Hottest 100 hall-of-famers The Rubens are back in the game bringing you a fresh soul/hip-hop infused sound with their latest album, LO LA RU. After the success of their debut self-titled album reaching #3 on the ARIA Charts, and second album ‘Hoops’ being nominated for a J Award it’s no doubt this one will be a killer comeback!
We were lucky enough to have a chat with Elliot Margin (keys/vocals) to bring you some very savvy music industry advice!
1. Who was your first musical inspiration and why? Who inspires you now?
Our parents played a lot of great music around the house and on car trips; Van Morrison, Fleetwood Mac, REM. My earliest memory of music really affecting me was hearing ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ when I was maybe five. I can remember the feeling of the bass line and drum beat and how it just fricked me up. That visceral feeling really drew me to music in general. Nowadays I get that feeling a little more in hip-hop than rock, in Kendrick, Pusha T, Cardi B.
2. What advice do you have for someone about to set off on their first tour?
There’s a lot of things we’ve learned over the years being on the road. The biggest lesson for us was that you don’t have to go hard every night, you’ve got to pick your moments to let loose. Otherwise you burn yourself out pretty quick and it all becomes harder than it should be. It shouldn’t be hard, it should be fun as hell.
3. What has been one of the most defining moments in your career?
The obvious moment for us was topping The Hottest 100 a couple years back. As an Australian it’s something you grow up with, something you get super excited about just as a listener. For us to come in at number one was incredibly special, knowing that people care about our music.
4. How has your music practice changed over time? (in terms of collaboration, recording, practising/training)
We mostly come up with ideas separately, flesh out a demo before bringing it to the band and see where it can go. It’s the way we’ve worked pretty much from the start just because we’re pretty shy when it comes to throwing ideas around and letting ourselves be vulnerable. Writing ‘Never Ever’ with Sarah Aarons was the first time Sam and I had properly written a song together from start to finish. It helped us get over that shyness and see the benefit in being creative together.
5. My top business tip for new artists is…
I guess just try to surround yourself with people you get along with, people you trust. We’re super lucky in our team. Our management, label, booking agents are all people we have great relationships with and are passionate about the band. Our lawyer is one of our best friends, he’s even come out with his family to Menangle for Christmas (he lives in New York). That’s pretty cool.
6. My biggest career mistake has been… What would you do differently now?
Our biggest mistake was probably not speaking our minds and sticking up for ourselves when we first started out. We were super green and things kicked off pretty quickly so there was a lot of learning for us to do super quick, be it in the recording studio or our image, whatever. I think new artists need to remind themselves that their instincts are important and to trust them.
7. In my opinion, the most important issue facing the music industry is… What do you think can change that?
Speaking as a musician the biggest issue is just being able to make enough money to live. As everyone knows the industry has changed a huge amount, even over the short amount of time that we’ve been a band. We quit our day jobs pretty early on, not because we were making enough money to live but because we were away so often we couldn’t keep a second job. For a long time we were living in our parents’ homes to get by. I don’t know what can change that. I think artists just need to be on top of their art, be prolific and prudent when you need to be.
If you enjoyed this chat with The Rubens be sure to check out the Savvy Seven archives for more!