photos courtesy of www.rubyhorse.com
Hailing originally from Cork City, Ireland,
rubyhorse is on the verge of success. With their single 'Sparkle'
shooting up the charts and their major label debut, Rise
set to hit shelves, the sky is definitely the limit for rubyhorse.
Dave was nice enough to give me a call while on his way to a gig
with Dishwalla and nice enough to call back after we got disconnected.
We talked about the origin of the band, moving from Ireland to
Boston, and even their touring with Flickerstick.
<SPECIAL THANKS go out to Chemical Fusion, a dedicated member
of the rubyhorse message board for transcribing the massive bulk
of this....much love goes out to you>
Scott Hamilton (SH): How
and when did you decide to move the band from Cork City, Ireland
Dave Farrell (DF): We were
playing together since 14 years of age and we were based in Ireland
and you know, we released an independent record over there, and
we kinda achieved as much as we could achieve you know, in such
a small country. It was decision time, pack in the bags and get
on with our real lives or come to America and see what we could
do with it, you know. So we just packed whatever we had, packed
up our bags, grabbed up our instruments, and just jumped on a
plane and came over, with $1,000 between 5 of us, and with no
gigs, no combination and we didn't know anybody, you know, and
we just took a complete leap of faith, you know? And um, we set
out on this crazy adventure that we're still on, it was a great
great time for us.
SH: How long ago did you
SH: So it really wasn't that
long ago. How did you go about picking Boston, and setting up
DF: It was just coincidence
really, and we had to find a company willing to sponsor us for
our visas, and we found this company, and they were based in Boston,
you know, we had presumed that we'd have to go to New York or
Los Angeles, because you know, that's where the industry was.
And this company sponsored us, and the president of the company
said, you know, come to Boston first just because you know we're
based there, and the transition won't be that extreme, you know.
And so we moved there, and through a friend of a friend of a friend
this guy put us up for a week, and then we had to move out, and
then we just went to went to parties with sleeping bags, you know
random college parties and just crashed on floors, and played
shows at parties and just got to know people and basically survived
off of generosity and good will and generosity for the first 12
months we were there, you know. It was a crazy, crazy time because
we had no security and had no idea what we were doing. But we
just had this crazy dream, and people really picked up on it and
admired it. People were willing to go out on a limb and look after
us and we played as much as we could, and just got a good fan
base going up there and then we won 3 Boston Music Awards, and
things really blew up then, A lot of the industry started taking
notice, and it snowballed from there.
SH: You were originally signed
to a different label, what happened when you were dropped? Did
you ever think about packing it in and giving up music? Have you
been happy with how your new label, Island Def Jam, have handled
the band and the publicity for Rise?
DF: Yeah we were signed to
Interscope for a year and a half or year. We recorded a record,
and right when we finished, there was a big merger with Interscope
and Universal, and A & M, and Geffen, and Harry Nolan got
fired, who was an instrumental in getting us signed got fired.
He gave us the option of staying with the label and finding a
new A&R person & finishing the record. So we just took
the opportunity of taking the record and leaving. That's basically
the news, so essentially they just put the record out independently
on a very college industry level, you know. The distribution deal
with Best Buy and they stocked the record for us, and we just
jumped in the van and toured with any shows we could get on. We
toured with everyone from Culture Club to Flickerstick, you know.
Any shows we could do, we just traveled around the country a few
times, and basically lived off the CD sales at shows, which thankfully
were always very, very good, we always sold between 50 and 100
CDs a night. CDs are what helped us survive and to live for a
year and a half.
sold a lot of records, and we put two songs on mp3[mp3.com], and
they were at #1 for a number of weeks on mp3[mp3.com], and that
received a lot of attention in the nidustry press. And then Island
stepped in and was like, well, we wanna buy these records and
we were like, ok. Cause we realized that we did it on our own
for the best part of a year and a half, and we needed the resources
of a big company just to market the record get the record to as
many people as we wanted to hear it
SH: I've been hearing a lot
on the radio lately, Sparkle is getting a lot of rotation down
here on various stations
are you happy with how Island has
been promoting you and helping you guys out?
DF: It's been amazing, as
I was saying, we've been together for so long we know what it's
like to go independent route, and we know how difficult it is.
