Luke Lalonde, frontman of Toronto’s Born Ruffians, released his first proper solo album, Rhythmnals, just last week. Both the recording and creative process was somewhat internal for Lalonde, and lasted two full years at home and in studio. Though he had intentions of completing the project via home demos, Lalonde hooked up with producer Roger Leavens of Boombox Sound and eventually completed the whole album in studio.
‘‘It was really great for me to have a pro like [Leavens] hear my recordings and say ‘No, we’re using all this stuff because it’s great’,” said Lalonde. “The most exciting part was sort of building my confidence and co-producing.”
Working outside of the norm, or doing what a frontman is habitually used to completing with the band, can bring forth unlimited creative control. Lalonde said he did not see too much difference in writing solo material in contrast to writing for the Born Ruffians.
‘‘I think I am able to take limitless creative control with Ruffians stuff, and sometimes I have to,” said Lalonde. ‘‘I don’t think there’s any distinction between lyrics I write for a band song versus a solo song. It’s more influenced or informed by personal relationships and experiences.’’
There is sometimes a notion that solo records or projects can be intensely personal or based on experiences that only that artist can relate to. Rhythymnals consists of 10 tracks, and its theme can be interpreted as grappling with whether or not we exist and our ability to interpret and manipulate it. By the end of the album narratives of gender-confused couples, long distance relationships and rejection are all present — making the album both critical and immensely passionate.
Fans of Born Ruffians will find Rhythymnals more than accessible if they are used to Lalonde’s style of pop songs.
‘‘Rhythymnals is mostly influenced by people close to me and things experienced while at home. I was living in Montreal for all of 2010 and then floating around, spending a month or so in Australia and eventually ending up back in Toronto mid-2011.
For those who haven’t seen the Born Ruffians live, their shows consist of young audiences prancing around, singing every word heard on the microphone and getting more excited as the show progresses. Besides the obvious cases of albums that grow to become timeless, much solo material can take years to catch on. But Lalonde claims he doesn’t necessarily aim for that response.
‘‘I never envisioned performing these songs for people,” said Lalonde. “Even with band stuff you can’t plan on certain responses from crowd because it will fail in one way or another.’’
Rhythymnals is out now, courtesy of Paper Bag Records.