What a difference three years makes. When the Rubens left their sleepy hometown of Menangle to record their self-titled debut album in New York in 2012, keyboardist Elliott Margin had only just left school, and the band had barely a tour to their name. Fast forward to February 2015, and the quartet are preparing to release their second album – due midway through the year, and recorded once again in New York with producer David Kahne (Regina Spektor, the Strokes), who helmed their Top Five debut – and have months and months of road work under their belts, both as a headliner and as support to acts such as Bruce Springsteen.
"We got to see that whole other level of live show," says vocalist/guitarist Sam Margin. "I think touring has really pushed us, and I think we understand music and what we want from our music. That comes from being around the festival scenes all around the world, constantly seeing all the bands that are pushing themselves. That pushes you as well."
When the quartet first gathered to start working on album number two in a rented house in Coledale, just north of Wollongong, at the tail-end of 2013, Margin says they had a "very clear" idea of what they wanted the album to be, but only six or seven concrete ideas. By the time they emerged from pre-production in Byron Bay last August, those ideas had swelled to 35. "With this record we had a lot more of the live show in mind," explains Margin. "First we wanted to make a great record to listen to, but secondly we wanted to make it really enjoyable to play for the next two years of our lives."
The songs are, he adds, "dynamically more dramatic", with the band experimenting more with sounds and effects pedals.
Though stopping short of confirming any song titles, he admits that lyrically there’s "maybe a little less teenage angst" throughout, though he concedes affairs of the heart ("my negative views on relationships!") are still at the fore. Another theme is addiction. "Not to say we were addicted to anything," he clarifies, "just that kind of addiction to anything, pretty much. There’s also a sort of religious aspect to it, in being unhappy with the way religion is pushed onto people."
Topics: The Rubens