The major label, it's a means to an end if you work very hard
for a band to survive, to get the music out there to meet new
people and to create new waves as a band, and so far we have a
say on how we market it, and what's done regarding our material,
and they're very supportive of that. The thing with Island is,
they merged with Def Jam, which is a rap label, and Def Jam was
founded - it wasn't like a corporate machine, Def Jam was just
set up by these guys who did everything different from corporate
labels and they became hugely successful, and then they merged
with Island, and they totally restructured Island. The way Island
does business is different than a lot of other major labels, it's
real teamwork, they got us street teams in different parts of
the country and it's very dynamic
and they're really working
their tails off for us at the moment, and we're getting a lot
of love, and a lot of attention and as a result we're getting
airplay all over the country. We were just driving to our show
in Minneapolis on Tuesday night, and we were driving through Indianapolis,
and on the radio, Sparkle comes on, and it was the first time
we'd heard it, together as a band, and to hear that in the Midwest
it was just the biggest prize for us. This has been a dream we've
had for 14 years, and it's this great feeling of achievement,
and we're not there yet, but we're on the right road, we think.
SH: How did your independent
release How Far Have You Come? become Rise?
DF: That was a record we
had recorded, and we were going to release that as it was. But
it had been a year and a half, two years since we recorded it,
and we had these new songs - Bitter, Live Through This, Sparkle,
and the new version of Lavender that we just felt really strongly
about. That we said well we have this record but lets bolster
it and make it stronger. So we went and recorded those new songsThe
thing is that we didn't want to record a new record because not
enough people have heard How Far Have You Come?, And we thought
by having these extra songs we could really make a terrific album.
I think it's solid with the new songs.
SH: How was the decision
made to change up Lavender. It definitely a more rock version,
morel ike how it was played live.
DF: That's exactly how it
evolved. When we wrote Lavender in the studio, it was more of
a relaxing environment you know, and then playing it live it was
just getting such a strong response. so the song evolved, became
more of a rockier song, and it's one of the highlights of our
set, so when we got back down with Jay, our producer, to record
it, you know, we just said let's record Lavender and see what
happens, let's do a really live thing, so it was pretty much recorded
live, with just a few over dubs, and I think as you picked up
on, we got that rock/live feel from it, and we just were just
really happy with it, and thought that it give more balls to the
record, and pick up the pace.
SH: Do you have any favorites
on the disc?
Teenage Distraction is one of my favorite songs, and Any Day Now
is a song that means an awful lot to us and Live through this.
those are mostly my personal favorites. Just because of what they
say and what they mean to us. how other people pick up on it,
especially Any Day Now People is another highlight of the set.
The lyrics in the song, people seem to pick up on in any part
of the country. When we can make the connection with someone,
then you know you're doing something right.
SH: What is your writing
Well Decky, the bass player, is the lyric writer in the band
and he tends to think of the arrangement of the song and then
the 5 of us all have very different music tastes and we work in
a democracy, and everyone has to bring something to the table,
and we kick it around until it evolves until everyone feels they're
getting as much in return out of it., you know. The main thing
for us is we love touring, and it's always been such an important
part of this band, and in order for you to get up on stage every
night and perform the same songs, you gotta believe in what you're
performing, you know? Especially in this country, people are very
musically educated and you can't fake. Whenever you try to fake
in that environment, you get caught up very quickly, so you really
have to really feel those songs to perform them honestly. The
main way the writing process starts is getting to that place where
you really believe in what you do and what you're playing, because
until you get to that place, it's not going to come across live.
SH: What are your thoughts
about MP3s and the use of file sharing technologies?
It's a double edged sword
I love the idea; we've got all
our music online so you can stream it, and you have the option
of listening to it. I think it's very important
. it's always
been in music
You know when I was a kid back in Ireland
it was cassette tapes, you know? And that's how music got passed
around by kids in schools and stuff. At the same time, you know,
America is about the right to work and the rights were living.
and I do believe as an artist that we deserve to make our living.
Record companies take their percentage and were left with small
money, you know. and I think there has to be a way to make new
rules, but I don't think that it's there yet, you know. I use
mp3's and we share our music on mp3's with a lot of people and
it's been beneficial to us, but we never received any form of
payment, because there was no payment at the time because we were
an independent band, and we were totally relying on live shows
to survive to put food on the table and to pay rent. I just think
there has to be some kind of a way, you know, especially for independent
artists, to get some form of a payment, however small to pay bills,
its what we do for a living. you know, and you can't ???? and
expect to get it for free. I just think there has to be a way
for the consumer wins whether they can download the music freely
and especially independent musicians, because we were there for
a long time and we struggled, and came close many times to getting
jobs, and if we had gotten jobs, I don't think we'd be where we
are now. Like I said, it's a double edged sword.
