THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Ruban Nielson of Unknown Mortal Orchestra

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Unknown Mortal Orchestra: Strangers Are Strange
THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Ruban Nielson of Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Guitarist/singer/songwriter Ruban Nielson was formerly a member of New Zealand's much acclaimed Mint Chicks but went on his own path, returned to live in Portland, Oregon after the band had been there, and is now part of the three-piece Unknown Mortal Orchestra whose self-titled debut (in a striking cover, see below) shows just how far he has moved from the sound and style of the Mint Chicks.

As do his answers to The Famous Elsewhere Questionnaire where he references everyone from Boyz II Men and Syd Barrett to Hal Blaine and Pharcyde.

The first piece of music which really affected you was . . .

I think it might have been Don't You Forget About Me by Simple Minds. It kicks in at the end of the Breakfast Club and makes you feel weird when you're a kid haha

Your first (possibly embarrassing) role models in music were . . .

When I was a kid I was into Boyz II Men, Bell Biv Devoe, Public Enemy and around the same time my Dad tried to make me more open-minded about music by getting me into Steve Vai. 

Lennon or Jagger, Ramones or Nirvana, Madonna or Gaga, Jacko or Jay-Z?

I think the comparisons should be Lennon or McCartney, Ramones or Sex Pistols, Pearl Jam or Nirvana, Beyonce or Gaga, Jacko or Prince, Jay-Z or Nas. 

If music was denied you, your other career choice would be . . .

Drug dealer. Just kidding.

The three songs (yours, or by others) you would love everyone to hear are . . .

Mother by John Lennon, If It's In You by Syd Barrett and Inikiniki Maile by Kalama's Quartet. They choke me up.

Any interesting, valuable or just plain strange musical memorabilia at home?

I was hanging out with Chris Knox at his place and he wasn't talking really but found it easier to communicate with drawings and he drew a self portrait of himself all fucked up and then himself normal with the word 'OR' in between them. 

31BLTZOp_xL._SL500_AA300_The best book on music or musicians you have read is . . .

There's one called Hal Blaine and the Wrecking Crew which is really cool. The Led Zeppelin one When Giants Walked the Earth is pretty cool. The Real Frank Zappa Book is quite good. I've never been able to fine a good Bowie book. Wish I could. 

If you could get on stage with anyone it would be . . . (And you would play?)

Miles Davis? I don't know.

The three films you'd insist anybody watch because they might understand you better are . . .

I asked my girl and she says A Clockwork Orange, Arthur, and . . . 

The last CD or vinyl album you bought was . . . (And your most recent downloads include . . .)

I bought some psychedelic compilation from Italian tv shows. I can't remember the name of it because I left it in our van in Chicago. I download one off tracks on my phone, recently I bought I Got 5 On It by Luniz, Runnin' by the Pharcyde, Lovin' You Baby by Charles Bradley, I'll Be Around by Rappin 4-Tay. Just little jams I need to hear every now and again. 

One song, royalties for life, never have to work again. The song by anyone, yourself included, which wouldn't embarrass you in that case would be . . .


The poster, album cover or piece of art could you live with on your bedroom forever would be . . .

Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures cover. It's amazing but not fatiguing. I could live with it forever easy.

You are allowed just one tattoo, and it is of . . .

An eyeball at the base of my throat.

UMO_front_coverDavid Bowie sang, “Five years, that's all we've got . . .” You would spend them where, doing . . .?

With my family, bbqing, swimming and making records.

And finally, in the nature of press conferences in Japan, “Can you tell me please why this is your best album ever?”

Because I really meant what I said this time.

For more on Unknown Mortal Orchestra visit their website here.

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