Musical project of vocalist and guitarist Ruban, Unknown Mortal Orchestra was originally a home recording project. This snowballed and as label interest grew, there was suddenly the prosperity for this project to translate to a live band. He formed a live band with Jake Portrait on bass and Julien Ehrlich on drums which saw Unknown Mortal Orchestra touring the USA with the likes of Smith Westerns, Portugal the Man and Yuck. Having released the debut album and recently selling out a London show at The Lexington, the band have received critical acclaim for their feel good funk tunes. We talk to the man behind it all, Ruban Nielson.
How does it feel to have received so much attention for your music?
Often I think that in reality I'm in a coma and this is all just a weird dream.
What gave you the inspiration to start touring?
Just the label interest. I was thinking about how many modern bands would have a cool record and then be really disappointing live and I wanted to avoid that. I wanted this band to be really legit as a live band straight away and skip that whole awkward phase.
How did it feel to play a sold out show in London?
It was one of those moments where I thought about my coma theory.
After being in a punk band, how did you decide to create Unknown Moral Orchestra?
It was just this process of mucking around with recording. There were a lot of things I didn't get to try in the past and I tried them all when I started UMO.
Do you think that nostalgic music is the way forward?
That's a really funny question. I don't think UMO is any kind of blueprint for anything. It's just the way I thought a record should sound at the time I made it. You can be nostalgic for an age yet to come as well.
Was it important that your record had a distinctively lo-fi quality to it?
I wanted the record to sound like the things that influenced it. A lot of things that influenced it were old records and I wanted that feeling of discovering an old record. A lot of my favourite records I discovered in my dad's collection and played them until they wore out and then re-purchased them on cd only to discover I hated the sound on cd. I would rather have recorded them off the vinyl. When the movie the watchmen came out I downloaded a cam version and watched it on my laptop. It was really grainy and looked bad but in this strange and beautiful way. When I saw the proper version I was so disappointed at how cheesy it looked compared to the version filmed off the screen at a theatre.
What/who would you consider your biggest influence to make music?
Are there any plans to start recording again straight away or are you going to take a break?
I'm so busy touring at the moment I havent had time to record yet so I'm just writing songs on my phone and waiting for some time to work on the next thing.