On the day of their single “Jesus Girl” release ForgottenBee gets some insider knowledge on Indie rock band The Rubys, from their battered touring transit van and favourite gig photographers to their opinions on bad reviews. She even let’s them have a rant!
FB – 1/ I’m sure you’ve been asked many times, but indulge me… How did you come up with the band name ‘The Rubys’?
We’d love to give you an answer that talked to an evocation of mood or time, to echo a moment in history, or symbolise an element that encapsulated everything the band was about…but the truth is it really was the only name we could all agree on!
Since that point, we’ve found that the name fits well. Neat and well formed. A journalist described us as “The Gemstones of Manchester” a couple of years a go, so I guess other people have found it a good representation of the band.
FB – 2/ You’ve played an impressive array of venues in a few short years from The Manchester Academy, The Factory, The Deaf Institute, Dry Bar and Night & Day to name a few. Any in particular hold fond memories for you?
Every gig has been special to us. It’s both thrilling & humbling in equal measure to play a gig to people who have parted with their hard-earned cash to come and see us. The Manchester Academy will always have a particular resonance for us, as that was the first gig we played. We’re looking forward to returning to The Academy on December 6.
FB – 3/ You have a new single “Jesus Girl” out, released Sept 29th on iTunes and Amazon. How difficult is it as a band to agree when a song is ready to be properly recorded?
There’s a moment when you’re into the third or so hour of that days’ rehearsal, and -sometimes from nowhere, sometimes from a jam, sometimes from a riff that Barry or Lee has brought with them…a “song” appears. There follows a tremendous effort to get as much of this new “song” completed. We’ve never finished a song in one rehearsal -there’s so many moving parts in The Rubys. We’ve lost count of the amount of times we’ve tried four or five different approaches to fix a song, only to go back to the first take. It’s an exhaustive, lengthy, frustrating, and tough process for The Rubys to finish a song….but we love the final results. We hope you do too, Bee.
FB – 4/ Touring…besides the gigs. What do The Rubys get up to on tour..Who’s the Keith Moon in the band?
Just like The Who, our resident lunatic is Dave, our Drummer. There’s something about Drummers. I guess it’s because they have to spend all night hitting things. If there’s mischief to be had, Dave will be at the centre of it. We are bound to a tight circle of secrecy on the details in The Rubys….. but mention the words “Swindon”, “Spag Bol”, “The Police”, and “Shower Cubicle” in the same sentence, and that’s Dave in a cold sweat for the evening.
FB – 5/ With social media being a huge resource for bands, and the visual impact a fantastic photograph can have to promote, have you developed a relationship with any particular gig photographer?
We’ve been incredibly fortunate to have worked with some outstanding photographers. We like to photograph anything that reflects the song – it’s a shame that there is an expectation that we have to be in them too :). We tend to stick to a small number of photographers; Priti Shikotra, Karin Albinsson, Philip Howe, and Matt Johnston, are four extremely talented people. Check out their work online – rare talents, and great people to work with too.
FB – 6/ Sum up each member of the band in one word please!
FB – 7/ Festivals give you the opportunity to showcase your music and make new fans, what do you as a band do in the lead up to a festival to ‘make a buzz’ and target new fans?
We’ve been quite naive in the past. There was a sense that your twitter feeds and your music could do it all. It’s a comforting misnomer to think that “the music sells itself.” It’s really not like that at all; people only listen to your music if they know about it. It means getting in touch with local radio stations and asking them to play your tracks more, contacting the local newspapers and bloggers, learning more about the area so you can relate better to what’s impacting the people that will come to the gig. And none of this feels like a particularly bad idea – it just means that you have to work harder to promote your gig, and that’s not a bad thing if it makes for a better show for the people that part with their money for one of your tickets.
FB – 8/ It’s a romantic notion that I always imagine a band going to gigs in a battered smelly transit van… How do you get to your gigs?
