Born Ruffians

Bill Cummings 28/03/2008

New Warp signings Born Ruffians are certainly on the crest of a promotional wave. Following the release of their omnipresent foot stomping single "Hummingbird"(I even heard it on BBC2's Super League show last night) they're about to appear as a club band in episode nine of the new series of Skins (on the 7th April on E4 and on Channel 4 on the 10th April 2008.) alongside the central character Cassie (pictured with band). They're probably hoping for the same bump in profile that the yoof programme has delivered to the Gossip, Foals and The Crystal Castles. But who are they where do they come from? And more importantly why should we even care?

A beat combo consisting of three fresh faced Canadians, Luke Lalonde, 21, on vocals, Bassist Mitch de Rosier, 21 and drummer Steve Hamelin, 22; they have an effervescent, jangly, taut, art pop sound, influenced by their love of Pavement's languid lo-fi, the feral power of the Pixies, the melodies of the Band and The Strokes. Their excitable music has been likened to "Jonathan Richman fronting the Talking Heads." With a painfully hip sound and many rushing to champion the new wave jangle of Vampire Weekend and Tapes N Tapes maybe Born Ruffians could ride this particular wave onto people's turntables too, whether you like it or not.

The band on their recent single: "Hummingbird brings fans up to speed with our evolving sound as Born Ruffians. It's perfect for dancing in circles with your purses in the club or staring wistfully at the ceiling before bedtime."

Growing up together in Toronto schools (Luke and Mitch are cousins) they've been writing songs since they were 16, the songs on their first self titled EP were written when they were a sprightly 18, originally signed to XL back in 2006 "they were interested after hearing the demo" explains Mitch de Rosier, "Matt from XL flew over to see us in June and liked what we were doing, we licensed the first EP to XL and Warp, now we're Warp worldwide."

But why Warp? Best known for their pioneering electronica releases (Autechre et al), the signing of Maximo Park a few years back has clearly opened people's minds to the fact that Warp are looking for acts that challenge and delight in every genre. "I'm really proud that Warp see something in us that they can justify putting us on their label, it's really only a select band, like an honour roll of acts” glows Mitch de Rosier "it's almost intimidating three of my favourite live acts are on Warp.Even though as kids we weren't aware of the electro history."

Their debut album "Red, Yellow and Blue" will see the light of day at the end of May, produced by Rusty Santos the studio magician behind the Animal Collective and Panda Bear's recent studio efforts. "Working with Rusty was awesome we loved Sung Tongs and Person Pitch…." Mitch clearly enjoyed working with him, just a little: "everything he brought to the record we really enjoyed we were always on the same page, he's brilliant."

Recorded in a quick fire two weeks last year, the band were trying to commit their energetic live sound to tape. "We only really write before we go into the studio. It's way too difficult for a band like us to write while in the studio. It's weird for us, we recorded it last May, we thought it would come out in the fall but we had had to wait, which is cool by us as long as it comes out!"

One of the most talked about songs on the new album is named after author Kurt Vonnegut, best known for his 1969 novel Slaughterhouse Five, who passed away just after it was released as a b-side to one of their early singles. "Luke did a verse in the song that's taken straight out of “The Cats Cradle”, lyrically its one of my favourite (Born Ruffian) songs...after his death which was sad, someone mentioned the song on his Wiki page, which was cool."

The likes of the Arcade Fire, Stars et al have burst through doors for Canadian acts in this country. While it's fair to say that in the UK we mostly get the cream of the North American crop, it's interesting to see individual acts emerging from one scene, many of them attempting to push very different boundaries. "Maybe it's a snowball thing since The Arcade fire broke through...The only worrisome thing is that you don't want to over saturate, especially if it's a specific type of music" something that clearly concerns Mitch and the Ruffian boys "but good music from a country inspires other people to come out." Born Ruffians are one such band.

The single "Hummingbird" is out now on Warp. Born Ruffians appear in Skins on E4 on April the 7th and the album "Red, Yellow and Blue" comes out on the 26th of May.


8th May / Amersham Arms, London (headline show)

10th May / Pitchfork vs ATP, Camber Sands

12th May / UK Norwich Norwich Arts Centre (w. Caribou)

13th May / UK Cambridge Barfly (w. Caribou)

14th May / UK Manchester Roadhouse (w. Caribou)

15th May / UK London Scala (w. Caribou)

16th May / The Great Escape Festival, Brighton

17th May / UK Coventry Taylor John's House (w. Caribou)

18th May / IE Dublin Whelans (w. Caribou)

19th May / IE Cork Crane Lane Theatre (w. Caribou)

20th May / UK Belfast Black Box (w. Caribou)

21st May / UK Edinburgh Cabaret Voltaire (w. Caribou)

22nd May / UK Aberdeen The Tunnels (w. Caribou)

23rd May / UK Leeds Brudenells Social Club (w. Caribou)

27th May / Hoxton Bar & Kitchen ALBUM LAUNCH PARTY!