Born Ruffians gear up for Wapiti
Canadian indie-rockers, Born Ruffians, are gearing up to play Fernie in August when they headline the Wapiti Music Festival.
The Free Press recently spoke to Mitch DeRosier, bass player for the Born Ruffians.
Although the Toronto-based band has regularly played in Victoria and Vancouver and once in Nelson, this will be their first trip to Fernie.
“We can close out a show pretty well and it will be fun to do that in Fernie,” said DeRosier.
The band, which also features Luke Lalonde on guitar and vocals, Steven Hamelin on drums, and the recently added Andy Lloyd on guitar and keyboard, is excited at the prospect of reaching a new audience by playing the festival.
“It is definitely a different vibe than playing a club show. When you are playing a club show you know that the people are there to see you," said DeRosier. "At a festival, people are there to see all the bands and they might not know your music too well. It is a fun chance to win people over.”
The second annual Wapiti Music Festival takes place at Annex Park in Fernie on August 10 and 11.
The band has not been touring a lot lately because they are working on their third studio album, said DeRosier.
“We are still finishing it up, so we don’t have a firm release date set. I think it is really important for us to take our time and make sure we have it exactly as we want it.”
With past albums, the band had to rush to meet deadlines and in some cases only had enough money to record for a week or two.
“This time we are really using the extra time to our advantage,” said DeRosier. “I think this is the best group of songs we’ve had ever.”
The band was formed in 2002 while DeRosier, Hamelin and Lalonde were attending the same high school in Midland, ON. DeRosier and Lalonde have known each other longer as they are cousins. A big break for the band, which they are very thankful for, came in 2006 when CBC Radio 3 started playing their music, said DeRosier.
“It’s amazing. CBC Radio 3 is a lot of kids’ connection to Canadian indie music. There are not a lot of radio stations that will play indie bands or even local music. It is a great way to find out about any Canadian band or any cool music that’s out there right now.”
The band’s fan base and notoriety have been steadily on the climb. DeRosier credits the band’s younger fans, who tend to be the most passionate.
“When we play we always try to have all ages shows whenever we can because music isn’t something people should be excluded from,” said DeRosier who remembers attending all ages shows as a teenager.
“When we would go to shows we would get there early, we’d get right at the front, buy a shirt and an album, take it home and play it over and over again. When you are that age you really latch on to your favourite thing. It is kind of a sad thing that you lose that passion as you get older. Our younger fans are our most passionate fans and it shows at our shows.”
DeRosier recalled as a teenager seeing Franz Ferdinand play at The Docks in Toronto, now the Sound Academy.
“I remember seeing the singer Alex watching their opening band. He’d peak out from the side stage. I thought ‘oh, that’s cool, he watches the opening band.’”
Things came full circle for DeRosier years later when the Born Ruffians opened for Franz Ferdinand and lead singer Alex Kapronos once again peaked out from the side stage to watch them.
“That was pretty cool. “
In addition to Franz Ferdinand, the Born Ruffians have toured with the likes of Caribou, Peter Bjorn and John, Hot Chip, The Hidden Cameras and Tokyo Police Club.
In his down time, DeRosier, along with drummer Steve Hamelin, is an avid professional wrestling fan. DeRosier is quick to point out the similarities between wrestling and music.
“Professional wrestling does a lot of things right with entertainment. It is a performance as well just like a concert would be,” said DeRosier. “They have to project what they are doing to a full arena of people, just like musicians do. The person at the back of the room or arena has to know and feel what you’re doing just as much as the person in the front row.”
DeRosier recently got to meet one of his childhood wrestling heroes, Calgary’s Bret “The Hitman” Hart and even got him to sign a replica championship belt. “People hilariously have said that I resemble a professional wrestler when I’m on stage. I think it is because I’m a big guy and have long hair. It makes me proud in a way.”
Advance weekend passes for the festival are available at Le Grand Fromage in Fernie or online at wapitimusicfestival.com for $45 plus tax until August 1, or until they’re sold out, whichever comes first.
“We are all looking forward to the festival very much and seeing more of B.C. than the usual stops in Victoria and Vancouver will be awesome. I hope everyone has a good time,” said DeRosier.
Those wishing to volunteer during the weekend can sign up at the festival’s website. There will be a volunteer orientation August 1, 7 p.m. at The Arts Station in Fernie.
Volunteers will receive free passes as well as a free festival t-shirt.