INTERVIEW: A Chat With Elliott Margin from The Rubens

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

With the release of their sophomore album Hoops earlier in the month and a tour that's about to kick off next month, I had the opportunity to chat to Elliott Margin from The Rubens about the album, their live shows, influences for the release, and the year so far.

Well, firstly, congratulations on your second record, Hoops. How does it feel to have it out?

It feels really good. A big relief, you know, you put in so much work getting the record done and there is  so much behind the scenes stuff, then when the records done, it’s like, argh, such a relief. Yeah, a good feeling. 

Yeah for sure. Now I heard that you guys had up to 40 tracks when you went to record Hoops, what was the process of elimination like? How did you decide what ended up on the album?

The start's easy. You have so many songs that you start to agree on the first cull. Then you get it down to 17 or 16 and that’s when you really have to sit down and discuss what they mean to you and why they should be on the album. It’s pretty much a democracy in the end, we kind of find a way to agree. We tell ourselves that the songs we think are really good will hopefully see the light of day some time. 

Would that be on the next album or on a deluxe edition or something like that?

Yeah any outlet, we’ll see. Some might end up on the next album and some could end up on some type of collection, we just don’t know yet.

Your new material seems to be tailor made for great live shows, was this direction intentional?

Yeah, it wasn’t like we sat down and said lets write these types of songs, it kind of just happened. Being on the road for so long we became a really tight band. We weren’t at the start, we were rough and pretty terrible, but we progressed and became better as a group, and I think that showed it’s self in the writing. So yeah, it’s not like we said “lets write an album that going to be punchy and have big choruses and that”, it kind of happened because that’s what we were capable of.

How did you deal with the pressure of releasing your second album after the great success of your first?

I don’t know that we felt that much pressure, I think it was more excitement. Because we spend so much time on the road with the first one, when it came time to sit down and write for the second one we were just excited and really ready for it, to get in the studio and start recording again, because we hadn’t in so long. And then when it comes to releasing it's just excitement again because you have been in the studio so long it’s great to get out on the road again. For some reason were lucky and we have been able to cope, we can sit back and realise that we are lucky to be doing this, we may as well enjoy it, instead of sitting back and worrying about it. 

That’s a great attitude to have.

Yeah I think we’re really lucky that it doesn’t go the other way.

So did the writing and recording of the album just happen or was there some time set aside specifically for it?

So we started writing pretty much as soon as the first record came out, we were always fiddling with ideas and making things happen, but after I think it was at the end of 2013, we took a break and rented a house about an hour south of Sydney and did about 5 months of writing there, so that’s where the bulk was done. We sat down and had no shows or anything. Just had BBQ’s, beers and friends over and that was a really good thing for us to be together and write music and focus on what we were doing. And then after that it was back to the big studios, like New York, and getting the big recording done.

How was that, going to New York to record this album?

It was awesome, so much fun, but it was a bit overwhelming at times, a bit of an over load. We had to sit back and look at what we were doing, make big decisions and try and make it sound like how we want it to sound and enjoy it at the same time.

And so were there any new influences for this record?

We have been thinking a lot more about sound. Especially guitar sounds, Zaac our lead guitarist, when we were touring he amassed a huge collection of guitar pedals. So he's capable of pulling all of these weird and full sounds now and that’s definitely a great way to find inspiration in writing songs. You might have a song that you have had for a while, all of a sudden you put it threw that guitar pedal and it’s like, wow. It’s easy to get inspiration from new instruments and things because that’s how songs are made for us. 

Was there any bands that influenced you this time round?

Oh that’s hard. Being a touring band we got to see heaps, see how they do there live shows, and it’s hard to say anyone specific. We listened to a lot of Arctic Monkey’s, there new record AM, um we listened to Tame Impala, D’angelo, Cody ChesnuTT. It’s hard to pick, because we have such a broad interest in music as a band.

How do you think your sound has developed over the years?

I think this album is a lot more punchy than the first one and I think the sounds we choose and our song writing is more direct. I think we have more of the RnB side to this one too. On the first one we were a bit more bluesy and maybe we were a bit scared to venture into the RMB realm. 

Before you guys played at Splendour you were doing a small more intimate tour to show case your new album. How did that go for you?

