The new song has been released a day or so earlier primarily through the YouTube video, and I’ve already played it several times through my laptop, attempting to immerse myself in time for the live performance. Needless to say, the song is another classic ‘Rubys’ statement in song writing, carrying all the hallmarks of their distinct sound, the sort that you can’t help but admire, adore, be completely at its mercy, and find yourself humming along at any point during the day. It wouldn’t be out of place on the debut album, ‘Limelight Parasite’ given its approach and lyrical tone, that seminal dark, twisted love that embodies the album as the tracks roll through a passionate emotional story. This could just be a page that was inadvertently ripped out from that journey.
'Shake You Free’ itself is a dynamic track where all the instruments bombard vibrantly at just the right tempo straight from the intro. Immediately, the unprecedented amount of chemistry that blesses the band in the studio and onstage is evident, and you feel something special already forming. Lee Hunter’s vocal opens up the song to new dimensions with his perfectly crafted lyrics that really bridge the essence between singer and musician. His lyrics are a continuation to the depth we heard on ‘Limelight Parasite’, full of deep sentiment and lingering heart wrenching confusion that creates a darker element, contrasting to how the music shapes up in the background. ‘Shake You Free’ mirrors the album’s tone in the sense that it seems to be the continuing journey of the couple in question, once lovers who endure a painful separation, and those hurts maybe run too deep to simply recover from or shake them off as easily as first anticipated, but by writing or listening to this song it makes understanding a little easier for everyone such is its impact, a very true to life and honest outlook at the realities of love turning sour.
Whilst the lyrics nestle around your mind, the melodies remain cutting with some delicious interludes from lead guitarist Tat Sing Kong who drives home the emotional aspect behind the words in one single riff. The ever superlative support section have some explosive crescendos in the bridge and chorus whilst keeping the rhythm soft and sweet throughout the verses to allow the vocals room to shine. It’s not only the band members who take credit for this compelling sound. Producers Martin Coogan and Dean Glover are also an integral cog in forming ‘The Rubys’ popularity. Sadly, they couldn’t be present for tonight’s launch.
Having been inside Night and Day for an hour or so, the chatter of the audience is about the track, congratulating the band and throwing all kinds of accolades at them at any given opportunity. Their worth and importance to modern music is paramount as I watch the adulation, taking everything in their stride, almost embarrassed to admit they’ve created something that has brought so much understanding and appreciation to like minded people who’ve been looking for a band of this magnitude to break through, not just from this track, but the whole album in general which is one of the freshest and hypnotic albums to come out of Manchester this millennium. It’s an extremely rare notion to love every song an album these days, but ‘The Ruby’s’ are an exception that accomplishes this tough feat. Knowing their humbleness and unpretentiousness with spirits high from tonight’s achievement, I knew this would make for another captivating interview.
NIGE: Firstly, let’s talk about the summer just gone, quite exciting to say the least starting with being signed by Affinity Records. How did the signing come about?
DAVE: I think it happened how most things do in music, by a lucky accident. The album gave us a demographic we didn’t have before we released it because putting it out free of charge was a genius idea, which we can thank Barry for! By doing that it just reduced one more obstacle for everyone being able to download it. Paul at Affinity found it this way across social media, got in contact after listening to it and that was that really.
NIGE: You commemorated the signing with a bit of a party. Any rock n roll moments happen that night?
MIKE: There were a few sore heads in the morning! We ended up dancing to disco in the gay village till 3.00 in the morning.
DAVE: One of the most surreal things I’ve ever seen is seeing Mike dance with his own unique style in a transvestite bar. You cannot buy that on any video, I know because I’ve been to Amsterdam and searched!!
NIGE: There have been a lot of radio appearances recently on Wythenshawe FM amongst others, even being aired on American shows?
LEE: Andy at Wythenshawe FM has had us on a couple of times doing an acoustic set. He’s really into our music and going to do a review on tonight, if it goes well, and he’s said he’ll have our music on again tomorrow.
BARRY: We’ve been really lucky in that most of the radio stations have really embraced the music.
MIKE: We’ve had such a good laugh with Caroline Rennie at All FM too. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere where we can just go and play some songs and really enjoy it.
DAVE: The shows in America that play our music have been outstanding. You get a domino effect going across the east coast of America on certain shows if they play your music. The demographic is enormous. We’re just five normal guys with working class backgrounds and we’re number 1 in Philadelphia. It’s great stuff! It’s the kind of success we don’t deserve but we’re taking it!!
NIGE: Gigs have not really been in abundance this summer. Is that because of the radio appearances, or any other reason?
LEE: I think after the album we just wanted to take a bit of time out, gather our thoughts and write new stuff. At the end of the day no one wants to see you all the time if you’re playing the same stuff. We only get to practice once a week and we want to expand our repertoire of songs.
MIKE: With the internet at the moment it’s very easy to get fans in America, but we actually want to take the band there at some point. Promoters don’t like it when you overplay an area like Manchester too much, so we need to expand our network a little.
DAVE: I’ve been to see bands where they look bored and the music sounds so predictable and dull. We don’t get that because when we feel that’s coming we stop, regroup, rewrite and refresh.
NIGE: Is that why you brought the new single out at this point?
DAVE: It made sense to bring it out now because of the relationship with Affinity. There was no point signing to a record company if you haven’t got a record to release. Part of it was that but part of it was because it was a song that’s been around for about eighteen months.
LEE: It’s a song that just missed out being on the album even after jamming it out a few times in the recording sessions.
