I have been on a good streak in discovering some great new bands as of late. One such example is Ula Ruth, and I stopped by their rehearsal space in Brooklyn in hopes to get to know this band creating a buzz but more importantly creating great music. They practiced their latest song “Nobody Lives Forever” and I was impressed by how tight they sounded in this bare bones setting. It also proved to me that they are in fact playing rock music, but I respect a band that isn’t afraid to use the word “Pop” in describing their sound. In the case of Ula Ruth, it’s Dark Pop and judging from their past releases it certainly sounds like they are truly beginning to find their musical identity, and the forthcoming EP will definitely be their best work to date. In this Ula Ruth interview, I had a lot of fun talking about music from the past, present and future as well as learning about their most unusual Google searches. The band is a bunch of genuine, hard working guys who love music and I will go on record and say that they will be huge very soon!
SONIC HIGHLARK: Besides music, what other art forms or personal experiences influence you guys?
NIC JAMES (VOCALS/GUITAR – ULA RUTH): All Nicloas Refn movies. Obviously Drive, but also Only God Forgives and what’s that other one?
KEVIN CLYMER (BASS – ULA RUTH):Valhalla Rising?
NIC: Yeah Valhalla Rising. Our music doesn’t reflect that at all, we wish it did, but we would leave the studio and go watch those movies. The imagery of them, I wish my life was like that.
SONIC: How does that translate, if at all to the music you guys make?
NIC: The vibe for sure.
KEVIN: Taking movies like his (Refn’s) for example that are so visually stunning and unique, we kind of want our music to sort of stand out in its own spot. We really respect what he’s doing visually and we try to do the same with our music.
NIC: If someone thought it can be a back track to one of his scenes, that’ll be awesome. That’s one of our goals for sure, secretly.
SONIC: What would be your superhero ability if you had to choose one?
ANDREW LECOCHE (GUITAR – ULA RUTH): Definitely would love to be able to fly.
TOM CORDELL (DRUMS – ULA RUTH): Water to wine is good, but that’s a little biblical.
SONIC: (laughing) That’s one of the best answers I’ve heard!
TOM: Now that’s a superhero!
ANDREW: You’ll be the best guy at the superhero parties.
NIC: “Yeah that guy over there… he’s pretty cool!”
TOM: “Who invited Jesus? Someone invited Jesus because that guy has some tricks!”
NIC: I feel like I would love to teleport. Be able to go to France or something for lunch.
KEVIN: Freezing time would be cool.
SONIC: They’re both good ones for sure. Do you guys tend to listen to older music or relatively current music? I haven’t listened to new stuff until recently but because of the site I’m starting to find cool bands like you guys. So they are out there but it feels you have to do some digging these days.
ANDREW: Thank you. Even going back there’s so much music. When I first got put on to Brian Eno it was the first sense of creating a space for the music to exist in. A lot of Joy Division and early U2 were a big influence, New Order, stuff like that. We have a lot of the bands that influenced us growing up and we found ourselves asking “Ok, who were these guys influenced by?”
NIC:Yeah, Television for example, they were doing things that U2 would listen to and say, “Wow that’s pretty cool.” We go back and listen to the bands that influenced more current bands almost as practice and as something we should do. A lot of times we find ourselves saying “Wait, these records are better.” Or maybe better isn’t the right word, but they were more cutting edge for the time that it came out.
SONIC: Groundbreaking for sure. Now a mediocre singer can sound good on record. They couldn’t fix things afterwords so they really had to sound good back then.
TOM: Exactly. Speaking on that point, it’s become sort of a trend that we look to the 80s as a fertile time in music. I think that’s when a lot of the new technology like synthesizers were coming out and it was really cool how the artists in that decade were taking these digital, or some might say cold sounds and making dark records that were also musical. I think it’s a cool juxtaposition between technology and musicality. They had recording tricks in the 50s and 60s with a lot of the Motown Records and stuff but I think the 80s were when people really started going “Let’s turn some knobs and do X,Y,Z.” You (Andrew) mentioned Eno, but what a great example of somebody who was involved with ambient soundscape music who then produced all these popular records.
SONIC: And Eno’s not a new guy on the block and even now so many artists want him to produce their albums.
ANDREW: Yeah, he hasn’t returned our calls though.
SONIC: Continuing on the topic, what is your opinion on music out now?
NIC: From my perspective I’m very envious of the people that grew up in the late 90s or the early 2000s. The Strokes for example, in a way they were almost like The Beatles of my generation, so for me they were groundbreaking. In terms of music now, whenever I hear something on Spotify that’s our age or older that is break through, kind of like This Is It, I’ll call, text or Facebook message or whatever and go “You guys have to listen to this track, stop what you’re doing right now!”
KEVIN: Yeah, it’s very frenetic.
NIC: I’ll say “This song is so good, I don’t understand where they pulled this out of.” And that’s really exciting. What was that band you showed me the other day?