SH: Who are some of the bands/artists
you are listening to now?
DF: There's a band called
Clinic, their very interesting The Dove's new record, and Oasis's
Pete Yorn is great, some new dance music from
Europe, and like I said, everyone in the band has different musical
tastes, and everyone is listening to so many different things
but any music that's got a heart, that's got a soul to it, we'll
listen to it, you know, if it will moves us.
SH: Who were/are some of
your influences? Was there one person who made you want to be
DF: Growing up when I was
a kid, like 12 years of age, I remember watching the Police for
the first time, and The Cure, and thinking, jeez man I want some
of that, and all those 80s bands, like (inaudible), as I said
the Stones the Beatles,
all the great bands you know
The Stone Roses, Oasis, Primal Scream another great band you know,
any band that believed in what they were singing about. That's
one word I use a lot you know, honesty, I don't care what genre
of music it is as long as it's honest and I can believe what I'm
hearing. And all those bands always had something to say, and
always performed (inaudible). You know what I mean.
How did owen get the nickname of vemo?
DF: (laughs) It was a gift
from a fan of ours while we were recording the record, and uh,
you know what? I think we've (inaudible) since then. It was a
gift, from a fan, it's his name spelled backwards
is cutting out)
(inaudible) when you spell it backwards,
you know? It's the mirror image of Owen.
Do you have any advise for people who are just starting bands
of their own?
DF:First to play and just
to tour as much as you can, because that's really where you learn
SH: Are their any bands that
you would have loved to tour with either past or present?
DF: I would have loved to
have toured with the Verve, and just because Richard Ashcroft
is an amazing songwriter and they are just a fantastic band. I
like Oasis, and I'd love to tour with Oasis, but then again it
might be a big disappointment to meet those guys, so who knows.
You mentioned Oasis, and the press always keep up the rumors that
Liam and Noel are always fighting, is there anything like that
that goes on in rubyhorse, do you guys conflict with each other,
DF: Of course we do, it's
going to happen with 5 people living in inside pockets all the
time, 24/7. The thing is we've got - we all grew up together,
from the age of 4 we've known each other for that long, and we
all went to school together, so we've got the sense that it's
very much like a family, so we regularly have huge fights, but
it's all forgotten about 20 minutes later. But it's actually funny
because especially when we came to America, and people started
working with us up close, and they'd see us have a huge screaming
match. and they'd be like, Jesus, these guys are splitting up
and 5 minutes later it's all forgotten. We have that history and
that connection and that family fighting
Have you ever had songs come out from fights, like you guys were
just so pissed off
DF: Of COURSE! The friction
has got to be heat and any time there is heat it will inspire
something Yeah, I mean if someone gets off your back over something,
we're very competitive people by nature. So, if we have a fight
we can only improve ourselves even more.
SH: Did your sound change
at all from your move to the United States?
DF: I feel the biggest change
when we were in Ireland, you know, if we did one show
a week, or one every two weeks, that was playing a lot, you know?
Because of the size of the country if you play 20 shows a year,
you're flooding the market. So I would think that the biggest
influence that America has had is that you can tour here, and
play 5 nights a week for 12 months, and still have only reached
half the country, you know? So, the size of the country and the
states has been a huge influence on us. Influences, I guess
I think that when you're in it, it's hard to see the wood from
the tree, if you know what I mean. I think that if you would have
listened to our music 5 years ago, it's vastly different, absolutely,
and whether that's because we're better as a band or whether we've
been influenced by America, I don't know if anyone quite has a
finger on that. But I think any artist is always inspired by their
surroundings, you know?
SH: The late George Harrison
played slide guitar on "Punchdrunk." What was it like
working with a legend?
DF:It was done over the phone,
sending the tapes, and we talked once on the phone, and we received
a gift afterwards, drew us a cartoon and a handwritten letter,
saying he loved the song and that he's quite proud of his piece
on it and as an accolade for us as a band. I don't think, god
willing, that we win some award down the line or whatever, I don't
think we will ever receive an accolade or accommodation that will
SH: Should we expect any
videos from Rise?
