“We’re in our own bubble”: RÜFÜS DU SOL on world domination and turning on the dark magic
On their current Australian tour, which wraps up this weekend in Brisbane, RÜFÜS DU SOL created a tremendous spectacle onstage.
As band member James Hunt explains, the Sydney trio spent four weeks in pre-production, the longest time they have done so for a live show, working out the lighting and the visual journey.
Along with cool moments through the set was the excitement that each night they changed the show to make it more unpredictable, like jams and flipping song tempos.
Add to that the theme of isolation on Solace from making the album in Los Angeles away from hometown Sydney, and what transpired was a stunning audio and visual experience that had people crying at the end of the set.
After this Australian tour, RÜFÜS DU SOL heads back overseas for high profile festivals, including Coachella, Red Rocks and Shaky Beats, and places like LA’s Greek Theatre and Hard Rock Live in Orlando, Florida.
TMN: Which is the most magical time for RÜFÜS DU SOL to play at a festival?
JH: “We’ve definitely agreed that sunset is our favourite time to play.
“That was obvious to us when we played Falls Festival Byron for the first time five or six years ago.
“We played at the amphitheatre, there was a magical evening that was going into darkness.
“As you say, that was when the dark magic was coming out.”
TMN: What’s been the biggest crowd RÜFÜS DU SOL have played to, and were the three of you happy with the way you rose to the occasion on stage?
JH: “The other night at the Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne, to 13,000. It was one of our proudest moments, the way we rose up, the production, and the way the crowd responded. “
TMN: A couple of Australian reviews talk about you being on “the cusp of world domination”. Does that seem to the band and your business associates that the planets are aligning for the next big step?
JH: “We’re in our own bubble. We do it for ourselves. There’s no strategy per say.
“But the shows are getting bigger and it does feel like an exciting time.
“We just do what we do, and just grateful that we play to as many people.”
TMN: “No world domination strategy from the get-go?
JH: “No, I wouldn’t say that. From day one, I don’t think we ever envisioned getting to this size.
“The first place we played was the Gaelic Theatre, in Sydney, which is now closed.
“After that, the grand plan was just to get another gig, and write another EP, because we’d already done the first EP by then.
“So you’re constantly as surprised at how it’s growing and each milestone you reach.
TMN: The history of Australian acts trying the global market is littered with those freezing and subconsciously sabotaging themselves. What’s to stop you guys from doing that?
JH: “The three of us have a close connection, along with our manager.
“It started at high school, there’s a really healthy sense of communication. We’ve never come close to imploding, we really work well together.”
TMN: Was the name change in 2014 (from just Rufus) a drag or a blessing in disguise, especially overseas?
JH: “A blessing in disguise. Noting that’s happened has been something we’d call ‘a drag’.
“In the early days, we tended to be more anonymous. The project got bigger and bigger, and it (the name change) probably made us take it more seriously.
“We wanted a more international name, I guess. We had some really interesting interpretations. Some people are convinced we come from Sweden.”
TMN: Before you started work on Solace, what kind of conversations were the three of you having? Any talk of sounding more ‘international’, whatever that means?
JH: “The conversations were not about markets or what demographics we were targeting.
“They were, What are we listening to at the moment, where are our tastes at, at this moment.
“We write purely for ourselves, and the excitement is how so many people are responding to that.”
TMN: The last album Bloom was made in Berlin, and this one was in Los Angeles, in an Airbnb with a studio converted from a karaoke room, and a pool when the creative process got too intense. What does Solace provide as a freeze frame of the band?
JH: “If there was a snapshot, it would be immersing in Los Angeles culture but at the same time also isolating ourselves so we could experiment.
“The dichotomy of that is reflected in the record.”
TMN: What do you remember most about wandering into the Joshua Tree?
JH: “We’d earlier gone there for a weekend to do some writing.
“We definitely wanted to go back there again, which we did over three or four nights, it was like being on another planet, with these Mars-like boulders in the desert.
“The tracks came together very quickly, very organically, there was this strange element of us being in this alien landscape with our manager and filmographers and the perfect storm of recording very quickly.”
TMN: You weren’t nervous about running into the ghosts of Gram Parsons and Bono?
JH: “Exactly, that’s what we were channelling!”
TMN: Do you think the sound of coconuts being shredded and prawn crackers being crushed on a record, which you sneakily did on a track on Solace, will ever catch on in music and make you hailed as arch-pioneers?
JH: “I hope so! Because it sounded like we’d lost our minds!”