TOM: That was School Of Seven Bells. It’s a fairly big name but they’re doing that slightly rough around the edges but still very accessible..
NIC: Like My Bloody Valentine kind of.
TOM: Yeah, that kind of stuff. So I think there’s a ton of great music out there. It’s popular to say that the we’ve passed the golden age of music and we won’t get into the legalities of what Spotify and artist relations have in common, but tools like that have provided a really good framework for people to discover new music. If you walk into Bleecker Street Records, they only have a small category of music, but I think there are tons of great music out right now.
NIC: I was going to say, because music has already kind of gone the route that it was going to go, and there has been all these chord changes or great artists, so the sick thing is that now hip-hop and rock are crossing genres, and electronic music too and that’s pretty interesting. When the Arctic Monkeys came out with a record that was inspired by Dr. Dre, that’s kind of cool.
SONIC: Exactly, that album still isn’t a hip-hop record but there is a vibe to it that’s unlike any rock record that’s out. Even The Strokes, I was just thinking the other about This Is It and I went, “These guys were how old when they made this?” It was a very mature sounding record considering that.
TOM: I think that’s a testament to the technology. You don’t have to go to an office in Rockefeller Center anymore and go “Hey, Atlantic can we make a record?” You can make music on your laptop if you want to.
SONIC: Switching it up a little bit, but what TV shows do you guys watch?
KEVIN:Oh yeah, I recently watched all of the Sopranos.
TOM: Again? Was that the first time?
NIC: I am so late to everything. The other day I said “Hey, did anyone watch The League?” And everyone was like “Yeah, everyone watched that.”
ANDREW:I don’t really watch TV. I usually turn it on while I eat or something and I’m constantly reminded why I don’t like TV. I was flipping through the channels the other day and I said “Yup, it still sucks.”
SONIC: Strangest thing you have Googled…. that you can say on record.
TOM:(To Nic) You don’t answer this one, I don’t want to know.
KEVIN: I’m a terrible speller, I Google things to make sure I’m spelling something right.
NIC: I Googled today the difference between a priori and a posteriori.
NIC: My girlfriend is studying the MCATs and I couldn’t remember which one’s which. I pulled out my phone and my friend saw it and said to me “What the hell is that?”
TOM: “Did I smoke Meth yesterday?”
KEVIN: The last thing I Googled was Rick and Morty gif.
TOM: Not to run your show but can we revise the last question to the last thing we Googled?
SONIC: Haha, yeah sure.
TOM: So what do you do, go to history?
ANDREW: The last thing I Googled was Tarzan.
SONIC: What? Why?
ANDREW: Actually I was reading about this writer William S. Burroughs that I wanted to get a book by. I thought he was the guy who wrote Tarzan who share the same last name Edward Burroughs. William S. Burroughs wrote a pretty famous book called Naked Lunch.
SONIC: What is the best advice someone has given you?
TOM: Never shy away from confidence, my dad told me that. If you can’t back it up it’s arrogance which is terrible, but if you have confidence and can put some numbers behind it, that’s the most tangible, best thing you can have in life.
NIC:For me it’s what Mates of State said. The lead singer Kori is good friends with our producer and was in the studio at the time, we were going through all this stuff and was stressed out about putting all this time behind this and she said to me “Here’s the thing, nobody is waiting for your record. Remember that. So take as long as you need to make it really good.” That just lifted so much weight for us. The concept that no one is anxiously waiting for your record so take your time and make it as good as it can be, within reason of course, but it just really stuck with me. What about you (to Andrew)?
ANDREW:That’s pretty hard. The best things I’ve heard are from people in the music industry that I’ve met by chance. I remember one time I bumped into John Mayer at a concert and this was like 8 years ago when I was really getting into being in a band and I was talking to him about it. He said “Keep doing it, you’ll be up there.” Coming from someone that has been through it and for someone at that level to remove themselves from their stardom and tell me to keep going, it just meant a lot.
TOM: We were talking about Ed Sheeran the other day. He played 300 shows in one year when he was 16 or something. That’s the never give up mentality right there.
SONIC: What’s this year looking like?
KEVIN: A lot of good things.
NIC: We just released “Nobody Lives Forever” which is the second single from the EP that’s coming out. We’re working on a video to accompany that. Then we are releasing the 3rd single “Misery” shortly after and we are really excited about this song, it’s a pretty amazing track, it’s Andrew’s favorite track.
ANDREW:Yeah, I think it’s the best example of the energy of the band, and it sounds like the band at it’s best. I’m most proud of this one.
NIC: Then a music video following that. We’re looking at Spring time for the release, maybe April or May so looking at some venues for a release show. We played Rough Trade back in the Fall so we may be looking to do it again because it’s an awesome venue and Bowery Presents have been awesome to us, they’re great guys and probably a tour to follow.