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Features October 23, 2020

Chris Maund on the countdown to The Rubens next album

Senior Journalist, B2B
Chris Maund on the countdown to The Rubens next album
Mushroom Labels and Mushroom Music Publishing's COO "

The countdown has begun for the February 12 release for The Rubens’ fourth album 0202 – and their Mushroom Group label Ivy League is expecting big things after ‘Live In Life’.

It was one of the biggest domestic singles of the past 12 months and this month received an ARIAs nomination for Song of the Year at next month’s awards.

Now certified double Platinum with over 30 million streams, ‘Live In Life’ spent nine months and counting in both Spotify’s Hot Hits Australia and Apple Music’s Today’s Hits.

In Spotify’s Hot Hits Australia it spent three weeks at #1, three months in the Top 10 and is currently the second longest-standing song in the playlist.

“In their prime, stronger than ever,” Mushroom Labels and Mushroom Music Publishing’s COO Chris Maund said about the band’s current career state.

“When we sign artists we want to help build careers and there is no better example of that than The Rubens. You don’t want to get ahead of yourself but they are coming from a really strong base and this new album has got everything a label could want from a record.

“It’s enough of a departure from the last record to keep things interesting with a bunch of very strong singles to drive it. ’Live In Life’ has set things up beautifully and we think the new single, ‘Time of My Life’, is even stronger.

“Their tour was selling really well before it had to be rescheduled and Michael (Gudinski) has them doing every piece of television known to humankind. So, I suspect the next 12 months will go pretty well for them.”

The Rubens’ rise on the up escalator began from the basement.

The band from Menangle, NSW – Margin brothers Sam, Elliott and Izaac along with Scott Baldwin and William Zeglis – were not even signed and had just started playing gigs when their track ‘My Gun’ came to the attention of New York producer David Kahne.

Kahne, who has worked with Paul McCartney, Regina Spektor and The Strokes, produced their debut album. Primarily a blues-rock outing, it was playlisted on triple j, and reached #3 on the ARIA chart and went platinum.

The hook-laden ‘My Gun’ was certified Platinum and ‘Lay It Down’ reached Gold status.

The second album, the Gold-certified Hoops (August 2015) which dived into R&B and pop, saw them start to headline arenas. It included hits ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘Cut Me Loose’, while the title track went 4 x Platinum and topped the triple j Hottest 100.

The Rubens’ new album 0202 drops February 12. Photographer: Cybele Malinowski

LO LA RU (June 2019) kept up the momentum, with the pop ballad ‘Never Ever’ feat. Sarah Aarons (double Platinum), ‘Million Man’ (Gold) and ‘God Forgot’ (Gold).

The headline shows were selling out, and their following on social media exploded.

The rise was forward-slanted when Pink invited them on to her 42-date Beautiful Trauma arena tour, which put them before an audience of almost 500,000.

To set up ‘Live In Life’, Mushroom ensured triple j maintained ownership by getting the premiere and first interview, while the DSPs were fully briefed well in advance of release.

“Over the course of the song building across all radio and streaming, we watched the data like hawks and timed different promo and marketing elements to coincide with each new phase – for example, timing the video for our second radio push and other key moments.”

The track broke them into the Spotify and Apple pop playlists which drive the big hits these days, but which few Aussie acts seem able to score.

Making 0202 has seen them try a different tack.

Maund points out: “For the first time they tracked and produced the album themselves, in their own studio – a converted WW2 bunker out in Camden.

“Then, with help of our awesome A&R manager [Marihuzka Cornelius], they chose and collaborated with different producers for ‘additional’ production.

“This gave the band room to experiment and grow each song individually, without time restraints, forming a collection of songs that each live in their own world, but still have a common thread that ties them all together.

“We think this helped them record their most contemporary and experimental album to date.”

In the run-up to the marketing, aside from radio, streaming and media, there are social moments devised with the band and manager Greg Carey.

“They’re incredibly creative and collaborative – we have some cool projects in the works, which we’ll be announcing soon.”

On the recent Informal Formal livestream, they set up as if they were playing at a school formal, with fans encouraged to dress up in school gear.

For ‘Time Of My Life’, a wistful look back at life pre-COVID, there is a campaign with TikTok.

“We have some really big projects in the works, which we can’t announce just yet, but it’s been a great time to collaborate and pitch big ideas to brands.”

This week, The Rubens built on the 18-year-olds featured in the ‘Time Of My Life’ video by announcing Study Break and the 0202 Music Grants.

Both are designed for Year 12 students interested in pursuing a career in the music industry.

The drive to support the next generation came from numerous emails and DMs the band has received throughout COVID-19 from students doing it tough at a time that should be full of anticipation for the future.


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