Interview: Ruby Coast

Ruby Coast @ The Great Hall, 11-12-10

Just after their soundcheck for The Meligrove Band’s Shimmering Lights release show, I was able to pull Ruby Coast‘s Justice McLellan (vocals, guitar) and Nathan Vanderwielen (guitar) away for a bit of a chat. We stood next to a phone booth on Dovercourt (they almost chose to do the interview in the phone booth), just outside The Great Hall, with cars whizzing by. Although we were standing, it was an incredibly relaxed chat.

Having released their debut EP, Projectable Collections, in 2008, they put out their Whatever This Is/Creep Me Out 7” as a teaser to their upcoming full-length release that they just finished recording earlier this year. When asked why they did this, they discussed that there are business-related things holding them back, but Justice also adds, “We haven’t released music in quite some time. We felt kinda bad about people who’d be like ‘Hey, when are you putting out new stuff?’ It’s a frustrating question for us because we obviously wanna release music.”

Eager to put out the record and to continue writing music, Nathan continues, “We probably could’ve written another record by now.”

Their debut EP, which was produced by Dave Monks of Tokyo Police Club, is now completely sold out. Since 2008, these guys have been honing their craft and their sound.

Justice starts, “We kinda take our time a bit more during songs, rather than just structure it in a way to just hit a hook soon or something. We kinda just take our time and focus on it building more as a song and putting more dynamics and emotion in, just something with some more oomph to it.”

Nathan adds, “We’ve come to appreciate space on records.”

Continuing with this line of thought, Justice says, “It’s sorta nice when songs can breathe a little. If there’s some breathing space, it makes the more melodic parts stick out, or makes lyrics mean more. If there’s less, it comes across better than jamming a whole bunch in.”

As for what themes they tend to focus on Justice says, “Relationships inspire me a lot, good or bad. And things that scare probably average people – dying, afraid of working a shitty job. I guess a lot of it’s inspired by sadness or fear, but at the same time I like to find an optimistic part to get out of it. I guess that optimistic part helps me deal with the lower parts.”

Nathan goes further by saying music helps make those sadder things “happier.”

Their songwriting process is not always the same. Justice starts, “It can be different. Sometimes we’ll be jamming something and it will just have a natural good groove between all of us as a band and I’ll write over it, lyrics. Sometimes I’ll write an acoustic song and bring it in and flesh it out.”

Nathan also demoed a song that the band made their own that is on their upcoming album.

The release of their 7” in has brought about some shows, the most notable being their string of tour dates with The Meligrove Band. They had missed a set of dates with Jukebox the Ghost in the United States due to Visa issues, but had great things to say about having just been out East.

Nathan is quick to offer up Halifax as a favourite place to go on tour. Justice continues, “We have a couple of friends there, so we get to relax there and take in the East coast vibe and hang out, so that’s always nice.”

Nathan also adds, “Ottawa is always good for us too,” but then says their craziest show was at McMaster University.

Justice describes the show. “We were opening for Tokyo Police Club and there was this stage and there was a hill surrounding it and we were like, ‘Oh, there’s probably gonna be a couple people sitting around the hill.’ We went to our green room to just hang out and when we made our way out to the stage, it was just filled with probably a couple thousand people.”

Nathan was glowing at this point, reminiscing, “And everybody was so into it.”

Also glowing, Justice adds, “Yeah, it was definitely a great show.”

With respect to touring, I wanted a little dirt on drunken stories. Justice then launches into a story (which I’ll paraphrase) involving Corey Marshall (drums) downing 5 doubles within 15 minutes at a place called The Liquor Dome in Halifax that sold $1 shots for while. Corey left with Keith Bradford (keys), who was not nearly as drunk, to catch a show. On their way back, Corey had his hands in his pockets and fell flat on face, resulting in a bloody face and he “looked like a haggard drunken bum.” After this happens… well, let’s just say, Keith somehow ends up in the drunk tank while Corey gets away scot-free, waving to the cops with his bloody face. Huh? (I’ll leave the middle bits to your imagination.)

After we technically ended the interview, as we started heading back toward the rest of the band, Nathan wanted to offer up a story involving their bassist, Mark Robert Whiting. He let Mark tell the story. They were in Toronto on Halloween and Mark tried to hail a cab, but a couple on bicycles were going by. Mark joking pretended to hail them and the gentlemen on the bike put his hand up as if to give a high five. Mark, a little drunk, was ready to give him a high five but instead was slapped in the face. Mark was stunned, but he got the crowd laughing at the whole situation.

When it came to their shot of choice, Nathan said, “I’m a bit of weakling.” Jager was the choice.

These guys are young, but they seem to have good heads on their shoulders. They’re looking forward to releasing their album. I’m looking forward to hearing it. Bonus: they also have great drunken stories.


Categories: Interviews


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