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[AltWire Interview] William Zeglis of The Rubens

rubens-the_hoops_H_0515Who are The Rubens? Are they a super group comprised of clones of American Idol season two winner Ruben Studdard? Are they are very delicious sandwich composed of corned beef and swiss cheese? Nope, they’re neither! Instead they’re one of the hottest acts to come out of the Australian music scene in recent memory, and a band deserving of your undivided attention. As the recent winners of the 2015 Triple J Hottest 100 countdown (beating out Kendrick Lamar for the top spot!), The Rubens have made a big name for themselves in their homeland and are sowing the seeds for world domination.

Their sophomore album ‘Hoops‘ (named after their hit single of the same name) was released last August in Australia to critical acclaim, and just recently was released in the states. A few weeks ago, we sat down with bassist William Zeglis of The Rubens to discuss the band’s rise, and what is coming in the year ahead. Check it out below!

AltWire [Derek Oswald]: You guys are in the middle of a tour with The Naked and Famous, and you’re actually set to travel to Toronto next date on the tour.  How’s the tour been treating you guys so far?

William Zeglis [The Rubens]: Oh man, it’s been unreal.  We’re always happy to travel to America. We’ve been here once before when we supported Grouplove, but we have a great time and everyone treats us really well. We’ve been playing some great shows and having a ball.  So, we’re always happy to come to the States! It’s been great!

AW: And you know, it’s really been great to have you guys back in the States.  I mean, the five of you guys came from a very small town in Australia with less than a thousand people.  When you guys first toured the US a couple years back, was it a huge culture shock?  An adjustment from what you were used to?

WZ: Ah… definitely for myself, it was.  Again, I’d only been out of my hometown a few times, to the next state maybe once or twice. You only judge America by television and media, so it was a big culture shock for myself. I was also rewarded, n a way. I’m a big fan of “Law and Order,” so, when we were in New York, it was like we could see it actually being filmed!  So um, yeah, we were all shocked. That is, except Sam [Margin], the singer.  He traveled a little bit, and lived in England for a little while.  He’s kind of used to traveling, but for the rest of us, it was pretty surreal, and it still is.  Like, I can see the “Hollywood” sign from where I am now and I still get a bit of a tingle when I look at it. It’s pretty cool, man.

AW: How would you compare touring around the US to touring around your homeland of Australia?  Is it very similar or are there some interesting differences?

WZ: It’s a bit of pros and cons for both, I think.  In Australia, it’s nice, because you kind of fly everywhere because the distances are so far between states.  It’s on average 12 or 13 hours drive to the next state, so it’s easier just to fly.  So, the travel time’s cut down a little bit, but then, there’s not as many shows to play.  So, in the States, you can kind of drive for a few hours and you’re at the next venue. That is cool, but again, people are people. The thing I’m learning myself is that we’re not that much different; no matter what continent, country, or race you’re from.  Everyone’s pretty similar and nice, so yeah there’s not that much difference.  Well, I’d have to say that we have better food on the road when we’re eating in Australia, so that’s the thing that kills us here.  If you’re doing a “van” kind of tour, the healthiest thing you can eat is Subway. It’s hard to eat healthy when you’re out of the big cities, in my personal opinion.

AW: Now, if I understand correctly, “Hoops” [was] just released here in the states earlier this month.  Now that the record is out and fans are able to pick it up and listen to it, are you happy with the reaction your getting from fans out on the road in the US?

WZ: Oh definitely.  It’s a spin-out to see [that] even though we’re a support band at the moment, that there are still a few people in the audience who know all of the words from the first album…the untitled album! That puts a smile on our faces. With “Hoops”, you can see that it’s getting into the traction and people are digging it. We’re just happy to see a couple of those people singing along in the crowd. We’re getting a few people that come to the shows, you know, for us, and not just Naked and Famous. A few radio stations are playing us.  We got played on an NBA basketball game the other night. So yeah, we’re just happy to be getting any type of traction here, because you know how big the place is and how lucky we are just to be here in general. We’re happy with the way things are going!

AW: Speaking of “lucky” and “gaining traction,” I think it’s incredible when I read about how you guys got your big break all those years ago.  If I understand correctly, David Kahne personally invited you to come all the way out to New York to meet with you and work on the debut record.  When it came time to record this new record, you actually partnered up with him again.  Recording and concept-wise, how do you think “Hoops” differs from your self-titled [album]?

