I spoke on the phone with Elliot Margin of the Australian alternative band, The Rubens. The five piece band of brothers and friends hailing from New South Wales, will be releasing their third studio album Lo La Ru, on June 29th. I was able to chat with Elliot all about the new album and their exciting upcoming tour with Pink.
So my first question, you guys are a group of brothers and friends. Have you been playing together your whole life or how did The Rubens come together?
The brothers, Sam, Zac, and I grew up together but never played together, no. Music was really just a hobby for us, like playing in our rooms separately. One day, Sam and Zac who were working like crappy jobs in bars were bored at home and just decided to jam together. Then I came home from school I was finishing high school at the time, and they asked me whether or not I wanted to jam and I was like, “Sure?” We just started jamming together then decided, “Oh well we need a drummer now. So we asked our mate who lived just two minutes down the road if he wanted to be a drummer. So yeah, the band really came out of boredom rather than any grand plan.
Wow that’s actually very surprising to me. I assumed that it would be like a played from birth kind of thing but that’s super interesting. And I was also wondering where the name “The Rubens” came from because I thought oh they’re brothers maybe it’s like a family name, but I see that’s not the case!
Yeah, so when we started the band, when it was just Sam, Zac, and I, we asked our younger brother if he wanted to play drums in the band. His nickname at the time for some stupid reason was Ruben. And when we asked him if he wanted to be in the band he declined because he said he didn’t like our music. So we thought oh that’s sweet, so despite you we’re gonna name the band after you.
That is adorable. And you guys are from Australia but you’re touring all over the world; North America, Europe. You guys recently made a huge announcement that you’re going to be touring with Pink on the Australian leg of her tour and that’s a huge moment. So like how did that all come together? How did that feel? I’m sure you guys are super excited about that.
Yeah so we just heard about the possibility of that like through email through a booking agent. When they asked us at first if we would we were like “yeah, of course we would.” But we’re thinking, well that’s not gonna happen. Then a couple weeks later we got the call like “woah, holy shit guys here we go” We’re super excited obviously because it’s such a massive tour, all through Australia and New Zealand, I think it’s 40+ dates. Playing 40+ shows is kind of a good way to flex that muscle, in how to engage with a room that’s really big and people that aren’t necessarily your fans and trying to win them over. It’s gonna be a challenge, but it’s gonna be super super fun.
That’s incredible; you guys should be super excited. It’s great timing too because I see the tour with Pink starts in July and your new album comes out June 29. So will you guys be performing the new album on tour? A little bit of everything. What’s the plan?
Yeah, so we’ve been touring leading up to this for quite a bit now, we’ve been trying to weave as much new stuff into the bit as we can. Pretty much because we’re selfish, and we wanna play the songs that the audience doesn’t know because they haven’t come out yet. But we’ve been sneaking them in because we want to play them and they’ve done really well with the fans.
Your single “Casper” off the new album, loved it by the way, super funky. Kind of reminded me of Tame Impala meets Milky Chance, what artists do you guys draw from for inspiration?
Well we all listen to so many different things, so it’s kind of hard to say. I think overall we like a lot of soul and a lot of hip hop. Growing up we would listen to a lot of Fleetwood Mac. But today we love Tame Impala, we love Outkast, there’s a lot of good Australian music that we listen to as well. It’s hard to say what it is really that finds your way into your music, I think it is subconscious. When you’re creating music ideas may pop up from an artist you we’re listening to at the time and you just might not be aware of it. It’s fun to find inspiration from genres you’re not necessarily a part of, we’re technically a rock band, but sometimes groups outside your genre can help you creat4e something that’s never been done before.
Yeah, of course I completely agree. You guys have released three albums so far, and they were all released three years apart. Now is this a coincidence or is this just The magic Rubens formula you guys have decided is the exact necessary time for creating an album?
I think we are trying to do it as quickly as possible, and yeah I guess it just ends up being three years. We’re not real good at writing on the road. So it kind of goes, we’ll release an album, start the tour schedule, and then when we get home off the road we’ll write. Then we record, and then once we really buckle down and complete the rest of the album yeah I guess it takes about three years. But yeah it’d be a lot quicker if we were good at writing on the road.
What’s your favorite track off the new album and what makes it special to you?
For me it’s “Never Ever”, it’s pretty different for us in that it’s a ballad kind of love song and a duet which is something that we’ve never done before. The way it happened was super, super natural as well. The album had been finished and we had just gotten back from New York finishing up the touches on the album, and Sara whose on the song, emailed us like “Hey can we do a writing session?” and we said “yeah, just letting you know though that our record is finished so we’re probably not going to be writing for this record. But we’re down to learn how to write songs for other people and have a session with you.” And so we met Sarah and wrote that song “Never Ever”, and by the end of it I realized this is a song that we really, really love. It should be a Rubens track. So it’s just kind of like a happy coincidence.