Few contemporary bands could better soundtrack a Saturday night than Canadian quartet Born Ruffians. The band are currently touring behind their fourth full-length, Ruff, which dropped last year on Yep Roc Records. The album is a bit of an all-star amalgamation of history’s greatest chaotic pop music, which lands about halfway between the ineffably anthemic noise of Pixies and Deer Tick’s brashest brand of alt rock garage Americana. Tonight Born Ruffians will be double-headlining Johnny Brenda’s with dream poppers On An On, and yesterday Born Ruffians bassist Mitch Derosier took some time to tell me about their latest album and the 10+ years of being a band.
Izzy Cihak: Not to start with an enormous question but, considering that you’ve been a band for more than a decade now, I’m curious what you consider to be some of the highlights of the band?
Mitch Derosier: This might be a cop out answer but when I really think about it, the highlight of being a band for over a decade is… being a band for over a decade. To think that we started in high school and we’re still ripping around the world, playing shows and being idiots and making a living at it, is completely nuts. Also I heard that Stone Cold Steve Austin saw one of our music videos once. Those are the two highlights.
Izzy: And since this is a Philadelphia-based publication: What are your thoughts on the city? I know you’ve played here a number of times.
Mitch: We’ve played Philadelphia so many times. I love it. I mean, my experience is basically limited to Fishtown since we’ve played Johnny Brenda’s the most, but it’s awesome. That area has changed quite a bit since we first started playing there. I think one of the first times we came the Phillies were in the World Series and we saw a car on fire.
Izzy: What can be expected of your upcoming show at Johnny Brenda’s this weekend, both in terms of the set and just the general feel of the night?
Mitch: I find it hard to describe our show because we just kinda go up there and do what we do, but people tell me it’s all about energy and positivity and sweat.
Izzy: Your latest album, RUFF, seems to be getting a lot of praise from both critics and audiences. How do you feel like it compares to your first three albums, in terms of the writing and recording process? Were you trying anything new, or did it just feel like an organic evolution of the band?
Mitch: To me, every record we make is both an extension and a reaction to the previous record. And an evolution. It’s a lot of things. With RUFF, we wanted to focus on being a band playing in a room together. Birthmarks was recorded piece by piece, so we wanted to go back to doing it more live off the floor. Lyrically, there’s a lot of uncomfortable honesty and anger that we haven’t really explored before.
Izzy: So I really, really love “Shade to Shade,” which reminds me of the best, druggiest kind of Brit Pop, like The Verve at their most psychedelic. How did that particular track come about?
Mitch: “Shade To Shade” might be the oldest song on the record. Luke recorded it on his own first and sent us the demo, which we loved. It was so different from anything we as a band had ever done before. Luke took the lyrics and theme of that song and looked at it as the blueprint for RUFF. It says in one song basically what the whole record is about.
Izzy: What would you currently consider to be your biggest influences, whether musical or otherwise?
Mitch: Influences for me range from Rick Danko to Mick Foley to my dog, Charlie. Somehow all of that equals how I play bass on stage.
Izzy: How is it being on the road with On An On, who I’m also a fan of? Were you previously fans of theirs? Are they fun tour mates?
Mitch: On An On are great. We’ve only known each other for three days now but based on their ability to protect the rider whiskey from backstage booze thieves, I feel like I can trust them with my life.
Izzy: Finally, what are you most excited for after this batch of dates wraps up. How are you hoping and planning to spend the rest of the year?
Mitch: We’re currently on the hunt for a sweet house somewhere near Toronto where we can go and write and record and make a fire and jam and hang and play The Resistance and watch Rick and Morty and work on a new record. That’ll hopefully be our summer because that sounds like a good way to spend one.