THE BAND WHO CRIED WOLF
Last month I went up to Manchester to meet one of the industry’s most talked about emerging bands, Demons Of Ruby Mae. DORM are already raising eyebrows in their hometown of Leicester with meticulously arranged and soul-bearing shows in hand picked beautiful venues, it was however an acoustic set on local BBC Radio show ‘The Beat’ that won them many more high profile admirers and the subsequent podcast attracted over 100’000 plays. Now based in Manchester the duo are gearing up for a UK Tour in September and their 2nd EP release, the follow up to the critically acclaimed EP ‘Heliacal’ and single ‘Beneath the Surface.’
I’d arranged to come and meet them at ‘Big Hands’ on Oxford Road, (Elbow’s Guy Garvey is a regular and has even got a stake in the bar apparently) which makes sense to me as it’s the sort of place you could come to brood quietly in a dark corner or shout from the drizzling rooftop in drunken stupor. DORM have been compared to Elbow amongst others, high praise indeed but unlike a lot of bands they shy away from comparisons to their heroes and contemporaries, and I don’t blame them, their music stands alone. Atmospheric laden with bone shuddering vocals, reminiscent of 60’s soul with the textured honesty of Coldplay’s finest early moments, their shows come together in some sacrificial bonfire of emotion and refined technical skill. In this Interview i hope to find out a bit more about the band, their love of foxes and get to the bottom of an unhealthy obsession with Emile Heskey.
As i stand waiting for a bottle of trappist monk-brewed beer, I look over to see the Demons sharing a personal joke together in a shadowy cul-de-sac of the bar, Adam (guitarist, vocals, keys) sees me and stands up to greet me, lanky and jovial backslapping type, stark contrast from the concentrated, awkwardly entrancing stage presence he projects. Jonny (guitar, vox, drum-machine etc) however is more reflective, much like on stage, a brooding force of darker nature. A simple nod at me as if to get on with it, and they can finish their conversation. So it goes…
HOW LONG HAVE YOU GUYS KNOW EACH OTHER?
ADAM: We’ve known each other for about 5 years now. Jonny used to be that strange lad who you always bumped into on nights out but never spoke to. I then joined a band with him and still find him strange
(Jonny looks over at adam as if to acknowledge this hidden truth.)
JONNY: We’ve know each a fair few years.
(Not a man of many words, seemingly in contempt of my smash-hits style questions.)
Ok well we need to get the predictable ones out the way, and besides is there a question that hasn’t been asked before?
WHO/WHAT ARE YOUR BIGGEST INFLUENCES?
A: For me, The National and Nick Cave are up there. Both for their music, persona and live performances. Between them they’ve written some the best songs of a lifetime. I’d like to perform some nick cave flying kicks on stage but i’m pretty clumsy
J: We both like a lot of the same bands and both have a clear understanding of the type of music we want to write. I’m influenced by things that change my opinion, personality, character, discovery and bands in particular or artists, would be Neil Young, Prince, Fiona Regan, The Xx.
IN TEN YEARS TIME WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE ACHIEVED?
A: In ten years time? I’d want to be as big as ‘The National’ (the band, not the horse race), if not bigger. Headlining the Pyramid Stage wouldn’t be too bad either! Also, if i’ve not been married at least 4 times and visited rehab, something’s gone wrong.
J: It’s more about the development of the songs we write as a band and that we keep improving as musicians and as songwriters. If we haven’t achieved stadium standard in 10 years then maybe our songs weren’t good enough. Or maybe we were unlucky. I will personally never be satisfied and therefore whatever I achieve musically I don’t think it will ever be enough.
A: He’s a ray of sunshine ain’t he.
I attempt to lighten Jonny’s mood by throwing in a couple of random pub-esque questions, so far Adam has been joking and lighthearted we’ve spoke about football, and several times I’ve noticed he seems slightly obsessed with Emile Heskey (Ex Leicester,Liverpool and England striker) Obviously i know a fair few Liverpool fans, so this fan-fair seems odd to say the least. Jonny on the other hand is quiet and reflective, doesn’t seem comfortable at all, i get the impression he feels a lot more free making and performing music, rather than talking about it, or at least bigging up his own. Right! . .
Q. IF DORM WAS AN ANIMAL, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
A: Fox, easy question
IAN: because you’re partial to junk food and live in a garden?
(After a few confused silent glances)
oh Leicester. the foxes. i see .
A: YES, IAN, YES
Either Jonny agrees or he really doesn’t want to answer the question, so i move swiftly on. To something I hope will evoke a reaction.
IF YOU COULD ERASE ANY BAND FROM THE HISTORY OF MUSIC, WHICH BAND WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
A: There are far too many bands I’d like to erase from history, but one particular person who gets on my tits is Robbie Williams. I mean, what an idiot. I turned the TV on the other day and he was wearing a purple turtle neck jumper and a waistcoat! And he was on a ship! What the mince is that about? Plus he’s fat now
I: Well Elvis got fat, he was still…
J: Steps! I hate H
I: Ok there’s a lot of contempt here, lets go to the other end of the spectrum….
IF YOU COULD FORM A SUPERGROUP FROM ALL OF MUSIC’S GREATS WHAT WOULD IT BE CALLED AND WHO WOULD BE IN IT? (MAX 5 PEOPLE)
A: A super group? I think you’re probably already guessing where i’m going with this…….
I: I have absolutely no idea
A: Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Matt Berninger, Nathaniel Rateliffe and Mark Morrison.
(An eclectic mix but I’m still none the wiser, maybe its another Leicester connection? Answers on a postcard.)
