Reuben & The Dark Capitalize On Tour With Vance Joy

Photo by Matthew Guido
Photo by Matthew Guido

It has been a bit of a slow build for Alberta folk-inspired group Reuben & The Dark since the release of their full-length debut Funeral Sky in May 2014, but they couldn’t be happier with the way things are working out.

Having previously performed in Moncton last May as the special guests to American rock band Counting Crows, Reuben & The Dark return to Casino New Brunswick on Saturday to serve as the opening act for acclaimed Australian pop star Vance Joy.

By the time that their tour with Joy wraps up in Connecticut on Feb. 11, the group will have performed a total of 23 shows, many of which band leader and chief songwriter Reuben Bullock says have been memorable for many reasons:

“When you are a part of this kind of tour, it’s hard to ask for anything better, really,” Bullock tells The MusicNerd Chronicles during a rare day-off earlier this week. “I’m not sure whether it is his audience or the fact that we’ve got a bit of a presence already, but people are showing up early to see our show. We are typically playing to a full-house by the time our set winds down.”

Asked what kind of reception the band has been afforded, Bullock says crowds have been extraordinarily welcoming of the group.

“I love the intimacy of playing smaller venues, but also love the spectacle that goes hand-in-hand with these bigger shows we have been a part of. We played three shows in Montreal with 2500 people at each show. It’s two completely different worlds, but it has all been great.”

A self-confessed late bloomer when it comes to music, Bullock says that he was fascinated with words while growing up.

“I never wrote stories or poems but would get these certain sentences in my head that would just seemingly take over my whole being. It was this powerful attraction; I would get hooked on these lines and think about them for weeks. It just dawned on me at one point that I should start putting these sentences to music. I learned a couple of chords and began playing guitar at age 21.”

After having released two albums on his own, Bullock began formally playing with the members that would comprise The Dark – Shea Alain, Kaelen Ohm, Brock Geiger, Greg Harrison and Ian Jarvis – enlisting their help to put the finishing touches on what would become Funeral Sky.

“This band has never been out touting the hottest players in the business or anything like that. These guys that are on stage with me every night are there because they get where I’m coming from with these songs and understand it. To me, it’s all about these vibrations you feel in your stomach and your soul. You instinctively know when you experience those magical moments.”

To help capitalize on the thousands of fans they would be playing in front of as part of the Vance Joy tour, Reuben & The Dark released one new song, “Heart In Two,” as a one-off single at the outset of 2016.

Though he remains an ardent fan of the album format, Bullock says having the opportunity to release a new single to coincide with the current tour was simply too great to pass up.

“Being on stage puts me in a place where I feel driven to write. It’s the live show that helps shape new material, taking into account whether people want to dance and move or are they responding more to a quiet, intimate kind of song where everyone is silent. Those are some of my favourite moments of the set though, letting the show influence these songs for the years ahead.”

What: Reuben & The Dark, special guests to Vance Joy
When: Saturday Feb. 6, 8 p.m.
Where: Casino New Brunswick, 21 Casino Dr., Moncton
The show is sold out