With a musical résumé that includes stints in Nine Inch Nails, Paramore and Angels And Airwaves, ILAN RUBIN has a breadth of musical experience that has impressed music fans, jaded critics and would-be journeyman rockers striving for a similar career trajectory. But now, multi-instrumentalist Rubin’s first priority is THE NEW REGIME, the vehicle for his own music, which can take the form of everything from electronic vistas, bludgeon-rock riffery and introspective songwriting that connects with listeners. While you’re here, check out “We Rise, We Fall,” a track from the new mini-album Exhibit B (slated for release March 31), as well as this brief interview Rubin had with Jason Pettigrew. Spoiler alert: If you’ve been a longtime AP reader, you’ll know that Rubin’s connections to Blink-182 go back much further than working with Tom DeLonge in AVA…
What’s your 2015 looking like?
ILAN RUBIN: The release of Exhibit B on March 31; after that, a lot of planning. The Angels And Airwaves album came out Dec. 9, so that’s still doing its thing; Tom [DeLonge] and I are talking about doing some shows, but that’s still in the planning stages. Right now, I’m still very New Regime-centric at the moment. I’ve opened up a decent amount of time to pursue it this year.
If you carried business cards, what would they say on them? You do a lot of different things, so I wonder what you consider yourself, first and foremost.
I see myself referred to as “multi-instrumentalist,” and I guess that’s a good way of summing it up. I’ve been playing drums the longest, that was the first instrument I picked up when I was about seven, eight years old. That being said, I picked up the guitar at 13, started playing piano at 16, so I’ve been playing other instruments for 10 years or more.
What instrument or musical genres are you the most comfortable in? Is there a song from Exhibit B that when your friends listen to it, they go, “Dude, that song is totally you”?
That’s a tough question to answer. Since writing music as the New Regime, I’ve always made a point to write as many different songs as possible. I’ve seen so many bands’ fanbases that just want one thing. I never wanted that: The bands that I love were always acclaimed for their songwriting and the evolution of their career. I think that was ingrained in me as what needs to be done. This album needs to be different from the next and the next and the next and so on. It’s hard to say: When I’m writing music, I do what I do and the [songs] that really excite me have a special place in me. Whatever I feel is a well-written song that I’ve executed, that’s what I’m happy with.
You’re obviously in control of all aspects of New Regime music. When you are collaborating, do you have a particular mindset? Do you see each collaboration as a blank canvas? You played drums on the most recent Paramore album, you toured and played drums and keyboards with Nine Inch Nails but then you have a different role altogether in AVA. Is there a theoretical thread that runs through all these different artists’ work when you’re involved?
I try to treat everything differently. In terms of Paramore and NIN, those are strictly in terms of being a musician; I have nothing to do with the songwriting there. I know my place in those organizations and I do what I do. With AVA, that’s a very collaborative effort; I would say that was 50-50. I would take a backseat in the sense of bringing the initial ideas to the table. When I write my own music, I’m very precious about it—when my mind starts running, I know how I want it to go. Tom [DeLonge] would bring the initial ideas to the table, and then we’d tear them apart and put them back together. It’s very important for the guy who is coming up with the vocal melodies to be inspired by the music. That’s where you get the push-and-pull between his tastes and my tastes.
With the New Regime, I have nobody to consult on anything I do. I start my songs, pursue them until they’re finished and I’m constantly thinking about how I want them to sound, both instrumentation and how they’re performed. It’s great to write a song, envision what it should be and do it. At the end of the day, the New Regime is what I want to do. I love everything else I’ve been a part of, but playing drums is only part of what I do. The New Regime is the way I express myself 100-percent as a musician, songwriter and everything I do musically. It’s a challenge but it’s an uphill battle I’m willing to fight.
When you were 13, you were featured in our 2002 drummer special, when you were still playing pop punk in F.O.N. Did you know then you’d be pursuing music as a career?
When you’re that young, you start to find the people you look up to, other musicians whoever they may be. You immediately think, “That’s what I want to do.” So I had that dream. But at that age, I was instilled with a solid work ethic and reality, but my parents reminded me that I had to figure out how I would take [a career in music] to the next step and think about how to make it happen. It was a priceless way to go about it.
You used to take lessons with Travis Barker.
Yep. I think I was 11 years old.
You never met Tom back then, did you?
Back then, no. It wasn’t until a few years later that I met Tom.
Given everything that’s gone on with Blink-182, I was wondering if you ever had a glimpse of the dynamic between those guys.
Not really. Tom and I have been friends for a few years, but our friendship has been embedded in work. When we aren’t working together, we are working on other things separately. As far as what’s going on in each other’s worlds, it’s a bit of a mystery. alt