Bless The Good Times with Ruby The Hatchet
Another day another interview, this time with John Scarps and Jillian Taylor of Ruby The Hatchet, one of the most exciting up and coming rock & roll bands on the scene today. Yeah these guys are silly, but they’re also endlessly dedicated and fiercely intelligent. They seem destined to carry the music forward for all time.
So how have you guys been since last September?
John Scarps (JS): Good! Busy.
Jillian Taylor (JT): It’s been good – we did a run down to South By. Things have been picking up exponentially.
Why do you think that is?
JT: We put so much fucking energy into it, it has to! We are at it all the time every day. Booking stuff, reaching out, all that.
How are you guys adapting to playing a much higher volume of shows?
JS: We’re only just starting to adapt.
JT: Even the second show was miles better than the first.
JS: You pick something up every day. Jillian has been doing a lot of vocal exercises that kind of make the shows a little stronger.
Do you think that Ruby The Hatchet will be a full time touring unit?
JT: Now that we’ve all quit our jobs, yeah! We’re working on lifestyle changes to making it happen and staying on the road.
What kind of lifestyle changes?
JT: Mainly the work stuff. You get into such a thing of being a 9 to 5 person and then you realize you don’t have to do that. We’re letting go and focusing on the band more. The band is becoming able to sustain us in a way.
So how much does casual alcoholism impact that?
JS: None of us are heavy drinkers so it’s pretty casual. I haven’t seen anyone losing motor function yet.
JT: I was the heaviest drinker and now I’m not allowed because of my throat. I’ve noticed it definitely. I’m singing better than ever. On a tour like this you don’t even have time. I was thinking about it but we wouldn’t have a chance between driving, load in, soundcheck, talking to people and all that.
JS: At our level you can’t get trashed, load out and then drive for five hours. I don’t think anyone cares about drinking so much.
I’m impressed with your professionalism – was that learned or was that something you always had?
JS: It was probably from our previous management positions at the mall.
JT: John and I worked at a skate shop and were managers. You definitely learn as you go. A lot of it is just a knack. Some people have it and others don’t. John and I like handling the logistics and we like talking to people.
JS: It makes things easier – it’s a big professional party. We’re the grandparents of the tour.
But it’s working out…
JT: We couldn’t do it any other way.
JS: With all the hard work we put into it it would be stupid to get to this point and party hard and make fools of ourselves. We’re having fun either way.
JT: We all live together and are best friends too. We don’t have to drink to stand each other. It always feels like a party because we’re best friends in a van!
I didn’t realize you guys lived together…
JT: It’s kind of like a commune. The only person who doesn’t live there is Owen the drummer, he lives with his girlfriend ten minutes away. Otherwise we’re all at the practice house. We’re always together.
Is that like handling multiple marriages?
JT: Everyone is easy going. I used to take it for granted but it’s actually kind of weird. I realize more and more that there are people who make great music but can’t stand each other. We’re lucky enough that that’s not the case.
That seems so idyllic it’s kind of scary…
JS: It’s been five years so I think we’re set. It’s like they say – if a marriage will fail it’s in the first thirty minutes!
JT: That’s only if you get married by Elvis! (Laughter)
Is this commune lifestyle meant to reflect the hippie spirit you communicate with your music?
JT: I’ve never noticed the correlation between the music we make and that, but maybe it’s just that we do it all the time. The lifestyle goes along with it but is not influenced by it.
We do a lot of circle massages, that helps! (Laughter)
Do you think this method of operation will work for a lot of bands?
JT : I think it’s just something we lucked in to, and it’s very personal. It’s unique to every person and the weird ways that we met and have changed and grown together. For us it works so perfectly. The way that we write is all together. There’s no one person who comes with an idea. That all comes with the living situation and all of that. It’s organic. If you broke the band up into other bands the magic would be lost. We’re good musicians, but the magic is in the friendship. That’s part of the brotherhood of the band.
JS: It’s like the concept of the perfect storm except instead people are just bumping into each other on the street because they’re goofballs. It just kind of happened.
JT: We’re just amazed people want to hear the music that we make in our basement. That still blows my mind! That’s all we’ve ever been doing. Then it was like “Oh if we answer more emails we can get more stuff done!” It’s been a constant build.
JS: One door leads to another.
What do you think draws people to your music?
JS: I think it’s accessible. It has good melodies. I think we do a good job of balancing heavy rock influences with melody which is lost on a lot of newer bands. It gives us an advantage with reception.
JT: And with playing shows we fit with a lot of different people because of that.
JS: It puts us in a good spot.
What do you love so much about music?
JT: I love the reaction it gets from people – it’s the best. People come up after shows and they’re like “Sorry to bother you” and I’m like “What! You are the person I desperately want to talk too! You are why this is happening!” It’s the best feeling to make something like that and have it received well. You are leaving something behind that will outlast you. That’s transcendent!
Do you have any final words of wisdom?
JS: Don’t run with scissors!
JT: In regards to music just don’t get jaded! I’ve seen so many great musicians get jaded. Always remember that if you’re a musician this is a gift that you’re allowed to do this. It’s amazing and you should stay humble and appreciate every step of the journey. Even the setbacks lead somewhere. You learn from them.
JS: The best thing I’ve taken is you get out what you put in. That goes for every aspect of music. That goes for musicians as well as people going to shows. We try to go to shows as much as possible because why come see us if we don’t go see you? So if we keep pushing it before you know it Kanye West will be off the air!
Keep up with Ruby the Hatchet as they close out their tour with Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats and follow them on Facebook.