The little label that could
As well as being eclectic, musically, the musicians of Rubyworks are also an eclectic bunch of personalities. That said, it’s hard to get their caretakers to be anything but professionally tight-lipped. “Fight like Apes do hold up the party end,” says Aherne.
“I went on tour with them for a while,” says Muckian. “But I had to come home.” In contrast, Rodrigo y Gabriela are all vegan food and health consciousness. “They have to be,” says Muckian. “They couldn’t do what they do otherwise.”
Aherne got involved very shortly before the warehouse fire. “For a few moments I thought it was all over,” he says. “I thought: ‘ah well, it was nice while it lasted’.” Like Quail, he has a musical background. He was the guitarist with Dublin band, Director.
“Which is interesting,” says Quail, “because guitarists are usually the mad, disorganised ones.”
“That’s the funniest thing a drummer has ever said,” says Aherne dryly.
This prompts an argument about who, in a band line-up, is most likely to end up working in other parts of the industry. Muckian (who says he “can barely hum a tune”) and Quail both feel that it’s drummers.
“After years sitting at the back looking out at the other idiots, working behind the scenes seems natural,” says Quail, to much laughter.
To some degree, Rubyworks represents how the industry has changed. Focused on artist management as much as record-releases, and with 25 to 30 per cent of sales from digital sources, they stress the importance of old-fashioned artist development, steady progress and remaining calm.
During the perennial crises faced by a slowly growing independent label, from tours falling through to warehouses burning down, their artists look to them for reassurance.
“Our job is to worry so the musicians don’t have to,” says Muckian. “I guess my job is to be ‘chief worrier’.”
“People assume that everything we do happens in this world of X Factor, where everything is limos and champagne and everyone is having the most incredible party,” says Quail. “It’s not like that.”
“Although we do have cake on Fridays,” says Muckian, and they all nod enthusiastically.
Rubyworks is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a gig in the Olympia on Sunday, August 26th, featuring Rodrigo y Gabriela, Ryan Sheridan, Wallis Bird and Josephine, and a gig in Whelans on Monday, August 27th, featuring Fight Like Apes, The Minutes, Funeral Suits and Deap Vally. See rubyworks.com