Volume 95, Issue 79

Thursday, February 21, 2002
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Joydrop's Juno nod satisfies hunger for success

London's Ruth's Hat rocks the old skool

Disc of the Week

London's Ruth's Hat rocks the old skool

By Dave Hudakoc
Gazette Staff

The 1950s era influences – Buddy Holly, The Everly Brothers, Hank Williams – seems to have faded in popular music. Today, you're more likely to see the likes of Madonna and Michael Jackson listed as musical influences.

This is why it's such a nice surprise to sit down with a guy like Mike Sloan and learn that the purity of 50s music has not been completely lost. It's simply been revamped into a distinct new sound.

Sloan – along with his brother PJ and friends "Bolus," Jack and Tony – got together six years ago and formed Ruth's Hat.

According to Sloan, the band's music has best been described as 1950s pop/punk.

"We feel pretty good about that. But we're not really a pop/punk band, we're more of a band that writes pop songs and plays them in a punk sort of way. We're drawing on a completely new genre and building up from it. We're taking the music of the 1950s – where rock 'n roll started – and bringing the music to the people, rather than the people to the music."

Ruth's Hat has also managed to incorporate the three and four-part harmonies of earlier bands (such as the Drifters and the Platters) and given them a modern twist. The end result is a sound all their own.

Gazette File Photo

Driven by the love of music, Ruth's Hat packed into a cube van last summer and embarked on a 24-stop tour through the United States and Canada.

Along the way they were able to meet the likes of Green Day, among others. "It's so funny," Sloan recalls. "You meet a band like that and they're just like us. I mean, five years ago, they were doing the same thing as us."

"It's very difficult for me to express how I feel just speaking to someone. I think the best part about being in a band is being able to do that in a song. I did that in our song 'Somora Laura' and I'll always be proud of that. I love not being able to articulate my feelings in a conversation, but then just completely nail it in a song," Sloan says.

But the underlying difference between Ruth's Hat and other bands of the punk genre is that their music isn't as politically-motivated – it's more pop.

Though Sloan says he respects politically-driven music, Ruth's Hat sticks to something closer to their collective heart. "Our music is more about personal feelings," he says.

Ruth's Hat will host a CD release party at Call the Office this Friday night for their album, Spooks Night Out, which is a split album with The Collisions. Ruth's Hat will play a number of shows throughout the summer after they complete work on some new songs for the follow-up to their first, full-length album, Bye Bye Love.

Albums and live shows aside, for Sloan, it all comes down to the music. Ruth's Hat do it because they love it.

"We love our music and we love to lose enormous amounts of money doing it," he jokes. "For some bands, success happens and for some it doesn't. We don't really care if it happens or not – we just want to get the music out there."

In a time when the sound of the 1950s seems to have been lost in the shuffle, Ruth's Hat has found it and are bringing it back for a new generation to enjoy.

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Copyright The Gazette 2002