Tuesday, June 14, 2011

From Mint Chicks to UMO

Duncan Greive interviewed Ruban Nielson for the Sunday Star Times' Sunday magazine. Ruban talked about his new band, Unknown Mortal Orchestra (UMO). It's a very open, honest interview.

He revealed some more information in the Mint Chicks spilt - a few weeks prior to their final incendiary gig where his brother Kody smashed up much of the band's gear, he says “I’d already told Kody that I was going back to Portland, but I wasn’t going to keep doing The Mint Chicks. And that was for a lot of reasons, but probably the main one was that I wanted us to be brothers again. I didn’t want to deal with all the weirdness that was going on between us in the band.”

Ruban returned to the US and his wife and family, got his illustration portfolio together and set about getting a job. He landed work interning at a film company, and worked on some music on the side.

snip... "He’d been listening to ’60s psychedelic music for years – starting with The Zombies and Love, and working on down. He was struck by a nagging absence. “I never quite found what I was looking for,” he says. “I had this idea that if I couldn’t find this record, I could make it.”

After a month or so, he had a set of songs. But, unlike other projects, which were scrutinised and salivated over, this one was just hanging in the air. On a whim, without quite knowing why, he decided to see if his creations had legs, and might run. “I put this made-up name on it and sent out a couple of emails to some blogs I liked,” he recalls. “I went to sleep, went to work, and when I came home the next day I checked to see if people had listened to it.”

I've heard that Ruban went to work, and later in the day one of his co-workers asked him if he'd heard of this cool new band called Unknown Mortal Orchestra. That's gotta be pretty surreal.

Ruban's live band consists of bass player Jake Portrait, and drummer Julien Ehrlich; the latter caught the attention of Questlove Thompson of hiphop group The Roots when he saw the band live in NYC back in April - "Watching the Unknown Mortal Orchestra for the first time. I dig these cats. Drummer has great range. Knows his rock & breakbeat ish."

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