Interview: James Hunt, RÜFÜS
2014 has been good to RÜFÜS. They blew crowds away at this year's Falls and Big Day Out festivals, scored 3 songs in the Triple J 'Hottest 100' and just spent March and April touring the US (including SXSW) and Europe.
The indie trio returns to Australia this month for their biggest tour to date, set to be their last before they relocate to Berlin to start work on their follow-up record. On the eve of the tour, Makers spent a casual afternoon in the company of drummer James Hunt.
Hey James, can I start off by asking you for a little bit of background on RÜFÜS. How did the three of you get together?
I went to school with our singer Tyrone. He was a few years above me but we played in a couple of musical groups together. His best friend’s older brother is Jon, the other member of our band. Jon’s brother Alex is the guy who does all of our film clips so that’s pretty cool. Tyrone and Jon started writing music together in 2010, they got me on board and things just progressed from there.
Things seem have taken off for the band really quickly.
I guess things started escalating after we released the first single [‘Take Me’] off our album [‘Atlas’ released in September 2013]. After the album came out there was a series of really cool milestones. It’s very inspiring to see just how many people the album has reached. One of the biggest moments for us was playing the Falls Festival tour over New Years. The show we played in Byron Bay particularly stands out for me. There was a mass of people gathered in the natural amphitheatre, singing along to our music. It was a mind-blowing moment and very humbling as well.
I saw you perform at the Falls Festival in Lorne and I remember thinking that you were the first band I’d seen to draw a massive crowd. There were people climbing the rigging outside of 'The Grand Theatre' tent trying to get inside.
That’s crazy! I was so nervous at that show. All I remember is seeing people climbing over each other, trying to get closer to the stage. There was an amazing vibe in the tent that day, when the audience knows the words to your songs it feels pretty special.
Indie dance music is something that this country does extremely well, I’m sure you’d agree?
I definitely agree and a lot of the musicians that we idolise from the same genre are from Australia. We used to go out and see Cut Copy and the Presets. Australians just know how to nail it.
Do you think it’s because the music sounds like summer?
I think it’s just an inherent euphoria that we have. ‘Summery’ is probably a good word for it, the music we make just sounds like Australia.
How does it translate in the U.K and Europe?
We’ve only done a small run of shows over there but the response was awesome. Everyone who was coming along to the shows had a good time. We seem to be resonating on the same level as Disclosure, and we’ve been releasing different tracks with a deeper tone to echo that. As for the USA, there seems to be a big resurgence in electro so I’m curious to see how things play out over there.
Both Cut Copy and the Presets have had a lot of success in the US.
Hopefully things play out similarly for us. I don’t want to have any expectations.
You don’t want to jinx it?
Let’s just say that I’m excited to get over there, play some shows and get the album into America’s hands.
And I read that you’ll be heading to Berlin later on in the year to start recording the second album?
That’s right, we wanted to head somewhere overseas and set up our own little studio. When we were over in Europe at the end of last year we were in Berlin for about a week and fell in love with the place. Not just culturally but musically there’s a lot going on in terms of minimal electronica. It really connected with us and we’re excited to lock ourselves away over there.
Have you started writing yet or do you wait until you’re in the studio to do that?
We actually write on our laptops while we’re travelling and in transit, so we’ve all got little ideas but haven’t started writing officially. We’ll all bring our ideas together and see if we can marry our thoughts.
In terms of your live performance, you seem like quite low-key guys but will you be pulling any tricks out of the bag for the Australian shows?
We don’t really want to do gimmicky things; it’s more about creating a journey visually and musically. With the upcoming tour we’re working on the visual element and bringing lighting into the mix, really relishing the journey of the live set. The whole concept is that each song has its own world, taking that atmosphere and running with it.
That concept seems to translate with your film clips as well; they all seem to have a distinct “world”.
The visual element has always been a strong focus for us, and that comes from Katzki, the guy who does all of our clips. He really brings it visually. I guess it’s just a matter of taking that similar approach to the live show and hoping that it translates to the audience.
Will he be involved in say, the set design or lighting?
Well we’re actually working with a company in Melbourne on the stage show but Katzki has been involved in the band from the beginning and I’m sure he’ll play some part in the upcoming tour. He’s the unofficial fourth member of Rufus. I don’t want to give away any secrets but let’s just say that the live shows will be very immersive.