From Scunthorpe pubs to Glastonbury Festival: The rise of the Ruen Brothers

BBC Introducing producer

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Ruen Brothers first came our way back in 2008. Presenter Alan Raw saw them on stage at a brilliant youth centre in Scunthorpe, their home town. The following week he said to me; “Get them in for a session. They’re very young and they’re very different from what we normally play!”

Ruen Brothers visit BBC Radio Humberside in 2008

He was right. Rupert and Henry (as the duo were known back then) came to BBC Radio Humberside later that winter fighting their way through a blizzard to join us for a live set. The guitar playing was already breath-taking. The harmonies were spot on. The style? Well it was pure Country. It was like they’d grown up listening to Hank Williams and George Jones. One thing sticks in my mind from that very first interview on the BBC – their delight that someone actually wanted to hear their music as opposed to The Killers and Stones covers demanded by pub owners and audiences in their home town. “We’re inspired to write more,” they said.

Then they disappeared again, off back to North Lincolnshire and the pub circuit around Scunny and Brigg and Bottesford, back to playing those covers but all the time working out what direction their music was going to take.

In January this year we found out.  Tim Johns (ex Introducing presenter at BBC Lincolnshire) and I were having a chat and he told me about a band he’d seen at a school in Lincolnshire called Ruen Brothers.  He said they’d wanted to hold off putting their new music out there until they were ready. Now they were. Their track Aces dropped into the Uploader and so it began.

Ruen Brothers - Walk Like A Man (BBC Radio Humberside session)

June 2013 and they’re back here at the BBC in Hull again for a session and to be filmed for the regional news programme Look North. Their Dad is with them. Describing himself as an ‘old Punk’, he lets slip that he sang on the Sex Pistols’ studio album. His record collection -  old vinyl Roy Orbison and Stones and everything else across the ‘60s and ‘70s - is what Rupert and Henry grew up listening to. It shows. I bet there was some Country in that record collection too.

Ruen Brothers - Aces (BBC Radio Humberside session)

They reminisce in an interview with Alan about the youth centre gig, about getting up as twelve year olds to sing Animals covers at The Black Beauty pub in Scunny, and right up to date, about playing Glastonbury on the BBC Introducing stage, about finalising a deal with Island and Universal Republic. They stand in the studio, getting ready to do acoustic versions of Aces and Walk Like A Man. Exactly where they stood 5 years ago. But now, they’re bathed in blue light, lit for TV, four cameras pointing at them, directions from the gallery upstairs.

It’s so good to have them home.

Katy Noone is the producer for BBC Introducing on Radio Humberside

Ruen Brothers play BBC Introducing's stage at Glastonbury this Saturday. Highlights will be available on the website.

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