The Ruen Brothers Talk New Album, the Rick Rubin-Produced 'All My Shades of Blue'

The Ruen Brothers’ Rupert (left) and Henry Stansall

The Ruen Brothers’ Rupert (left) and Henry Stansall
(Image: © Jacob Blickenstaff)

For most millennials, their first musical experiences came via earbuds and the internet. Not so for Henry and Rupert Stansall. Growing up in Scunthorpe, England, the two brothers were raised on the booming sounds of their father’s stereo. “Our dad had an extensive vinyl record collection,” Henry says. “We heard a lot of early American music: Roy Orbison, the Everly Brothers, Johnny Cash, Muddy Waters. Those records were so rousing and passionate. Every song just went straight into your heart.”

By their early teens, the Stansall brothers were making their own music (Henry strummed an acoustic guitar and sang while Rupert assumed electric lead guitar duties) and they continued combing their dad’s albums for inspiration. “The guitar was always so prominent on records from the Fifties and Sixties,” Rupert says. “I really got into Chuck Berry, who wrote the book on guitar riffs. If you want to know how to kick off a song, just go to him.”

Combining their first names, the two called themselves the Ruen Brothers and honed their stage act on the British pub circuit. Moving to London, they released the retro-tinged single “Aces,” which became a BBC staple. The tune caught the ear of American mega-producer Rick Rubin, who had an idea: “Rick said, ‘What if the Everly Brothers and Roy Orbison made a modern record produced by Phil Spector?’ ” Rupert says. “We were like, ‘When do we start?’ ”

The Ruen Brothers’ debut album, All My Shades of Blue, makes good on Rubin’s grand plan. Songs like “Summer Sun” and the anthemic title track brim with widescreen hooks and twangy guitar lines from an era gone by. After that they’re infused with a contemporary rhythmic wallop (courtesy of Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith) to complete the picture. “We established a musical shorthand with Rick right away,” Henry says. “I mean, he’s produced Johnny Cash, so he understood what we wanted intimately.”

There were other benefits to working with Rubin, as Rupert points out: “You go outside Rick’s studio and there’s the Malibu sand and sun. For two guys who grew up in rainy England, it doesn’t get more American than that.”

GUITARS (Henry) Gibson J-160E, Gibson J-45, Epiphone Texan FT-79; (Rupert) Fender American Deluxe Telecaster, Gibson Memphis ES-Les Paul, Supro Americana Series White Holiday 

AMPS (Henry) All acoustics go DI; (Rupert) Supro 1600 Supreme, Fender Blues Junior III, Fender Bandmaster 

EFFECTS (Henry) none; (Rupert) SansAmp pedal, Danelectro delay, TC Electronic delay