls). Make.Shift will also showcase five pieces by painter and multimedia artist Jim Ether. Based out of Ohio, Ether specially commissioned paintings inspired by each track on Rubix Shoes’ new EP.  There will be a digital release via Soundcloud and Bandcamp mid-March at rubixshoes.bandcamp.com and soundcloud.com/rubix-shoes.