Born Ruffians :: The AD Interview (SXSW 2010)

Master At Arms, B. Kramer, caught up with Toronto’s Born Ruffians’ just after their second performance at SXSW. Things soon turned meta. New album drops June 1st via Warp. Words after the jump….

Aquarium Drunkard: You just played your second show at SXSW, and you’re playing two more. You come down here, you play four shows over the course of three days — how do you save energy and prepare?

Luke: That is a good question, and I’m asking myself that right now cause I wanna go to bed and it’s only 11:20.

Steve: The sets are shorter. In that way it’s a bit easier. Like, I don’t feel winded from the set — I feel winded from the all-day drinking and being in the sun and stuff. Like, when the set was done I wasn’t tired of playing, I was tired of being up.

Mitch: Yeah, you’re just tired.

AD: You’ve played here before, two years ago… it’s a weird festival set-up, something like 2,000 bands are playing, you’re out on the road all the time — how does this experience, SXSW, compare to being on tour or other festivals, or even other times you’ve played a couple of shows in a day.

Steve: I think the biggest difference about this festival that I’ve always found, as opposed to other festivals we play, is that other festivals are music fests where fans pay to go to a music fest. And this one, as I always forget until we actually come and play, and it’s still a lot of fun, is like an industry fest. So you have to not put too much stock into how the crowd is reacting. It’s just their way of being like, “Oh, I’m a member of it rather than a fan.” So they’re not as rowdy — you can play a show to a bunch of fans and they get really into it — I don’t know, maybe when you’re a part of it you’re less likely to get excited about it. You’ll play a show here and you go, “Oh, it didn’t go over to well.” But then you remember, the crowd was kinda just there, and they probably had a good time, but they’re also just there hanging out at a party, and you’re at the party, too. It’s not kids who paid their parents money or money from a job to see you — so that’s a big, big difference.

Mitch: We notice it because of the kinds of crowds we draw. We do way better at all ages shows than at we at non all-ages shows, “Less-ages shows.” We get a lot of kids who come to our shows and get really excited, like Steve said, spend their parents money on us. We just played a show in Toronto with all kids, essentially, and here you play at shows where most people are not under 19, or 21. We get a different reaction.

Steve: Which is valid. But if you’re over 21 and a fan, you’re gonna be more excited than someone over 21 and here because, “I have a pass.”

AD: You guys have a new record coming out, June 3rd, your buzz has been growing — and I don’t want to ask something silly like, “how does it feel?” or “What was the motivation?”

Luke: But you’re gonna do it though. (laughs)

AD: (laughs) No, but when I hear your answer to the question, I’ll edit in my question afterwards, so I look smarter, and you’ll look smarter for giving a really good answer.

This is your second record, you’re young guys, it’s on Warp. How would you describe your excitement, and why, going into this one?

Luke: (deadpan) Well, we’re excited. Yeah, we’re old pros now, just old horses — going through the motions. (group laughs) It’s been two years since we recorded our first record and it’s been two years of learning how to be on a label, touring, a lot of experiences. It’s just cool to put another record and have it on a good label like Warp. It feels like an eternity waiting for record to come out for like nine months — now it’s just this anti-feeling.

AD: I noticed during your set, the sound guy came up and told you you had one more song left — you played “Foxes Mate For Life.” Call it what you will, it’s one of your more well-known song. Is there any pressure — you said it’s tough playing to less than receptive crowds — to play a song that people might know, or at least some in the crowd do and those who don’t will see others liking it. You debuted new material tonight, but still ended with a show-closer.

Luke: Oh yeah, big time. Especially when there’s tension in the show and you’re not really sure how it’s going over and after a few new ones you just want people to react in anyway. So you’re just like, “Let’s play Hummingbird cause the kids get all hot and bothered.” There’s a fear in ya — you don’t want a fear in you when you’re playing new songs.

Mitch: There’s a range you learn — we were playing a show, debuting new songs for the second time, and there’s this one girl, after playing a bunch of new songs in a row, she goes (in screaming, drunken voice) “Foxxxxxessss maaaate feeer liiiife!” Over and over.

Steve: Yeah, in-between songs and during the quiet parts of others — what do you think you’re going to accomplish?

Mitch: So we’re just like, “Let’s cut the new one, just play the old one, oh my god.”

Steve: So today, to answer the question, “Foxes” was the last song in the set so we just cut the last two and went to that song. It’s like what you’re saying (pointing to Luke), we close with an old one cause we want to get a reaction — but it wasn’t like, “Fuck we only have one song left, let’s do Foxes” we just went to the end of the set, close the show the way we intended. Which I think is the best thing to do in that scenario.

AD: Any bands you’re really excited to see here?

Luke: We have a lot of friends bands playing tonight, but I don’t know if we’re gonna make it over.

Steve: Man Man just got added to a show tomorrow, I’m pumped to see them.

AD: Are there any questions you get sick of being asked, like, “What’s it like crossin’ the border?”

Mitch: That would be fine! It’d be better than the shit we sometimes get. (band laughs)

AD: What’s it like crossssssssin’ the borrrddder?

Mitch: Oh iiiit sucks!

Luke: We were actually talking about nightmare interviews earlier.

Steve: Like, “Beatles or Stones?”

Luke: I’ve gotten that a bunch of times.

Steve: I think “Describe your sound” is worse.

Luke: Like, a round about way of being like, “Your songs go like this, how do you go about doing that?”

Steve: “I’ve never listened to you, describe it to me.”

Mitch: “What happens when you play?”

AD: Any question you wished you got asked?

Steve: “What are you doing later?”

Luke: I always wish that an interviewer would ask me what question I wished I got asked so I could tell them that I always wished I got asked that!

Andy: A prophet!

AD: The tape recorder just broke!

MP3: Born Ruffians :: Foxes Mate For Life

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