Posted On 15 Feb 2018
Born Ruffians are the critically acclaimed Toronto based band. Tomorrow they will be releasing their fifth studio album called Uncle, Duke & The Chief via Yep Roc Records. This collection was produced by Richard Swift (The Shins, Foxygen, Tennis, Nathaniel Rateliff). (Pre-order the album at https://lnk.to/ruffians)
“Miss You” was their newest single of this collection released. View the video for it here- http://bit.ly/2FCWJjx. The video is the third in a series starring front-man Luke Lalonde and it was directed by Leah Fay Goldstein and Peter Dreimanis of July Talk. It follows the videos for the tracks “Love Too Soon” and “Forget Me.”
Discussing the “Miss You” video, Lalonde notes that “we had a lot of fun working on the third installment in our trilogy of videos that we shot with Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay Goldstein. We spent the day in pretty realistic old man prosthetics and we couldn’t help but be in character the whole time. We went straight method and embodied the role of ‘old weirdos.’ The prosthetic skin felt very real to the touch, it was a glimpse into our potential future.”
The band has confirmed a slate of European dates in support of the album beginning May 27 in Aachen, Germany. The world tour includes a five-night residency in the group’s hometown at Lee’s Palace, with four of the shows already sold out; see below for a list of dates.
“Uncle, Duke & The Chief” is the first record since their 2013 “Birthmarks” to feature the group’s original three-piece lineup of guitarist/vocalist Lalonde, bassist Mitch DeRosier and drummer Steve Hamelin.
Lalonde says of the band’s reunited core trio, “We all have the same weird, shorthand language of knowing how to put a song together…it’s really super-fast and efficient.” The album’s writing was greatly informed by both Bowie’s passing as well as a cancer diagnosis for Lalonde’s father.
Formed in rural Ontario, Born Ruffians arrived on the Toronto scene in 2004 and released a self-titled EP in 2006 (XL/Warp Records). Warp Records released their debut full-length album Red, Yellow & Blue and their sophomore effort, 2010’s Say It before joining Yep Roc for 2013’s Birthmarks and 2015’s RUFF. The band has received extensive critical praise from NPR, Pitchfork, Stereogum, Noisey, Magnet Magazine, Under the Radar, the Village Voice and more, and has toured with The New Pornographers, Caribou, Tokyo Police Club, Franz Ferdinand, Peter Bjorn and John, Hot Chip, The Hidden Cameras, Girl Talk, Stereolab, Tame Impala and others.
In addition to his work with Born Ruffians, frontperson Lalonde also recently made his acting debut alongside Tim Heidecker in the feature film Sundowners. The New York Times praised Lalonde’s “assured film debut,” watch a trailer for the movie at https://youtu.be/r2BHYiy-WTE.
Learn more about The Ruffians in the following All Access interview:
Happy New Year! Thanks for your time! Where does this interview you today? I am in Brooklyn, New York right now.
What is one song that you are loving right now? On Mondays by Andre Ethier.
What is a song that you all disagree about loving right now? We don’t disagree about anything. We all have precisely the same taste!
So first things first, what all are you all most excited about for 2018? I am very excited to the release of Uncle, Duke & the Chief and to go play shows and share it with people. I really want people to listen to it.
Did any of you make New Year Resolutions? Care to share any of them with us? I already failed at it… I wanted to learn a new song every week. I can play catch up and make it happen still.
Can you recall the moment when you all thought you could be in a band together? I didn’t let on that I could sing so we were auditioning singers. Then at the end of practice I sang Rocky Raccoon and Steve got upset and said “why the fuck are we auditioning singers!? You’re our singer!” I think that was a really decisive moment in band history, haha…
Was it hard to come up with a name that you all thought fit your sound and who you are? Yeah… I mean we were 18 or something but we were finicky. We went through a bunch of names before choosing Born Ruffians. Honestly we just thought it had a nice ring to it and that it was kinda funny.
Let’s talk about your fifth studio album that you will be releasing next month via Yep Roc called “Uncle, Duke & The Chief.” Where did the inspiration for this collection come from? I think all of the songs on the album share kindred inspirations. I remember saying I wanted to draw a line from Buddy Holly, to the Beatles (or the Kinks or Stones etc…) to Television, Talking Heads, and the Pixies… or something like that (I have deeper, more cred-worthy inspos but those are the big guns). But in the end we just write the songs we’re writing and try and make them as good as possible.
How do you think this group has group and changed since your debut album, “Red, Yellow & Blue” was released in 2008? What has remained the same about this band and your dynamics? As far as lyrics go, I think I am constantly returning to a well of existential angst or something. It’s a place that’s been in the pit of me since I was really little, maybe four or five. It’s kind of a falling off, tumbling endless black void that pulls you down and down and down and you lose your breath when you think about it too much.
We’re back to the same line up that we started with when we were 15. That’s pretty special, when people can stay together and want to stay together to do something like play music for so long. There’s some kind of love or something holding us together.
Can you pick out a couple songs on this album that you are particularly proud of and excited for people to hear? How did they go from being ideas in yours heads to full blown songs on this album? Working Together was half formed and worked out in the studio the day we recorded it. Richard (Swift, producer) sat in on piano and it brought the whole song together. I had this other song that I inserted into it as its bridge… I love, love, love stuff like that, and having the freedom to explore that kind of thing.
Spread So Thin is a personal favourite as well. I had the demo written and it worked straight away when we started playing it in practice. Richard added a really nice Juno part to it that made it feel dreamier. The whole song feels like it exists under clear, warm ocean water at night time lit by the moon.
How important do you think social media has been to this band? Do all you help to maintain all your sites or is one of you more into it all? Or do you rely on your PR/management team to handle it all? Mitch (DeRosier) has always done our Twitter and Instagram (I have my own personal accounts on both). I hate Facebook. I don’t use it. I have a love/hate relationship with the whole thing but it is very important. It’s hard, but essential to focus on the positive aspects of that world and remind yourself that it isn’t the real world. It can be very consuming.
Do you have any 2018 tour dates lined up? Where can fans see this band perform next? Check out website bornruffians.ca (remember it’s .CA and NOT dot com which was bought by bots, and is very funny but not official content!) We have lots of dates lined up. Lots and lots.
Who would you love to work with in the future? I’d love to work with Graham Walsh from Toronto and to work more with Richard Swift. Love those guys.
Who are some of your favorite artists right now? Right now I am listening to this Andre Ethier album I mentioned above. Aside from that I am just listening to Miles Davis, Neil Young, and Wire.
What do you think would be a dream collaboration for this group? My dream collab would be doing some kind of visual album with Charlie Kaufman or Spike Jonze.
Where do you think you are all happiest- on stage performing, in the studio recording music or elsewhere? I’m very, very happy in the studio. It’s all about adapting and switching modes though. Tour mode is very different and doesn’t allow a ton of room for creativity, but it’s a lot of fun and we love it.
We are living in a crazy and at times rough world right now so I am curious how you think being in this band gives you the most joy in life today? Do you think that new music being created today is going to reflect these difficult times? I think all art has some responsibility to reflect its era. We try to do that, but not overtly. We’re not a political band, but we are very tuned in and passionate. That stuff comes across one way or another. It’s nice to be doing a job that doesn’t bring any negativity into the world (aside from, perhaps, a slightly larger carbon footprint).
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs? What do you hope they take away from one of your shows? Peace, love and understanding.