Interview – Ula Ruth

New York based indie band, Ula Ruth, will soon release their new EP, Fever. The quartet formed back in 2012 and is comprised of members, Nic James (vocals), Andrew LeCoche (guitar), Kevin Clymer (bass), and Luc James (drums). Ula Ruth draws influence from artists including Kings of Leon, Arctic Monkeys, Neil Young and The Strokes. The band recently released a music video for their single off the upcoming EP. The track, “Strung Out,” was recorded in an old Victorian studio. Ula Ruth’s forthcoming EP, entitled Fever, is set to be released this January. The band will be performing on the 14th at Mercury Lounge in NYC with The Rally. Learn more about the band form their responses and be sure to check out the music video for “Strung Out” below.

 

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How would you describe your music to others?

We like to describe our music as Dark Pop. All of our songs are very ethereal and moody in their own way, but also have an upbeat juxtaposition within each song’s arrangement that gives our music the ability to cover greater emotional ground.

 

How did you guys meet?

Luc and I met Kev and Andrew through flyers we put out. Kev answered an ad for a bassist when I was in college and my brother was in high school almost 5 years ago. We then put an ad out for a guitarist around Purchase College.  The ad was a picture of a Cat with laser beams coming out of its eyes, graphic enough to catch most people’s attention. Andrew answered the ad and it couldn’t have been more of a perfect fit. The funny thing is, he was the only one who answered our ad, and we always wondered why. Months later Andrew told us he had taken all of the other ads down because he knew he was the best and didn’t want us to waste our time with anyone else. In the end I think we’re all very thankful he made that decision for us, although a little self-righteous. He still has the stolen posters to this day, almost 3 years later.

 

What is the story/meaning behind the band’s name, Ula Ruth?

Ula Ruth Sugs was my Grandmothers name. She was a jazz singer from Hattiesburg, Mississippi who moved to New York to follow her dreams. When she arrived in New York they changed her name to better assimilate into the New York City Jazz scene at the time, leaving her southern routes, and her story, behind. The idea of leaving everything behind to follow your dreams is really encapsulated in her story, and has continued to be a driving force in my own journey. I chose to name the band after her, not only in her memory, but with the goal in mind to one day see her name up in lights the way it was always meant to be.

 

Who and what influences your music? Why?

We all have very different musical influences, from Joy Division to Neil Young. I think what makes our sound so unique is the direct correlation between each of our extremely different musical tastes. When it all comes together that’s when we end up with a sound that’s completely and originally ours.

 

How would you describe your writing process?

Every member of the band had a major influence on the direction, sound, and thematic element of each song on this record. A great deal of credit goes to our producer Chris Ruggiero, and recording engineer Greg Giorgio, for the way they helped shape the record from beginning to end, and ultimately helped us discover the sound we’ve been striving to make. I always bring the band bits and pieces of songs, or even sometimes fully written tracks. Regardless, we usually rip them apart and build them back up, resulting in a completely different finished product.

 

How often and how long do you practice together?

We try to get together to write or purely rehearse our live set two or three times a week. Some days it’s just to work on new material and others it’s to tighten up and prep for upcoming shows. We always try to keep everything fresh and well-rehearsed to be prepared for anything that comes our way.

 

From start to finish, how long did it take to create the new EP?

It took the better part of 6 months between pre-production, recording the actual material, and then mixing the final product. We made sure to leave our time frame open-ended so as to not cut any corners on the making of this record. We really wanted to do it right, and I think overall we’re all very pleased we took as long as we did.

 

Can you talk about the inspiration behind “Strung Out”?

The song came more from a place of observance than personal account. I witnessed a lot of people close to me struggle with many forms of addiction. That’s what the song is about, not necessarily love, but being a victim of true addiction and how it can make one worship false idols, it’s arrangement is really supposed to make the listener feel as if they’re having a trip of sorts.

 

Do you play covers at practices or shows? If so, which ones are your favorites?

We don’t like doing covers for the sake of doing covers. We’ve started to try to bring more interesting cover songs into our live set. Either a band we look up to or feel our sound emulates in less obvious ways. Stuff like Coldplay, circa Rush of Blood to the Head, or early Pixies, and even some more electronic stuff like College.

 

What do you typically do post-gig?

We usually rip the set apart piece by piece, and then try our best to take a moment of solace before meeting some people who came out to see the show.

 

What image do you think your music conveys?

A nighttime cityscape where only the building lights can be made out. Think Gotham. Black and White.

 

What has been your biggest challenge as a band?

Getting people to understand what we’re trying to do. We’re not really in the music trend, we’re in a vacuum. Trying to be part of “the scene” can be hard at times when you don’t fit into a genre/box.

 

What has been your funniest or craziest experience working together?

We opened up for Paul Simon, and Steve Gadd signed my brother’s ride cymbal, while telling us to keep going and never give up, that we’ve got something. That was a bit surreal.

 

Anything funny or interesting your fans should know?

Kev, Luc and I were all home schooled. So yes, we’re those weird homeschool kids.

 

What can we expect from Ula Ruth in the coming months?

We headline the Mercury Lounge on Thursday, Jan 14th with our good friends, The Rally, and then as we begin to roll out this next musical effort, Fever, we’ll get back on the road hopefully to SXSW and other upcoming festivals to continue to get our sound out there.

 

 

 

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