It is no secret that Ilan Rubin is one of the industry’s most sought after drummers as he has performed with the likes of Nine Inch Nails and Angels and Airwaves, as well as, recording drums for both Beck and Paramore. Rubin also has his own solo project The New Regime where he truly lets his creative juices fly.
The New Regime has released a four-part EP release with each part respectively being titled Heart, Mind, Body, and Soul which then all culminated in the release of the brilliant full-length album connecting all the EP together titled Heart, Mind, Body & Soul which was released on March 6, 2020.
Rubin’s musicianship is mind-blowing as he learned to play every instrument that is tracked on the album, as well as, stepping out into the spotlight and becoming a frontman. Rubin definitely has his fair share of wild adventures over the course of his career, as he was the youngest ever musician to play on a Woodstock stage at just 11-years old, and also had an epic Grammy experience involving Sir Paul McCartney and Foo Fighter’s Dave Grohl to only name a few.
We caught up with Ilan Rubin to discuss details about The New Regime’s full-length album release, his creative process and so much more. Check out our full interview below:
Q: You released your EP Body, followed by the full-length album Heart, Mind, Body & Soul. Can you share with us what the recording process was like putting everything together and take one or two songs in particular and tell us about your mindset?
ILAN RUBIN: I have to think about it because there was so much material. I didn’t have the idea to record everything in EP’s or release it in sections initially, so I just recorded twenty songs and then picked sixteen of my favorites and then decided to release them in four-part chunks. So, there was a lot of material to go through and to be honest with you I had a great time recording all of it, but Heart, Mind, Body & Soul the song was one that I have been excited about since I wrote it and everything has a really similar fondness for me because it was all recorded at this really great studio right outside of El Paso, Texas, which is called Sonic Ranch.
It is this immense residential studio that is in the middle of a giant pecan farm and it’s the kind of place where it’s very remote and isolated and serene, but you have nothing to do but write, play and record and sleep, so it is always a very productive time being there and really by the time I get there I’m ready to hammer it all out. Everything has a similar mental experience for me when I look back on it.”
Q: We always wonder how much influence an area in which an album is recorded has on the final product, as many musicians tell us they love to escape various more remote areas to get the creative juices flowing.
IR: Yeah, everyone is different and I’m sure it affects some people more than others. I had all the music written by the time I got out there, but as I said, having nothing else to do and having access to great studios and great equipment is my kid in a candy store situation. I always pile on more than I should, so let’s say if I have a week there, I will try to get eight songs done because it takes a day to set everything up so that leaves about a song I have to do per day and it’s a non-stop process of being up by nine and working till about two or three in the morning and doing the same thing each day. I really pile on the work when I’m out there.
Q: Your skills as a multi-instrumentalist are mind-blowing. Can you share with us how you got started and continued to hone your craft?
IR: Long story, short, I’m the youngest of three brothers so by the time I got into music by brothers had already been into it for a few years and playing instruments, so when I picked up the drums which were the first instrument I gravitated towards, I was obsessed with them for years without really going in any other musical direction, but then I got my hands on a guitar and bass and I would get that same level of enthusiasm with every instrument I picked up. It was years and years in those formative stages that occurred in my early teens and I just put in the time and it was really what fascinated me and at fifteen I picked up the piano and really dedicated myself to that and it wasn’t until my late teens that I thought it’s great that I can play all these instruments well, but I’m missing the most important ingredient or piece to the puzzle which is singing. I thought if I can do that, then I can do everything by myself, so I forced myself to be able to write and record my own songs and it was the best choice I made. I really threw myself into it and that’s just how it works. I get fascinated with something and I just want to improve.”
Q: What is one of the biggest challenges you face with doing it all on your own? It must give you so much more freedom from a creative standpoint.
