This trio’s unique instrumentation and individual styles create a refreshing and accessible musical experience. This allows them to connect with virtually any genre of music and has led to opening spots for Heart, Tim Reynolds, Walter “Wolfman” Washington and Bonerama, among others.
We caught up with the band a couple of days before they were to appear at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (end of April), I'm not sure what happened as I was SURE that I had published the interview, clearly not....
So, please rewind back to late April and I'll take it from the top, a one, a two, a one, two, three, four.....
Please introduce the band and your music in one sentence....
Ruby says: We are an acoustic guitar/cello/percussion trio performing all original music (even our cover songs are original).
Suki says: Ruby and the Rogues
Mike says: We are the Progressive Folk band Ruby and the Rogues.
You’re called Ruby and the Rogues, how and why did you choose this name, was it mainly the Rogues bit?
Suki says: The band name “hunt” generated quite a bit of discussion (as I’m sure it does for any band). We wanted to keep Ruby’s name upfront as she is the founding member (and manager, booking agent, press liaison, webmaster, accountant, etc!) but also have some aspect to reflect she wasn’t alone. Rogues was ultimately selected because of Mike and Suki’s various past times (out of the ordinary and often dangerous)- very rogue-ish. Plus we have fun just spelling the word “rogue” in different ways.
Ruby & Mike say: We agree with Suki
Where did you record your debut album and what made you choose that studio?
Ruby says: We recorded at Music Shed Studios. It's the premiere studio in New Orleans, plus Ruby is the manager there. We knew, without a doubt, we'd get the sound we wanted.
You guys are played the world famous New Orleans Jazz Festival, for someone who has never been, what is the atmosphere like and what were you most looking forward to?
Ruby says: What Suki and Mike said.
Suki says: The atmosphere is truly New Orleans - warm, humid, open, with a barrage of good smells, interesting people and tons of music.
Mike says: The atmosphere is electric. I’m looking forward to performing in front of a pumped audience.
What is the best advice you ever received and who was it from?
Ruby says: From Chris Smither's producer, Dave Goody, “Have a vision for your album, but let go of the outcome”.
Suki says: From myself- “Do what you have to ensure you are not reliant on anyone financially”. Or “It’s better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air, than in the air wishing you were on the ground” from Otis, my flight instructor.
Mike says: Be who you are. My mother.
What does music mean to you?
Ruby says: It's my life, my identity
Suki says: Balance
Mike says: Energy and communication.
Ruby, you have been part of the New Orleans music scene for over 15 years, what’s changed and how has the ‘scene’ evolved during this time?
Maybe there's a teensy bit more support for singer/songwriters. Maybe. Other than that, not much. It's always been pretty easy to find spectacular music and musicians just around the corner.
Give me three words that best describe you as a band?
Ruby says: Warm, dark, refreshing.
Suki says: Fun, interesting, disciplined.
Mike says: Original, fun, surprising.
A bit of a tour guide happening here, suggest five things a tourist needs to see or do when they visit New Orleans?
Ruby, Suki & Mike say:
- Eat at Drago's (charbroiled oysters)
- Get dressed up and eat at Commander’s Palace
- See music (Frenchman street)
- Ride a streetcar down St Charles ave.
- Stand on the banks of the Mississippi River
Suki, you play the Cello and you used to pilot Submarines for the U.S Navy, so, what would you say is harder to get to the grips with, steering a Sub or learning the Cello?
Steering a submarine, because the training is extensive and intense, plus no one dies if you sink your cello.
In your opinion, what is the BEST album/record ever released?
Ruby says: Anything produced by John Porter
Suki says: Yee-gads! Tough one that. Excluding classical music, the album I never seem tire of, always finding something else in there, is “Relayer” by Yes.
Mike says: That’s impossible for me. I love too many to mention.
Michael, you play an instrument called a ‘Cajon’. Explain what it is and how you came to be playing it?
