Hey, Rube! interview

This piece first appeared in 2012 in the one and only print version of Electronic Sound, which was just plain Electronic at the time, the Sound bit being added when the title went digital-only. I’ve long admired the work of both people involved in Hey, Rube! so the chance to talk to them was too good to miss.

heyrube

If you ever find yourself in a punch up round the back of the big top with a guy yelling “Hey, Rube!” you can be sure of two things: 1) you are winning and 2) as it’s a call for back up that dates from 19th century Stateside circus folk, you’re going to be on the wrong side of a right pasting soon.

It’s also the recording nom de plume of Steve Cobby and Stephen Mallinder, a duo that need no such shout should a rumble break out thanks to their heavyweight pedigree. Mallinder, or Mal to pals, is formerly of Sheffield electronic pioneers Cabaret Voltaire, while Cobby was one half of Hull’s defunct Fila Brazillia and likes a collaborative adventure, more of which in a minute.

With the pair first meeting in the eighties, when a teenage Cobby worked at Sheffield’s FON studios, the Hey, Rube! album has been a looooong time coming. Admittedly, the project was hindered somewhat when Mal moved to Australia for 15 years to bring up his family and get all academic to boot. But the pair kept in touch and when Mal headed to Brighton to complete his studies – his PhD thesis Movement: Journey of the Beat’ made him Dr Mallinder last year – plans finally came to fruition.

“My daughter says I’m a doctor of disco,” laughs Mal. With the excellent long player ‘Can You Hear Me Mother’ coming on like a detuned Theme From Shaft if Isaac Hayes were from Yorkshire, you wouldn’t argue. “We come from so many different musical directions we’ll always just be a suggestion of something. It’s just a case of filtering the sounds we’re into and they do come out kind of twisted, which is the music I love to make.”
And talking of twisted, there’s that sleeve.

“There’s nothing more hideous than a clown,” offers Cobby keeping the circus going, somewhat tenuously. “You’ll also notice we’ve ripped off the Bookends sleeve by Simon and Garfunkel. Just saying it now sounds ridiculous.”

Meanwhile, the project has reinvigorated Cobby’s musical adventure after falling a little out love following the fizzling out of Fila.

“I felt like I’d done it to death,” he offers. “I thought I’ll get up on my back legs like a meer cat and see if there’s anything else I can do. And there was nothing. Turns out I just needed to recharge me batteries.”

The Cutler – with long-time cohort Dave “Porky” Brennand, his old label boss at Pork Recordings, lending a hand – is a fully charged windows down ray of sunshine serving up everything from Bollywood (‘Samizdat’) to ‘Brassed Off’ (‘200 Pharaohs, 6 Billion Slaves’).

“The Cutler started off as an excuse to see each other once a week,” guffaws Cobby about Porky. “He’s the furthest thing from a musician, but he’s a great person to have sat in the studio going I like that, don’t like that, because I find it really difficult to write on me own.”

What’s not to like? To our ears it’s going to be while before Cobby needs to recharge the batteries again.

Neil Mason

Hey, Rube!’s ‘Can You Hear Me Mother’ and The Cutler’s ‘The Best Things In Life Aren’t Things’ are both out now on Steel Tiger


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