Born Ruffians go against the grain

Indie-rock band set to play at QPop! on date of new record release
Lead singer of Born Ruffians
Image supplied by: Supplied by Phillip Nguyen
Lead singer of Born Ruffians

Indie music artists are set to take over campus next week.

Queen’s own music festival, QPop!, is returning to campus to feature some of Queen’s and Canada’s most popular indie bands, including Alvvays, Devan and Khalid, The Wilderness and Born Ruffians.  

Starting at 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 2, The Grad Club, The Underground and Clark Hall will host the festival, which will run until Oct. 3.

Indie-rock band Born Ruffians will be closing the show at The Underground on Oct. 2. 

Originally from Midland, Ontario, the band moved to Toronto in 2004 to pursue their music careers. Today, Luke Lalonde, vocalist and guitarist, Mitch Derosier, bassist, Andy Lloyd, guitarist and keyboardist, and Adam Hindle, drummer, make up the four-person band. 

Their move to the big city has proven to be a success. Since 2004, the Born Ruffians have released five albums and two EPs with numerous singles, and toured worldwide with Franz Ferdinand and Tokyo Police Club. 

The Journal spoke with lead singer Lalonde about their experience playing in Kingston and what to expect from their upcoming album RUFF. 

What do you think is different about your upcoming album, RUFF, from your pervious albums?

Lalonde: I don’t know what’s changed but we definitely changed the dynamic of the band a bit. I mean, Steve not being in the band anymore. He’s playing on this record actually, like it’s about have Steve and half Adam. So, I mean the dynamic of writing is always kind of changing. It started off as just me and Mitch going up to our studio space and writing songs.

The way we demo-ed everything and recorded everything is in some ways going back to the methods of our first two records recording-wise. Recording very quickly and just booking three weeks in the studio in Toronto and just going in and doing it in those three weeks, but also having everything planned out and demo-ed which was not something we’ve always done.

Birthmarks [their third studio album] was recorded over the course of a year, spending sometimes two or three weeks on a song and this album was like one song a day. On top of the demo-ing and everything being more planned out, it was a lot faster and it was more of a rock record.

What kind of conceptual stuff and subject matter did you want to include in your upcoming album RUFF?

Lalonde: A lot of it is about my relation as a performer to the audience, but also taking that into a person’s relationship to the world. 

I think that there are elements of what I’m singing that are very specific to my life that are also relatable to everyone’s life, which is what I always try to do. 

Our first step was writing very, very personally about myself and my life and trying to expose these nerves and stuff that I normally wouldn’t talk about really. 

I get a lot of emails and I have a lot of conversations with people who really relate to the lyrics that I write.

Some of these songs are coming from a fairly rough place. But a lot of it was stemming from tour, coming back from tours, feeling very disconnected from what I was doing, feeling very miserable on stage and trying to figure out why that was happening and why I was getting so angry and mad and sad or whatever.

On your record label’s press release it states that this record is “a return to form and departure from convention”. What do you mean by that?

Lalonde: That was specific to the world of Born Ruffians. It was kind of a return to our earlier sound in a way, in my opinion, and the way we recorded it. There’s a lot of going backwards. Kind of falling back to our mode of our band and how we operated then.

The departure is more so in like the aggressive nature of the songs and lyrically they’re a little more aggressive or maybe a little more raw or something. I think it’s the closest thing we could do to sort of make a punk-version of our band, you know. We’re not being conventionally punk, we’re not going to say this sounds like punk rock or the Sex Pistols. But we weren’t trying to do something commercial at all.

We weren’t aiming to be anti-commercial but at the same time, we were just not concerned with writing a record that was going to be radio friendly. We were just kind of, like, let’s just make something that we want to hear. And it turned out to be a little bit more of an angry record. It was kind of like an “eat shit, we did it!” kind of thing.

What have your previous experiences playing in Kingston been like?

Lalonde: We played a lot in Kingston. We’ve played at the Grad Club many times. Small, sweaty shows in there. They’re always really fun.

We played The Ale House a few times, we opened for Tokyo Police Club. One of our first shows in Kingston was opening for those guys.

Somebody stole something from me last time we played there! Someone took a pedal off my pedal board. I don’t know where or how, but it was beside the stage and somebody came up and took this distortion pedal off my pedal board … I never got it back and I had to buy a new one.

We had some friends that were going to school [at Queen’s] back in the day. 

I think I’m a little too old to know anybody that goes to school now. But we’re always excited to come back to Kingston — it’s always good. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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