Smile Politely

Kids ‘R Us: New Ruins as interviewed by a trio of children


New Ruins — “Symptons” (from We Make Our Own Bad Luck)

We Make Our Own Bad Luck marks a rebirth for local musicians and overall smooth operators, New Ruins. Who better to interview singer/guitarist Caleb Means than a few kids only years past their own births? Lili is a six-year-old whose interests include learning French and playing the piano. Kian and Reza are her four-year-old twin brothers with a passion for superheroes, temporary tattoos, and chocolate milk. Means sat down with the three budding investigative journalists clad in their Halloween costumes — Spiderman, a Power Ranger, and a pirate, respectively. I intervened only when their minds wandered, as children’s minds often do.

Lili: Caleb is not a magician.

Caleb Means: I’m a musician.

Lili: Are you a singer?

CM: Yes, in fact I am. Definitely not a magician.

Lili: Are you an instrument?

CM: Yes, my mouth is a guitar.

Lili: Are you Spiderman?

CM: I have been once before when I was a kid. My Halloween costume was Spiderman pajamas stuffed with towels.

Lili: What about your mask?

CM: I didn’t have a mask.

Lili: Is Elzie a girl?

CM: No, Elzie has a beard like me. There are five boys in the band.

Reza: No girls at all?

CM: Nope.

Reza: Can Lili join your band?


Lili: We [Reza, Kian, and Lili] don’t make music. We make noise. We play pots and pans.(Pauses and looks at her foot.) I stepped on a sticky thing!

Smile Politely: Do you have any secrets you’d like to share about your new album?

CM: Most people don’t realize how long it took to make.

SP: How long was that?

CM: Start to finish … about a year and a half.

SP: A year and a half?

CM: Yeah there are a few reasons for that — first album as a full band, the change from lo-fi and acoustic to a large-and-in-charge sound, and we used a few new instruments. Also, many people might not know how personal the album is. Some of the old songs are pretty personal, and we decided we can’t keep visiting them over and over by playing them.

Reza: (Stuffs pillows into his costume) Look how big I am!

Lili: Reza, you are so fat now.

SP: Now that you guys are practically celebrities, what do you plan on doing?

CM: Drink fine wine, hang out with Brad and Angelina, and play backup band for the Rolling Stones.

SP: Will you call yourselves The Band?

CM: No we will not.

SP: Will you go to Disney World?

CM: Is it Disney World or Disney Land?

SP: The one after the World Series? Disney World.

CM: We’re going to single-handedly jump start the economy.

Lili: Why are you going to jump?

CM: Jump start. Make it happen.

SP: What’s your favorite song on the new album?

CM: We made a song called “And All the Night.” We released it on EP in 2004, re-recorded for the new record, and put more layers in it. It was fun to remake some old stuff.

SP: What, in your opinion, was the best part of the process?

CM: I would say getting to learn some new recording techniques and tricks — that sort of thing. This is only my third full-length album. By far, it was great to learn from the man [bassist/guitarist Paul Chastain].

SP: Tell me about the artwork for the album.

CM: The artwork was, of course, the work of Mr. Elzie Sexton. It looks even more beautiful on the new vinyl. He uses photographs of his family and themes in his art.

SP: What was the theme for this one?

CM: Canons and flowers.

SP: Like Guns and Roses?

CM: (Laughs) No. Canons. He always includes family themes in there.

Lili: You’re not a rock star.

Caleb: I’m not yet.

Lili: You’re not in a band.

Reza: I feel my underpants.

CM: That’s pretty special.

SP: How did you choose brick red for the vinyl?             

CM: It matched the colors of the flowers in the artwork, and it’s the color of blood. We talk about blood on this record.

SP: When’s the last time you bled?

CM: I sliced my knuckle open at work a few weeks ago. We mention blood in two or three songs. It’s a dark theme.

SP: What’s your blood type?

CM: I don’t know. Am I supposed to know that?

SP: Yes.

Fun fact: the art in the center of the vinyl was taken from a child’s tambourine.


Be sure to check out New Ruins’ CD release show this Saturday, Feb. 28, at Cowboy Monkey. Common Loon starts the show off at 10 p.m., Tractor Kings play at 11 p.m. and New Ruins hit the stage at 12:15 a.m. New Ruins will be playing their entire album, and there will be vinyl, CDs, tapes, and t-shirts available for public consumption. If you want to win some free tickets and also a copy of the new album, click here for details.

Illustration of Means by Reza. Band photo by Cody Bralts.


If you enjoyed this article, Smile Politely recommends:

+ Growing up before our ears (New Ruins’ CD review)
+ Sneak peak at new New Ruins CD

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