- - Thursday, March 31, 2016

Two brothers in a band never seems to work out. Just look at Oasis, The Kinks and The Black Crowes. That’s why having three brothers in a group may seem like a recipe for disaster. Or does it? Aussie rockers The Rubens don’t think so.

The core of the band is made up of a trio of siblings known as the Margin Brothers: Sam is the singer, Elliot plays keyboards, and Zaac is on lead guitar. They are augmented by childhood pal Scott Baldwin on drums and bassist William Zeglis. Their 2012 debut CD captured the ear of an international audience thanks to the powerful singles “Lay It Down” and “My Gun.”

In support of their brilliant 2016 sophomore album “Hoops,” The Rubens will stop at the District’s Rock and Roll Hotel Saturday. Lead singer Sam Margin discussed this brotherhood of rock, his desire to visit a made-up Kennedy assassination Smithsonian exhibit and how listening to hip-hop music makes you feel a lot cooler than you really are.

Question: How long have you and your brothers been making music?

Answer: We’ve been making music together for as long as the band has existed — four years. We are shy about playing music together. I guess that’s why growing up we never played music together. As you are growing up age differences mean different things. I didn’t want to play with a little brother.

Q: What finally made you guys form The Rubens?

A: I was playing solo stuff in London, and I came back because nothing really happened. We decided we were going to make a band. We were influenced by old blues artists but didn’t think we could play that stuff. Then The Black Keys came along and did something really cool, and we thought, “Maybe we can play that kind of music.”

Q: How did the nonbrother bandmates fall into place?

A: First we got Scott the drummer. We went to high school together. It wasn’t until we came to the States to make the first record that we found a bass player. Will was a friend of a friend. We joke that the only reason he joined the band was because he wanted to get over his massive fear of flying. Joining the band meant he had to fly to the States and get over his fear. He wasn’t meant to be a permanent member.

We tried to do The Doors thing with my brother Elliot playing keyboards and bass peddles. But he wasn’t that good. [laughs] That’s the beauty of being with your brothers. You can be brutally honest.

Q: Being in a band of brothers doesn’t always work out so well when you look at The Kinks or Oasis. How do you guys make it work?

A: I guess our personalities are pretty different enough. We’re three different characters, and the only thing we agree on is our musical taste and direction. That makes it easy. I guess The Gallagher Brothers don’t get along with anyone, let alone each other.

Q: How has the band grown in the three years between CDs?

A: Creatively we’ve grown. Our strategy as to how we approach music has changed. We’ve become better at playing our instruments and I’ve become a better singer. In that time we’ve also played hundreds of shows and worked out how to write a record that’s gonna be enjoyable to play live.

Q: Are you already thinking about the next record?

A: On the first record our manager and label said, “Don’t stop writing before you know if you’re going to have to make another record.” We were like, “Really? Do you know how hard we worked to make this record? Can we have a moment to enjoy this?” But of course they were right. We realized that constantly writing is the only way to come up with something that is close to a hit. For us anyway.

Q: Is the goal to write a hit?

A: Definitely. If you have a hit it means you can continue to do what you love to do. And I’m not trying to write a hit that’s not us. You just hope that one of them, whatever it is, is gonna land. Call it a hit if you want. People always say, “You just need that one song.” We’d like to think we’ve got more than one.

Q: Who influenced you as a singer?

A: Tracy Chapman. I love her melodies. I was kind of scared to sing blues and R&B melodies until The Black Keys came along. I’m a white Australian dude with a voice that needed some work. Al Green, Bill Withers, Marvin Gaye are also influences.

Q: What is the one thing you need on the road?

A: Melatonin. You can get it over-the-counter here. In Australia you need a prescription. That changed my life. Being from Australia, we are just full of jetlag wherever we go in the world.

That and a portable speaker to listen to music before shows.

Q: What kind of music do you listen to preshow to get psyched up?

A: Generally hip-hop. Hip-hop makes you feel cooler than you really are. When you listen to it, the image of yourself isn’t really what you look like. But that’s what you need before you go onstage.

Q: Will you get downtime in D.C.?

A: I hope so. This time out I’m really keen on doing The Smithsonian. I would love to visit them all. They have like a space one, right?

Q: The National Air and Space Museum.

A: Is there also a JFK assassination exhibit, or it that something that I’ve made up?

Q: You may have made that up. In the Reagan Library in California there is an exhibit about his assassination.

A: I must be mixing JFK with Reagan. May need more melatonin.

The Rubens play the Rock and Roll Hotel alongside The Naked and Famous Saturday.


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