Like an early 20th-century Elliott from ET (minus the BMX basket/alien), a be-suited man flies through the sky on his bone-shaker bicycle. He’s clutching two clothes lines of flags that spell out ‘Guide To An Escape’.
The cartoon cover art of Rue Royale’s second album perfectly sums up the Anglo-American outfit’s self-propelled adventure.
Driven in every sense of the word, Ruth and Brookln Dekker have amassed 80,000 miles on the road in Europe alone since the release of their first eponymously-titled LP in 2008.
Meanwhile, without the backing of a label or manager, between tours the couple has rustled up a cottage industry at their cozy Nottingham home. Together they’ve printed, snipped, sewed and stuffed 7,500 Rue Royale CDs, including 500 pre-orders for ‘Guide To An Escape’ – carving out a tunnel in the tarmac to their local Post Office.
Fans have also been treated to hand-made Rue Royale knitted goods (how many groups do you know who sport hot water-bottle covers on their merch stand?), bags and clothes. Meanwhile, over in cyber-space, RR have personally nurtured a large Facebook/Twitter following and racked up over 500,000 MySpace plays.
Not bad for a husband and wife songwriting team who, then living in Chicago, only started performing together five years ago, inspired by the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Radiohead, Grandaddy, John Martyn, Jose Gonzalez and Elbow.
‘Guide To An Escape’, which gets its official worldwide release on 3 March, retains the acoustic duo’s hushed, evocative melodies but is richer in sound and wider in scope. It was recorded at home between touring and festival dates in summer 2010, following experimental sessions with producer Paul Pilot (who mixed the record) in London. The echo loop that lurks on the opening title track and the drum machine exit on “Get Me Standing” hint at the band’s bolder approach.
The album includes recent single “Halfway Blind” which got repeat plays on BBC 6Music by the likes of Gideon Coe and Nemone when released as a limited edition seven inch in January. The song, along with “Blame”, alludes to a struggle to see clearly – figuratively and literally for Brookln who’s legally blind in one eye. ‘Guide To An Escape’ is about self-discovery, embracing the flip-sides of life on the road (“Foreign Night”) and the tussle of uncertainty and hope as dreams are chased (“We’ll Go On Alright”).
After clocking up over 400 shows in the last three years, Rue Royale will continue to build their grass-roots following as they tour ‘Guide To An Escape’, playing many of their biggest venues yet across Europe in 2011.
It’s all about the journey, not the destination. The adventure is theirs, and yours, for the taking.