By: Vanessa Polojac
Born Ruffians welcomes back original drummer Steve Hamelin to create their most personal album to date, all while reuniting a life-long group of friends.
Uncle, Duke and the Chief is a homage to their biggest fans; their fathers.
The 15-year industry veterans include Luke Lalonde (vocals and guitar), Mitch DeRosier (bass guitar) and Steve Hamelin (drums), but their history in music stretches farther than their own careers.
Growing up with their musician fathers, the three band members were encouraged to develop a passion for music at an early age.
“Our fathers have been extremely encouraging of our musical careers. At the beginning of our career, Luke’s dad used to drive us to all of our shows. All three of our dads tried to break into the music industry while in their 20s, now they live vicariously through us. We are extremely lucky to have such supportive fathers,” said Hamelin.
Lalonde’s father was a part of a Canadian rock band called Wireless in late 1970s.
With knowledge in the Canadian music industry he influenced Born Ruffians to relocate from Midland, Ontario and move to Toronto when they were just teenagers to pursue their dreams of becoming an internationally famous musical act. Shortly after, they got signed onto English record label Wrap Records.
“Now, I see that I need the band in my life. It’s like a first love and I can’t let go of it.”
In 2008, they released their first studio album Red, Yellow & Blue, which got international recognition.
Their record label linked them to many famous bands such as Franz Ferdinand and a cameo on the popular British television show, Skins.
They performed and toured alongside Tokyo Police Club. From 2010, they became a well-known Canadian name. Singles such as “Oh Cecilia” became staples in Canadian radio and Born Ruffians became a band in high demand.
They were eventually signed to their current label, Paper Bag Records.
“Being a part of this band on and off for this many years has given me so many amazing experiences as well as life-long friends,” explained Hamelin.
“We are always around each other’s family. We call Luke’s dad ‘uncle’, Mitch’s dad ‘Duke’ and my dad’s nickname is ‘The Chief’.”
The trio has gone through many of one another’s life changes together over the last 15 years. But being a part of a band for so long, Hamelin decided he needed a break.
He took a four-year recess to return to university. He finished his bachelor’s degree, which was put on hold during the early years of Born Ruffians.
“For some years, I just felt dissatisfied with the direction that my life and the band was going in. That’s when I decided to re-enroll and finish my degree. Now, I see that I need the band in my life. It’s like a first love and I can’t let go of it,” explained Hamelin.
Differing from past records, Uncle, Duke and the Chief is lyrically more personal, emotional and reflective.
The passing of David Bowie, who was a big musical inspiration for the band, sparked the beginning stages of the record. The album deals with death, aging, life, motivation and ambition, themes that are very personal, but can connect universally.
“This record was a three-part process and took us over a year to create. We wanted the record to bring us back to our roots as a trio and in my opinion this album is our strongest record to-date,” said Hamelin
In 2018, the band plans to tour Uncle, Duke and the Chief nationally. Born Ruffians will be kicking off their tour at Mills Hardware right here in Hamilton on March 9.