IR: It definitely gives me more creative freedom and honestly, it allows me to play a lot more prolific and proficient when it comes to recording. I’ve never had that situation where I’m scratching my head and saying ‘I don’t know where to take this song’ or what to do. I just have a very introverted personality especially when it comes to music. I’ve really just kind of seeing myself the way a composer would look at themselves … it’s a one-man job. Of course, when it comes to reproducing the stuff live you need a band and I love doing that as it’s the other side of the same coin. I love the creative aspect of just being by myself with writing and experimenting and coming out the other side with a song. When it comes to playing it live I do like getting in a room with guys and getting on the same page and recreating the music differently.
It has a different energy and different aggression to it, so I do enjoy both aspects. It’s tough to say because all of my favorites of all time have been collaborators especially my favorite composers. A lot of my favorite bands and solo artists have had some collaborators working with them but I just haven’t found that person yet … someone who’s bringing ideas to the table where I say ‘wow, that is fantastic!’ and that makes my idea better and it becomes an endeavor, but I just haven’t had that yet. For the time being it’s me … writing and recording and doing everything myself and that’s the best way for me.”
Q: In addition to your work with New Regime and working with other artists on their projects, what does the rest of 2020 hold in store for you?
IR: There is definitely some stuff in the works. I do have some other projects that I’m not able to discuss with my other affiliations. It’s still considered early in the year so what goes on later is still being determined.
Q: Is it hard for you to balance all of your various projects? They have got to keep you a very busy man!
IR: It’s not that it’s difficult, but it does provide unrelenting anxiety constantly! (laughs) You have those moments where everybody either wants to tour at the same time or I need to or want to tour at the same time, for example, the reason that New Regime supported Angels & Airwaves the last year was because when Tom (DeLonge) decided he finally wanted to play after seven years of not performing he had come to me at a time when Nine Inch Nails was wrapping up a tour and I had been in the middle of negotiating my deal with The Orchard so by the time Tom realized when he wanted to tour it just lined up where I knew I was going to be releasing music then and I was like, ‘look, I want to do it, but the only way I can be there every second is if the New Regime opens and I have new music coming out and need to support it’ so that’s how that happened and it ended up working out great.
I think it brought something great to the tour and the fans were extremely responsive and appreciative. It was a great experience and a great way to kick-off the album releases, but it was one of those times where I had underlying anxiety of ‘oh, sh*t, how’s this going to work out?’ and it did end up working out for the best. It’s not always that smooth and I’m certain there will be hiccups along the way. But, hey, these are good problems!”
Q: What has been one of your top “moments of mayhem” over the course of your career? We know that there is a fun Grammy story involving Paul McCartney and Dave Grohl!
IR: That was definitely a great experience. Basically, it was my first and only time performing at the Grammy’s and it was one of those live collaborative performances featuring Nine Inch Nails, Dave Grohl, Queens of the Stone Age and Lindsay Buckingham and that was cool enough as it was my only time at the Grammys so far and it was interesting … it was fun enough … not nearly as fun as people would think it is, but it was an experience and then after it, I was informed that we were invited to Paul McCartney’s after Grammys dinner party which was at this Italian restaurant and I thought they were joking because everyone knows I’m a Beatles fanatic but it ended up being true and I got to meet the man which was a life-altering experience for me and it was just an amazing time. He was such a cool guy and it was a completely unexpected event, but that was a million times better than playing the Grammys.
Q: I remember that year and performance! That was the year Nine Inch Nails closed it out and they started rolling the credits over the performance and us rock fans had a fit!
IR: That’s what was really sh*tty about it, but when it started and then they switched over to Queens of the Stone Age for whatever reason that’s when they started to roll the credits. I’m not saying that was intentional but it definitely felt like a slap in the face. So, that wasn’t cool for the Grammy part of the night, but meeting the man was better than anything! As for a “moment of mayhem,” I’m a pretty boring guy! I’m always working and writing and recording and touring!”
Q: Is there anything you “nerd out” over in your spare time such as books, movies, TV?
IR: I’m definitely into shows and movies … whatever is really good! My biggest fascination outside of music entirely is history, especially World War II, in particular, is my favorite. It’s the thing that keeps on giving as far as information and I think it is a pretty finite period of time, as there are millions of books keeping up with every last detail and perspective and I just find that fascinating. I love cracking open a book and just relaxing.”