WZ: We were kind of green on the first record, so we didn’t really know how to make records or even really how to be a band properly, so it was all a massive learning experience.  Back home, in Australia, in our home territory, the first album went really well.  It went platinum and we had sold-out shows. The way David worked on the album, we kind of knew what it was gonna be like if we made another album with him. All we wanted to achieve was, “Hey, let’s stick with him again, because we had a good run, so why not try and do it again?”.  I don’t know, we haven’t really talked about it, so there might be someone different, it might be him again.  We don’t know.  We really liked the things he did on the first record, so we tried to do it again on the second album.  Except on this one, we had a bit more of our flavor put in.  We’d learned on the road, we grew as people, so it’s got a bit more of us on there.  A bit more organic, I’d say, the second album, where we’d tried more guitar tones and getting drum tones right, because we had a bigger budget on the second album, so you can afford to spend a little bit more time in the studio.  So, I think it was those things that kind of separate the second from the first album.

AW: Now, [considering] how big of a hit “Hoops” became from you guys in multiple markets, it’s actually crazy to know that it wasn’t a part of the original recording session, but instead was done after you guys had gone back home.  What inspired the track to come about, and what was the process behind recording it?

WZ: Well, we had pretty much finished the album, and it was being mixed in the States. Elliott [Margin] had “Hoops” as a really rough demo. He was selling it to us, and we were like, “Man, this is a really good song,” and then it was passed on to the A&R people. The A&R people were like, “We think this could be really good.  If you’ve got time, why don’t we just run into a studio right now and just do it?”  So two days later, we were in a really good studio in Sydney, trying to get it down to make the deadline for the pressing of the album. So, we got it finished, and it was just a fluke thing that Elliott just had this demo of this song that everyone liked. It was lucky, because it had been our main song back home in Australia that really put us on the map again. So, we’re thankful for that. Lyric-wise, I’m not really sure. Elliott writes these lyrics, but it’s about going around in circles a lot, and about relationships, things like that.  You might be in a tough relationship and then you want to end it, but you always get back together. It just goes round and round.  That’s what I’ve heard him say. [Laughs] You can listen to the music a lot more to learn the lyrics.

therubens2“We heard Kendrick Lamar get played and we just broke out into a bloody frenzy.  We couldn’t believe it!” – On Winning Triple J Hottest 100

AW:Now, when you guys first finished the track and decided to put it on the album and name the album after it, when it was done, did you have even the slightest idea that you guys had a huge hit on your hands?  Did you ever expect it blowing up the way it did?

WZ: It was one of those things; we knew it was a really good song when Elliott had the demo.  That’s why I think everyone rushed for it to go in the studio, because like, we didn’t think it would be THAT much of a hit, but we did think it was going to be a really strong song for the album.  So yeah, we didn’t think it was gonna be huge, especially in Australia. We hadn’t really gained that much traction here just yet, because it’s still fresh. Back home, we didn’t think it was gonna go as well as it did.  It’s hard to hit platinum sales anywhere, and it’s hit platinum in Australia. We’re very thankful for that, and for winning the Triple J Hottest 100, which is a great award to achieve; as not many bands could do that. We’re still excited and over-the-moon about how well it’s actually gone.  No one thought it was gonna do that well.

AW: I actually wanted to ask about that.  Watching the video of you guys finding out you’d placed number one on the Triple J countdown was… pretty heartwarming.  What was going through your head in the moments leading up to the announcement?  As, you know, it kept counting down without your song being played, and what emotions did you feel the second it was revealed that you guys had beat out Kendrick Lamar?

WZ: [Laughs] Yeah, well, it was one of those things where we knew the song had gone, you know, pretty well this year.  We thought, “Man, it would be kind of cool to get in the top 10, imagine that.”  That’s what was in our heads, like, “top 10 would be awesome!”  So, we actually had a gig that day, and someone from Triple J had rung up our manager and said, “Look, the boys are gonna place pretty high in the polls, we can feel it. You guys are close.  You can come in, and we’ll interview the guys after it’s heading out,”. No one knew, it was all hush-hush.  So, we got in there when it was like, 20 or 15 or something, waiting for it to come down. We thought, “Any minute now, it’s gonna come down,”. We’ll do our interview, and it will be all fine and dandy.  However, it kept going and going until the top 10… top 5… we’re in the studio just sitting there with the presenter looking at each other like, “This couldn’t be real,” like, we’re in the top 5 now. It kept going down and down, so with everything, we’re just getting more excited.  We thought, “Aw, there’s no way it’s gonna be number 1 in Australia!”.  So, anyway, it gets down to number 3, and we’re like, “There’s only two songs left, it’s us and… we think it’s gonna be Kendrick,” How unreal is that? Then we heard Kendrick Lamar get played and we just broke out into a bloody frenzy.  We couldn’t believe it. If you look at me on the video, I’m at the back. I still couldn’t comprehend it.  They were jumping around and they were like, “Nah, maybe we’re not even in the Hottest 100?” [Laughs] Like, “Maybe we haven’t even got in!” It was too unreal. It was something that you’ll never forget, and we’re just honored to have won it.

