Since 2011 they made their way from Menangle, New South Wales to New York City to record and produce their debut album The Rubens. Shortly after the band skyrocketed onto the music scene! From reaching number 3 on the ARIA Charts, to currently touring sold out shows with Grouplove. The Rubens are continuing their musical journey and have no intention of slowing down! B-Sides caught up with the band ahead of their two San Francisco shows.
So I understand Sam, Elliot, and Zaac – you guys are all brothers and Scott is a childhood friend – how did you guys get your start in music? How did The Rubens come together?
Elliot: Well, we all played instruments as kids, we all got lessons but we never really pursued or played together. We kind of just did our own thing, played different instruments, and then I think one day Sam and Zaac were at home, I think this was about two years ago, and just bored really and trying to play music together. They had a jam and I got home from school and they asked me to join them and we all jammed. Then all of a sudden, I don’t know it just started like that. We were writing music and recorded it to Sam’s laptop and then we got Scotty involved and it went from there. Now we’ve got a fifth member as well, Will who is our bass player. It wasn’t ever really a planned thing, we were just bored and decided to make some music which is weird I guess.
How did you come up with the name The Rubens?
Elliot: We have got another younger brother and his name is Jesso. But when we started the band, for some weird reason his nickname was Ruben and he was too young to be in the band. We wanted him to be in it because he plays drums as well, so we were thinking maybe he could play in the band with us, but he was too young, so we decided to name it after him.
What was the experience like working with producer David Kahne in New York City?
Elliot: It was good, it was really good! It was a bit scary at first obviously because we’d never done anything like that before, we had only recorded in our bedrooms to laptops and things. We never recorded in a professional studio, so at first it was pretty scary. But David made us feel really welcomed and comfortable. We just worked really well together and got on really well. We learned like a hell of a lot from him- about songwriting, recording, and everything! We kind of went to New York as a jammy kind of youthful band, like we didn’t know a lot about music or anything, but when we finished recording, we were like wow he really made us a good band! We are really thankful for that!
What has it been like blasting off so quick into the music scene, such as your debut self titled album hitting number 3 on the ARIA charts and being nominated for a J Award for Album of the Year?
Elliot: It is awesome! Like everytime we get told about something like that, an email or something with good news, it is just always a surprise, you don’t expect it, you don’t ever think while you are recording music, “oh maybe this will happen or maybe we will get nominated for something”. You just hope that people will like it and then once something like that comes up and it is an official recognition, I mean, you worked really hard on it and put effort into it, it’s just a really nice feeling to be recognized for what we have done. It’s cool, really cool.
And what would you say inspires your songwriting?
Elliot: I think other bands, we’ll listen to something and be like, oh that’s a really cool riff or that’s a really cool sound, and that will make us not necessarily want to write something like that, but want to write a song and get music going. When we first started, we never really said let’s jam like this. We kind of just started writing and the song sounded like that. So it’s kind of like we went looking to other people for inspiration. Sam is the lyrics man, so I can’t really speak about how he is inspired lyrically. But the music is a natural thing that happens and it comes from everything as well, like if you go see live bands and be like wow I really like the way they sound live we should write something along the lines of that, maybe something more funky or a little cooler like that, because I think you can get inspiration from anything.
How has touring been for you guys? Have you been working on new music while on the road?
We are trying to work on new music while on the road. It’s kind of hard for us at the moment, we’ve been really busy with touring and things but we had a bit of time off a month ago so we did a lot of writing then. Then after this tour we got a whole couple of months sectioned off for writing album number two, which we are really excited about. We’ve got lots of ideas coming that we haven’t pieced the songs together, so we are really looking forward to that. We’re not very good at the moment of writing on the road, we don’t really have a portable set up yet but we once we get that going, it will be really useful for us I think.
What do you love most about touring with Grouplove? Do you guys engage in any shenanigans together while on the road?
It is still early in the tour, so not any crazy stories yet but they are just really nice, just like a really cool band. A lot of the time, I don’t know why we’re surprised, but after we meet a band we’re like, oh my gosh, they are so cool! Amazing! I can’t believe they are so nice! And then often we forget that they’re just like us, they’re just a bunch of people playing music and enjoying what they do. For some reason when we tour with a band that’s bigger than us, we kind of feel like maybe they’re too famous to be nice or they’re too well known to be nice. Then you meet them and you’re just blown away. They’re really cool and we have hung out with them a little bit so far, but I am really looking forward to the rest of the tour!
Check out the music video for The Rubens’ single “Never Be The Same” here!