Uncanny, Bee; we go in a battered transit van. Are you psychic?….. 🙂
It’s driven by the worlds hardest working Roadie, Steve Pick. There’s a theme of luck by default rather than design in The Rubys, and we certainly got lucky with Steve. Waiting around until the end of a gig to pick up a ton of musical instruments, amps, stands, cables and sweaty musicians can’t be the most fun in the world, but Steve sticks with it. We’ve worked with Steve for years now. A true gem.
(We’ll send you a picture of Steve and his van via Twitter!)
FB – 9/ What music do you listen to?
It’s so difficult to pin it to bands now, as there are no borders between bands and musical genres as there used to be. We all have different influences, but if there was a common strand, it would be the thematics. The music has to have substance and engage us on an emotional level. Ideally, we’d like all of our songs to do the same for our Followers.
FB – 10/ At what stage from a bands formation is it important to ‘get a Manager’?
We’ve learned “get A Manager” is probably the wrong approach. “Get THE RIGHT Manager”….now that’s the trick. Like U2, we still haven’t found what we are looking for yet. If “The Right Manager” is out there, right now, reading this blog – get in touch!
FB- 11/ Do you think there is a link between poetry and music?
Sure. Both express feelings and ideas in such a compact format. It’s like the Twitter of the Art World; “express your feelings in 3mins 30 seconds or less.” Tony Wilson famously compared Shaun Ryders’ lyrics to Byron. He may not have been far off as time has told. Morrissey’s work is, and continues, to be sharp and to the point. John Cooper Clarke continues to straddle both genres, and we’ve always been fans of Ian Curtis. I guess as always, it’s often not about how the lyric is delivered, but how it is felt by the listener that counts.
FB – 12/ Manchester… A real hotbed for music, with far too many top bands and singer/songwriters to mention… What does the place mean to you?
We really don’t like the cheese associated with that awful boarding near Central Library saying “Manchester Means Everything To Me”. It just feels like a strap-line agreed by a group of Marketing suits in a glass & chrome office. Manchester is authentic and sincere at it’s root – that seems to be lost when the Marketing guys come into Town. Tony Wilson said it best for us, when he was interviewing Iggy Pop; “…this is Manchester; we do things differently round here”. Unique, never repeated, and completely brilliant because of it.
FB – 13/ It’s a tradition that The Rubys will socialise with fans after a gig, share a beer and chat.. Who buys the rounds?
We all do – if we can get to the bar ahead of Dave. We think he can absorb beer by osmosis.
FB – 14/ When was the last time you surprised yourselves musically?
There’s a new track, “Chaser”, which is so different to anything we have written before. There’s a genuine “Warren G/Regulate” vibe going on in the song, which just arrived, unannounced, at rehearsal. We’ve worked pretty hard on this track, and we are looking forward to hearing the recorded version when we return to Vibe Studios in October.
When moments like “Chaser” happen in rehearsal, it gives everyone assurance that our best work is in front of us. We hope you like it, Bee.
FB – 15/ Ok, this is your opportunity to have a rant about something, preferably based around Music or the Music Industry.. You have 100 words… Go!
Coolness is to be avoided at all costs. Coolness is actually a sense of detachment. Great musicians, singers, and bands are being lost to us all because of a trend, or stylish sense about how music should be enjoyed. Thank Elvis for Mark E. Smith; a true one-off who couldn’t give a stuff about coolness, and yet has a back catalogue to rival the best. Follow your heart when it comes to music. Was that 100 words?….
FB – A significant point well made… Maths was never my forte 😉 !
FB – 16/ At what point in your career as musicians will you feel fulfilled?
Fulfilment is something that is always out of reach – unless you are Michael McIntyre whom looks very happy with himself all of the time for reasons we are unable to determine.
We go in stages; our next stage of fulfilment is recording our new songs in October. Then it will be next years UK Tour. Then the next stage will be the US Tour in Autumn. We hope we get a good record deal in the middle of it all. And so on, and so on. It’ll never stop for us.
Fulfilment is something we only ever see on adverts for Chocolate and films about Monks. And there’s not many of those, Bee 🙂
FB – 17/ Producers can have a huge impact on the sound of a recorded track or tracks. Is this something you resent or embrace? And what producers have you worked with?
