by Zach Fraley
Few arrangements last more than a year, let alone a decade. In an age where people want what they want as fast as they can possibly get it, patience and longevity are rare to find. Luke Lalonde of Born Ruffians has achieved such sticking power, remaining the core of his band for roughly 10 years. Based out of Ontario, the group has now released their fourth full-length album, RUFF, and will embark on a North American tour in mere days.
Lalonde, who sings and plays guitar for the band, realizes that even when some aspects of touring and making music as a group change, still others remain constant no matter who he collaborates with. “I think the way that we write songs and work together has mostly stayed the same, so the evolution of that is more subtle and natural, rather than changing a sound. We’re more trying to embrace that sound and do it better. What has changed are literal things like our lineup. We split drummers for half our songs, and the five of us had more of a hand in collaborating on this record than others. A lot of this record is Mitch and I just playing some songs. Generally, we’re just getting older. It’s hard not to change after a decade.”
Their impending tour isn’t the first Lalonde has journeyed on. Though it’s been a couple of years since their last major tour, Lalonde feels confident about what the easier and more difficult aspects of touring are. “For me [touring] gives more variety to your life, and because we haven’t been on the road in about two years, it’s exciting to look forward to it. Knowing you have tour dates not just in your home city is a good thing. The intimidating part is how you’re gonna handle those weeks of touring. Your life gets different as you get older, and you have to decide whether it’ll be a positive or a negative experience.”
Born Ruffians received acclaim early on, gaining heavy radio airplay on their song “This Sentence Will Ruin/Save Your Life” and appearing on the television series Skinsa year later to play another single, “Hummingbird.” In addition to these promotional outlets, Lalonde feels the chemistry he has with his band mates allowed them all to excel.
“The fact that we found success early on allowed us to realize the goal of being able to tour and make a living off our music early on. It propelled us forward to make us want to achieve even more. The fact that we started so young and were all friends as well allowed us to grow together. If you just start a band when you’re 25 with random people, it might be harder. If you’re growing up together, even if you grow apart, the strength of your relationship is what allows you to stay together. In a way, we’ve reformed with different people.”
The band’s latest music video, covering a new single called “We Made It,” was prefaced on the band’s website over the course of a month in order to give fans a teaser of things to come. The final product, resting at a comfortable three minutes and 47 seconds, can be seen below. Lalonde cites a pair of comedians who inspired his band on the direction their music video should take.
“We filmed this video for about 12-13 hours, and we slowed it down to make it play over the course of 30 days. The world that our producer created; a nightmarish world similar to Tim & Eric, was something we agreed we wanted to do. We got a musician from Hamilton to be our protagonist and have his world change for the better initially and
then strip him back down.”
The upcoming tour will provide Born Ruffians a much-needed chance to see their fans, promote their music, and reconnect with a side of the music industry they haven’t widely experienced in two years. One thing the tour won’t provide much of an opportunity for, according to Lalonde, is writing.
“I don’t write a lot on tour in general because you think you might have time, but then you realize how little time you have to be creative that way. I usually draw more often on tour actually than write just because you’re probably not gonna want to pick up your guitar and start playing again. You’d probably rather just take those 40 minutes and relax when you actually have a minute. The experience of touring builds up and creates a wealth of experience after the fact, which you can then write about. These experiences definitely helped culminate in our album RUFF.”
Philadelphia will receive the Born Ruffians experience on November 2nd, when they come to Johnny Brenda’s. Lalonde has experience playing this particular venue, and already has a routine worked out for his visit. “We head to Johnny Brenda’s, go downstairs, eat a pulled pork sandwich, go to Barcade, play some video games, and then rock Philadelphia. One time we got to walk the steps and see the Rocky statue, so if we get time I’d like to do that again.”