Ruby and the Rogues have a history together, feeling that click musically and personally, always finding their way back to one another. As lead singer and guitarist Ruby Rendrag says, “That itch just never goes away.” Together this trip of Ruby, Mike Ennis (percussion), and Suki Kuehn (cello), with the help of their talented engineer, Adam Keil, play locally and have also spent their time alongside Heart as a show opener. “The band was great before, but even better coming back together because we’d all grown,” Mike says. Longtime fans and new ones can surely agree. For Ruby and the Rogues, time only intensifies their sound.
WYAT: I’ve heard a lot about your individual styles making the band what it is. How would you each describe your styles?
Ruby Rendrag: I’d say my style is more my influence. I grew up playing bluegrass and listening to classic country, 50s music, a lot of underground music from the 80s, and that unintentionally shows up in my songs. Hearing the music and getting personally involved affects you. There’s a drive behind the work. It’s like being fed and not realizing you’re starving.
Mike Ennis: I’m a complete music nut; I listen to everything. I love looking for new stuff, and I’ll give anything a shot. I’m experiencing music all the time so to me, everything is just a big sound swirl. I’m a big fan of space too and that influences my music greatly. Music is all around and with me everywhere.
Suki Kuehn: I have a classical influence. I grew up loving classical music, and I love that there is an absolute right sequence of notes for every piece of music and it’s my job to find it. I like to think that my music playing acts as a second voice in my songs; it deepens the lyrics.
WYAT: Ruby, you are involved with helping local artists with your work with Music Shed Studios. What does this commitment mean to you and do you feel inspired from it?
Ruby: It means having two full-time jobs, and it can be tough, but I absolutely feel inspired. I’m driven to help someone make a good project, and that helps with Ruby and the Rogues. If you’ve created it, you’ve got to share it.
WYAT: Suki, as a person who has lived throughout the US, how does New Orleans musically compare to other places that you have lived in?
Suki: There’s nothing like New Orleans. It just has so much. It has something so unique and it feel s more like a community; all the musicians are open to helping each other. It has its challenges, but there’s lots of opportunity to play here, and what we play is New Orleans-grown music.
WYAT: Mike, you play a very interesting and unusual instrument, the Cajon. What do you like about playing it?
Mike: I love playing the Cajon. It’s a Peruvian instrument, and it means “drawer” or “box,” depending on what country you’re in. I first discovered it while at a show where one of the band members was playing it, and it looked like he was having so much fun with it. I was mesmerized by it. It tickled my brain. I’m not a drummer but I’ve always loved good drummers, and I have played an assortment of hand percussion instruments. I’ve had to work at the Cajon for a long time and people always want to know about the Cajon. It’s such a specific technique; it’s got good tone and it’s colorful, but each Cajon is different. It’s expressive and a very physical instrument. Some people have told me that I’ve inspired them to go buy a Cajon.
WYAT: You just recently released an album, your first that includes all three of you. What can fans expect from it?
Ruby: This album reflects what we do, this is how we sound. It’s the first album as a trio, and we wanted to capture the energy of how our music sounds live. It can be a richer experience to listen to the album after experiencing the visual of us performing.
Suki: We were really trying to capture the depth of our sound on this album, my cello, her guitar, his Cajon. We wanted to let the parts and the instruments’ tones speak for themselves.
Mike: We’ve got three good sets of ears in this band, and there was a song’s sound that I absolutely loved, and Ruby had said that she had me in mind for it. We all know what each other likes. There are lots of good musicians but not always good listeners. Just because you’re a great musician doesn’t mean you’re a good listener. You’ve got to pay attention. And with us, we’re all fully aware of the big picture.
Ruby: We’re just looking to convey what we feel like. I’m just excited to keep exploring our sound without going too far away from who we are.
Mike: We love playing for all you people, it’s a blast. It’s not typical stuff, but it’s our stuff.