Philly-bred singer-songwriter, Jesse Ruben, graduated from Berklee College of Music in Boston in 2008 and it feels like he’s been touring ever since. But he wouldn’t have it any other way. Ruben’s expansive and deeply compassionate point of view has resonated strongly with an ever-growing audience thanks to his lifestyle as a road troubadour. To get an idea of what Ruben’s music sounds like, his greatest influences are Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, and James Taylor.
We were lucky enough to catch up with Jesse before his show at The Drunken Unicorn on September 13!
For your latest release, a two part EP set, how did your approach differ from your previous efforts?
I just put out my third and fourth records. But it was interesting because they were both acoustic EPs, whereas the first two releases were full lengths. I actually made my first record in Atlanta, which is part of the reason I love playing there. I had spent so much time, energy, and money on those records that I just wanted to strip everything down. My live set is mostly solo so I wanted to have a release that sort of reflected what that’s like. Those became “Thoughts I’ve Never Had Before” Parts 1 and 2.
What process works best for you when it comes to writing songs?
Oh well you know it just depends on the song. Sometimes you just sit down and write everything out in fifteen minutes, sometimes it takes all day which involves pacing back and forth in the apartment. Or a lot of times it takes years. It just depends on when the song is ready.
What’s your favorite part of touring/playing for a live audience?
It’s one thing to be home and online and have people write to you and tell you they like your songs. But it’s an entirely different thing to go out on the road and meet them, see them, and hear them share their stories. My favorite part of this job is meeting the people that are impacted by the work that I do.
What was the first gig you ever attended?
Duncan Sheik in Philadelphia – He was two hours late and it was still the best concert ever.
What’s the best gig you’ve ever played?
I mean every gig. I’ve had some highlights, but really they’re all so different and as long as there are people there who want to be there, that like what you do, it’s hard to pick.
What’s the best gig you’ve ever seen?
Radiohead, my junior year of high school in Camden, NJ. They played for like two and a half hours. I spent so much money, my parents were so mad at me. But it was totally worth it.
What’s a gig/venue you’d most like to play?
Madison Square Garden [sic: laughing]. But I’d like to play Electric Factory and other places in Philly that I grew up going to, sort of have it come full circle.
What’s your dream lineup?
Matt Nathanson, Ben Folds, Ray LaMontagne, and myself. It doesn’t even matter where we play with that lineup.
Catch Jesse Ruben live at The Drunken Unicorn with Caitlin Crosby September 13!
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