Really well. Yeah, really well. We put a lot of anticipation into the shows, you know there were nerves going in, but those shows were just so much fun. A nice reminder of why we do this. Writing albums is great and being in the studio is great, but playing live is the best part of it all. And it was a nice way to kick it all off.

I actually got to see the show you did in Melbourne. It was awesome. 

Oh mad. Yeah it was a fun show, really fun. The encore was weird though, I don’t know why we did that. I think because it was media and fans. We wanted to make the fans happy, but not play too many songs that the media got bored. So we walked off stage and were just like “this is so awkward” (laughs) then came back on stage with our heads hung in shame (laughs).

(Laughs) Yeah, no it was all good man. So pretty much straight after that was Splendour. Did you just love playing at that festival?

Oh man it was so much fun. So much fun. I mean it’s the biggest festival in Australia and for a good reason, it has a great reputation, they put on so many good bands and the crowds awesome. We got to play on the Friday then the rest of the weekend we just had a lot of fun. We were blown away by the crowd as well. We didn’t expect that many people to file in as we were playing.

And so now you are getting ready to take your incredible new live show on the road for the ‘Hoops’ national tour, what can we expect from these live shows?

A lot of energy I think. We are just really excited to get on the road and play our new songs. Were probably more excited than the fans at this point, were bored of sitting around writing music we just want to play it live. 

You have had to add a second show at the Forum Theatre in Melbourne after selling out the first show. How awesome does that make you feel?

Oh, it’s great, it’s awesome, just another indicator that people still want to see us and hear us. You wonder when you go away for a while to write a record if the fans have forgotten or if people care anymore, then you get an email saying that a show is sold out and your like “thank God” so we’ll  keep on doing it then. 

Sounds good to me. And so do The Rubens have any plans for after this three months of touring around Australia?

Yeah, so we are looking at releasing to the States and the rest of the world next year and then be back for festivals and things in Australia. I mean that’s the best part of the job, we would love to just keep playing shows indefinitely, and if we can, we will make that happen.   

Written by Emily O'Brien

Catch The Rubens on tour at the below dates:

Wednesday, 16th September 
Prince of Wales, Bunbury WA
Tickets: Rubens Music Website
Thursday, 17th September 
Settlers Tavern, Margaret River WA
Tickets: Rubens Music Website
Friday, 18th September 
Astor Theatre, Perth WA
Tickets: Rubens Music Website
Saturday, 19th September 
Red Earth Festival, Karratha WA
Tickets: Rubens Music Website
Friday, 25th September 
Club 54, Launceston TAS
Tickets: Rubens Music Website
Saturday, 26th September 
Uni Bar, Hobart TAS
Tickets: Rubens Music Website
Friday, 2nd October 
ANU Bar, Canberra ACT
Tickets: Rubens Music Website
Saturday, 3rd October 
Yours & Owls Music & Arts Festival, North Wollongong
Tickets: Rubens Music Website
Thursday, 8th October 
HQ, Adelaide SA
Tickets: Rubens Music Website
Friday, 9th October 
The Forum, Melbourne VIC
Tickets: Rubens Music Website
Saturday, 10th October 
Westernport Hotel, San Remo NSW
Tickets: Rubens Music Website
Sunday, 11th October 
Lorne Hotel – Beer Garden, Lorne VIC
Tickets: Rubens Music Website
Friday, 16th October 
Tanks Art Centre, Cairns QLD
Tickets: Rubens Music Website
Friday, 23rd October 
Max Watt’s (formerly Hi-Fi), Brisbane QLD
Tickets: Rubens Music Website
Saturday, 24th October 
Coolangatta Hotel, Coolangatta QLD
Tickets: Rubens Music Website
Thursday, 29th October 
Panthers, Port Macquarie QLD
Tickets: Rubens Music Website
Friday, 30th October 
Entrance Leagues Club, Central Coast NSW
Tickets: Rubens Music Website
Saturday, 31st October
Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Tickets: Rubens Music Website
Friday, 6th November 
Bar on the Hill, Newcastle NSW
Tickets: Rubens Music Website
Saturday, 7th November 
C.ex Club, Coffs Harbour NSW
Tickets: Rubens Music Website
Friday, 13th November 
Discovery Nightclub, Darwin NT
Tickets: Rubens Music Website