The New Regime's 'Heart Mind Body And Soul' Goes Deluxe: Ilan Rubin On Expanding The Album & His Hall Of Fame Induction With NIN
[Cover photo credit to Oliver Halfin]
The New Regime's Heart Mind Body and Soul (Deluxe Edition) is landing this Friday, November 13th, and a limited edition vinyl version of the original Heart Mind Body and Soul album will also be hitting preorder. The Deluxe Edition includes previously unreleased song "The Writing on My Walls", demos, quarantine sessions, and even a special live performance of "Heart Mind Body and Soul" live from the Filmore in Philadelphia on The New Regime's latest tour. To celebrate the release of the Deluxe Edition, you'll also be able to tune into a full concert being livestreamed on November 19th.
Ilan Rubin is the mastermind behind The New Regime, acting as composer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. Rubin is also the drummer in Nine Inch Nails and Angels & Airwaves. He very recently made the news as the youngest musician, at 32, to ever be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside Trent Reznor and fellow contributors to Nine Inch Nails.
It's been a a very music-driven 2020 for Rubin, though that's nothing new since he's usually working on new material, but releasing this Deluxe Edition is his way of connecting with audiences and inviting them to take an insider's look at the new album. Rubin spoke with Tower's PULSE! about creating and expanding Heart Mind Body and Soul, and also about what being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Nine Inch Nails means to him.
Hannah Means-Shannon: Congratulations on your rather giant album release coming up. Can you tell me a little bit about what brings these songs together as a unit and why it makes sense to release them together?
Ilan Rubin: That’s actually a slightly more difficult question to answer than it might seem, especially on this release. As you say, the album is long and initially, when it was released, it was a 16 song album, and each quarter of the album was put out every month and a half or so. What I found exciting about it was that each quarter came with its own sequence, so it wasn’t that songs one through four came out, then five through eight.
The EPs all had their own sequence that really benefitted the whole. Then, the 16-song album had a sequence that really flowed best as an optimal listening experience. I don’t know about you, but I definitely love listening to albums from top to bottom. That’s the way I grew up, and I really feel like that’s the best way to get the whole feel of an entire body of work.
That is really how those things came about. But with this rerelease, I had some songs leftover that I was very happy with, but the only reason that they weren’t included on the album is that they didn’t quite flow as well with the rest of the songs. I always have issues with sequencing material since there are always songs that don’t fit with the other material, and those are often some of my favorite songs, so it’s a tough decision to make.
But, with doing a deluxe rerelease, you really don’t have to think about that, and you can throw anything in that you want to. So, the four songs that didn’t make the initial sequence are in there, as well as demos and a live performance of the title track, “Heart Mind Body and Soul”. So a lengthy album has become longer but I think it’s a great body of work and I’m excited for people to dig into it.
HMS: You may know this already, but there’s a trend right now for people to sit down and listen to whole albums and have “listening parties” right now. I am like you. I like to see the way the album fits together because I often find things there I didn’t see before.
IR: I’m happy to hear that. That’s fantastic. When I’m in the mood to listen to something just for fun, I realize that I’m in the mood to listen to a whole body of work. I don’t really skip around. I have things that I enjoy, like Queen’s Greatest Hits, that’s been picked for you, but in terms of an album, I really want to put it on at song one and listen until it’s finished.
HMS: It’s exciting to me that you’ve decided to do a preorder for vinyl for this deluxe album, too. Are you a vinyl collector?
IR: I wouldn’t call myself a collector, though I do have a lot of vinyl. As it is, my absolute favorite music is from the vinyl era. Coming into this time where there have been so many great remasters, I’ve really been able to take advantage of these incredible box sets that have been coming out over the last five to seven years or so. For all my favorites, I own everything they have on vinyl, but I haven’t really taken the dive into having that as my primary media.
To be honest, I wish I set aside more time to listen to things that are new to me. But between listening to things for pleasure, and writing and recording music, I feel like when I have some time to step away, the last thing I want to do is go discover something else. That’s a difficult one. Sometimes when you’re in a room all day listening to your own music, trying to finish music, you kind of want to take a step back and not listen to something for a little bit.
HMS: That’s totally understandable. A lot of musicians right now have been through an intense time recording albums before the pandemic hit and are now trying to decide if they are in the right mental state to start new work. It depends on personality and many other factors.
IR: It’s obviously a tough time for everyone. When this album finally came out the first time, I felt like it was the worst time ever. I felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me. It was a body of work that I was very proud of and felt it should be listened to, and since there is a slight return to normality, I felt like, “This needs to come out and this should be heard.” With the addition of the unreleased tracks and demos, which give insights into how the songs were written, hopefully this is the all-encompassing listening experience that people have the time for right now.
