Interview by Carl Dziunka
With a couple of successful singles under their belt, and a national tour about to kick off, we chat with Elliott Margin of THE RUBENS.
LMM: Having a group formed with your siblings, is there much rivalry between you?
Elliot: No not at all. Having spent our whole lives together we understand each other really well, what makes each of us tick. We’re great at knowing when to stick the knife in and when to back off.
LMM: What are the major influences for your music?
Elliot: We all grew up on whatever our parents were listening to, so a lot of REM, Tracey Chapman, Van Morrison and Pink Floyd. I think these would have been the bands that influenced our music without us really knowing. Things could have turned out a lot differently if we grew up on John Farnham…
LMM: I’m hearing a late 60’s sound to your musical style. “Don’t Ever Want To Be Found”, to me has a Cream sound to it, was that the intention?
Elliot: Well it wasn’t our intention to sound specifically like Cream with that track, it’s just how that song turned out I suppose. I think with all of our songs we never sit down and say “let’s write a song that sounds like this band or this era” because that would never work. Whenever we write we kind of know where the song is going and what we want to achieve with it, it’s just a matter of making that happen when it comes to recording the song.
LMM: The video for the new single, “My Gun”, also seems 60’s influenced. Referring back to the previous question, is this where your musical interests lie?
Elliot: We all definitely listen to a lot of music from that era, as do most bands I think. But it was never a conscious effort to go that way with our sound, it sort of just happened, it made sense to us.
LMM: Being together for such a short time, as far as groups go, are you surprised at how popular you have become so soon?
Elliot: We are completely blown away by how lucky we have been so far, especially when we consider how long it usually takes for most bands to get onto the scene and build up a fan base. Every show we each have an individual moment at some point during the set where we realise that this is now our job, to play our music for people every night. It’s an unbelievable feeling. Of course it’s not like we haven’t worked for it, because we have worked extremely hard. We’ve made sacrifices regarding money and free time, as does every band. We’re just lucky that our hard work is paying off.
LMM: What do you listen to in your quiet times?
Elliot: We listen to a lot of hip hop and pretend we are much cooler than we actually are. One of our recent favourites was “The Brothers of Chico Dusty”, the mash up album of Big Boi’s ‘Sir Lucious Left Foot’ and The Black Keys’ ‘Brothers’. It’s the best of both worlds, hip hop and rock. Perfect.
LMM: What was playing to the huge crowds at Spendour like?
Elliot: It was an amazing experience. We played at 1:20pm on the Sunday so our whole weekend was spent worrying whether anyone would actually turn up to see us at such an early time slot. Needless to say we were blown away when by the end of our set the tent was pretty much full. It was the perfect way to top off our first Splendour experience.
LMM: Was music always an ambition as a career or did you have thoughts of doing something else?
Elliot: Before music I wanted to study drama so I’ve never been one for realistic goals. I think we’re all very lucky that our music is doing well as none of us would suit an office job. If music doesn’t work out it’s back to making pizzas. We prefer music, but only just.
LMM: What is the influence of the way you write your songs?
Elliot: Sam is the lyrics man, he mostly writes about imaginary situations or stories to keep it fresh. There are a couple songs on the album which are about personal experiences, we’ll let listeners decide for themselves which ones they are.
LMM: Working with a producer like David Kahne must have been a thrill because of the artists he’s worked with. What was that like?
Elliot: It was very daunting at first of course because he is such a legend in the industry, his name being attributed with some of the biggest artists in the world. It didn’t take us long however to realise he is just a really nice, warm, funny guy who loves music. He understood the direction we wanted to go with the album and used his genius musical ability to help us achieve that. There were of course things that we didn’t quite see eye to eye on at times, but it was nothing that a little bit of discussion and trial and error couldn’t fix. We’ll definitely be stopping by his place for a few beers and a catch up next time we make our way to the states.
LMM: What’s your opinion of the lack of promotion of Australian artists within Australia? Most people have to travel overseas to make a name for themselves.
Elliot: I don’t agree, I think there’s a lot of amazing work done not only by triple j, but also smaller stations such as FBI in Sydney and triple r in Melbourne. They make it incredibly easy for young bands to get their music out there and make it accessible to the public. As well as the radio stations there’s plenty of music websites, blogs and magazines that promote Australian music further. Whether it’s reviews, interviews or gig guides they all do a great deal of good. Of course going overseas is a big help for any band in terms of spreading their music and making a name for themselves, but without the leg up that the Australian music media scene provides it would be a very hard thing to achieve.
LMM: What’s next for The Rubens once the debut album is released and the upcoming tour is over? Anything in the pipeline?
Elliot: We’re just planning on playing as many shows as we can, because that’s what we love doing. Hopefully take this puppy overseas, who knows what the future holds.
The Rubens self titled debut album out now
www.facebook.com/therubensmusic / www.ivyleague.com.au