When we started the Wicked Channel Hall of Fame, if you would have told me not only am I going to induct Lesley Rankine in it, but get the chance to interview her I would have told you, you were insane. It was 1991, I went to a music store and they were playing Silverfish. The first second I heard the vocals I knew that I discovered something really special. Her work in Pigface, is some of the best stuff Atkins and crew has ever done, and her solo stuff have been the number one cds of the years they were released. This just does not seem real, but it is. Lesley Rankine is in our Hall of Fame…..and here is my interview with Ruby herself.
1. Lesley Rankine, I have to say right now this is so beyond an honor. What was the first song or record that inspired you to pursuit music?
I don’t think there was one song that inspired me to *make* music. It was more of a cumulative thing. I started loving music very early and, for me, it was always the thing that captured my imagination and transported me off to another world. I can remember the first song that did that, though. It was America, ‘Horse with no name’. I must have been about 6 and was in our kitchen late on a summer evening with the dying sun oozing through the venetian blinds and making slatted patterns across the kitchen. My mum was polishing my shoes ready for school the next day and then this song came on the radio. The music and the warmth and colour of the sun fit perfectly and I just stood there with my body in Scotland and my mind off in some baking desert somewhere. It was the first time I ever remember being ‘transported’ by music and it’s still so vivid in my imagination it could have been yesterday.
2. I know the gap between Salt Peter and Short Staffed had to deal with someone not wanting to give you the album back to release. What was the reason for the gap between Short Staffed and Revert to
Mostly it was that I’d reached the point in my life where I wanted to have a baby. There were lots of other things going on in my personal and family life and it was like the planets lined up and pointed back to Scotland I’d been living in Seattle for a while, and spent most of the previous 15 years traveling and being totally focused on music. I wanted a personal life and a baby and once I had those I was totally focused on them and had no intention of going on tour or traveling anywhere.
3. In your absence from the scene, did you miss music? Did you miss recording?
For the first few years I hardly listened to music at all. My focus was on my son and family life and the solitude and freedom from attention that my life in the Scottish countryside offered. I missed the physicality of singing and the expression of songwriting I suppose. I always saw singing and songwriting as the way I really communicated with the world and when I gave it up I knew I would miss it. But I was raising my son and refurbing our house, so I had no time to really think about music. The turn came when I heard Radiohead’s ‘In Rainbows’ and I started having little ideas for song parts and started to be inspired by music again.
4. Do you view Revert to Type as a comeback record?
Yep. That’s really the meaning of the title – returning to something you’d left behind. I hate the word ‘comeback’ though, but it really can’t be anything else, can it?
5. There are rumors of a tour upcoming? Are you going to tour America? Also, will this be all Ruby music or are you going to throw in some Silverfish and Pigface stuff?
Yes, we’re hoping to start touring the US early next year and hopefully follow with some dates in Europe and the UK.
Yes, all Ruby. I don’t really like the idea of using Silverfish or Pigface songs in a Ruby show – it turns it into the Lesley Rankine Variety show then!! Unless we totally reworked the songs so they were more like Ruby remixes of S’Fish n’ Pigface songs……..might be an interesting idea!!
6. This is a segment that I call name association, but I wanted to do something different. I am going to name some records and you just say anything you want.
a. Silverfish-Fat Axl – Aaah, where it all began……………
b. Pigface-Fook – Fun times
c. Ruby-Short Staffed at the Gene Pool – That ‘difficult’ 2nd album
d. Therapy?-Troublegum – Did my first live performance in 11 years, last year with Therapy?, singing ‘Lunacy Booth’ – it was like coming home!! Love those boys.
7. Do you think downloading is solely responsible for the death of music buying? Also, do you think the music scene can ever thrive again?
Record sales dipped in the eighties when tapes and the Walkman came in. Things like popularity of a medium fluctuate and music sales do the same. I think sales will thrive again –maybe not to where they were in the nineties but we don’t need those kinds of sales to prop up that kind of industry any more.
I think convenience is key and the legal acquisition of music needs to be the most convenient option, and at a fair price. The reason Napster happened was because music lovers were being squeezed to buy multiple formats in order to get everything from their favourite artists and people were really being ripped off. Now artists are closer to their fans with social networks, everything feels more organic, DIY and personal, and we need to nurture a culture where it’s not acceptable to just keep downloading music for free because the vast majority of artists are not rock stars and millionaires and, just as music lovers should not be ripped off for loving music, music makers shouldn’t be ripped off for making it. It’s in all of our interests that music is bought rather than stolen. I don’t want to wait 5 years for another Alt-j album ‘cos they’re all too busy working at the post office!!
8. Let’s be honest Lesley, when you were in Pigface you really created some of the best music that they recorded. When you left to pursuit your Ruby project as you know others have come in and tried to sing your stuff live. Meg Lee Chin and Hanin Elias being the main two who have taken your role thru the years. Have you heard either of them sing your stuff? And if so, are you a fan of it? I mean, rumor has it the three of you have some kind of past when you all auditioned for Garbage. Any truth to that?
NO! That’s the first I’ve heard about the Garbage audition. I never auditioned for Garbage and I suspect that particular nugget is just hot air. I was asked if I’d like to be in Garbage but at that time I’d just left Silverfish and had no desire to be in another band and I was starting to write solo (Ruby) material.
