Behind Born Ruffians' Birthmarks
When a group of best friends lock themselves in a house with a bunch of beer, some firewood and their respective instruments, it's a situation that could result in charred guitars, wounded friendships and questionable morning after stories. Thankfully, Toronto's Born Ruffians did so with the intent to write a record--Birthmarks, their third full-length effort and the follow-up to 2010's Say It--and spent some weeks last spring and fall writing and recording some demos in between the sandwiches and sleepovers.
Born Ruffians hadn't lived under the same roof in quite some time--the band lived together when they initially moved to Toronto and started playing together in 2004--but this country retreat to Ontario proved to work especially well, as Birthmarks is their most cohesive body of work to date. Born Ruffians have grown to be fixtures on both your television and the electro pop festival circuit, opening for Girl Talk, Hot Chip, and Peter Bjorn & John, among others, and popping onto the occasional Brooklyn stage for a cameo in an MTV sitcom. (Their song "Hummingbird" was on an episode of Skins, for anyone keeping tabs on the 10 Spot.) Though their touring schedule has amped up and they'll be celebrating the drop of Birthmarks at the Bowery Ballroom tonight, the rural retreat is more representative of their collective growth spurt as musicians, in that they put their heads together to move outside their musical comfort zone. And they embraced a DIY ethos to do it.
For lead vocalist and guitarist Luke Lalonde, heading out to the farmhouse, closing the front door and throwing away the metaphorical key gave the band a burst of productivity and inspiration they wouldn't have necessarily encountered otherwise. "We used to jam pretty much whenever we wanted to, and then we all moved out," he says, referring to the band's decision to shack up together to write. "The second record was done just in rehearsal spaces and renting and going in three days a week at certain times. I just really wanted to get back to the vibe of living together where you could just play until three in the morning if you want and just pick up an idea. It was good getting back together and feeling like a band."