Locked away in an isolated farmhouse in Stratford, Ont., Born Ruffians were able to create some of their most memorable music yet.
With hauntingly beautiful melodies and deeply relatable lyrics, their latest album Birthmarks provides the perfect balance between emotion and danceability.
The fact that they were so far away from civilization worked to their advantage. “This worked out so much better, we could be as loud as we wanted to be whenever we wanted to be,” said bassist Mitch Derosier.
Their first album was conceived in a similar fashion. With all band members living under the same roof, inspiration was easy to come by. As Derosier put it, “We wrote our record there and it was so easy and kind of immediate to be able to do that while living together. At any time [frontman Luke Lalonde] could come find us to go jam and work on something.”
They decided to follow the same route and forgo the “every Tuesday at 4 p.m. come to this place and hopefully you’ll feel creative” formula for their latest album, and it can be felt in every guitar strum.
Lalonde is described as the driving force behind the band, according to Derosier. He writes the lyrics, whereas the music tends to come about organically with contributions from each of the band members. Their first single off Birthmarks, “Needle,” captures the disillusionment that often accompanies not knowing where you want to be in your mid-twenties.
However, this doesn’t seem to reflect the way things are going for Born Ruffians so far. With three albums under their belt, an ongoing tour in Canada and the U.S. and an extensive fan base around the globe, it would seem that the band is on the way to having the world at their feet.
“We started this band when we were 16 so it’s kind of all we’ve ever really known,” said Derosier. He and singer Lalonde, who is also his cousin, have had music in their bones from the get-go. The band’s first name, Mornington Drive, was actually the name of a band that Lalonde’s father was in — it took moving to Toronto and making it on their own for the band to become Born Ruffians.
As Derosier puts it, “It just kind of fit for some weird reason.” The move to Toronto seemed to have marked a milestone in the band’s development. For one, it introduced them to drummer Steve Hamelin, who provides the band with their signature beat.
With inspirations ranging from Led Zeppelin to Puff Daddy, band members Lalonde, Hamelin, Andy Lloyd and Derosier have created their own unique sound. This is palpable in their songs, which bounce back and forth from catchy to heartfelt. “Needle” is a song that is guaranteed to get you out of your chair and stay stuck in your head for days, while “With Her Shadow” offers soft vocals, mournful guitars and pounding drums.
The band has previously worked with Tokyo Police Club, an experience that they greatly enjoyed. It gave them a taste for collaborating with other artists and a love to jam with their current tour mates, The Elwins.
With a gig lined up at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City and plans to perform in various festivals this summer, the band may be a household name pretty soon.
Born Ruffians play La Sala Rossa Thursday, Apr. 11 at 8 p.m.