Born Ruffians (Photo courtesy Paper Bag Records)
Editor’s Update on March 21: DC9 has canceled the Born Ruffians show tonight due to snow in DC. Luke Lalonde says the band will seek to reschedule!
Post-punk rockers Born Ruffians put on a great live show, and they will put on such a show at DC9 on Wednesday, March 21, in the wake of the release of Uncle, Duke & The Chief, their fifth studio album, which they released on Feb. 16 via Paper Bag Records.
The first time I saw Born Ruffians, they shared a bill with fellow Canadians Tokyo Police Club at the Black Cat in 2009, and the bands performed a messy, spirited rendition of “Train in Vain” by The Clash together — it was terrific!
Since then, I’ve caught Born Ruffians quite a few times, including both performances in DC after the release of Ruff, their 2015 fourth full-length record. (Their show at Rock and Roll Hotel in 2015 made my Top 10 list of concerts for the year.) But then their drummer Steve Hamelin departed and frontman Luke Lalonde found himself in a weary space. Should the band continue?
Thankfully, Steve finished school and indicated his interest in returning to the band. Luke was elated! “We all have the same weird, shorthand language of knowing how to put a song together,” Luke said. “It’s really super-fast and efficient.”
Uncle, Duke & The Chief, the new record, fully embraces old-school rock ‘n roll aesthetics with handclaps, tambourines, and drumbeats. Watch the official music video for “Miss You” by Born Ruffians on YouTube:
Born Ruffians deal with several themes with Uncle, Duke & The Chief, but death maintains a continuing presence on the record. Luke’s father faced a cancer scare while the band were writing the album. But then on Jan. 10, 2016, David Bowie passed away. With the death of a hero, Luke had a revelation.
“What really resonated with me about Bowie’s death was how beautiful it was; it wasn’t necessarily a sad thing,” Luke said. “He died with such elegance: He didn’t tell anybody he was sick, he delivered this final record to everybody, and then quietly passed away. I found it so heartbreaking, but amazing. And I think a lot of the death talk on the record is more about how death can actually be a wondrous and wonderful thing, in a way.”
Luke sat down to write “Forget Me” on the day Bowie died, and he wrote “Spread So Thin” as a reaction to his father’s face-off with death. But as Luke said, the band is in the mood to celebrate life and their reunion with their drummer.
Celebrate with them! Buy your tickets online.
Wednesday, March 21
Doors @ 7:30 pm