The Rua brings the honesty and soul that pop rock's been searching for
In a musical age where anyone can record a song on their laptop and upload to SoundCloud, The Rua proves that a classical undestanding of music theory and structure can go the extra mile.
The band from Windsor, England is made up of siblings Roseanna, Alanna and Jonathan Brown. All are formally trained to sing and play music in areas like opera and classical. However, their schooling is second to the level of talent that already runs in their blood.
The Brown trio comes from the kind of big Irish family that comes together to sing at every chance they can get. The siblings recall performing in front relatives in order to stay up late during the holidays and being pushed to start a band by their own father.
It helps to have a musically-inclined parents to put on you on to the best of the old and the new. It shows in The Rua's sometimes nostalgic sound that evokes Fleetwood Mac and The Cranberries with modern sensibilities. With piano and violin utilized in their songs, The Rua's style of pop rock, like its members, is young and unbothered yet has an old soul about it.
The umatched level of honesty between the band members is something only shared by brothers and sisters. It shows both in The Rua's lyrics and in the way they work and interact. We spoke with the band about their writing process, light-up Mickey Mouse outfits and the joys of hugging fans.
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What musical influences guide your sound?
Roseanna: We, as kids, grew up listening to absolutely everything. Our mom was a massive T. Rex fan, so we listened to lots of Marc Bolan, Corrs, Cranberries, Carpenters. But we listen to all genres of music, so Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift, Coldplay.
Jonathan: I think if we like a song, then we like a song. We don't really care who it's by.
Roseanna: We also listen to classical stuff as well. We were in choir. If we hear a certain choir piece in music, we kind of freak out about that.
You all studied music classically in some capacity, so how does that affect how you operate as a musician now?
Alanna: I think it probably gave us a good grounding to start. We had violin lessons, piano lessons, singing lessons. We did grades in them. We did choir together.
Jonathan: It kind of taught us the structure of music, which I think has helped us quite a lot in how we write and where to go with certain chords and things like that.
Alanna: We don't always base everything on that, though.
Roseanna: I think it's subconsciously there. I don't think we force it out. I did a classical music degree, so I did opera. That's completely different to what we do now. But in terms of singing, I think that's helped me definitely with the way I sing and technique. I don't get hoarse or use my voice that much.
At what moment did you all decide to become a band?
Roseanna: We didn't. Our dad was like, "You guys should play together more." We were always told to stand up and sing together when were younger.
Alanna: (In parents' voice) "C'mon, get up. Sing us a song."
Jonathan: We've got a big Irish family, so we would always go over to Ireland for Chirstmas, Easter and New Year. And always played music together.
Alanna: When you were younger, you were able to stay up later if you practiced. So that would make us do it. And everyone would get together and do it all together, so we have always had that when we were growing up.
Roseanna: Yeah, family and friends would always play together. Then, Dad was like, "You should play together more." So, we did. We started writing together, and it just worked.
Jonathan: We noticed our writing styles kind of complimented each other. It worked well.
Roseanna: Then, everything just took over from there.
And what is it like working along side your siblings?
Alanna: No, it's good. It's just your siblings, just like any other family.
Roseanna: Yeah, we don't know any different. We don't miss home that much. We miss the dog. But because we're together, we don't get homesick. We can talk to each other about anything. I think if we were friends in a band, we could potentially hurt each other's feelings more with how precise we can be with saying "you played that wrong" or "we did this wrong" or "I don't like this." But because we're family, we don't know any different.
Jonathan: And we know we're saying it to help each other.
Roseanna: We might hate each other for a second.
Jonathan: But you forget about it.
Who plays what role in the music creation process?
Alanna: It really varies. It depends as well on who started writing a song. Then, you have someone else come in, shoving them off the piano, "Let me do it, let me do it!" One of us will come downstairs, and be like, "Maybe, the melody should be like this."
Roseanna: We have to all agree on the chord structure, the words and the melody or else we don't continue. I'm surprised we even finish songs. But we do agree on everything that goes on.
Jonathan: But sometimes, one person will just do it. The other two will just listen, and be like, "Nothing has to be changed." It's done.
We're big fans of "Without You". What specifically went into that song?
Alanna: Oh, we love that song.
Roseanna: Alanna and I were chilling out in the music room. And we were like, "We should really write a song." (Looks at Alanna) You sat down on the piano and started playing chords. I was just singing a random melody and words. Then, you said the word suffocating. And I was like, "I really like that word. We haven't had that word in a song before."
Jonathan: They were writing away. Then, I came home and was like, "No, no, no, no, change the key."
Alanna: "To a harder one to play."
Jonathan:(laughs) "To a harder one to play." The chorus didn't work, so we call came up with a different chorus.
Roseanna: But we didn't actually call it "Without You". What did we call it?
Jonathan: "Won't Change My Mind"
Roseanna: We got to the studio when we were recording. Then, they were like, "Why on Earth did you call 'Won't Change My Mind'?"
Jonathan: "Then, okay, we'll call it 'Without You'." And sped it up, loads.
Alanna: We were wrote it just before we went to the studio as well, so the actual process of us writing is very similar to the video. It follows kinds of the same process as the actual song.
What is the biggest difference between your U.K. fans and your U.S. fans?
Roseanna: I think the U.S. fans are more vocal, and they hug lots. But I don't mind that. I like hugging people. Maybe, that's me. Maybe, I instigate it. I think all our fans are really, really lovely, the U.K. ones, the European ones, the U.S. ones. They're all pretty vocal with us, and we like talking to them on all social media, actually. They talk to us a lot, we like that.
Has one performance ever stuck out to you as the best or most memorable?
Jonathan: We did a show in Worcester, up in Boston. That was really cool. It was a Christmas show, and we went to Disney a couple weeks before. I bought this light-up Mickey Mouse kind of thing to wear.
Roseanna: We were being festive.
Jonathan: I was going to flick it on for a Christmas cover. We did a Christmas song, but I left it off stage. So, I got everyone to put on the light on their phones.
Roseanna: It was really pretty.
Jonathan: We did that when we were out in Lambert.
Roseanna: With us, what you see is kind of what you get. We act like family onstage as well. We were playing a gig in Denver. That was with Michael Franti and A Great Big World. We always like to talk to the audience first. We went on, we were chatting away. Jon was pressing play on the drums and violin which we have on backing, and my guitar wasn't working. And I just panicked. I was like --
Roseanna: "-- stop, stop, we can't carry on. It's not working, my guitar's broken." I looked down, and I hadn't plugged it in. There was three thousand people look at me, and I was like, "I'm an idiot. I am so sorry." Everyone laughed. This guy wrote a really nice review, like, "I became a fan of The Rua when Roseanna declared herself an idiot." I was just like, "Yes!" So the silly things stick out to me.
Watch The Rua perform in the video below:
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