HMS: It’s interested that you mentioned how much you like box sets, because in a way this is a version of that. People have to be creative right now and think of new ways to get things out to audiences.
IR: There’s always stuff to work on, even during this time. I’ve been writing a ton of new stuff too. It’s funny, because if I find that I’m sick of working on something, the way that I cleanse that palette is by working on something else. I never truly step away from working on music, in general. I did go into this time thinking, “This may be the one time you’re entering a situation where you’re being given the gift of time. So anything you’ve been procrastinating on, this is the time. So what will you do before everything truly gets back to normal.”
That is a silver-lining way of looking at things, but I’m always conscious of the clock ticking. What am I going to do with my time? It’s always music. It always comes back to that.
HMS: I think it’s been a huge help for audiences and for musicians that music continues to be there for them in that way. I noticed in looking at these songs there is a focus on positivity in many of them, in their attitudes or ideas. Is that something you’re conscious of or have a goal?
IR: Positivity is not something that I focus on, generally speaking, especially when it comes to lyrics. But I rarely set out to write a song based on a subject or anything in particular. I am either sitting at the piano or holding a guitar, I’m mumbling words, then I think, “That actually makes sense.” Then I start thinking about it at that point, because the melody always comes first. It’s only then that I start looking at what may be the common thread between one song and another. That could be a train of thought, an emotion, a type of story in a song.
I’m generally unaware of that. It’s coming very much from my subconscious. When I’m typing up the lyrics, I notice what I must have been thinking about. Unintentionally, they are somehow related.
HMS: I’m not surprised by that answer at all. For a lot of people, it’s not something that’s planned, and the weird alchemy of it is when albums do seem to come together and have this unity to them. Especially considering it’s not a map that someone’s following from the beginning.
IR: It’s so odd, but I’m always intrigued by what the brain is capable of doing behind the scenes. This happens to me really often. Let’s say I’m writing something, and I find myself hitting a temporary roadblock, whether it’s melody or chords. I’m going through different options, but nothing seems to be scratching me where I itch, so to speak.
I’m constantly thinking about it, but when I walk away and do the most mundane things, whether it’s going to get coffee or whatever, and I don’t even realize it in the moment that it happens, but the answer appears. That happens to me all the time. I realize then that I’ve been thinking of it the whole time, I just haven’t been aware of it.
HMS: Can you tell me about the Filmore performance of “Heart Mind Body and Soul” in Philadelphia? What made that your choice to include here?
IR: That was just one of those things that just happened to line up and work. What I mean by that is that we had already gotten in the flow of performing on that tour. We had a good friend come out who was filming for two or three nights, and that venue itself is beautiful. It is an amazing place. It all just lined up where somebody was there filming, the video was great, we were in good form.
HMS: Everything just came together for that song?
IR: It just worked out really well. We were closing the set for that tour, and it just felt like the climax of that set was captured. It was awesome. I’ve never actually put out live material before. There have been live videos here and there. But when I saw this, I thought, “Let’s do it, this came out really good!”
HMS: Do you think you’ll be more open to releasing live performances in future?
IR: Absolutely. Yes, I can’t wait for that to be the next thing to think about, when to record the next live performance.
HMS: Exactly, yes. I heard that you’re going to be performing soon online, on November 19th.
IR: Yes, we are having a streaming show. I’ve never done one with a full band. I’m looking forward to it, but I’m a little nervous. When it comes down to it, it’s going to be three guys having a good time playing music, and it’ll be streaming online. I did a few things at the onset of lockdown when I did some acoustic performances, but a lot of effort was going into arranging the songs, so I am looking forward to being able to stream something that’s as close to a show as possible. This is definitely a lot more fun.
HMS: Will the focus of the performance be the new album?
IR: It’s going to be focusing on the new material, but if that doesn’t fill the time, we definitely have a lot of previous material up our sleeves.
HMS: You’ve released several videos already, directed by John David Moffat.
IR: Yes, he’s the one who recorded the Filmore.
HMS: Wow, that’s great. Is there something you’re particularly happy with about the videos?
IR: I will say that I think John did a great job, especially given budget and time constraint, which are the most difficult things to navigate. Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of the music video. I’d rather show off a live performance, like we were just discussing. I think music videos can be great, but I think often what makes videos great are the budgets that go into them and the expansive teams that bring these visions to life. And I’ve never had the luxury of either of those.
