Though Ilan Rubin is best known for his work Nine Inch Nails, Angels & Airwaves and Paramore, it can be argued that his best work happens when this one-man band is fronting—and backing The New Regime.
Rubin is gearing up for the March 31st release of The New Regime’s Exhibit B, an 8-song collection that he not only wrote and recorded, but also played every instrument and sang all the vocals. Alternative Press is premiering the album’s first track, “We Rise, We Fall,” which can be heard HERE.
Trent Reznor says his first impression of Ilan Rubin was, “this kid reminds me of me when I was his age. Then I realized he was much more naturally talented. He’s irritatingly talented.”
Tom DeLonge calls Rubin “the best instrumentalist I’ve ever met in my life.”
Haley Williams says “Ilan not only meshed with us as a band, but he made us better individual players. He challenged us and he felt comfortable bringing his style to the table, which in turn added a very confident, very reliable backbone to our new sound.
Rubin wrote and recorded Exhibit B almost entirely while touring with Nine Inch Nails in 2013-2014. And it was on that tour that Rubin got to stretch his wings onstage as well. “Most people didn’t know about all the things I can do because there was never really a place to showcase those skills,” he says. “When I first toured with Nine Inch Nails in 2009, Trent knew that I could play piano, so wherever there was a piano part, I would take it over. On the last tour, the band was down to a four-piece, so we needed to distribute parts as best we could. There were a lot of moments when I played bass and guitar and some keyboards. And I think that was a big help in getting people to see a bit more of what I’m about as a musician.” Incidentally, the tour also saw him pick up a new instrument—the cello—at Reznor’s behest.
He took on a more traditional role with Paramore, filling in on that band’s self-titled album when they found themselves suddenly drummer-less, and even going out in that role on some tour dates before Reznor called him back for a surprise NIN reformation. “It was the first time I’d played with people who were my age,” he points out, “ and we got along really well. Sessions are fun, because it’s a way of temporarily putting you in a setting that you wouldn’t usually be in and helps to sharpen your skills.”
When Angels & Airwaves’ Tom DeLonge started planning The Dream Walker, Ilan’s involvement was hardly just for sessions. Rubin was a full creative partner with DeLonge on the collective’s recent album. “It’s the first time I’ve collaborated with anybody else as a writer,” says Rubin. “I would always be part of someone else’s band and play drums and that was it, or I’d write all my own music entirely by myself. So that was a great experience.” Released this past December, The Dream Walker hit No. 3 on Billboard’s Top Indie Album Chart and No. 5 on the Alternative Chart. It also went to No. 1 on iTunes in 14 countries.
To find out what Rubin sounds like when he’s in control of the creative process from start to finish, you of course have to look—and listen to—The New Regime, now on record number four, between two full-length albums (2008’s Coup and 2011’s Speak Through The White Noise)and two “exhibits” (2013’s Exhibit A and now Exhibit B). He finds that when people discover that The New Regime is a one-man band, he runs into the perception that some other musicians have done that same thing as more of a stunt than a musical necessity.
“It’s not me playing other instruments because I can,” he says. “It’s because I can execute my exact vision for the music. I view the music as a composer, except I’m able to play all the instruments in the orchestra. I play the bass, guitar, drums and piano the way I want it to be done for these songs, so why would I have anybody else but me do these things—especially when I’m able to play exactly what I’m envisioning?”
Whether listeners know where Rubin has already been or not, they’re arriving at a rich musical landscape signaled by the title of Exhibit B’s opening track – “Where I’ve Headed All Along.”