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Juno Masterclass

Born Ruffians

NORAM 2010s. Semantic satiation over words like punk and rock. Distracted conversations loop in temples of commerce. Tracks are played on cracked iPhones, glossed through like pages of comics.

Luke Lalonde. Songs percolate in his erratic and preoccupied mind. Mitch Ruffian. Nutter wrestling fan relentlessly touring, hopscotching wifi. Steve Hamelin is courting death. Their bandmates Bad Andy & Adam H trafficked from Toronto sub scenes.

Years ago three kids holed up in their parents’ basement, loved Talking Heads, the Pixies, the Strokes, and made it. The founding members became good but stayed ruff. The scene is now disillusioned. Lalonde has been tinkering with the machinery of the universe. Seething with rage and ambition, he offers a succession of songs following the circuitous motion of tidal mood swings: optimism lurks menacingly in “Stupid Dream” and “We Made It”, whereas “Don’t Live Up” and “Shade to Shade” vibrate with radicalized ambivalence.

He performs with James Brown zeal; lightning hooks and staccato riffs. Mitch’s bass bubblegum and heavy. Bad Andy is Eno from Roxy Music. Hamelin and Adam H on drums. Recorded in Toronto by Jeff McMurrich and mixed by Rusty Santos in New York.

Born Ruffians. The record is ‘RUFF’ – simultaneously a return to form and a departure from expectations. Songs of refutation, lamentations of forgotten past lives, and ecstatic self-erasures that say “eat shit, we did it!”. ‘RUFF’, as an idea, is everything – sound, message, band. If ‘Birthmarks’ was polished and presentable, RUFF is the ugly innards that hide beneath. Toronto, Montreal, Midland, Australia, France, Germany, everywhere. Several songs were realized during the recording process in the studio.

After we felt we had a strong group of songs we booked ourselves into Boombox Sound and spent most of 2012 moving in, out and around there with producer Roger Leavens and engineer Marcel Ramagnano tracking some 15 songs and figuring out the sound of the album. Luke had just finished doing an album of his own at Boombox so the environment was warmed up and ready for the band to come in. Luke worked closely with Roger on the produc- tion of the record, bringing sounds and parts of demos in from his laptop and dropping them into the studio, often building from there. The sound of the record was largely shaped by freedom of time and the new ability to manipu- late a song over the course of several days or weeks until it was ready.

We don’t want to tell you about what we think we sound like. We can tell you that this record will sound different. These songs lived with us, toured with us, got drunk with us and made our ears ring. Now, we get to hit the road and start making your ears ring. It took us almost three years writing all over the world, several months of farm life in the country, and a calendar year at Boombox Sound to finally finish Birthmarks. We think it’s time to show you what Born Ruffians birthed.

Hometown:
Midland, Ontario
Buzz chart position: 90
Connected sources: 
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