MIKE: There was an interesting situation with Affinity where we’ve just recorded an album off our own backs and put out for free, and then we get signed by a label where we have an album now freely available. It’s not going to have huge capital advantages with Affinity’s contacts or distribution outlets, So we had to do a single really! But I had no problems with doing the album for nothing!
DAVE: The song ‘Shake You Free’, as Lee pointed out, every time we came to it, it just didn’t seem to work. We went into the studio and that’s the benefit of working with Martin and Dean because when we played it back we said, “That’s how it’s supposed to sound!” We didn’t really have it before so it’s kudos to those two guys really.
LEE: It does fit in with our sound. We like writing songs that stick in people’s heads, and I think the album and single does that.
DAVE: For me the single is a progression from the album. I love Lee’s lyrics because people hear his lyrics and think there very good at first, but there’s a deeper undercover, a much darker undercover. If you know Lee as well as I do then you know there’s a real quality to it. The album’s all about dark love, a twisted album, like the love you’ve never seen before! It could be on the album, ‘Limelight Parasite’ which isn’t surprising with that being released in April and the single being recorded in July. There’s only so much progression you can have in 90 days.
NIGE: The video is officially released today. Where was it filmed?
MIKE: Todmorden, on the way down to Hebden Bridge.
LEE: There was a sign on the way that directed you to something “Bum” and underneath it was a sign to “Hole” so it read “Bum Hole”
DAVE: You don’t get this with Girls Aloud!
TAT: It was way out in the hills and the place was used for storage. It must be where old ladies pass on old stuff because it’s full of crates of people’s memories and snapshots of people’s lives, but it was really cool.
NIGE: How has the influence of Martin Coogan and Dean Glover helped you develop as a band and how important are they in ‘The Rubys’ sound?
LEE: I think they’re very important to the sound. That’s why we wanted to go back and record the single on the back of the album. When you’ve got five musicians there needs to be a direction and Martin and Dean give us that by pushing us in slightly different directions and pushing us as musicians. I mean Tat spent eight hours doing one song because Martin’s got exact demands on the band. I spent one full day on one track. That’s what we get out of Martin. Dean’s just a genius, a 21 year old Prince.
MIKE: Technically Dean knows his stuff, he knows all the kit and the history of, and he’s got really good taste and a very good ear.
LEE: With Dean’s young view on music and his capabilities, and Martin sitting on the other side who’s been there, done it, worn the t-shirt, he knows what sounds sweet, which is what he brought to our music that we never really thought of. Certain notes we might be playing may be construed as sour notes, but he taught us sweet notes so we now know what parts go where and how the whole jigsaw fits together. It’s helped us endlessly, even now going forward because we keep Martin and Dean in mind.
NIGE: So after tonight, what are the plans for the next few months?
MIKE: We need to talk to Paul and see what opportunities we’ve got. I’d like to play Camden!
DAVE: I feel there’s a very clear trajectory for us now. If we get a similar response to the single that we had to the album, particularly on the East Coast of America then that’s good. For now it’s just about keep building the fan base.
NIGE: We know about the rising popularity in America. How does that make you feel as a band?
LEE: It’s weird because you can’t really imagine it at the moment. It’s like it’s not really there because we don’t get to see it.
BARRY: The weirdest thing I’ve seen regards America is that we were the 27th most played record on this American radio station. The station contacted us and said we should be very proud because number 27 last week was ‘Rolling Stones’. So how do you cope with that?
MIKE: It feels like we’re missing something, like we’ve been in a coma and life is passing by over there, but we can’t see it.
LEE: Me and Barry were talking the other day and basically the radio shows we’re on over there, although small are still playing to an audience the size of Manchester. Although we’d like to be played on certain radio stations over here, we’re probably hitting the same amount of people over there. We can’t put it into perspective until we get out there and see what it sounds like and what sort of reaction we get.
NIGE: Long term, as you mentioned in a previous interview, there are plans in place for America. Are the tour plans any further advanced?
DAVE: We’re looking at America in April 2013. When we spoke in May it was just a dream, without plans that’s all it is, a dream, but now we’ve got some very clear plans and sponsors to make it happen. Paul at Affinity has secured the venues, we have the sponsors and now it’s just purely the logistics and the economics of our own cash. Right now, it’s enjoy the single, enjoy the moment, knock the hell out of it, build our base so it makes it a little more attractive to our sponsors then it’s on from there. You’d like to think music is all about art, but it’s a lot about money. Money to us is like astrophysics, we don’t understand it so it must be hard!
So after another sublime performance which saw a few first time listeners become fully converted to ‘The Ruby’s’ style, the message is to keep building the fan base. Their popularity in America is constantly reaching heights that many other British bands could only dream of, and it’s about time the UK started to follow suit and pay a similar type of attention to a band that is highly appealing to many diverse music lovers. However, with a tour of America in the pipeline and the continued sales increase of the new single, exciting times are on the horizon, and once the America tour is complete, who knows what effect that will have on the future. Contrary to what Dave says in the interview, they thoroughly deserve the success and attention that constantly pours from our Trans Atlantic neighbours.
‘Shake You Free’ is now available for £0.79 through iTunes, http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/shake-you-free-single/id568265112.
Also, show your support to have ‘The Rubys’ music played on more US and Canadian radio stations by ‘liking’ the following link, www.facebook.com/ShakeYouFree
Interview/review by Nigel Cartner
Photos by Nicola Jaye - www.mcrphotographer.co.uk
Interview photos by John Kushnick