Although 2020 has been an objectively difficult year, local artists all over the place continue to plug away at making their dreams a reality. Case in point: Rujen.
Consisting of Ryan Miller on vocals and rhythm guitar, Creighton Perme on lead guitar, Nick Hanchey on keys and synths, Charlie Brady on bass and Ryan Barrett on drums, Miller talked about the band's origins over a text exchange.
“The majority of us met in Milledgeville back in 2011 while attending Georgia College, where Creighton, Charlie and I were putting together songs under a different moniker and playing shows around Milledgeville/Athens, but it wasn’t until 2016 that we added Nick on keys and synth and changed our name to Rujen with the intent of evolving our sound and style a bit to line up more with the type of music we were into at the time. Ryan B. is the newest addition to the band after a lineup change that happened late last year and has helped us to refine our sound even further,” he said.
Miller also spoke at length about what the band draws from influence wise.
“Each of us kind of have our own specific niche of music we love, but there’s a lot of overlap in the modern psych rock realm with bands like Grizzly Bear, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Tame Impala, Dungen and the likes. We are typically drawn to guitar-driven albums with dense mixes that include a lot of textures and layers ….which I’d say is a big part of our recording and mixing process as well,” he said.
Miller continued, mentioning how they reference those aforementioned influences to create their own sound.
“We’re all about trying to create big atmospheres of sound with subtle textures that you might not catch right away. Albums that I can continuously come back to and hear a new little synth line or guitar lick floating around in the background of a song I’ve listened to a million times over always end up being my favorites. For us, I think we ultimately just want to create music with a lot of emotion and feeling to it - whether that’s achieved through our lyrics and melodies or by simply riding out an instrumental section and letting the music speak for itself for a while,” he said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a large toll on the entertainment industry, and Miller says they are no different.
“The pandemic has been tough on us just as it has on everyone else for sure. We had made plans to record a full-length record and were actively meeting up two or three days out of the week to record some tracks which felt really good. Creighton had just recently upgraded a bunch of gear in our home studio and were super excited to get to work on tracking some songs that we’ve been playing live for a couple years now as well as some fresher tunes we had just finished up writing,” he said.
However, they used it as a chance to keep creating through different means.
“But as things began to shut down around the city, we decided it would be best to keep our distance for a while and try to think of new ways to keep the ball rolling. Nick and I had recently finished setting up our own little home studios and so we began to toss some files back and forth which was a totally new way of collaborating for us, but was a rather fun and exciting process …I would send over a rough track with some simple rhythm guitar, vocals, and maybe some bass, and a couple hours later he’d send me back some Rhodes and synth tracks to layer on top and all the sudden it was beginning to sound like we had something special going. We’re just now starting to get back together as a band and hearing some of these songs that were written in isolation come to life in a band setting has been a super rewarding and refreshing experience to say the least,” Miller said.
Miller’s father, Richard, who graduated from BGSU in 1984, said about the band, “I think he (Ryan) is right on the cusp of doing really big things with the band. They have not only built a national following but also have amazing fans in Italy, United Kingdom, France, Germany & Australia,” he said. “I originally thought the band would be a weekend hobby type thing. When I first heard their EP Elsewhere my expectations sky rocketed. Now with the release of Tarot, I think they have shown the world they can make great music.”
Miller finally mentioned where he wanted the band to be in the future, assuming the world goes back to being somewhat normal.
“In five years time I’d love to see us out on the road touring what is hopefully a few album releases at that point! It’s been a lifelong goal of ours, but we have yet to be in a position where we felt ready for it. Now that we’ve got a couple years worth of local shows under our belt, I think it’s been on all of our minds - especially now that we’ve been locked at home going stir crazy for almost the entirety of the year!”
As far as the immediate future, however, a new album is the band’s focus.
“Without any shows to prepare or plan for, finishing up a full-length record is where our heads are at currently. Playing and writing songs together over the past four-to-five years has landed us in a position where we have a lot of tracks that we are eager to finish recording and finally share! I think it’s gearing up to be some of our best released work yet, and I think I speak for us all when I say I’m really looking forward to getting it out there,” Miller said.
You can follow the band on Instagram @rujenmusic, and can stream the band’s new single “Tarot,” along with their other works, on all streaming services.