“I met Luke when we were babies,” says Mitch Derosier – a friendly dude who laughs throughout our conversation.
Luke Lalonde and Mitch — cousins — are with me upstairs in an open studio with large windows overlooking King James stage where they will be performing after the interview.
Mitch takes me back to their jam sessions in high school. The three of them would meet up in Steve Hamelin’s basement (Steve hasn’t joined us upstairs yet) where they learned to play instruments — at first mostly playing covers of the Strokes.
Steve’s mom would make them chicken fingers and fries when they drove over after school.
“We’d always just be there at dinner like — Oh no! It’s alright,” says Luke.
“Wait, don’t feed us!” laughs Mitch.
“And Brenda would just be like — Oh…” Luke finishes. Mitch laughs.
Steve put on their first show and other early shows were performed at the YMCA and local churches. Luke describes the Midland music scene in 2002 (when the band formed) as being primarily emo or aggressive punk. “We were the odd duck at those shows,” he adds.
Steve and Andy Lloyd roll in tardy for the interview, and Andy recounts how he joined Born Ruffians two and a half years ago: “I was playing in a band called Caribou before that.”
The band is currently recording their third album, expected for release in 2013. They dropped their last record, Say It, in 2010.
Steve mentions that they missed the deadline for the upcoming album. “The record just wasn’t ready so it didn’t make sense to release it,” he says.
Luke explains, “we realize there’s no point putting a record [out] and then we’re not happy with [it].”
I get a sense Warp Records/Paper Bag Records put a lot of pressure on them to push out music quickly, which is why Say It trails off in quality near the end of the album.
Steve remembers having conversations on the last record: “If you’re gone six months, people forget about you.” He calls it a fallacy, and believes that real fans will remember you when you come back with a good record. He jokes about Guns N’ Roses’ lengthy hiatus. Chinese Democracy was released in 2008 — fifteen years after The Spaghetti Incident?.
Born Ruffians are currently recording at Boombox Sound in Toronto. Mitch thinks it’s their best recording experience thus far — the record sounds promising and the atmosphere is comfortable and laid back.
The guys say that playing at festivals like Supercrawl — Steve calls them ‘one-offs’ — is completely different than playing their own shows.
Steve explains, “you’re never in the vibe — like when we tour we’ll play, you know, 20 shows in a row. So that’s when we’re really in our routine.”
Luke doesn’t expect much out of free outdoor shows. He doesn’t get as nervous. At their own shows everybody has “paid to come in to see you play. It’s a different feeling.”
Steve says that there are huge highs and lows while touring. On their 2010 European tour, Paris was amazing, “then we hit Germany . . . and immediately it’s like the biggest rude awakening you could get.”
Steve says Brooklyn and Manhattan were great shows, “and then you’ll hit Baltimore or something and it’s like — oh, there’s like no one here.”
Luke says, “There’s a promoter there who’s just like ‘Ah, shit. We just lost a bunch of money on your show.’”
Steve gives advice to industry newcomers: “Never pay to play. That’s something we learned early.”
Luke’s advice: “I would just say write all the time.”
He wraps up it up by telling me, “You just gotta make music all the time if you wanna do it.”