We Talk with Rob Cimitile of Builder of the House
I had occasion to speak to Rob Cimitile of the acoustic duo Builder of the House. I got turned onto the band because of their stunningly simple and beautiful day-in-a-life video for their song “Look at the Man,” where we follow Conor Leigh Tubbs becoming Cherry Lemonade. Fan of acoustic music done right as I am, digging a band with a good sensibility for video (and tough subject matters), knowing Cimitile and his partner Elliot Heeshcen are just about to release their first full-length CD, Ornaments, I certainly wanted to get to know what this band was all about.
I came to your music via the video for “Look at the Man.” Can you tell me a little about the song…and the video.
I created a character based on seeing Cherry, someone who doesn’t fall into the ‘norm’ role and whose parents are having a hard time accepting them and it turned into a kind of bittersweet study of gender identity. We ended up getting Conor/Cherry to play the lead role in the video. I want to give a shout out also to Derek Brigham of Through the Door Productions. He’s been a major creative force with us and has worked on all of our videos – he’s my right-hand man!
Is this as much a good visual (which I think it is, it’s a great video) as a statement on the current concerns over gender identity?
Thank you for saying so! When I/Rob had the initial idea for the video, things weren’t as bad as they’ve gotten – at least not publicly. There were enclaves where you would hear hateful language, but the conversations about bathrooms and such weren’t so widespread as far as I/Rob can tell.
It seems for you guys, as it seems for a lot of newer bands, video seems pretty important.
Yes it is. Let’s be honest – music is hard. REALLY hard. It seems to have been devalued more than any other art form due to digital media. And because of digital home studios the world is flooded with new music every Friday – great for music fans, not so great for an artist trying to be discovered.
What we have a hard time picturing us doing is a regular music video – as in “just play your instruments while some other action is going on somewhere else that may or may not have anything to do with the music.” We’re not saying we wouldn’t make one, we just can’t picture it.
From “Lily” and “Never Going Back Again” there is a snapping, almost marching band percussion feel to lots of your stuff. Do you write with a drum machine going or add the percussion off of the rhythms of the acoustic guitars?
Our live set uses a combination of acoustic drum set and looped percussion samples. We wrote many of the songs on our album Ornaments utilizing this instrumentation, so when we went into the studio, we made a decision to embrace the mix of acoustic and sampled/looped percussion throughout the album.
What’s in the immediate future for the band?
My (Rob’s) wife and I recently adopted our first son (2 and a half months old) so that’s keeping Rob busy. That’s why you may notice our tour schedule is pretty light. We’ll be adding more shows in 2017.
“Look at the Man” is the first single from our upcoming full-length album, also our first. Though it’s complete, there’s lots to do leading up to the 2017 release. We’ll be doing an album release show in Portland, ME when we get closer to the release date. We’re also busy sending the “Look at the Man” video out to festivals for screenings.
Last, we recently covered Elvis’ “Blue Christmas” with guest vocals by Robyn Adele Anderson from Post-modern Jukebox – that will be released very soon.
For more information on Rob Cimitile and Builder of the House, please visit https://builderofthehouse.com/.