Sunday, June 3, 2018

Back to the Basics: An Interview with Born Ruffians

photo credit - Matt Barnes

Canadian darlings Born Ruffians released a fantastic album this past February. Uncle, Duke & The Chief is a pretty significant one since it features the band's original three-piece for the first time since 2013's Birthmarks. With Luke Lalonde on vocals and guitar, bassist Mitch DeRosier and Steve Hamelin on the drums, the trio hits us with a personal album - drawing inspiration from their fathers, their upbringing and the songs they'd listen to, and the death of David Bowie. 

The album also strikes a chord with me, as I've been a Born Ruffians fan since I was in high school. I grew up with the lads, view their debut album Red, Yellow, and Blue as an anthem of sorts during my teenage years. Being so influential on me and with Steve back on drums, it seems like a reunion of sorts. The boys have grown up and so have I. 

Chatting with Steve right before their Vancouver set, we decided to focus on timelessness, their memories, and the journey that brought them here.

You guys have been in a band together since you were 15. You've grown up together! What's the fondest memory you all have to date as a band?

It's funny how the feeling of being in a band can change over the years. I've had a bit of a unique perspective since I've left and re-joined, but I'd say the fondest memory or feeling that we have is the fact that we've made it work for so many years. You remember different eras of the band and reflect back on them but overall it starts to just feel more and more like a family bond, like we have the ability to finish each other's sentences or know where a song is going when we're writing. It's a unique place to be as a band, and one that we're grateful for. 

We watched all of your B-Roll videos on Youtube. From Fuckball, to attempting to sing Mr. Sandman, and our personal favourite, unknowingly playing a Rick Astley song, what's the best / dumbest thing you guys have gotten up to on tour?

Oh man, there are so many. I'd probably say reading Deirdre Martin's 'Hip Check' out loud. We bought it at a rest stop because it looked so ridiculous and we each took turns reading it aloud in the van chapter-by-chapter over the course of our tour last fall. I think it marked one of many points in our collective insanity. 

It seems Fade to Black has an early punk inspiration to it. Absolute banger of a track! What do you guys think, is the most important piece of punk music to date?

Every album has a different feeling but I'd say that this one feels like the most cohesive and confident collection of songs that we've ever made. It happened effortlessly (in a way), where we went to the studio with Richard Swift and expected to only record 4-5 songs. the vibes was totally right and we ended up doing 9 songs in 10 days. I wouldn't call this album punk but i do think 'Fade To Black' is one of the more aggressive and energetic tracks on the record. it's one of our favourites to play live. 

photo credit - Roger Galvez @rogerxgalvez 

We read online that you're a fan of Joy Division's She's Lost Controland with that also a scene involving the band in 24 Hour Party PeopleFrom what we understand, you approach beats kind of how Joy Division did. Because of that, we want to touch upon Manchester and the post-punk revolution. Is that a time period that holds a huge weight of influence on you? Is that perhaps your favourite time period in the music industry? 

It was a great moment for rock music. Over the last few years, I've become a big vinyl collector and a lot of the UK northern soul that was happening in and around Manchester definitely holds a special place for me. I've always liked the grit and industriousness of cities like Manchester. Maybe it's from being from a small working class town like Midland, but I always connect most with places that feel real deal and down to earth. Manchester - and the music that's come from it - has always done that for me. 

How about this: What's your favourite little thing about everyday life when you're back home from touring?

Sadly it's the most mundane stuff: I get to walk my dog, hang out with my girlfriend and do everyday normal tasks like making dinner and reading. You get lost on tour, and being back home is the best way to stay grounded, especially between tour legs. 

Your video for Forget Me is so poignant and brings a sense of familiar longing. It reminded us a lot of the film, Swiss Army Man! Who came up with the concept? When we read your Billboard track-by-track breakdown, we heard it's a song about a nostalgic loss. Is the dummy perhaps representative of whichever person has passed, or someone that’s not in your life anymore, that you remember fondly?

Good eye! Leah Fay Goldstein and Peter Dreimanis of July Talk came up with the overall concept of the video trilogy and Swiss Army Man was definitely a reference point. We wanted the dummy to be a bit of an empty vessel in a sense, upon which different people take out different meanings of its role and importance to Luke who is acting as the main character in the videos. It can mean a lot of things, but yes definitely one angle is the feeling of nostalgia and love that we all feel towards people and things as we get older. 

Any piece of advice for our readers at all? 

If you're a young musician, work hard and don't let too many people get in your ears or your pockets. do what you love kids!



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