Q&A with Eureka Springs’ Red Oak Ruse

Kristal Kuykendall (Arkansounds’ editor) recently sat down with the members of Eureka Springs-based Red Oak Ruse to talk about their new group, their varied musical backgrounds, their debut album and the official release party scheduled for Sept. 2, 2017, at Chelsea’s Corner Cafe & Bar in Eureka Springs. Admission is $5, ages 21+, music starts around 9 pm. Red Oak Ruse also will open (along with Foleys Van) for Opal Agafia & the Sweet Nothings on Thursday, Aug. 31 at George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville ($7, tickets on sale now, 9 pm, ages 18+), and they will perform Friday, Sept. 1, at Black Apple Crossing in Springdale (no cover, 8 pm).

Check out our in-depth interview/feature on Red Oak Ruse here and our full album review here.

MICHAEL SCHEMBRE [Fiddle, guitar, vocals]

Photo by Jeremy Scott at Hillberry FestivalWhat is the album you’ve played the most in your lifetime?

Animals by Pink Floyd.

Most moving live music experience ever?

I was actually playing a show at The Blue Note in Columbia, Missouri. One of my last shows with Mary and the Giant, and it just kind of hit me on stage what I get to do and how lucky I am. Hard to explain, but it just floored me.

Currently playing in your car/iPod/stereo?

I’m currently listening to a lot of The Beatles.

Biggest music-related pet peeve?

Being late to load in.

Most important lesson you’ve learned as a musician?

Stay humble. Stay grounded. Focus on making excellent music as a priority. Be patient with your bandmates and work well with others. And remember, it’s a long road to the top of ya wanna rock and roll!

JUSTIN THOMAS EASTER [Lead guitar, vocals]

What is the album you’ve played the most in your lifetime?

Lawn Boy by Phish.

Most moving live music experience ever?

Uglysuit, 2007, somewhere in Oklahoma City. I’m pretty sure the entrance was literally a hole in a brick wall that we climbed through… when the opening band finished, my legs were kinda tired and I wanted to save my energy so I just sat down right there on the floor. One by one the other people in the venue slowly started sitting down too until everyone on the venue floor was sitting, criss-cross apple sauce. By the time Uglysuit started playing we all just stayed sitting down like it was 5th grade story time, the band was the teacher and we were the class. Their sound was impeccable, the mood was intimate x10, but it was loud and absolutely full of energy… so much goosebumps. As far as I remember we all sat through the whole show… it was so moving, powerful, and yet humble. I’ve been to a lot of shows, small and huge; I don’t know if I can rank my musical experiences but that was definitely one of the all-time best and most unique.

Currently playing in your car/iPod/stereo?

In my car’s multi-disc player are The Wood Brothers, Smoke Ring Halo; Meshuggah, obZen; Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Will the Circle Be Unbroken; and Bad Plus, Suspicious Activity (the 5th slot is empty).

Biggest music-related pet peeve?

When people can’t distinguish between “this music sucks” and “this music is not my preference.”

Most important lesson you’ve learned as a musician?

Don’t take anything personally. Whether a person says “you’re shit” or “you’re the shit,” it’s not an accurate reflection of your performance or skill, it’s a reflection of where that person is musically. Always be gracious, you do you, and within that space strive for improvement.

JONATHAN HAGOOD [Bass, vocals]

What is the album you’ve played the most in your lifetime?

Faith No More, “King For a Day, Fool For a Lifetime.”

Most moving live music experience ever?

Mastodon, Deftones, and Alice In Chains in St. Louis. Three of my favorite bands, got a free ticket on a whim from my former lead singer Evan Thomas, and the only concert from the ’90s grunge revolution that I actually had a chance to see live.

Currently playing in your car/iPod/stereo?

In my car: Temple of the Dog. Ipod: Glass Animals. CD player: Red Oak Ruse final mixes.

Biggest music-related pet peeve?

Band members who complain about all the things the band should be doing to be successful (these things usually involve a great deal of time, work, and money) and then don’t lift a finger to help accomplish said goals.

Most important lesson you’ve learned as a musician?

If you play music simply because you love to do it, then don’t ever play music for any other reason.

CHRIS LOEFFLER [Drums]

What is the album you’ve played the most in your lifetime?

Probably Third Eye Blind’s “Out of the Vein” or August Burns Red’s “Thrill Seeker.” (Honorable mention: soundtrack from the movie “That Thing You Do.”)

Most moving live music experience ever?

Playing with The Deftones at The Pageant in St. Louis with Made in Waves (formerly known as Ghost in the Machine) – or the first time I saw/heard Beyonce doing Etta James’ “At Last” at the end of the movie “Cadillac Records.”

Currently playing in your car/iPod/stereo?

Rough mixes of tunes I’m working on finishing.

Biggest music-related pet peeve?

Musicians being afraid to get out of their formulated comfort bubble and get weird with new sounds and genres.

Most important lesson you’ve learned as a musician?

A lesson I’ve learned is that bands and members and even listeners come and go all the time. You can’t get too attached or dependant on any one of those things to keep your music afloat. Just gotta keep playing, whether it’s with a 100-piece orchestra, a 5-piece rock band, or by yourself in your girlfriend’s basement.