An Embarrassment Of No. 1’s With RÜFÜS

First place isn’t an easy spot to get to, and nobody is more surprised than the boys from RÜFÜS, whose debut album hit No.1 with a bullet on the ARIA charts earlier this year. The band is riding high off the back of sell-out shows across the East Coast, with a prime main stage slot at this month’s ListenOut Festival the icing on the cake. In the spirit of #1s, we caught up with keyboardist and all-round legend Jon George to find out some of his other special firsts. 

We are probably the first band to record an album in a converted water tank.

It’s a big cement water tank that was used so long ago that it was functioning as storage for my parents. We decided to commandeer it, I guess, and none of us had picked up tools and drills and done this kind of renovation work before, but we managed to do it in there and build a little studio for ourselves. We were based in there for the whole year; even up until this tour we did some February rehearsing in there. It’s been pretty good. [My parents] didn’t really know that we’d taken it over for a while, because it’s pretty detached from the house. During the middle of the album process I reckon they got shitty about us being around all the time, but now they’re obviously pretty happy with the end result.

The first time I met our singer, Tyrone.

I lived up here in Byron for a year finishing my degree at SAE and that’s when Tyrone and I got together to write our first song. So it’s cool how many things have happened to get us back here and have us playing to a packed house. We just played four shows in a row; Newcastle, Sydney and Thredbo and ended up here. But they were all sold out, actually.

The first thing we did when we got to No. 1.

Um, what do we do? I think we just partied. We celebrated a lot. I think this stay in Byron is probably part of it; we just wanted to reward ourselves for all the hard work we’d been doing. We rehearsed right up until the start of the tour so this is really the first proper break we’ve had and the first time I’ve been able to reflect a little bit. It was very cool to have the tour coincide nicely with the hype and now we’re playing some solid rooms and packed houses. Some songs you can hardly hear because of how loud everyone is singing, so that’s pretty awesome!

The first festival we ever played.

It was Parklife actually! We were a bit giddy and excited, we had a really good turnout because [our single] ‘Paris Collides’ was getting a lot of airplay. We lapped it up and had a great day. I think we just ran around the festival backstage as much as we could and enjoyed all those little perks. We just made the most of the free food and seeing a couple of headliners side of stage.

The first DJ to believe in us.

Ajax had pretty much had heard the whole album and was one of the first people to take such a liking to it and give us solid feedback on every track. He really championed us to the label [Sweat It Out!] and signed us, so we structured the record around that. We were partying with him before he passed away, celebrating and talking about the future that we had together, so it was all very exciting. He hasn’t heard a track that we had written and we were going to send it onto him. It was a shame, but I’m sure he’s stoked for us right now and this is everything we dreamed up with him, so he really got us there in the end. 

The first thing you do when you get a AAA pass at a festival.

Get into the catering! But also there’s your idols and the people who inspired you to get into this industry that you can just party with, that’s pretty cool. There’s a nice little world going on behind these festivals; you can literally walk through any gate or any door with a certain pass, and you get to see some great stuff.

The first time I heard Booka Shade and Trentmoller.

I started getting into dance music when I went to Club 77 with my manager Danny. We went there religiously every week to listen to the tracks they [Bang Gang] were playing because you just couldn’t find those bootlegs on the Internet. I’d go every Friday to hear the new stuff; it’s the first time I heard Booka Shade and probably Trentmoller as well. It certainly influenced the direction in which we’ve taken our music. 

RÜFÜS play the Atari Stage at 3:45 for ListenOut Sydney and Melbourne.

As told to Jonno Seidler, who will be on the ground at ListenOut to bring you all the latest from behind backstage, face to face with the artists and from inside the crowd (weird…) Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@pedestriantv) to catch regular updates.