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Rubikon Talk New Album 'The Record,' Share New Track 'Lost September': Exclusive Premiere

Rubikon
Geoff Tischman

Rubikon

On Sept. 20, rock group Rubikon will return with their first new album in four years, The Record (Round Hill Records). The band’s blend of swagger with Southern flavor is fully realized on the first single, hard-rock ear worm “Blood on My Hands.” (Think Stone Temple Pilots jamming on The Marshall Tucker Band.) The five-piece is following up 2015’s Delta, which earned active rock radio play with “Live That Lie.”

The band’s members — vocalist Jae Sims, guitarists Josh Gruss and Dave Raymond, bassist Hugh Eaton and drummer Doug Arsham — have been together for almost 20 years, during which time they've developed a unique approach to recording and touring. Though they’re based in Boston, they don’t all live in the same state, and they all have families and regular full-time jobs.

According to Sims, “I’m a Southern dude — I grew up in Mississippi and live in Kentucky — and played in bands in my younger life down there but decided I needed a change of scenery and moved to Boston … I started playing in bands there and met Doug and Dave, who both still live in Boston, and we still maintain a studio space there …”

Gruss, who lives in New York, adds with a laugh, “A disgusting, dingy rehearsal space that we’ve had for 15 years now.”

“We’re a complete collaboration,” Sims continues. “If you look at the writing credits on this album, every single song is all five members. As the singer, I write a lot of melodies, but Doug sings backup, and his opinion is invaluable to me.”

Along with “Blood on My Hands,” The Record contains a number of standout songs like “Burn Down the Farm,” the metallic stomper “Fools,” and “Lost September,” which Billboard is premiering today. Watch the video below:

The Record also expands upon Rubikon’s hard-rock style with such rootsy, Americana instruments as pedal-steel guitar, baritone saxophone and even banjo and mandolin.

Explains Sims, “The new album is almost unclassifiable because it’s got that heavy-rock sound, but there’s a lot of stuff in there that’s got that Southern flavor. But …” He pauses. “We put a sax solo in the middle of ‘The Gun,’ and I think it’s dope as crap because one of my favorite bands was Morphine.”

Gruss agrees: “‘The Gun’ with that baritone saxophone is a direct nod to Morphine. Totally different.”

Kicking off The Record is “Broken Hearts,” which features a pensive guitar and Sims’ warm tenor before exploding into a full rock breakout two and a half minutes in. “That song, to me, is kind of what it’s like to be a creative person, the creative process,” he says. “It’s extreme highs and extreme lows, and I don’t think you’re ever satisfied and [always] dealing with those feelings of dissatisfaction and the unnerving process of being a musician. It’s the greatest and worst thing ever.”

Adds Gruss, “Stone Temple Pilots is a huge influence on the band. We all had the chance to see STP when [singer] Scott [Weiland] was around, and I think that shines through in the music. But it has a country feel with the slide guitar, almost like Allman Brothers.”

Sims is enthusiastic about “Blood on My Hands” because “it’s at active rock, and it’s doing really well around the country with several radio stations spinning it.”

“We understand that radio is a pretty strict business these days with their own ways of picking the music,” observes Gruss. He knows what he’s talking about: He’s not only a guitarist, he’s also the chairman/CEO of Round Hill Music, which owns Round Hill Records. “At Round Hill Music, we just hired Joe Calitri, who used to be the GM of Red Bull Records and Fueled by Ramen. We’re starting a subsidiary label that’s going to be dedicated to hard rock and heavy metal, and my hope is that’s going to help open some doors for us.”

When it comes to Rubikon, explains Gruss, “We only get together a handful of times a year. When you only have so much time, what do you do with it? Well, we played a bunch of shows, and we wrote. We got into the studio and banged out 11 songs all in, basically, three days. So it’s mind-blowing to think what our output would be if we were a full-time group.”

Asked if he thinks Rubikon is a successful act in the “gig economy,” he replies, “I don’t know. I think whether you’re in a band part-time or full-time, it’s extremely tough financially. It takes a lot of capital to start up and run a band, and for us, we have other jobs and that allows us to do what we do. And that’s a unique aspect to what we do. But our families and our jobs come first, and the band is just lucky enough to have continued for 20 years. We wouldn’t have lasted this long if it wasn’t a really good balance.”

Sims himself is looking forward to getting back out on the road — Rubikon has four dates on deck with Candlebox at the end of September. “We just set out to be one of the greatest live experiences you could ever see,” he says, adding, “Some of the new songs have been road-tested, but there’s a few that haven’t, and we’re hoping to dust ’em off and try ’em out. I can’t wait to get out there and play!”

Tour dates (with Candlebox):

Sept. 25  -- Strand Theatre, Providence, RI
Sept. 26 -- Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom, Hampton Beach, NH
Sept. 27 -- Aura, Portland, ME
Sept. 28 -- Granite State Music Hall, Laconia, NH

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