AW: Now, this is a question I actually kind of added last minute when I found out–because, originally, I was going to be speaking to… I think his name is Scott [Baldwin], the drummer, and then it was revealed I’m speaking to you–I’m actually a bassist myself, so I’d like to ask you a question: what is your gear comprised of in the studio and on the road?  

WZ: I’m a gear-head.  I really enjoy collecting gear, and hearing about other people’s rigs. I do a lot of research, because I’m an engineer as well. I’m actually a studio engineer, so I like to have things a certain way.  On the record, I played a [Fender] ’68 P [Precision Bass] with flatwounds on there, Thomastik flatwounds, so there’s a little of that old-school Motown sound on the record, and I used a B-15 Ampeg [amplifier], head for it. I was happy with the tone, but when it went to mixing, it kind of got lost in the background a little bit. So, I swapped to a [Fender] Jazz Bass, because I wanted it to “poke” a little bit more and not be so “wide” and “fat” like a P is. I’m going for a focused sound now, and I’m also using my “secret weapon”. That weapon is a Boss CS-2, the Japanese compressor.

AW: Oh wow.

WZ: Yeah, and it does this really amazing trick. I had a thousand dollar foot compressor and all of this crazy stuff! I’ve gotten rid of it and went to a $120 Boss compressor.  A Japanese one.  It’s makes it sound like your fingers are doing electric shocks. The attack is so powerful and punchy.  I’ve never heard anything like it before.  So, I use that first in my chain, and then I go into an EQ pedal, where there’s a trick they used to do in the Motown era. They’d always want the bass “bigger”, but the needle would jump off the record; because it was too much or, they couldn’t push it enough. What they ended up learning was: if you take away 100Hz and double it with 200, the bass just doubles in power without doing any volume changes. So that’s what I do with my EQ pedal. I take away 100, and double 200. My bass is more “forward” in the mix now, and with that compressor, it’s the best combination I’ve had so far.  Jazz Bass, compressor, EQ, and then I run a Boss Octaver sometimes, and a chorus pedal, and that’s… pretty much it.  For now it goes through an Ampeg. There’s something about an Ampeg, I can’t get away from it.  Even though they break down all the time on the road.  You’ve gotta have two on the road.  One’s always gonna go down.  So… yeah, that’s about it. I could talk to you for hours about these amps!

AW: As you implied earlier, with this album, you guys went into the studio more experienced and informed than on your debut with like a wider selection of songs to refine and record.  Considering you learned a lot between your self-titled [album] and this album, what lessons would you say you learned in making *this* album that you think you’ll carry into the next record?

WZ: That you have to trust yourselves with certain decisions, because no one really knows what’s gonna happen at the end of the day.  For example, our record company back at home didn’t think much of “Hoops” at all.  They knew it was a single, but they didn’t think it was gonna take off. They didn’t wanna release it as the first single, blah blah blah. We’re the ones going, “This is gonna be the song!”.  So, if it wasn’t for us believing in our own music to release, that never would have happened.  There was a whole team of people working on it, and they all agreed.  So, that’s the thing… we’re believing in ourselves a lot more, and that’s what happened with the record as well.  With guitar sounds, or whatever, we’re just confident that’s what we wanna do. That’s how we want our music to be portrayed. We just had more confidence in the music and believed in it a lot more.  Those were the main things.

AW: Well, really, it does seem like you guys are on the good path.  It seems like the only way to go is up from here.  Going forward, what can fans expect from The Rubens in 2016?

WZ: Well, hopefully, we’ve finished an album or we’ve nearly finished an album.  We’re starting to talk about it, as every band does. Hopefully, our live shows become better and, we continue to grow in that aspect; because we’ve got some big shows coming up in Australia, too.  We’re playing small arenas now back at home, so we kind of have to step up.  Hopefully we bring that back to the States. The experience that we learn in Australia, hopefully we can bring it back and our live shows can be just as good here.  That would be the main things for 2016, that our live show’s hopefully developed, and… new songs!

