Whether it’s their collaboration with legendary producer Rick Rubin, kudos from the likes of Zane Lowe and the BBC, or a string of memorable performances from the hills of Glastonbury to the deserts of Coachella, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter siblings Henry and Rupert Stansall, known by their amalgam-created moniker Ruen Brothers, are making a mark with a throwback rock and roll sound that intersects the early days of the genre with a dynamic present- day act. “When we were 15, if somebody said in a few years we’d be doing all of this, we wouldn’t have believed it,” explains Henry of their impressive run to date which has launched them from sleepy English steel town obscurity to craft-smiths ready to make a global impact leading up to their upcoming debut album, ALL MY SHADES OF BLUE (out 6/01 via Ramseur).
Inspired by their music aficionado father who raised the duo on a steady diet of The Rolling Stones and The Everly Brothers, the two caught the performing bug at an early age, rehearsing in the family kitchen and scrounging for gigs in their blue-collar Lincolnshirehometown of Scunthorpe, England. “We’d walk into pubs and clubs as kids and ask the owner if we could play something for the local drunks at 2pm,” Rupert laughs while remembering their humble beginnings. “That’s how we got our first gigs. We were far away from trends, which enabled us to play whatever we wanted.” As a result, the brothers perfected both their craft and stage presence while also taking inspiration from sources outside of music. Says Henry: “We’re inspired a lot by film, old and new. I’d say our sound has a cinematic quality, a classic feel that harkens back to artists of the 50s and 60s.”
It wasn’t until a move to London and the success of “Aces,” a song recorded in their studio apartment, that the boys from Scunthorpe went from pub performers to BBC radio staples. “When ‘Aces’ was Tune of the Week on Radio 1, that was huge for us,” recalls Henry. “Then (the influential powerhouse DJ) Zane Lowe played it back-to-back, which was unheard of. It started to get a bit crazy after that.” Henry and Rupert soon collected a global audience of fans, none more influential than iconic producer Rick Rubin, who quickly recognized their talent and promptly took the brothers under his wing. “I liked that their songwriting seemed like it was from another era,” explains Rubin. “It’s making something new again with these traditional influences. The idea was, what would a modern album with Roy Orbison and The Everly Brothers produced by Phil Spector sound like?”
Henry adds, “The album was recorded using all real instruments and a live band, resulting in a different sound than what’s present in much of today’s popular music.” Adds Rupert of the collaboration: “It was incredibly exciting – he’s worked with some of our favorite artists of all time and is such a versatile producer. He helped us recognize the strength of Henry and I playing and singing together; it was a foundation to build upon and the guidance we needed.”
The brothers’ artistic background and pedigree come into full focus on their debut studio album, produced by Rubin and featuring Henry on acoustic guitar and Rupert on electric and acoustic guitar, harmonica, and bass. The album also includes the talents of such boldface names as Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers on drums, The Killers’ Dave Keuning on strings, and Faces and Small Faces legend Ian McLagan on keyboards. “I was struck by their authenticity,” explains Smith. “They’re humble and nice guys and the songs were great.”