The Rubens are a five-piece alternative-rock band originally from regional New South Wales. The band includes the Margin brothers, Zaac (Lead Guitar), Elliot (Keyboard, Backing Vocals) and Sam (Lead Vocals, guitar) as well Scott Baldwin (Drums) and William Zeglis (Lead Guitar). They first came on the radar in 2011 with the release of their first single, ‘Lay it Down’ and later the success of their first album “The Rubens”. Between then and now they have released another two albums, done several headline tours worldwide and toured with superstar P!nk on the Australian part of her tour. In celebration of their third album ‘LO LA RU’ released in June, the band will be touring throughout November and December around Australia with the support of Little May and other Triple J unearthed artists.
During the week we sat down with Elliot Margin to get to know them a little bit better and discuss their album and future plans ahead of their upcoming tour.
Obviously, you, Zac and Sam are all brothers, did that play a large part in The Rubens forming? If not, how did you form?
So yeah, it was like the initial catalyst for starting the band but in 2011. I was doing my last year of high school and Sam and Zac were working jobs at a bar and pizza shop and they hate their jobs. And one day while I was at school they decided to jam together and when I came home they asked if I wanted to jam and I was like “sure” and it kind of just stemmed from there. Obviously, it was just really naive us playing music, never having played together and then realising that hey “you play guitar, you play guitar and you play keys – let’s just jam and see what happens.” We never really thought that it would be our job but here we are.
We had known Scott from a long time, he was in the same year as Sam and lived two minutes down the road. We realised that we needed a drummer, so really it was a no brainer. And he was keen. We played our first bunch of shows without a bassist, with just the four of us, and then after going overseas to record our first record, our mate at the time, Will, came over really just to see the record being made and get over his fear of flying. When he was there we realised he played bass and said, “why don’t you just play bass on the record”. He did. Then after that we realised we needed a bassist and he agreed but was a bit flaky at first, only saying he’ll play a few shows. Then after 15 or so shows we were like are you officially in the band and obviously he said yes.
And from that, how did you guys come up with name for your band?
So, when we booked our first gig we realised that we didn’t have a name. Zaac, Sam and I have a little brother called Jett and he plays drums, Scotty actually taught him. And at the time we actually asked him if he wanted to be in the band and he said no because he didn’t like our music. So, kind of, despite him we named the band after his nickname at the time, which was Ruben. It was kinda tongue in cheek on our part, we didn’t really think it would stick or that we would take off, so we didn’t really think that a band name really mattered. But then it became our job and we were stuck with this joke name.
Your third album hasn’t let anyone down, how does it feel to have your third album reach the top three on the ARIA chart?
It’s awesome. It really is. I think it’s something that over the years it become less and less obtainable to chart so highly, with streaming and things changing. It’s not something you really consider because it doesn’t seem doable. But when you get results like that its really special. It is a direct sign that people are really caring and seeking out your music which is really cool.
What was the main inspiration behind LO LA RU?
It’s hard to say because if you make a record, there are so many different stages to it that it kind of morphs and changes. We don’t sit down and tackle a specific theme as a band, we write what we want to write and what’s coming out kind of thing. Then we have demos and then once we get into the studio we get together and work out what we want and how its produced. So not one overarching theme but I think the main feel of the record that we got from it and vibe you get from listening to it is was us just having a good time. We got to record in our home town, which we’ve never done before and we got to record with mates of ours which we flew over from America and had never recorded with before and yeah, it was just a really fun vibe. Which I think is the over feel of the record.
Coming from a music background myself, I was dying to ask what is your song writing process and do you have any major music influences?
We write separately. Sam and I do most of the writing then bring the songs to the band and work on them from there until they become proper tracks. It’s the way that we’ve always done it because we are kind of shy showing each other our ideas particularly when they aren’t really formed. So, we get them to a certain point so that you feel like its close enough to what I think it could be that it makes sense to someone else as well. Inspiration wise I think we can get it from anywhere. Like if a new record comes out and I like the sound of it or I like the sound of the drums, I might take something from that and see how it goes. I honestly just think it could come from anywhere, even if a bad song comes on the radio and I think that it’s terrible, I can write something better than that and then try and beat it. A little competition almost. Inspiration can come from anywhere it doesn’t even have to be music.
How did coming out on top of Triple J Hottest 100 in 2016 with your song Hoops, help you as a band? Would you credit that to the amount of success you’ve had on your newest album?
Yeah definitely, I think it’s one of the biggest things that’s ever happened to us. It’s probably the biggest thing for any artist who tops it, except of course Kendrick Lamar who has a lot of other things happening for him. But for a small Australian band who grow up listening to the Hottest 100, having BBQ’s, we’d never think that one day that’ll be us, if you said that people would probably laugh at you. For that to happen to us obviously it’s a massive thing and I remember at the time we were planning a tour and that happened we were like oh awesome we can upgrade to size of the venues. It’s nice to have the sort of direct thing happen, like that [winning Hottest 100] to see a positive growth for us. It was an amazing thing.
You’ve done a quite a few tours and festivals now and have had a headline tour overseas, how was that and what has been a highlight of touring for you?
Touring is my favourite thing. Recording is great but being on the road, traveling, playing shows and meeting people definitely the best part. Being able to go places for work, that you never would have thought or considered going to is a real special thing for us that we don’t take for granted because we all mates and brothers from a small town. To think that it’s our job being on a bus travelling through America or something, stopping at a gas station trying crazy food that we don’t get at home. Its little things like that we get to experience.
How was touring with Pink?
That was really cool. It was different obviously; really different playing 42 arena shows. It’s a really different world. For us it was really quite easy, funnily enough. A lot of shows but not a lot of travelling. We would fly into a city, play a show that night, then fly out the next day. Whereas with P!nk, we’d fly into a city and be there for a week/week and a half playing 9,10,11 shows. It’s a whole other world where artists that big can play to that many fans across the country. It was fun. It was good for us to learn how to command a crowd that big and connect with the people in the back of the room. It was a really good exercise. Do you think your fan base grew from that?Yeah, I think so. It was a different crowd with people who hadn’t heard from us before. I think there was a direct correlation in our social media going up a bit, which is the best way to see if it’s had an effect. The real test will be;are we playing to different people who haven’t heard us before or have only just listened to our latest record because they saw us at P!nk.
What can we expect from your tour starting early next month?
Well, Right now were talking about set lists and live shows and all that kind of stuff, but I don’t want to give it all way. We are super excited. The first part of planning the tour is just working out how to curate an experience for people that is exciting, something they have never seen before and playing with other artists who are really, really cool. Playing with P!nk we played 42 shows were we pretty much played the same set every night for half an hour at a time so we got those songs sweet so now we get to really expand and put on a proper show for people which is really exciting.
Finally, what are the next few years looking like for you guys?
Yeah busy, the tours mainly and writing where we can and really staying out on the road for as long as possible with this record.
Keep up to date with The Rubens
Snapchat: therubensmusic -We highly recommend following for lots of funny behind the scenes action!!
For more information on their upcoming Lo La Ru tour head to: www.therubensmusic.com/events