It’s a wooden box with guitar strings on the inside of the hitting surface with a sound hole on the side. I saw a live show a long time ago and the percussionist was playing one.I was amazed by what he was doing.I had to learn how to play one.
Tell me a fascinating fact about you or one of your band members?
Ruby says: Christopher Walken and I have the same birthday and I got to meet him last year when he and Bill Murray came to the studio for a session. Also, a few days before our initial plans to record, Mike broke himself up in a motor cycle accident. He wrote the song “Skewed” during the walks he took for therapy. It'll be on our next album.
Finally, Suki is also a pilot
Suki says: Mike has six toes on his left foot, tho one is imaginary.
Mike says: I love to cook!.
Who designed the artwork for your debut album cover?
Ruby & The Rogues
'Going for the Gun’ is a beautiful track, what was the process of getting this completed and is there a story behind the song?
Ruby says: The goal for the debut album was to stay square with how we sound live, so the process was as simple as playing the song the way we do in a live situation.
Going for the Gun is basically about being hung up on the decision to stay or leave. The cello plays an integral part in completing the interpretation of the lyrics. The majority of the song is played in a round of small changes within a single chord, which supports the tension and frustration of feeling stuck in the heartsick and maddening loop of indecision about a relationship.
Is there something you would like to tell each of the band members that you haven’t told them before?
Ruby says: Suki, Mike - I really enjoy playing music with both of you, and I would appreciate it if you both could manage to stay in one piece. Y'all are such a couple of Rogues!
Suki says: Uh…..no…we’re a pretty open group so I think we say it when it comes up.
Mike says: No. We are very open with each other.
There are many good bands and musicians out there, who would you ask the readers of musicmuso to look out for?
Suki says: Anyone playing live (they need the support and money!).
Mike says: Ruby and the Rogues!
If you could describe your music in the form of a fictional character, who would it be?
Ruby says: Sherlock Holmes
Suki says: Sho-jo-ji: a Japanese raccoon who is always hungry, a little goofy and loved by children of all ages, everywhere. Or Daryl from The Walking Dead.
Mike says: Batman. It’s a little crazy, and mysterious.
What are your plans for 2015?
Ruby says: Definitely continue our work on the next album, play the kinds of venues we feel our music deserves, finish writing my book and take more risks as a songwriter. Of course, keep helping musicians with their projects at the studio.
Suki says: work the next album, play venues devoted to listening, keep my day job, shoot for 100 hrs of private flight time, enjoy New Orleans.
Mike says: Continue playing live, write and record as much as possible
Owing to my general slackness in getting this interview uploaded, I was going to let them off having to wade through yet more questions, I phoned the boss and as expected, was told to 'get on with it and stop whining', ho hum, here we go.....
Coke or Pepsi?
Ruby: Barq's Rootbeer
Chicken or Shrimp?
Live Show or Recording Studio
CD or Vinyl?
Lie in or up at 6am?
Ruby: Up at 6am
Suki: Lie in!!
Mike: Up at 6am
Car or Motorbike?
Ruby: Scooter please
BBQ or Picnic?
Scott Bakula or Mark Harmon?
Suki: Scott of course!
Acoustic or electric?
Shower or Bath?
Ruby: Shower in the summer. Bath in the winter.
Ice Cream or Candy Floss?
Ruby: Creole cream cheese ice cream
Suki: Ice Cream
Night in or out all night?
Ruby: Night in (unless I'm playing a gig)
Suki: Night in
Mike: Out all night
Tattoos or Piercings?
Ruby: Neither. I'm trying to be different.
Robert de Niro or Al Pacino?
Ruby: De Niro
Apple or Android?
Mike: Doesn't matter
God or Google?
We'd like to thank the intrepid trio for taking time out of their day to answer our questions, we wish them every success in the future and hope to catch up with them one day in sunny New Orleans....
In the meantime, please check their website and social media channels below.
Interview by Mark Wincott