The Rubens

Subscribe to Forte Magazine

The Rubens

Moments after playing their final show on tour with the Naked and Famous in Boston, The Rubens sit together as a band having dinner in the restaurant above the venue they just played.

“It’s fucking amazing,” Sam Margin tells me as he’s halfway through his meal.

“I’m having a nice Shiraz and a steak and it’s a nice change from the food in America.”

With another interview scheduled after mine, no doubt to talk of the upcoming Australian tour or Groovin’ the Moo festival stint, it’s pretty clear Sam and the band don’t take lightly to an empty calendar or space of time.

“I don’t like having gaps in my calendar at all, what’s the point?” he says.

“We have the most fun job in the world so I don’t see why we wouldn’t try and fill it with the most shows as possible. Firstly as funds wise it helps us keep doing what we’re doing and also because we just love doing it. I prefer to have no time off.”

It seems after taking the #1 spot in triple j’s hottest 100, the band have launched themselves into 2016. After all, with starting on such a high thanks to the competition you may as well continue to ride the wave.

“That’s the hard thing as getting number one (even top 10) is something we never thought we’d get in the first place,” Sam says, and we’ve all seen the video capturing their surprise.

“It doesn’t really leave you much else to do with that competition. It leaves you zero – other than getting it twice. It’s inspiring but at the same time it’s like, ‘Oh shit, what do we do now?’

“And I guess number one for us, as a band, is much more important than number two. It’s one place difference but the attention you get from number one is just so amazing.”

Despite having caution around what to do next, the Rubens have found a challenge in strengthening their audiences in America to the stage they are in Australia. The goal: to perform to crowds of thousands in the States.

“In Australia we’re doing 5,000 seats or 6,000 seats and over here we’re doing shows of 300, so it’s a very different vibe. Or we’re doing support shows, which we’re doing now, and some people are seeing us for the first time. It seems with this new record it’s doing really well. And I think the songs live are great and making our job even easier to play,” Sam says.

“When we play in Australia if people like the Rubens they buy tickets to the show. They’re not like impress me, they just want to hear these songs live. It’s very simple and you can work the audience and have a really good time that way.

“Where if you have an audience where no one gives a shit you’ve got to try and win them over from the start, so it’s a totally different show. They both have their benefits, being relaxed on stage and knowing the crowd is there for you, you can really do some amazing call and response stuff. Anything you do they’ll cheer to and you can jump in the crowd, where this one you have to really work for it, and that’s fun too. I think it’s really grounding to be back in that situation again.”

While the recent shows in America with the Naked and Famous have been much more challenging, when The Rubens come home they’ll be greeted with the energetic Australian crowd during the Groovin’ the Moo festivals and their own tour which sees them stop over at Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne – a venue Sam recently saw ASAP Rocky perform at.

And it’s exactly that performance at Margaret Court that Sam is hoping to become the standard set across the world – and the band are more than determined to get there.

“There’s a reason why bands like Queen of the Stone Age are huge but there’s also a reason why they go and do a few secret smaller shows – little rock ‘n’ roll tiny shows. You always want a bit of that, you know?” he questions.

“But until we get there we just want to keep playing bigger and bigger shows. Because of what it means to us and as the band is still growing. I do feel like I really love the intimate vibe to a smaller show, the banter you have with the audience and the shit that you can create is very different to what you can do if you have a few thousand people in front of you.”

Now with two albums at their disposal thanks to the recent release of Hoops (with the catchy single of the same name granting their triple j fame), The Rubens’ set has entered new territory, though Sam assures me there’ll be no messing with the classics from the first album.

“We approach the live set in that we’ll change something if the live set needs it and if we think it can make it more enjoyable for people,” he says.

“The old songs are different for people in America because not many people (well some do) really know who we are. Where in Australia there’s a lot of fans in the audience and they just want to hear the songs from the first record. I don’t necessarily want to remix ‘My Gun’ for them because I know they’re excited to hear that song in the same way I am when I see Tame Impala and when I hear ‘Let It Happen’ – I just want to hear it because I love that song.”

With the classics safe for their upcoming shows, all that’s left to ask is will Sam continue his crowd-surfing antics? The last of which saw him ride a blow-up dinghy at Spendour in the Grass.

“I’ve got to do something, it’s too fun not to do something,” Sam says.

Written by Amanda Sherring

When & Where: Groovin’ the Moo, Bendigo Showgrounds – April 30 & Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne – June 25