Ruen Brothers create neo-noir Western gold with their upcoming album Ten Paces, their third full-length and first on Yep Roc Records.
“We aimed to create something cinematic and personal, an album that takes listeners out of their world and into the West, like Marty Robbins’ Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs does,” says Rupert.
A Western record may seem out-of-place for two British brothers (Rupert and Henry Stansall) raised thousands of miles from the desert landscape from which they draw. However, their hometown of Scunthorpe, England offers more similarities than you might expect.
An industrial steel town, Scunthorpe sits amid the vast farmlands of Northeast England. “We tended to horses and often got stuck behind a tractor on the way to school,” recalls Henry. “Mum would play American western films as Rupert fingerpicked a nylon string guitar and I practiced my Howard Keel impersonation,” he laughs.
This upbringing gave them the confidence to embrace their love of the genre through this album, having first hand knowledge of saddling up, strumming guitars and spending hours and hours in fields, bars and barns in the middle of nowhere.
The experiences combine with the Brothers’ technical prowess – Rupert is a classically trained guitarist; Henry, a choir-trained tenor with a dynamic four-octave range – to create a tour-de-force album that both glorifies and modernizes the Western genre.
In addition to ten spectacular tracks, Ruen Brothers have created slick, noiresque images and videos inspired by mid-century films like ‘The Night of the Hunter’ to further immerse the audience in their romantic, haunting vision.
Ten Paces was also produced by Rupert who developed the skill after receiving a four-track cassette recorder on his tenth birthday. He’s helmed many Ruen Brothers singles to date including their first UK radio hit “Aces,” and their 2021 album ULTRAMODERN. Ten Paces further showcases his astounding technical ability as he deftly manages to preserve the quality and authenticity of early recording gear and techniques, while achieving a uniquely modern sound.
More still, Ruen Brothers had the hurdle of writing and recording Ten Paces while living on opposite coasts. Rupert would craft the base of the recordings from Los Angeles then send them to Henry to lay down acoustic guitar and vocals in Brooklyn.
Henry often recorded hundreds of vocal takes to get the delivery and emotion just right for each song. “My approach to the vocal delivery on Ten Paces differs from that of previous records,” Henry shares. “I sang much of the album in a lower octave register than usual to create a grounded and conversational feel, true to the laconic, hard boiled characters of the West.” This lower register – apparent in upcoming single “The Fear” – also reflects his years of covering Johnny Cash songs in their British pub days.
Another vocal method Henry used in Ten Paces was “jumping between octaves” in songs where emotions are highest. His love for Orbison and extensive training helped him achieve that balance of power and delicacy in ballads like “Bullet Blues” and “The Good Surely Die.”
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