So, John is the one who comes in and discusses, and says, “What are you looking for? Here are my ideas. How can we make it work?” We’re always working in that way. It’s very low-key and getting together what we can get together. He does a great job navigating confines.
HMS: That kind of flexibility reminds me of what you were just saying about songwriting as well, so you can keep navigating. If you can stay open, sometimes the right things present themselves.
I have a big question: you did so much on these songs in terms of the recording process, from vocals, to instruments, the works. What are the pros and cons of going into recording sessions where you are doing all of that versus sessions where you are working with several other people?
IR: The situation I find myself in is that I’m writing these songs very much from the mindset of a composer. I’m thinking of how I want everything to fit and work with everything else in these songs. The only con I can think of is that I don’t have the experience of sitting in a room and trying out all these things live with other people and seeing how it feels. In the actual recording, I don’t really see any cons. I know exactly what it is that I want to accomplish and I’m capable of doing that. I honestly think that I work far more efficiently by myself, because it’s just a matter of execution. Who can better execute my ideas than me?
Obviously, there are some songs that don’t work live, or don’t work with the particular set up that I have. Some songs are just too expansive and multi-layered to be a three-piece, for example. I’d love to expand and maybe be a five-piece depending on what is required for the material, but I haven’t had the luxury of doing that yet. Really that’s the only con, though I don’t necessarily see that as a con. I think every band under the sun has some songs that they love on albums that they have just never performed live before.
HMS: I get it. I am laughing a little because you don’t seem to mind the extra blood, sweat, and tears that this means. The fact that you physically have to do all of this yourself.
IR: I love it. In fact, one funny thing is that one actual con from the recording process is that by the time that I am done doing everything, the last thing that I want to do is listen to mixes and revisions. I just say, “Make it sound the best that it can sound.”
HMS: How do you feel about the Hall of Fame Induction? Was that a surprise for you? Did it improve your 2020?
IR: It was a surprise for me. It was one of those things I always thought as a kid, “It would be really be great to be in the Hall of Fame someday when I grow up.” And the fact that it happened at the age of 32, which I did not foresee, is an honor and a fantastic thing that I’m very proud of.
I knew that Nine Inch Nails was going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year, but I didn’t expect to be inducted myself. Trent really is Nine Inch Nails, and really he deserves it all himself. But I was really taken aback and flattered that he and management fought to have some very key people inducted as well. That ended up being the live band of the last couple of cycles and a few people from key points in the band’s history. I found out about it only a couple of months ago.
Trent texted me, asking if I was around, and he called me. He said, “I have some good news.” I said, “Well, that’s a change. Hit me with it.” Given how terrible everything has been. I obviously got off that phone call on cloud nine. For me, personally, it’s been an incredible silver lining in the darkness of the past seven or so months. I’m very happy about it. I’ve got the little trophy in my studio and it makes me feel nice.
HMS: Does it change how you view yourself?
IR: I wouldn’t say it changes my view of myself. It’s just one of those things that I’ve wanted, and now I have it, and that comes with its own degree of satisfaction.
HMS: Congratulations. I think it’s wonderful. I actually think it’s great that you are a younger artist, and I think there may be situations where younger artists should be considered.
IR: Thank you. Nine Inch Nails has been around for about 30 years, and being part of a band with such history, and having been around long enough that Trent thought I should be in there as well, is really cool for me. Time flies, and it’s been a good ride.
HMS: Did you have any overlap with Tower Records? Did you ever shop there?
IR: The thing that comes to mind about Tower Records is the one on the Sunset Strip. I recall buying the Cream BBC Sessions and the Cream Farewell Concert of 1968. I still love Cream to this day, but this was probably the height of my Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton phase. I thought, “I gotta go in there and see what they have.” And that’s what I walked out of there with.
HMS: That’s awesome. Good choices. You may recall that’s Tower’s motto is, “No Music, No Life”, also written as “Know Music, Know Life”. Which do you prefer and how does it apply in your own life?
RI: I certainly agree with both of them, but I think I’d have to go with “Know Music, Know Life”. That’s the one that resonates most with me.
HMS: Do you feel that music has changed the way that you’ve experienced life?
RI: I think it’s been there since the beginning because I started so young, starting as a drummer at 7 ½ or 8 years old. Then getting into the world of music and looking back to things that were far behind me in terms of era, and really appreciating those things, has played itself out in how I view everything. That obsessive, compulsive element to learning about music, looking back at things that may have been better than they are now—all of that has been a part of me since before I was double digits.
Very nice, Hannah! One of the better, if not the best, pieces I’ve seen on Ilan.
Leave a comment