J: Id call the band, Demons Of Ruby Mae.
I: Well its got a ring to it
J: Jimmi Hendrix, Freddie Mercury, Jon paul Jones, Keith Moon.
I: Have you been asked that question before?
Err ok, well….
IF YOU COULD PUNCH ANYBODY IN THE FACE WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
(Adam gets excited by this question, which surprises me as he seems about as violent as a wag of the finger.)
A: Anybody in the world I could punch?
I: Yes Adam but its a rhetorical question, im not granting you permission.
A: Dennis Wise. I don’t think I need to give reasons for this. Even his own family hate him
I: I’m not that clued up on my Wise family history but ill take your word for it, that evokes quite an interesting vision, you must be at least 6’3 he’s about 5ft and a peanut .
(Adam ignores my blindside attempt at gaining his height stats, and my attempts of staring the answer out of him are interrupted by Jonny shouting ‘Simon Cowell’ and banging his fists on the table, ironically sending everyones drinks..over himself. We all have a good laugh. Even the bar manager seems to enjoy it. After a few deep breaths Jonny continues.)
J: Simon Cowell, because he’s ruined popular music.
I: You care to elaborate?
IF YOU WERE STRANDED ON A DESERT ISLAND WHAT 3 ITEMS COULDNT YOU LIVE WITHOUT?
A: The 3 items on a desert island i couldn’t live without? (Yes Adam) Guitar, Piano and my lyric book. Actually do i get a pen included with the book? (No) Or is that another item? (Its another item Adam) Oh, also my signed emile heskey shirt. , but i’ll wear that .
I: You’ll have to use an albatross feather dipped in honey,. presuming there are bees on the island
J: My family, Food and Water and health.
I: Thats unbelievably vague, and its going to be a pretty big rucksack Jonny. Also thats 4!.
Jonny gets up and goes to the bar so i talk to Adam about the progress they have made so far, in the last year they released An Ep and A follow up single ‘Gold’ and are currently in the studio recording the next. Its seems to be an epic affair with string quartets and volcanic sounds. So..
WHAT’S THE INSPIRATION BEHIND YOUR DEBUT ALBUM, HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE IT?
A: Our first EP Heliacal. The title kind of describes a central point and everything else evolving around it. We tried to tell a story throughout the 4 songs and introduce us as a band. We’re really proud of how that EP ended up sounding and think gave a great layer to build on going forward .
I: I’m Being completely honest here, i loved it, and everyone i know who’s heard it loves it. Cant wait for the Album, whats your ETR? (Estimated time Release)
(By this point Jonny has returned with beverages, and Jagerbombs.)
J: It’s an ep. Not an Album. Inspiration comes from personal experiences and people who need songs writing about them.
I: Is that out of the dictionary?
Jonny plants my drinks in front of me and waits expectantly, his wry smile suggests he may be poisoning me, but i down the shot anyway and hope for the best.
I: Ok So you’re working on you next EP, but,.
WHEN CAN WE EXPECT THE ALBUM TO BE RELEASED?
A: We’re looking to release a single in Autumn time which will go side to side with a pretty big marketing push. So expect us to be all over the place,. like a fox .
I: ripping open binbags all over the show ?
J: When we’re satisfied and have enough songs to put out. We’re constantly writing and it will happen.
Im sure this is as close I’m going to get to an answer, its pretty clear they are keeping their cards close to their chest. Maybe another Jagerbomb? Ok, we getting pretty lubricated with booze now so lets just have a few fun (…I look at Jonny…) multiple choice questions to finish the interview off :
Q. IDEAL PET : FERRIT – TORTOISE – FISH?
A: Ideal animal? (Yes Adam) Well, I’ve always like turtles. Michaelangelo is my favourite .
I: ill let you have that
J: Tortoise they’ll outlive you.
I: Thanks for that happy thought.
J: You’re welcome.
Q. VILLA IN : MARAKESH – LA – SCUNTHORPE?
A: LA all the way! I mean don’t get me wrong, Scunthorpe is lovely this time of year, but i’d like to roller skate down the boulevard in LA,. but then again, Scunthorpe has arcades.
I: with your pet turtle ?
A: absolutely on a lead , with his own little skates.
I: I think a skateboard is more realistic .
J: LA. Been to all and it’s the best
Q. TAKE A DAY TRIP TO : MANCHESTER – THE LAKE DISTRICT – ALTON TOWERS?
A: Day trip? (Yes Adam, I’m supposed to be asking the questions here!) Lake District without a doubt. The fact we live in Manchester makes the Manchester option just a normal day. And Alton Towers is awful. Why would you pay to queue? I got lost once as a kid there, scarred me for life. Plus the rides are only about 5 seconds long. Disappointing
I: Is that what she said ?
A: i wish she said that! 5 seconds is a great shift .
J: The Lake District because the best songs come from there.
I: I’ll take your word for it.
And its my round so finally….
How much wood could a woodchuck chuck If a woodchuck could chuck wood?
J: 30 yards?
Adam gets his calculator out but I’m closing the book on this one.
As they approach a flurry of September gigs in University Cities, there’s little doubt Demons of Ruby Mae are indeed a British band of future distinction, be sure to catch them near you this month at:
Old Blue Last : London on 22nd September.
District : Liverpool 26th September.
Gullivers : Manchester 27th September.
The Debut Ep ‘Heliacal’ is available now to buy on itunes https://itunes.apple.com/album/heliacal/id619077838?v0=9989&ign-mpt=uo%3D1