The Ruby Suns Aren't Here to Impress You

The Guardian: Could you talk a little bit about Auckland’s current music scene? Are there a lot of other bands from the city playing a similar style of music as you? What’s going on with current music trends in Auckland and New Zealand on a larger scale?

Ryan McPhun: I don’t think we fit into any kind of scene in Auckland. I’m not sure what the trends are here, or if there are any. The music scene is small enough, so it never seems like there [are] any kind of trends or scenes or whatever. Everyone’s just doing [his or her] own thing. Audiences are limited, so there’s no real pressure to impress anyone.

G: What contemporary American bands have inspired you the most this past year, and why?

RM: Well, I’ve been really into a lot of the bands on the ZZK label (that’s South American, Argentinean-based). You were wanting me to say Animal Collective, right? I definitely like their music, but I didn’t really connect with their latest album as much as I had their previous work. It was mostly commercial pop that provided the main impetus for a lot of the songs, from North America and otherwise. There’s a touchstone for each track that probably only makes sense to me. For example, “Haunted House” was my answer to “Single Ladies.” “Two Humans” was me trying to sound like Fleetwood Mac, especially stuff from the album Tango in the Night, et cetera.

G: What’s your favorite Kiwi slang, and how would you best translate it to American English? Do you guys ever incorporate distinctly Kiwi culture into your songwriting? If so, what’s an example of that on the new LP?

RM: Ha! I don’t think there’s any Kiwi slang on the album. I’d have to go through the lyrics. But there’s plenty of good slang around. I’m distracted cause Kylie Minogue is on the telly, sorry. Oh …“Sweet as!” The last record had more distinctly Kiwi references.

G: The lyric that stands out most to me from your new record is on “How Kids Fail”: “At first it was relatively easy/ The garage was an island.” Could you tell me a little bit about what those words mean to you — the concept of a garage island?

RM: I’m referring to the garage at my mom’s house in Ventura, Calif. That’s where I started recording in my teens. I would go in there by myself and sit at my little eight-track and record for hours and hours. I’d record stuff all day, and by 3 a.m., I’d have a track finished. I was just calling it an island ’cause I was there alone, and I felt like I could do whatever I wanted there. I was a really anxious and shy kid, so it provided a great respite from my school life.

G: I saw you guys play at the Cuba St. Carnival in Wellington last summer when I was studying abroad there, and it seemed like the perfect setting and season for your music. But what’s your favorite show environment and why?

RM: Random! That was kind of a weird show because the audience was such a cross section of Wellington. I’m sure plenty of people there thought we were weirdos, but it was OK ’cause we had lots of friends there, and got some friends and my sister — who was over from the U.S. — up to play with us. Probably my favorite show was at a summer festival we have here called Camp A Low Hum. It’s quite an informal festival, and we’ve played there the last three years; 2009 was my favorite year. We played pretty much in the forest, surrounded by huge trees. We were having a great time, and the crowd was super pumped too.

G: So what’s the current lineup for this tour, and what plans do you have going forward to the end of the year?

RM: I’ve got a new group of friends coming on this next bit of touring. Alistair Deverick on drums and Graham Panther on bass, synth and other stuff. I mostly play guitar and my drum pad. And sing, of course. We’ve got the next few months agot tentative touring plans through to the Northern Hemisphere’s autumn. We’ll probably get back to NZ when it starts warming up again. Three summers in a row!

More to Discover
Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$200
$500
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$200
$500
Contributed
Our Goal