I’ve only heard Meg sing and I’m not a fan. But the thing I’m even less a fan of was that she had a habit of getting her tits out on stage at one time and some people actually thought that was me! Needless to say I was horrified at that idea. I’ve never heard Hanin nor know anything about her. I was never really ‘in’ Pigface –I never played live with them (apart from opening up for them with Silverfish) Pigface was always a side project for me. It was great fun recording with them though, and I would have liked to do some live stuff but I was always too busy with Ruby.
(This rumor was started when I interviewed Meg Lee Chin in 2010. Meg mentioned that there are Garbage demos that have her on vocals also Hanin and Lesley. I been dying to ask Lesley or Hanin if this is true, because not too many people have nice things to say about Meg. And in case people do not know who Hanin Elias is, she was a member of the Atari Teenage Riot, does solo stuff and is a touring member of Pigface)
9. What do you think is the biggest misconception of Lesley Rankine?
That my name (or the name I prefer to be called) is Ruby. My own fault really– I was warned by the guys at Creation that everyone would think my name was Ruby if I called the band Ruby. Not much to complain about really!
Also, maybe that I’m aggressive, and a bit scary. I’m passionate about stuff, but I’m a big softy, always got a big smile on my face and even though I’m a bit of a loner, I’m really friendly.
10. Do you think the Lesley Rankine of 2013 could do a record like Cockeye?
Only if I hadn’t done Cockeye before. I don’t like repetition.
11. Would you be down to do a Silverfish reunion? What about if Atkins called for a Pigface reunion?
Yes to both. Both could be fun.
12. What was the last cd you had to rush out first day of release to buy?
I don’t buy cds any more but the last album I pre-ordered is James Blake – Retrograde.
13. In 2013, with a new ep out what are your musical goals?
Basically to make music that I, and hopefully other people, can find some kind of worth or fulfillment in, and keep on doing it for the rest of my life!! Nice thought, eh?
14. In the 90’s. you did a Mountain Dew commercial, you did a duet with Tom Jones and Rolling Stone magazine was calling you buzz worthy. What has been your biggest high so far? And also what is your lowest low?
I might be a bit of weirdo, but I was never phased by the Mountain Dew or the Tom Jones stuff – yes it was great fun, but it all seemed a bit ‘other worldy’. One thing recently that’s made my day is Toronto Public Library, on their teen site, featuring Ruby on their ‘music video Monday’ feature. I just think it’s really great- encouraging kids to read AND listen to Ruby! FAB!!
15. A lot of people are going to be surprised you are not working with Mark Walk on this new record. Is the door open for you guys to work on something else down the road?
No, I don’t think so. We’re pretty much on different musical planets.
16. You know this question was coming, so you gave us what 4 new songs including Waiting for Light and some remixes. Are there plans for a full length cd? If so, details…
YES. We started the year with 10 new songs and have been trying to decide whether to release an ‘album’, or just eps. Everyone keeps saying no one wants albums anymore and releasing two eps a year is preferable in terms of keeping up a profile, rather than putting out one album, then disappearing for 8 months. But my gut instinct keeps leaning toward an album, so I want to record at least another couple of tracks for it so we’ll hopefully have an album out by October/November.
17. If you could tour with anyone or band alive or dead who would it be and why?
Jesus Lizard, Bjork,James Blake, Alt-j, MBV, Cat Power – LOVE ‘em. Janis Joplin would have been great!
18. This is time to admit some things to us….
a. What is the most embarrassing song you have on your iPod?
Probably Justin Timberlake or Connor Maynard – I have one song each of theirs because it has great production. Otherwise, luckily I have very little sense of shame so I have loads of classic rock – like Steve Miller and Joe Walsh which I’ll happily revel in in public!!
b. What is your biggest vice?
Wine, or my inability to read a whole book – no attention span.
c. When was the last time you dyed your hair blue?
d. The last movie you saw in the theater?
I went last night to see Monsters University with my son. Didn’t think it was as good a Monsters Inc but the youngling liked it, so ‘job done’!
e. When I think of myself, I think I am a _________
reasonably decent human being with lots of little flaws. Oh well, can’t win ‘em all. We need to love our bad bits as much as our good. They’re just as much a part of who we are.
19. Where did you get the name Ruby from?
My Granny. It was initially going to be the album name and I had some other name for the band, but then when I found out it was Mark Walk’s Granny’s name too, we decided (probably over a few bottles of wine) that it would be better for a band name.
20. That hopefully was not so hard, and I have to say Lesley Rankine this was such a huge honor. This is your chance to plug and promote what you got coming up and how these readers can reach out to you. I love you Ruby, thank you so much.
You’re very welcome, it’s been a pleasure.
The ep ‘Revert to Type’ will be out 23rd July followed by an album later in the fall (and possibly another single in between time)
Keep tuned to my Facebook (facebook.com/rubylesleyrankine), Twitter(@LesleyRankine) or Youtube (youtube.com/user/rubymusicmedia) for news.
Free downloads are available from http://rubylastlife.viinyl.com, and waitingforlight.viinyl.com
Then hopefully a tour in the new year- Woo hoo!!