I’m starting a trend of kicking off my birthday with an awesome show. Last year I saw one of my local favorites, Push Method, at the beginning of my birthday week. This year, the night before the big day, I took my hot little date to see Australian boys, The Rubens, kick it at Bowery Ballroom. A good decision if I ever made one.
Like I said, these kids are from Australia. We all know how I feel about things made in Aussieland. No exception here. Composed of three brothers and two additional members, The Rubens have only been together as a band for a little over a year, but they’ve expanded to the U.S. with ease and success. Keyboardist and brother, Elliot Margin, sat with me on a Bowery Ballroom couch and told me what it’s like to speed through such a process.
Margin recounted the band’s birth and journey from gigs in Sydney, Australia and recordings in their bedroom to a national U.S. tour to support an album recorded by producer, David Kahne, production mastermind behind talent like Paul McCartney, The Strokes, Sublime, and Lana del Rey, among others.
“We’d never played together before forming a band,” the youngest Margin admits. “We all learned different instruments separately. Then one day Sam and Zaac were home bored and were like ‘Wanna…jam?’ Then I came home from school and they were like, ‘Should we…jam?’ People ask if our parents forced us to play instruments and make a family band. It was the exact opposite.”
Despite living together for their entire lives, the brothers and Sam’s good friend, Scott Baldwin, didn’t come together as a band until 2011. They quickly began playing gigs in Sydney, where they met Dean Tuza, an Australian sound engineer who connected them to Kahne after his work on Mix With the Masters. Once Kahne heard The Rubens demo, it was a short step to a request for the band to visit America and record an album.
One of the most significant changes Margin relates is the difference between the guys’ recording setup and the gear available for them at Avatar Studios.
“It was scary at first.,” he says. “We’d only ever recorded in our bedroom, on our laptop with shitty mics and stuff. This was our first recording experience. We got to Avatar Studios and it was just a crazy experience. To have all that at our fingertips was just overwhelming.”
Thankfully The Rubens were up to the challenge, and after a month or so of heavy rehearsing, Kahne allegedly whipped them into shape and they laid down the tracks to what became their very first official album. Margin says the improvement was drastic.
“When we played shows in Australia we thought we were alright,” Margin explains. “Then we came to America and David did a month of pre-production and sort of whipped us into shape. We came back to Australia and were like, ‘Holy shit, we were terrible’.”
After doing a European tour, Australian shows and their current American tour, The Rubens are preparing to hole up and bring together their second album. Margin says the guys have compiled a collection of raw ideas which they hope to develop into a full length album with a little time.
“After this tour, we’re headed home to record album two,” he reveals. “We’ve put down lots of ideas now on the road, so we’re planning to rent a house on the beach for four months and write out the album. We’re planning to make it so a lot of the takes could go on the album.”