TheVine story: ‘RÜFÜS: “I grew up butt-naked on the dirt”‘, March 2014

An in-depth interview with RÜFÜS frontman, Tyrone Lindqvist. Read the excerpt below or check out the full story at TheVine.

RUFUS Sydney Summer low res

Disclosure: I have history of sorts with Tyrone Lindqvist. Or more accurately, I have history of sorts with Lindqvist’s father, Ken.

Two and a half years ago I travelled to Lightning Ridge, eleven hours west of Brisbane, where Ken lives and works as an opal miner. Lightning Ridge is something of a desert-locked frontier town fallen on quieter times, the depressed price for opal offset by farming and the more adventurous tourists who flock through to rubber neck and hear about the glory days. Ken is one of a handful of professional full-timers left in the trade who make a good living, working twenty feet underground with a partner and a hydraulic excavator, searching for the precious gem.

A Vine story was the result of that visit. It should be noted that Ken didn’t appear anywhere in that piece, but we did discuss his life in detail, including Tyrone, who grew up in Lighting Ridge and at the time was just beginning to make waves in Sydney with RÜFÜS bandmates Jon George and James Hunt. We listened to his music that night, warming ourselves by a house party’s open fire and leaning in close so we could hear the tinny tones on Ken’s smartphone.

Cut to early 2014 and RÜFÜS are set to conquer the world. Or that’s how it feels anyway, with a two month tour planned throughout North America — where for legal reasons they’re now known as RÜFÜS DU SOL — and Europe, including a stop at Austin’s now iconic music festival, South by Southwest. All this on the heels of the band’s rise in Australia, which has been something of a soft chorus building into a roaring crescendo.

Over the last twenty-four months they’ve released single after single, each subsequent release keeping them bobbing towards the top of the alternative airwaves. Atlas, the band’s debut album, was well received by critics in August, and still has plenty left in the kitty as the band get set to release ‘Sundream’, the first song on the album.

At the time of publication, the three-piece are winging their way to California. But before they departed, I caught up with Lindqvist (the younger) on the phone. Among other things we talked about growing up in Lightning Ridge, his close working relationship with his bandmates, and of course, the legal wrangle that resulted in their North American name change.

Where are you, Tyrone? 

I’m actually in Coogee, or the Randwick-Coogee area, I guess

That’s where you’re living?

That’s where I’ve lived for the last five or six years. I moved up the road recently, but it’s pretty much the same area.

How different is life for you compared to twelve months ago? Because you guys had a huge 2013, and I think it rolled into the new year with the Big Day Out shows. Does life feel very different?

To be honest, not really (laughs). I’m doing the same stuff that I was doing. Me and the guys are hanging out every day, making tunes and doing whatever it is we need to do, whether it’s rehearsing for the next bunch of live shows or writing new material or doing remixes or going and getting a mix ready for a DJ set. I guess the difference is now, we can see a little bit of money rolling in which means financially we can have a bit of air. We can breathe a little easier.

But we were getting by before, whether we were working jobs on the side. It wasn’t stressful. You just needed to make the time to do what you loved doing. Now, it’s just more time doing what you love doing, and it’s a little easier to breathe. And also the shows. The shows we’re doing now — the difference between a year ago — you’d play in front of three or four hundred people and they’d know some songs and the vibe was great, but now it’s been turned on its head where you’re playing shows in front of thousands of people and they’re singing the words to almost every song on your album. It’s like, “Holy shit!” It’s the best feeling.

I was saying to someone recently: over New Years we were playing Falls and I wasn’t drinking. And I’d come off stage and someone would say, “Let’s have a beer!” And I don’t want a beer: “I don’t want anything that will stop me from feeling this high!” It’s crazy. You go out there and you have three hundred people giving you energy; if you’re playing in front of four thousand people, you can imagine that energy. And you’re giving that back. You’re feeding off them and they’re feeding off you. It’s this crazy ride where you come off stage and you just feel amazing.

What about life on the road: are you used to that? Martin Novosel from Purple Sneakers told me recently that you try to keep it pretty professional, giving yourselves days off and so on. Does it come easily to you guys?

Yeah, I guess we’ve done it a lot. And we’ve done it with barely any money, so you’d be sleeping on floors and this and that. And you’d just be doing it to get by and do what you love and get your music out there. And when you do that for a few years and you get used to it and suddenly you get a bed to sleep in, it’s basically a luxury. Touring isn’t really that hard. Our lives for the last three years, we’ve definitely had hardly any structure. So we’re used to it. You stay up until 3am one night and then you’ve got to get up at 6am, and you sleep on the flight. And you play the next night at 12am. I dunno. It’s all very topsy-turvy but feels kinda normal. You just make it happen. It’s not hard.

You moved around a little bit when you were younger — you visited Sweden, where you’re dad is from, and went to boarding school at St Ignatius Riverview when you were 12 years old. Does that make it easier to adjust to life on the road, do you think? Did it set you up well?

I think boarding school helped, because it teaches you to make friends with a lot of people and get along with different characters. You have to live with them even if you’re not best mates with someone. You learn to get by and you learn to make it work. You learn to not feel crap, I guess (laughs). And that’s the really cool thing, because on the road you meet a lot of people, you work with a lot of people, and its’ in your best interests to get along with everyone and to have as little conflict as possible with anyone. So I guess you get good at that.

You did a lot of growing up in Lightning Ridge. A lot of RÜFÜS fans wouldn’t know about that town and how crazy it is. What’s it like growing up there?

(Laughs) It’s crazy. It’s cool. I mean, I grew up butt-naked on the dirt, with this small Swedish-speaking community. My dad’s Swedish and he had a couple of mates over there. There would have been about eight of them living in the middle of nowhere, digging for opal and just trying to make a living. I guess it was an adventure, it was exciting, and growing up there: I went to school there and the kids are all very similar to me and very similar to every other kid — going to school, having fun. I guess living in the middle of nowhere, it’s definitely a different experience and it makes you appreciate the city life and it makes you appreciate the life in seclusion.

For the full article, visit TheVine.

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