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- Posted on Mar 15th 2010 5:02PM by James Meyers
How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?
Shoot, that's a really, really hard question to answer. I mean, it's tough to classify something you create and I don't really write with any particular sound in mind. I guess it would be called Americana by most people.
Who are your influences?
First off, Elliott Smith. I am so inspired by him. He's such a great writer, singer and guitarist, sincere and so good. Maybe number two would be Ryan Adams. I think he's an amazing writer and tells such great stories. Of course the Beatles, they're like the Holy Grail, the foundation, easily my favorite band ever. I really love Jay Z. I think he's a genius as a writer. I mean lyrically he does stuff that most writers can't even dream about. The rhyme pattern, man, he's just so bright. Even lyrical forms that are meant be dense and poetic, all the singer songwriter stuff, he's better than poetry and a huge influence on my writing. Let's see, that's four, I know there's a fifth to round out my top five, I'm just drawing a blank right now.
Are you mostly solo or do you have a regular band? If so how did you all come together?
The record featured a full band as was necessary. The tour is just me and my keyboard player, as it's better for budget purposes. So for the shows in Austin it will just be me and a friend who helps out on keyboards.
The songs on your last album were written under difficult circumstances. Can you tell me about that?
Yeah, my mom was battling cancer and I just poured all my emotion into writing and that's where those songs came from. The record was released on a really, really tiny label and Columbia has now taken it off the market so I really don't talk about it much.
Can you tell me about the new album?
I recorded it in Mississippi with Dennis Herring who produced Modest Mouse's 'Good New For People Who Love Bad News,' which is a really great album. He's a brilliant guy, really cool, with eclectic tastes, we like the same kind of music. He was really easy to work with and he understood the sound I was looking for and knew how to get it. We recorded a ton of stuff I'm not even sure what will make the album. It's still in infancy so I can't really give too many details. I had a great time in the studio, I love recording.
You're signed with Columbia Records. How did that come about? Did you send them demos?
No, I never sent out demos but people started to become aware of me. Before Columbia I had contact with Virgin, EMI and some other labels in New York. But I mean Columbia was just my dream label. I got flown out to L.A. and my management and I met with the VP of the Label. I played him some of my songs and he really liked them. I always dreamed on signing with Columbia because I grew up listening to Bob Dylan every day. Oh yeah, that's my other influence. How could I forget Bob Dylan? I love, love, love Dylan. Like I said, I listened to him every day. I also respect a lot of the other artists that have been on Columbia and also some of the bands they have now Like John Legend, Beyonce, and John Mayer.
You toured with Pete Yorn. How did that come about?
First off, Pete is just s great, great guy, really cool. I kind of assumed at first that I got the gig because we were both on Columbia. Lather though he told me that he had heard my first record and really like it so that's I got to tour with him. It was just a short tour, maybe seven shows, but it was great to play to larger crowds and get the full on the road experience.
You used to perform as RU RU. Why the change to your name?
At first I picked RU RU just because it's easier to remember that just someone's name. Like someone would remember RU RU whereas they might not remember Isaac Russell. I guess it sounded kind of juvenile. So when I signed with Columbia we just decided to use my name.
You're based in Provo, Utah. Is there a thriving musical scene there?
Yeah, there are a ton of bands included in the Salt Lake City, Provo area, it's a really great scene. There's a lot of amazing experimental music and kind of like fractured folk stuff.
You started out at the very early age of 13. Were you writing your own songs then? Playing live?
For the first couple of years I just played guitar. I hated the sound of my voice, couldn't stand it at all. So I just tried to learn from some seriously talented guitar players. Mostly blues stuff, Mississippi blues, Blind Lemon Jefferson. And also stuff like Doyle Bramhall. I played guitar in my brother's band before I just kind of started writing my own songs.
What are you most looking forward to at SXSW? Have you ever played Austin before?
No, I've never been there so I'm really looking forward to it. I can't wait to play in front of people and also to be playing my new stuff. I've been doing so much writing and recording that I feel like I haven't played live in forever. I'm really psyched to be able to express my self in front of audiences.
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