the AU interview: Luke LaLonde of Born Ruffians (Canada)


In a couple of weeks, Born Ruffians will finally release the follow up to the acclaimed debut “Red, Yellow & Blue” – “Say It”, which we reviewed here on the AU review earlier this month. Let it be known that it’s an impressive beast of an album! In advance of the launch, we chatted to lead singer and guitarist Luke LaLonde about the new album, Oscilloscopes, playing SXSW and eating Kangaroo!

Are you home in Canada at the moment?

Yeah I’m at home in Montreal. I just moved here three months ago actually.

What brought on the move?

Well my girlfriend is doing an exchange to go to school here, so we decided to get a place together.

You’re just about to release your new album “Say It” – can you talk a bit about making the album? I understand it was recorded in just about two weeks?

Yeah, I think it took about two and a half weeks to record the whole thing. For us it felt like a lot of time.  The past recording experiences had been really rushed, we’d usually do two songs in a day. This time we had more time to play around in the studio, we were a bit more relaxed. And we recorded with the same guy as our first record (Rusty Santos, collaborator for Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear). He’s really good at what he does… the whole experience was good… it was about nine months ago now! The endless wait till it comes out…

Yeah, I imagine it must be a bit frustrating waiting to get the new material out there.

Yeah exactly.

Are there any songs you guys are really looking forward to playing live? I know you played a few when I saw you at SXSW.

Yeah definitely. I think most of the new album we’re excited about. You tire of the older material after you tour it for as long as we toured the last record. You don’t really hate it, you just get tired of it. And we haven’t really gotten to play the new stuff at all yet.

I’m mostly excited because when we have played the new stuff so far, the crowds haven’t had any idea – they might have liked it, but being an audience member it’s hard to get into a song you don’t know. So I’m excited for people to be familiar with our new songs, and to recognise them when they come on.  So hopefully people like it enough to cheer the new stuff!  I think they will…

Everyone seemed to be into it in Austin if that’s any indication!

Yeah, there are a couple of new songs that people seem to be getting into the first time they hear it. We’ve had some really positive receptions.

And I understand the first single off the new album is “Sole Brother”?

Yeah… I don’t know if it’s a proper single though. It seems to be the trend now to release a song for free on the internet, and then release a single. We noticed a lot of other bands were doing it and we did too. It was sort of a label decision. So that was the free download single – it wasn’t officially released as a 7” or anything like that. The first actual single that will be released on iTunes and sold as a 7” with a B-Side is “What To Say”, we made a video for it which is out (officially) May 24th.

What can we expect from the video?

It’s really cool. This guy Jared Raab in Toronto directed it. It’s us transmitted through an oscilloscope, which is a green vector line machine that measures sound waves.There’s this man in Toronto, a technology genius, who’s basically figured out a way to animate 3D images onto the oscilloscope, which is crazy because it’s one line that does the whole thing. So we’ve shot some footage and then put that image through the oscilloscope. And that’s the video – it looks really cool.

You last toured Australia in 2009 as part of the Laneway Festival, can you tell me a bit about what you’re experience were touring down under?

It was amazing. We had a blast. We’re itching to come back, it’s just so hard to get all around the world. But at first it was a shock. We went from one of the worst winters that Toronto has had in decades, to a record heat wave in Australia. So the weather was a shock, but so were the shows – we were just surprised as to how many people liked our music down there. Like we were on a festival bill, but to have our stage packed with people who seemed to be all extremely rowdy and singing along – it was the most overwhelming crowd reception we’d ever had – especially somewhere new. It was really cool. We hope to get back over your Summer.

Australia and Canada seem to have a bit of a love affair going on – people who come here from Canada love it, and vice versa. What is it about our countries that brings us together?

Well yeah, I think there are a lot of similarities in our countries. If our countries were people, our psychological makeup would be similar. Canada’s not as isolated but we have similar population, similar size, we’re really spread out across the country, the cities are so far apart. A tour of Canada is a pretty big undertaking. A band will usually just pop up for one show in Toronto or Vancouver. But if they want to do the whole tour then it’s a pretty big pain in the arse, because there aren’t a lot of cities to play.

But I’d love to come back (to Australia) and spend more time there. My girlfriend is actually Australian, I met her on that tour. And kangaroos and all that!

Did you do Taronga Zoo or anything like that when you were down here?

Yeah… and I ate a Kangaroo steak too!

When travelling around the world, have you found there to be a perception of the “Canadian Band” more so than another… say the “Australian Band”?

I don’t know… I don’t really find that. I think there’s definitely a trend of Canadian bands coming out at a certain time, in the last 5, 6 years or so – and I think that might give people more of a reason to take notice about whether a band was Canadian or not. But often times I find that people who don’t know us assume we’re from England or New York – rarely do they assume we’re from Toronto. It’s kind of funny.

I think Canada and Australia have that in common, we like to claim our celebrities. If you’re talking to an American and they bring up a celebrity who’s from Canada you always go “Yeah, they’re Canadian!”

Looking ahead, you’ve got a hectic touring schedule around Europe coming up!

A little bit, yeah – and then North America in June. And then hopefully we’ll come down to Australia at the end of the year!

Well it will be great to see you guys again. I have to admit, my memory of your performance in Austin is patchy. I underestimated the amount of free alcohol I’d be receiving!

*laughs* Yeah it’s pretty amazing… that’s definitely the spirit of the festival. We basically went on a three day bender when we were there.

I imagine it wasn’t your first time there?

Yeah we played it once before, 2 years ago.

Was it easier the second time – you knew the drill?

Yeah, it was just as much fun though. The first time seemed really crazy and fun, but we had maybe even more fun this time. We had a good one.

Born Ruffian’s new album

Say It

is out in stores through Warp Records / Inertia on June 1st, and the first single “What To Say” is released on May 24th. You can check the video out above!

Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. Currently based in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.