AW: Awesome! Well hey, I hope you guys have a really good show in Toronto tomorrow, and thank you so much for taking the time out.

WZ: That’s alright, man!  No worries!  Any time, you just call us up.  We’re happy to work and work hard, man, so thanks for an awesome interview.  I appreciate it.

The Rubens – “Hoops”:

Emmaline’s Path – Interview with the Bombshell Singer

Let’s face it, life is turmoil.

Life is a constant whirlwind of events that control our most intimate surroundings. The strange part about it is, we don’t have much individual control over the things that shape our personalities.

It’s a rare occasion when we, as human beings, are so focused we can literally see the finish line at the end of the tunnel.

Australian singer Emmaline has found a way to maintain that focus.

Born in Australia, the singer came to America to further her career. While in Atlanta, she came to a crossroads of sorts. It was time to choose a path. Despite the roadblocks and shady industry people posing as friends, she kept pushing.

After you hear her music, you too, will be glad that she did! Emmaline is hoping that her audience will be so glad, that they will push her right over the top!



How long have you been singing?

Mannnnn! I was singing as a toddler. At the time, I was just feeling it out and mimicking what I heard. I’ve been really singing and pursuing this full time for about 5 or 6 years. I’ve always sang, written, and done gigs. I never took it seriously until my dad passed. So…yeah 6 years as a solo artist.

Sorry about your Dad, Em. So, your Dad was a huge influence on you becoming serious about your craft I assume? Did he sing too?

He was a big influence on me. He really introduced me to his passion of music, which in turn showed me how wonderful it is. He could sing, but he never pursued it. He showed me the importance of music and introduced me to so much diversity! I guess I just grew up thinking everyone was like that.

It sounds like you were a daddy’s girl.

I really wasn’t (laughing), my sister was.  When it came to music, right up until he passed, I looked up to him. He knew so much!

Do you play any instruments?

Haha. No, I do not. I tinker on a piano and make a fool of myself on the guitar from time to time, but no.

Do you pretend to play while the REAL Joan Jett is behind the curtains?

No! I never play in public, hell no. I leave it up to the professionals! I just use both from time to time, if I’m struggling with where to go melodically on a song I’m writing.

Speaking of melodies, does the beat play a role in your songwriting process? Or, do you write without music?

A bit of both. I can be laying in bed, or in the shower, and get a melody out of nowhere. I can be just messing around singing to my friend’s dog and catch a melody. I guess I mostly get them from beats. I find melodies in the strangest places, now that i think of it.

See, I’m making you think (laughing)! You’re probably listening to the rhythm of the keys typing to come up with a melody. You could be the pop version of Twista.

Wouldn’t that be something!

Right! Let’s switch gears for a bit and talk about your home for a bit. What is Australia like, other than Winter is in July and the toilets flush in reverse?

Australia is like a big, huge country town compared to America. It’s just a slightly slower pace compared to here. It’s super cool, don’t get me wrong. We have our big cities, but it’s nothing when compared to America. We have space, mate…so much space. Our population is small. Traffic is nothing compared to America. I remember driving on the 75 in Atlanta for the first time like ohhhh OK this is traffic! It was so stressful. I mean, we also drive on the other side of the road and on the other side of the car. Can you imagine the mind tricks in play for me? I constantly have to be focused on where I am, all the way down to which car door to get into! Even crossing the street is a battle when your overseas.

I’ve always wanted to visit Sydney though! Are you more of a country girl or a city girl?

I think everyone sees me as a city girl, and I am, but I grew up out in the country. So for me, im definitely all city, but I love to just be out in the quiet to unwind. I love animals, all animals, so I love to be out where there are bunches of them and no city noise. I don’t think I could ever handle it for long periods of time.

You definitely seem comfortable navigating the city in your new video, “The Path”.

Yeah, Edgewood Avenue is one of my favorite places in Atlanta. There is so much historic significance. Martin Luther King’s house is right there, as well as all of the old clubs from back in the day. It’s so cool

The Path is one of those songs that make you reflect on yourself and think, “Do I actually have a focus on my own path in life?” It kind of seems like you’re at a crossroads in your life. As if you’re questioning yourself while weighing your options.

