Volume 92, Issue 60

Thursday, January 14, 1999



Prince walks like an Egyptian

The punk rock funDementals

Traditional folklore legends gone awry

London band puts feather in their cap

London band puts feather in their cap

©Gazette file photo

I'M TELLING YOU GUYS, THERE'S SOMETHING IN THERE. London native band Ruth's Hat digs deep and will play at Call the Office tonight.

By Mark Pytlik

Gazette Staff

Ruth's Hat are tired of bands who take themselves too seriously. The tongue-in-cheek, power-punk quintet are no strangers to the local London rock scene and have quickly made a name for themselves on the strength of their melodic and humorous songs.

Formed in mid-1996 from the ashes of punk bands such as Special Olympics, Angry Sheep and Toast, Ruth's Hat is the culmination of many combined years of hard work and practice. Bassist Jack McCullum concedes Ruth's Hat is collectively more talented and seasoned than any previous bands he has worked in. "We're all much more experienced as musicians and it also helps to be as close as we are."

The band formed when McCullum, brother Bolus and longtime friend Bones met Detroit natives PJ and Mike Sloan one summer in cottage country. The fivesome immediately hit it off and they collectively decided to start a band even though they lived so far apart.

After playing well-received shows in both London and Detroit, the band amassed enough money to record their first demo. In order to save money and maintain creative control, the band assumed nearly all of the responsibility involved in its undertaking.

"As well as recording and mixing the demo all in one day we also looked after all the artwork, sleeve design and promotion ourselves," McCullum says.

It was during this studio session that the band began to develop their own sound. "There was a conscious effort to put the emphasis on vocals by Mike and PJ," McCullum claims. The result was the quirky and self-effacing EP, Too Much Box, which attempted to combine power-punk with rich harmonies.

Lyrically, the band's demo was an interesting meld of contemplative introspection and caustic humour. Take, for example, the first song "Cooler Than You" which contains lyrics like "I might drink Yop and I might eat pot / and I might be gay but I'll say I'm not."

With lyrics like these, is the band at all concerned nobody will take them seriously in their more reflective moments?

"We make the music because it's what we like to do," McCullum reasons. "People can take from it whatever they like."

Thus far, this carefree attitude has seemed to work for Ruth's Hat. The band have a number of releases coming out in the near future, many of them on international independent labels. McCullum seems quite sure that the band's next EP won't be a drastic departure and says it will likely consist of their trademark humour and tunesmithery. In the meantime, Ruth's Hat plan to do some occasional touring, something which they seem to enjoy.

"We just like to have fun," McCullum enthuses. "If we don't take ourselves too seriously, then the audiences usually have fun too."

Ruth's Hat are playing at Call The Office tomorrow night.

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