We really like the idea that The Producer of your track can play the studio almost like another instrument. Teasing new qualities and dimensions out of a track that you’ve only ever had a narrow appreciation of, thrashing it out in a rehearsal room, is a real art form.
We are so fortunate to have worked with Martin Coogan (The Mock Turtles) and Dean Glover (The Young Myths). Dean is outrageously talented and surely destined to be a NME Cover Star, and Martin has an encyclopedic knowledge about the recording process, the music industry, even down to Man Uniteds’ ailments at the back.
We’ll never be able to thank both of them for the work they’ve done already for us. Great guys too, and always very generous when sharing a refreshing can of cider too (although we’d suggest there’s always room for more in the studio fridge).
FB – 18/ Have you ever stolen a riff or musical arrangement intentionally?
Nope. Well, no one’s admitting to it anyway (laughs!)
FB – 19/ Have you ever received a bad review or been criticised? If so how do you deal with that?
Yes, and every band gets them. We were compared with The Manic Street Preachers for years, and with the greatest of respect to James and the boys, we really were not aiming for that sound at all. We thought we were a thousand musical miles in the opposite direction.
The only thing we do is keep doing what we know. It’s okay not to like our music and our songs. We get it that not everyone will like us. That’s cool. No problem at all.
We’re just not smart enough to do anything else that isn’t authentically or sincerely “Us”. So we guess if you don’t like us or our music, that’s okay, but that’s probably how it’s going to be forever.
We’ll see you over by the Chaka Demus & Pliers section in HMV 🙂
FB – 20/ Tell me two things about The Rubys that no one knows?
Tat Sing has just got engaged and Kev has spent two weeks trying to be vegetarian. One of these enterprises is doomed.
FB – 21/ Who in The Rubys has the weirdest hobby or pastime?
Dave goes full-geek on his time off and has this thing with old Marvel Comics. Barry has wisely given up on his multi-gym and swapped the space for a Pool Table. Kev continues to analyse sound waves and vectors in his home studio. Mikey works hard on electic folk music from Brazil, suspect Russian Internet Sites, and is developing his understanding of (very) expensive Rickenbacker bass guitars. Lee is far too practical for hobbies but probably spends more time listening to old Punk tracks than he admits.
Tat Sing is pretty secretive about his hobbies.
Perhaps he rebuilds Series 2 Landrovers in his spare time but is too embarrassed to mention it.
FB – 22/ You’ve been on the same billing as the likes of The Charlatans and The Buzzcocks what impact did this have on The Rubys?
It was our first Festival too, at FOMFEST. It made us feel that a life as recording musicians was in reach. Straight after the Festival, reality set in just as it does for other bands. We’ve played some very ropey venues since then, and luckily, our rollercoaster seems to be going north again.
The future looks bright now for The Rubys. We hope you’ll come to The Deaf Institute in October or The Manchester Academy in December to judge for yourself.
FB – 23/ I see you have a rather sexy rock chick image as your twitter avi. Who created this and how important is the connection between art and music to you?
Dave’s wife put this together. It’s a collection of images photoshopped to an inch of its life.
Art and Music are odd but traditional bedfellows (hello, Andy Warhol). We think Music is art – Musicians are Artists. That’s why this whole notion about free music is a pretty fragile argument. No Artist would give away their collection of paintings – why should Musicians? That said, we initially gave our debut album away for free…..lesson learned there.
We like the expressive side of Art, when it truly integrates with music and becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Bowie is probably the best and worst exponent – fantastic highs, but there’s always The Laughing Gnome to consider.
FB – 24/ The Rubys ForgottenBeeBlog thanks you for such an interesting and humorous interview. My final question is would you give me a shoutout live on stage at your next gig? *flutters eye lashes* 😉 X
No problem at all Bee – if you come to a gig, we may even have you up to sing the first number.
Rhythm Guitarist Barry Kirkwood is @buddharuby
Photograph courtesy of Mancunian Matters’ Reviewer and Photographer, Phillip Howe http://philiphowe.portfoliobox.me/music