I think I was when I wrote it. I question myself at all times. I know where I want to be now, but at the time i was really confused. I had way too many decisions to make that had no obvious solutions. It was a truly awful time for me, and the song doesnt resolve itself either. I think even that in itself says how all over the place I was at the time. I had no real idea of what the hell it was that i was doing. It was scary, because I didnt want to get out of bed. I don’t suffer from depression, but I really just didnt know how to deal with alot of things

So what made you gather yourself and focus on the path ahead?

I was on a path that didnt work out, so I couldnt see the new one, let’s put it that way. However, I’m a fighter! I might get beat down from time to time, but I will get up! I dont give up. I want more from myself than that! I owe myself more.

Against odds you continue to push yourself no matter what. A lot of people give up instead of changing strategies. A lot of artists could learn from you Em!

It’s either that or I’m just crazy, Al! Theres that view too lol! I just love music so much! Even when it had me homeless, I didnt give up. Why should I now? I just dont want to do anything else. Nothing else matters to me like this does. I didn’t learn to sing, I just could. I didn’t learn to put melodies together, I just did. It comes from a place that I didn’t choose, so I have to do right by it. God gives us all a gift to pursue. This is mine. Music never gets boring. I am constantly learning! It’s always changing and I can’t think of anything more exciting than that!

I love your passion! Tell me about the people behind your music. What role do they play in shaping your sound?

I work with a lot of people but I have a few core producers that I would call part of the team/family. Its a collective thing. We talk about where I’m trying to go with my sound. I love working with Gee StreetsTeam Strong, and the Democratz mostly. They really get the movement. I also work with this amazing producer named Ism too. His music is so thematic, like movie sounding music. His stuff gives you pictures in your mind. There’s also this guy in Canada too, Ty Butler. It’s always a group-effort to shape my sound. The trick is to always stay true to yourself while trying out different styles of beats. You have to keep your originality. I wrote to a trap beat, and still sang like me on it. Somehow, the song really works! I think shaping your sound is the most important thing, and not every producer gets that…or what you’re trying to do.

Sounds like you’re just as much of a producer as your producers!

Yeah, lol. I guess I am.

So, after The Path EP, what can we expect next from the great Emmaline?

The album is next. I need to get out there and tour! I’m just really getting back into doing gigs, since I’ve got that bug back. I want to concentrate on putting a band together and getting out on the road! I want to do more features and concentrate on a larger body of work.

I’m sure you are going to make a lot of noise, Em! You have a fan here. Thank You so much for this interview and your time!

You’re welcome! Much love and thanks for your time too!

Photo Credit: Atlanta Photographer Michael Foster

Follow Emmaline on SoundCloud at: soundcloud.com/iamemmaline and on Twitter at: @iamemmaline




The Temper Trap Unveil New Album; Premieres Electronic Rock Opus “Fall Together”

Australian indie rockers The Temper Trap have finally pulled back the curtains on their long-awaited third studio album. The new record, entitled Thick as Thieves, has been three years in the making, and will feature production work from Grammy award-nominated producer Malay, who had previously worked on Frank Ocean’s channel ORANGE and Zayn Malik’s Mind of Mine. In addition to the announcement, the band also premiered a new,  electronically-charged track from the album, “Fall Together”; the second cut from the album released by the band, after the spaciously-produced title track was released as a single in February.

Thick as Thieves will notably be the band’s first without founding member and lead guitarist for over a decade, Lorenzo Sillitto, who had parted ways with the band in October 2013, citing a need to “try new things”, after what he described as “an experience I will never forget and one that changed my life.” The Temper Trap had reached stardom in Australian music culture and achieved international success with their first two albums, 2009’s Conditions and 2012’s self-titled The Temper Trap, the former of which certified Platinum in Australia and Gold in the United Kingdom.

Along with the new album’s official release date of June 10, 2016, the band also unveiled the album’s light-hearted artwork, which features two children identically dressed in camo shorts, white singlets and werewolf masks. The band also debuted the album’s fifth track, “Fall Together”, a song where profound lyrics describe a tangled love-hate relationship between two people. A triumphant electronic rock opus, the track features a perfect equilibrium between instruments and electronics, contrasting the heavyweight electronic and pop rock-centric sounds of the band’s previous studio album. You can check out the brand new slice from Thick as Thieves down below:

Thick as Thieves will be released by Liberation Records in Australia and the United Kingdom and by Glassnote Records in the United States on June 10, 2016. You can pre-order the album on iTunes. A limited-edition 10″ white vinyl version of the album is also available to pre-order in Australia through JB Hi-Fi.