Q&A: Reuben and the Dark Battle Spirituality


For Reuben Bullock, childhood was a bit of strange thing. Growing up as the son of a preacher, the now well-complimented indie-folk act was reuben-and-the-dark-2-smallrarely able to get rooted in a single environment, or comfortable in church attire.

As any adolescent uninterested in the traits of his parents would do, Bullock rebelled against their lifestyle. To his parents’ credit, they let him step away from the good book and make his own discoveries.

That freedom, along with the aforementioned childhood oddities, would eventually lead Bullock to music, an outlet that recently landed him a deal with respected independent label Arts & Crafts. Now, here he is with the Dark – Distance Bullock (drums and cello), Shea Alain (multi-instrumentalist) and Scott Munro (bass and keys) – gracing us with the beautifully introspective, excellently-orchestrated modern folk effort, Funeral Sky.

Days after the album’s release, and a little more than a week ahead of Reuben and the Dark‘s June 7 appearance at Toronto’s Field Trip Music & Arts Festival, Riffyou.com caught up with Reuben Bullock to learn more about the role spirituality has played in his life.

RY: I hate to phrase it this way, but I’ve read that you are the son of a preacher man. How did that type of upbringing affect your youth and creative aspirations?

Reuben: “Mostly, [I was affected] by how much we moved around – that kind of gave me a different taste of life. And with my brother (Distance), we got into all sorts of trouble. We were supposed to be these good preacher kids, or whatever, but we were hell-raisers…probably because we shouldn’t have been,” laughs.

“But, it’s hard to say what is different about your upbringing when you’ve only had one life to reference. Within the realm of normal, we were right about there…aside from the travelling; getting used to being new; and walking into a school and not knowing anybody.”

RY: Does all of that mess you up at a certain point?

Reuben: “Yeah, for sure. I have a hard time keeping friends…everything feels so temporary or transient. So, being on the road these last couple of years has felt pretty natural.

“I keep in touch with everyone from my childhood and past, but not regularly…which is nice. Most of my friendships are long distance and I can hear from someone once a year and consider them one of my best pals,” laughs. “But, I’ve lived in Calgary for about 15 years, so I’ve pretty well stayed put in my adult life.”

RY: Most kids growing up rebel against our parents. Obviously abandoning the church was your way of rebelling against yours?

Reuben: “I walked away from all of that when I was really young. I don’t know how I was allowed to. But now, nobody in my family belongs to the church anymore, which is a really interesting turn of events. It’s just honest. We’ve all just kind of found our own way, including my parents, as far as spirituality goes.

“I was 12 when I decided that I had it with going to church and putting on the dress shoes and [dealing with] all of the nonsense that went on reuben-and-the-dark-3with it. So, I definitely rebelled against it when young and stayed at the outskirts of it.”

RY: Even though you transitioned away from spirituality, have you since found some kind of it in your life?

“Yes, in that I realize there are things I don’t understand. I think that’s my stance with spirituality. There’s a fine line between being able to disbelieve something, and being able to believe something. If you believe in one thing, you tend to disbelieve everything else. Maybe I’m not that hot or cold about things and want to stay neutral. I definitely have a spiritual side, and that is the constant questioning or searching for things like what the meaning of life is. I’m pretty open-ended with it all.

“That is nice, because going from something as definitive as a Christian upbringing where you have one storybook that explains the whole universe, to being able to be in a spot where you’re living with an open mind [is great].”

RY: Would you say that side of your life greatly impacts your art?

Reuben: “Well, I think it ends up in there because there’s a lot of anxiety in a life where you’re asking a lot of questions that don’t have real answers. There’s a real soul-searching component to song writing and that might not even be my personality, but that comes out through the art.”

-Adam Grant

Tour Dates:

6/7 – Toronto, ON – Field Trip Music & Arts Festival
6/10 – Philadelphia, PA – World Cafe Live
6/12 – New York NY – Mercury Lounge
6/13 – Boston MA – Brighton Music Hall
6/14 – Montauk NY – Surf Lodge
6/17 – Pittsburgh PA – Club Cafe
6/18 – Columbus OH – A & R Music Bar
6/19 – Louisville KY – Rye
6/20 – Evanston IL – SPACE
6/21 – Minneapolis N – 7th Street Entry
6/23 – Saskatoon, SK – Saskatchewan Jazz Festival w/ St. Vincent
6/23 – Saskatoon, SK – Amigo’s
7/9 – Winnipeg, MB – Winnipeg Folk Festival
7/10 – Winnipeg, MB – Winnipeg Folk Festival
7/11 – Winnipeg, MB – Winnipeg Folk Festival
7/12 – Winnipeg, MB – Winnipeg Folk Festival
7/17 – Banff, AB – Banff Centre
7/19 – Yellowknife, NT – Folk On The Rocks Festival
7/20 – Yellowknife, NT – Folk On The Rocks Festival
8/2 – Montreal, QC – Osheaga
8/3 – Gimli, MB – Icelandic Festival Of Manitoba
8/10 – Squamish, BC – Squamish Valley Music Festival
10/3 – Austin, TX – Austin City Limits Music Festival
10/4 – Austin, TX – Austin City Limits Music Festival
10/5 – Austin, TX – Austin City Limits Music Festival
10/10 – Austin, TX – Austin City Limits Music Festival
10/11 – Austin, TX – Austin City Limits Music Festival
10/12 – Austin, TX – Austin City Limits Music Festival

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