Born Ruffians

“I wish I could live without the feeling that things are bullshit,” Lalonde said. “I think a big self-help maneuver that I work on with myself throughout my life is seeing the beauty in everything, that when things are bad they are still good. The whole ‘there are starving people elsewhere’ type mentality, but actually trying to live that.”

 

Story by Allie Volpe

Sure, Luke Lalonde is in a band, but that hasn’t stopped him from imagining what it would be like as a street performer.

 

“The idea of busking has popped into my head from time to time,” Lalonde, frontman for Canadian indie rock outfit Born Ruffians said. “Not to see if anyone would notice or recognize me, but to understand that aspect of performing. There's not another type of performance that is more dependant on your ability to capture an audience's attention. You're working your ass off trying to impress, playing the same material day in and day out and giving yourself one hell of an education and many, many hours of rehearsal.”

 

It would be unfair of Lalonde to minimize his own musical efforts when discussing busking. After a decade of fronting Born Ruffians, he’s earned his stripes as a performer deserving of a crowd’s consideration. Like some who emerged during the early-to-mid aughts -- Born Ruffians released their first, self-titled EP in 2006 -- like Ra Ra Riot, Tokyo Police Club and Vampire Weekend, Born Ruffians have proved sustainability and longevity beyond the indie passing fad phase and EDM movement.

 

The band’s jittery fourth record RUFF sees Born Ruffians’ arrangements remaining chipper and bouncy, but Lalonde’s songwriting has veered toward slightly existential, juxtaposed by his piercing, acrobatic vocals. RUFF is quintessential jangly indie pop, the kind that incites a boppy dance party, that doesn’t slow despite noticing Lalonde is singing about identity crises like he does on “Stupid Dream”: “But do I really have meaning? / No, no, no! / Or understanding of what I call ‘myself’?” RUFF is, instrumentally, a giddy jaunt into a field in springtime courtesy of crisp guitars, drumline reminiscent rhythms and sunny melodies and lyrically the art of sorting through the hard stuff -- like emotions and the feeling that it’s all pointless.

 

Maybe it’s a side effect of getting older -- he’s a firm believer of age breeding wisdom -- or a way to get out of his own head -- moments of deep self-consciousness come during times of mundanity, he said -- but the art of confronting emotions and mental discomfort in writing brings forth a state of mental clarity.

 

“I think writing is way of getting away from your head,” Lalonde said. “You can dive into your imagination and use it as a way to confront things. I get more in my own head when I'm walking to get coffee. When I'm writing a song that I really like I feel more free and part of something bigger. For lack of a better word it's a somewhat spiritual experience.”

 

So when Lalonde sings “‘Cause all I do, yes all I do, is try so hard to get better / But see, people like a freak show don't want to see a kid grow, go from fucked up to normal“ here on the folksy Out Of Town Films rendition “& On & On & On,” you can’t help but be fronted with your own story of maturation, wondering if you’ve done it all right. There’s catharsis in storytelling there -- from a guy who claims not to be a great storyteller at all.


“I forget to tell people things about my day, things that happened to me,” he said. “I don't know if I was ever taught how to relay something in an entertaining way. I think sometimes maybe I try and inject narrative in my songs but mostly I just kind of keep things to myself.”

"It Could Be"

“I think writing is way of getting away from your head,” Lalonde said. “You can dive into your imagination and use it as a way to confront things. I get more in my own head when I'm walking to get coffee. When I'm writing a song that I really like I feel more free and part of something bigger. For lack of a better word it's a somewhat spiritual experience.” 

"& On & On & On"

The band’s jittery fourth record RUFF sees Born Ruffians’ arrangements remaining chipper and bouncy, but Lalonde’s songwriting has veered toward slightly existential, juxtaposed by his piercing, acrobatic vocals. RUFF is quintessential jangly indie pop, the kind that incites a boppy dance party, that doesn’t slow despite noticing Lalonde is singing about identity crises like he does on “Stupid Dream”: “But do I really have meaning? / No, no, no! / Or understanding of what I call ‘myself’?” RUFF is, instrumentally, a giddy jaunt into a field in springtime courtesy of crisp guitars, drumline reminiscent rhythms and sunny melodies and lyrically the art of sorting through the hard stuff -- like emotions and the feeling that it’s all pointless.

 

“I wish I could live without the feeling that things are bullshit,” Lalonde said. “I think a big self-help maneuver that I work on with myself throughout my life is seeing the beauty in everything, that when things are bad they are still good. The whole ‘there are starving people elsewhere’ type mentality, but actually trying to live that.”

 

Maybe it’s a side effect of getting older -- he’s a firm believer of age breeding wisdom -- or a way to get out of his own head -- moments of deep self-consciousness come during times of mundanity, he said -- but the art of confronting emotions and mental discomfort in writing brings forth a state of mental clarity.

 

So when Lalonde sings “‘Cause all I do, yes all I do, is try so hard to get better / But see, people like a freak show don't want to see a kid grow, go from fucked up to normal“ here on the folksy Out Of Town Films rendition “& On & On & On,” you can’t help but be fronted with your own story of maturation, wondering if you’ve done it all right. There’s catharsis in storytelling there -- from a guy who claims not to be a great storyteller at all.


“I forget to tell people things about my day, things that happened to me,” he said. “I don't know if I was ever taught how to relay something in an entertaining way. I think sometimes maybe I try and inject narrative in my songs but mostly I just kind of keep things to myself.”