The husband-wife duo of Brookln and Ruth Dekker create eerily beautiful music and go by the majestically red-carpeted moniker of Rue Royale. Their musical influences range from the soft rock of Fleetwood Mac to downbeat Zero 7, and these widely differing sonic inspirations find their way into songs both spiritual ("Even In The Darkness") and otherworldly ("UFO").
"The name Rue Royale came from our daily commute," Brookln explains. "Ruth and I would see this road named Rue Royale. Ruth had said for ages that it would be a great name for a solo project she was hoping to do. When we began writing Rue Royale's songs, we thought we had better name ourselves Rue Royale it was. We loved the imagery of it: it's French for royal road."
When you take a deeper look into how these two compatible musicians were raised, it's as though a musical yellow brick road was somehow predestined for both Dekkers.
"Growing up, I was surrounded by music we always had a piano in the house," Brookln recalls. "My mom was a pianist and organist for our local church. My Dad was a music minister off and on. He played trombone in the Air Force band, and he traveled performing one man musical monologues, [and] involved in theatre and gospel quartets. Currently both of my parents are music ministers in their respective churches my mother in Tifton, Georgia and dad in Lake Zurich, Illinois."
"I have enjoyed singing for as long as I can remember," he continues. "I remember going on road trips and my parents being musical were always singing with the radio. I remember singing harmonies under my breath, too embarrassed to perform them out loud. I would do the same in my room with the door closed, singing harmonies and belting out parts thinking that no one could hear thinking the closed door was a magical force field that no one could hear through. I played trumpet at school and with private lessons, and I had piano lessons (from my mother) off and on throughout my childhood. I began singing in public in bands and projects at the age of 16. I picked up the guitar at the age of 21 because I had friends writing their own material and I wanted to start singing my own songs instead of everyone else's."
Rue Royale, like most roads worth traveling, wasn't built in a day. It was only after Ruth convinced Brookln to join together in musical matrimony that this husband-wife team made a go of it artistically.
"Well, I avoided it for years, I think Ruth wanted to try something out a little sooner than I, but I was too afraid that it would be another cheesy husband and wife outfit," Brookln admits. "What we have now makes me wish I had done it years earlier, although I do feel that what we have now has been birthed out of the experience we have had together so far. We decided to write some songs together in March '06 and it was magic. We didn't choose it, it chose us."
It also helped that these Dekkers share extremely similar musical tastes. "Surprisingly our musical tastes are just about the same, I don't think that there are any bands that I like and she doesn't and vice versa," Brookln says. Much like The White Stripes and other coupled acts, Rue Royale functions with a clear division of musical labor.
"I play kick drum and acoustic guitar," Brookln explains. "Ruth plays various percussion and whatever else the song asks for. We're very fluid in the way we divvy Rue Royale duties. We each do what we are better at. I primarily get the main chunk of the song together, the idea. Ruth joins in and helps it come to shape. Ruth also filters out the cheese; she doesn't let my garbage get past her."
Even so, Brookln and Ruth each had musical lives before being GPS'd down this current Rue Royale. "I released a solo EP entitled 6 Songs. I recorded it with a friend, Brian Whitman, in his apartment in Chicago. I never supported it live, mainly because I didn't feel I had the ability to pull it off without a full band. And at that time I was finding my feet as a husband in our first year of marriage I was putting my energy into that instead. In 2005 I got a call informing me that a Nashville producer had gotten a hold of that EP and wanted to make a record with me. I went down there and we made a record which I didn't support live for the same reason I couldn't support the EP. I felt I needed a band to play the record live. I am a firm believer in being able to reproduce what has been recorded live. Since I felt I couldn't, I didn't bother."
Brookln also played with a few bands including one entitled God's Green Earth. "This was a teenage band heavily influenced by Ben Folds Five and various jazz musicians," he says. "We listened to a lot of jazz back then." More recently, he was in Trevorside. "Trevorside was a bit of a rebound band. I had come from making the record in Nashville that I didn't feel I could pull off live. And the other guys had just come from a band where the lead singer split. We all had the bug and had played music together in some form or other previously. Trevorside was heavily influenced by New Order, Coldplay and U2. It didn't last long because we didn't have a permanent guitar player."
While Brookln was reared in St. Louis, MO, Ruth was raised far away in Midlands county Staffordshire in the UK. She hooked up with Brookln when touring with a band in the U.S. They wed in England four years ago and settled in Chicago soon thereafter.
"I decided to move to Chicago in '98," says Brookln. "My first night in Chicago was October 12th, 1998. I moved up for a couple of reasons. My parents had split up when I was younger so I had spent 10 years growing away from my father. So I decided to move here so be closer to him and get to know him as a man. The other part of the decision was that I saw Chicago as a place of opportunity, a place where I could go to college, meet people and start a band. At that time my band had broken up and I didn't have anything else to do. The music scene in Chicago befuddles me because it is choc full of great venues and great bands that largely go unheard."
Garron Frith: "There are some acts that sneak up on you totally unannounced but leave a huge impression. Young singer-songwriter Garron is from Stalybridge, and if he's not very careful, he will take on the mantle of this year's Ray Lamontagne and become a huge and well deserved success, ready to leave dullards like James Blunt in his wake. People like Chuck prophet, the Wilson brothers from Grand Drive and Lambchop multi instrumentalist Simon Alpin help out on this beautiful country rock gem of an album." [Sunday Express, 5 Stars, Nov 2007]
After Playing bars and anywhere he could with just an acoustic guitar and a hand full of songs he released his first self produced EP in 2005. The EP received critical acclaim from many Manchester/north west websites and magazines like Losing Today, Manchester music, Gigwise, Collectivezine, City Life and High Voltage. This led to live sessions on BBC Leeds, BBC GMR, Revolution, All Fm, Wfm and Channel M.
Manchester promoters Popart, Arc and Northern Ambition began to give Garron support slots with signed/touring and up-and-coming bands. After playing a gig for Nick Georgia at Popart, Garron met producer, musician and one time member of The Willard Grant Conspiracy, Simon Alpin. The result was them making the debut album. It’s influenced by artists like Dylan, Nick Drake, The Waterboys, Elliot Smith, The Beatles, The Stones, Tim Hardin, CSN, Neil Young, Ray Lamontagne, Damien Rice and David Gray. Simon produced and played on Danny George Wilson’s ‘Famous mad mile’ and produced, co wrote and played on Willard Grant Conspiracy’s ‘Regard to End’. Garron Frith’s debut album features guest performances from members of Grand Drive, The Willard Grant Conspiracy, The Blue Aeroplanes and Green on Reds Chuck Prophet.
Garron has opened for many acts such as Glen Tilbrook, Martin Stephenson, Danny George Wilson (Grand Drive), Neil Casal (Ryan Adams), Richard James (Gorky’s), Bob Cheavers, Wreckless Eric, Roger Chapman (Family),
Piney Gir, Eliza Carthy, Jim Noir, The Bluetones, John Power (Cast/La’s), Marah, Kris Drever, The Fun Lovin Criminals and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Dukes. The album is out now through Ravine Records.