ABOVE: RUBIK. PHOTO COURTESY OF NOORA ISOESKELI
Though Rubik hasn’t yet garnered the attention they deserve, the Finnish group isn’t new to the music scene. They’ve been a band since the early 2000s, with their band membership constantly changing (from four people to 10, depending on performances and availability). They have shared the stage with LCD Soundsystem and Robyn, while harboring similarities to Of Montreal and Passion Pit.
The members of Rubik try to take a collective approach to songwriting and instrumentation; they generally act as one, big musical family, with 10 sometimes-members who don’t feel obligated to play every show. Rubik’s album Solar, which debuted earlier this year, explores the sensation of progressive rock inspired from facets of light and dark after the band built their own studio.
We had the chance to chat with Artturi Taira about creating a progressive rock super-project, having the same name as a mysterious cube, and musical nudity.
HOMETOWN: Helsinki, Finland
ORIGINS: We started in 2002 or 2003. We’ve actually known each other for quite a while. We’re originally from a smaller town up north in Finland. It was 2000 or something, we met some new people, and we started calling ourselves Rubik. That’s when the band started. We started as a four-piece. Then something happened, I guess. Then it kind of exploded and there’s this crazy circle of 10 people in the band. Usually there are six to eight of us on stage. For some reason, it just evolved into this collective thing. I don’t know how it happened exactly, but we know a lot of people that have good ideas that share mutual interests. That’s why we invite them over to our studio to play. Usually they stick with us. It’s been a great journey. I don’t know how many people will be in the band in 2020. I don’t know what’s going to happen. The US tour that we just did, there were just four of us. It doesn’t have to be that many people. It gets crazier the more people are on stage. We can pull it off with less people. It’s usually whoever can make a show is part of the band at that moment. It really varies a lot during tours. It keeps the thing alive. It’s cool. It changes a lot. We’ve kind of gotten used to it. It’s not a big deal for us. People get really confused when they come see our show in January, and then they come see our show in February and the people are different.
ON INTERCHANGEABLE PARTS: I sing and I play guitar. I come with some ideas musically and all that. I try and coordinate it. I’m really bad at the practical things. I’m lucky to have great people around me who clear my mess. It’s really a collective unit. We’re trying to be free of roles. I sing on the record and I play guitar at live shows. Usually when we write songs, we really don’t have that role made at all. If you’re a drummer, you can come up with a cool guitar part. Whoever comes up with a cool idea is free to do so. Let’s just say that I sing depending on the day and what song we’re working on. It is complicated, but we’ve gotten used to this kind of procedure. It really fucks you up sometimes. When we write songs, it takes a lot of time. Everybody comes up with cool ideas and then we put it into action. Within a day, a song will go through so many phases. It’s crazy. The last tour, we had seven different lineups on stage. We were flying people in and out of Finland. It keeps things really interesting. It really changes things a lot. It’s a challenge. It’s doable. I don’t recommend it. [laughs]
ON BEING NAMED AFTER A PUZZLE: As you probably know, there’s an artifact. Everyone associates it with the cube thing. We honestly didn’t think about that when we gave the name. Giving your band a name, you can make a problem out of it or you can be… yeah, whatever. We were probably the latter. I don’t think we ever thought that we would have to be explaining our band’s name to anybody. We started the band, and then we had some shows coming up. The usual, how do bands come up with their names? It’s like, okay, we have a show, so we have to come up with something. If we don’t like it, we can change it later. You get used to it. Then it’s like, yeah, whatever. It’s like that. One of the names we had printed on paper. We had several names on there. It just looked cool. It’s really hard to justify it now. I’m used to it now. It’s like my own name or your name. You might not like it at first, like when you’re a kid. You might be ashamed of your name, but then you stop thinking about it. That’s probably what happened.
INFLUENCES: It’s all over the musical grid. I grew up listening to jazz music, Queen, The Beatles and Nirvana. I really don’t know, which one of those is actually an influence. We’ve been listening to a lot of different bands and different styles of music. Even though I’ve been listening to jazz, progressive rock and Pink Floyd for all my life, I still don’t think I know which one of those is an influence. Everybody is into a lot of stuff in our band. We come from different angles. Some of us have been into heavy metal, are electro guys or are into classical music. I, myself: The Beatles, David Bowie, Talk Talk, and Nirvana. I think music has been the biggest influence in general. It’s been there all the time.
ON TRIGGERING MEMORIES FROM MUSIC: All my life. I remember that music was one of the first things that I really responded to in a way. A lot of memories from my childhood are attached to music: driving in a car, nighttime, riding to a city and jumping around naked. [laughs] Music has been there all the time. We don’t know where the songs come from. The creative process is still a mystery: the whole process, the mystery of music, as a form of art. Music as a way of life is really inspiring. It’s been a major influence.
RUBIK’S SOLAR IS OUT NOW. FOR MORE ON THE BAND, VISIT THEIR WEBSITE.