The Ruby Suns were started in a basement studio in Auckland in New Zealand by Ryan McPhun after he had returned from touring as one of the Brunettes, supporting bands such as the Shins and Rilo Kiley.

The size of the band has fluctuated over the years, with Ryan asking friends to help him out at live shows. Last year it stripped down to just three members - Amee Robinson and Imogen Taylor bringing a new sound to the backing vocals and playing various instruments.

The band has just released its second album, 'Sea Lion', and is busy touring Australia and America before hopefully coming over to Europe later in the year.

The Ruby Suns' self-titled album was released on Lil' Chief Records in New Zealand in 2005 and then on Memphis Industries in the UK 2006. The new album is again being released on both these labels. The group have also signed to Sub Pop to put out in America.

They create ‘big’ indie pop with crashing waves of strings and brass very much in the same vein as the Akron Family, Animal Collective and Broken Social Scene.

Pennyblackmusic spoke to Ryan McPhun about 'Sea Lion'. The new album is bright, lively and gets better with every listen. It is definitely a gem for the summer and they are definitely a band to watch out for.


PB : You're in the middle of touring Australia and America right now. How is that going ?

RM : We're in Australia at the moment. It's going pretty well. We had a really good show in Melbourne and played with our friends the Smallgoods. Disasteradio from Wellington, New Zealand played as well. But it's kind of funny because we're touring here before the album is actually out, so we're not getting much press here at the moment.

PB : What kind of response have you got from the new album? Are you playing a lot of the new material live ?

RM : The responses so far have been pretty positive. We haven't had too many reviews come in yet but the ones we've seen have been good. I know most of my friends like this one better than the last one. We only play one song from the first album live. The rest are from 'Sea Lion' and 'Lichen Ears', which is an EP we released in New Zealand.

PB : The new album was apparently recorded all over the world entirely on dictaphone. Have you had to re-work songs very much as a result for live shows ?

RM : The new album was not actually recorded all over the world and was not recorded entirely on dictaphone. Most of the stuff was recorded in my basement and then in my bedroom when I moved flats. What I did record with my dictaphone were random things I came across on my travels in the last few years. My friend Gus recorded some stuff at his studio in Melbourne. Some of the songs are really different live. As we're a three piece at the moment we've had to change things around quite a bit. It is good though to keep things fresh for us.

PB : How did the Ruby Suns first get together ?

RM : When I realised I should start playing live all these songs that I'd been recording, I got together some friends and we did what we could.

PB : You often get compared to The Beach Boys. Do you think that is a fair comparision ? How would you describe your music ?

RM : I guess my vocal style is influenced by that sort of stuff. I've definitely been super into them at different stages over the years. A lot of the songs on the first album were influenced by a lot of 60's stuff, so I think it is a fair comparison. I am not sure how to describe my own music. Weird, catchy, messy, pretty perhaps.

PB : What influences you when you are writing and recording music?

RM : It seems like I'm most productive or inspired when I get away from routines. Travelling usually helps me get stoked on ideas. I find I'm usually most productive with writing when I don't have any instruments. I just think of the rhythms and parts. Obviously, the stuff I'm listening to at the time will have some kind of influence on the music I make then.

PB : During a US tour you lost all of your equipment in a fire. Were you tempted to give up music at that point? What drove you on?

RM : Well, I certainly wasn't tempted to give up music or anything like that. The cameras and the photos were the worst things to lose and the whole episode was a bummer and traumatic in some ways. Aside from that, it was all just stuff and stuff isn't really that important. You can get more stuff if you need to.

PB : Was there an album or band that first made you want to make music ?

RM : Probably Nirvana, but maybe Michael Jackson or the Beatles before that.

PB : When will you be touring the UK ?

RM : Hopefully in May if we can find someone that wants to book us some shows.

PB : What would you like to achieve for this year and what is your ultimate goal for the band ?

RM : I guess the same thing everybody wants. This year I'd like to do as much touring as possible and hopefully get more people into or aware of the band. My ultimate goal is to not have to work a day job that I hate. I don't mind working with food though....

PB : Thank you.











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