DF: We're actually just in
the process of contacting directors at the moment, I think yeah,
we'll record it in the next 3 or 4 weeks.
SH: Should we expect to see
you on TRL anytime soon?
DF: ahhh, we haven't even
really thought about those kinds of things, you know, our biggest
goal is to get this music to as many people as we can, because
we believe once people hear this music, there are going to be
people who get off on it, you know, and we talk about what we
believe in, you know, so, we want this music out there, we want
people to have the opportunity to make up their own minds about
it. I'm not going to sell our souls to Satan or anything like
that, but you know, whatever comes up, if it means a lot of people
get to hear this music then we're certainly going to consider
it you know? But it's something we haven't really thought about
to be honest with you.
SH: The one thing every band
deals with is the notion of "selling-out" once they
sign with a label. Do you even care about that?
DF: You know, this goes back
to what I said about -- Well, first of all you gotta give some
credit to the listeners, you know? I mean, if I believe in what
I'm saying and what we're singing and what we're playing has got
integrity and has got soul, then I don't care what music people
get to hear, you know? I mean, I saw Sheryl Crow on TRL 2 weeks
ago, and I thought she was fantastic. And I don't think Sheryl
Crow is selling out. I saw U2 on TRL and they one of those great
bands that has lasted 3 decades, and I just think the music industry
has changed a lot and especially commercialism & ads and what
have you, but if it means that an artist can get their music to
just give people a chance to make up their minds about it, then
I don't think it's a bad thing at all, you know? I have to give
the audience some credit, for having some kind of taste, musical
taste and knowing whether they like it or not.
SH: Some fans have stated
or wondered if fame was going to change you....is that ever gonna
DF: We were talking earlier
about mp3s, and you know, if we don't have people coming to our
shows, and we don't have people buying our records, well then
we don't have a career. And then I'm flipping burgers somewhere.
And God willing that we never change, and if I don't think these
things then I would never change, and I don't think we will because
that's just the nature of who we are and where we came from and
just he hard things that we went through to get to where we want
to be. I don't think that will ever change, you know? And I think
that is what this band is, and why we're here, and that we've
stayed away and pissed them off in a bigger way then we don't
have anything. We've got respect for people, and people that respect
us and that basically is life education for everyone.
SH:Is there any rivalry between
yourselves and Flickerstick?
No, there's no rivalry, there's nothing but friendship there.
We were in a really bad situation, before you saw us playing with
them last June, we were in a really tight position. We had no
cash, and our visas were running out, we had no more money to
renew the visas, and it looked like everything we had hoped and
dreamed for was coming to an end, and we had to pack our bags
and go back home. And then we were offered 2 or 3 dates with Flickerstick,
and we did those dates, and then they offered us a couple of more
dates, and then their record label wanted to put this new band
on the bill/tour and kick us off, but Flickerstick stood up and
said no, we want to keep rubyhorse on the bill, and they sacrificed
a lot and put themselves on the line for us and they really dug
us out of a hole, you know? Then we toured with them, and we even
signed our record deals together, at Birdy's in Indianapolis and
we've just become very dear friends. And even last night, when
we were in Chicago, and Brandin Lea just happened to be in town
and he came on stage for Punchdrunk, and you know, there's nothing
but friendship and love between both bands. We drink hard and
party hard together, and we have a great time together, and there's
nothing but admiration and love for each other.
SH: Are you ready for the
success that I think will come from Rise?
DF: It's just so exciting
for us. It's just so, so exciting. It's funny, even last Saturday
we met the Counting Crows and their tour manager said come hang
out, and we got on the bus, and we're sitting there with the band
and they didn't know anything about us, so we kinda told them
our story and where we are at the moment, and they just got so
passionate, they're like oh my god man, enjoy every moment of
this because coming up is the most fun you know? When you hit,
for a lot of bands it can be the start of a demise, start a lot
of troubles and complications, and troubles with it. Its just
part of it when you start seeing your break and the numbers pick
up, you have to see some of these clubs Scott, it's incredible,
you know, it's fucking electric
I want to thank Dave and everyone at the Island Def Jam for hooking
this up. I can not wait for rubyhorse to tour so I can check out
the band once again. They are wicked nice and wicked talented
and Rise is exactly
what they are going to do. Keep an eye on rubyhorse, we didn't
name them as an artist
to watch for nothin. Check out to see if rubyhorse
is playing in your area!