M.A.D. Wednesday Interview Series: Ruby The Hatchet

bill bodkin debuts a new weekly series and celebrates the one-year anniversary of the promotion …

The Jersey Shore is steeped in musical legend and lore. It’s an area where the dreams of young men like Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi first came to fruition. It’s where we first learned to live on a prayer and where we were born to run.

Yet the spotlight of has always been on Asbury Park. And yes, the famed city-by-the-sea has produced a number of iconic musical figures, and yes, it has once again become a hotbed for original music. But we shouldn’t overlook the rest of the shore — in particular, “the hip city” itself, Red Bank.

For the past year, The Downtown, located on Front Street in the heart of Red Bank, has been promoting the original music scene every Wednesday night as a part of their M.A.D. (Music, Art, Drafts) promotion. This weekly event showcases original bands, local artists (ranging from Only Living Boy to Nicole Atkins and so many more) and sports $3 drafts. So great music, art and affordable suds — best night ever.

Tomorrow night, the gorgeous bar, restaurant and music venue will be celebrating the one year anniversary of the promotion with a triple bill featuring Atlantic Atlantic, Joanna Burns, the art of David Petillo and Lucia Holm.

Also performing on the bill will be Ruby The Hatchet, a fantastic female-fronted throwback to the muddy, fuzzy and amazing hybrid of hard rock and psych rock. Pop-Break’s Bill Bodkin recently sat down with the band to talk shop.

Photo: Kris Shacochis

Band Name: Ruby the Hatchet

The Line-Up: Jillian Taylor — vocals and tambourine; Johnny Scarps — guitar; Owen Stewart — drums; Mike Parise — bass.

We Formed In: December 2010/January 2011

We’re Based Out Of: South Jersey Suburbs

Find Our Current Music (online, in stores at): iTunes, Facebook, Myspace, select South Jersey skate shops.

New Record To Be Released: One day. We just recorded some new songs with Paul Ritchie of The Parlor Mob for internet release.

Our Sound Has Be Likened To: Black Sabbath, Janis Joplin, The Duke Spirit, Led Zeppelin, The Black Angels, Jefferson Airplane.

Awesome/Famous Bands We’ve Performed With: The Parlor Mob, J Roddy Walston & The Business, The Bailey Hounds, The Sixty-Six, Only Living Boy, Former Belle, The Moxy.

Bands You’ve Seen Us In Previously: None.

Pop-Break: What’s the story behind the band’s name?

Ruby the Hatchet: It comes from a drunken misreading of a Toy Machine skate shirt. Johnny was wearing it. Jillian was blurring it.

PB: You have a retro metal/psych rock feel to your band. It’s not the most mainstream sound, so why dedicate your band to this sound?

Photo: Joe Jennings

RTH: It feels more like a gravitation than a dedication. Our sound is what comes out when we jam. It just happens to be under the mainstream radar. It’s similar to the types of music we listen to — classic rock, grunge, old blues, but a little more stripped down and dirtied up.

PB:There are tons of bands out there for people to discover — what is it about your sound that makes you stand out?

RTH: Our sound is pretty signature — distorted and heavy, but simple and accessible. Unique, but reminiscent of old rock tones that are lacking in a lot of modern music. And there is a girl in front.

PB: You’re playing The Downtown’s M.A.D. Wednesday One-Year Anniversary Show. How does it feel to be part of an anniversary show like this, and what is it about this night (the M.A.D. Wednesday Promotion) that has made it the indie showcase of the Jersey Shore area?

Photo: David Cruse of Coastal Artists

RTH: It feels like the completion of a solid (almost) year as a band, and the kickoff to a wild summer. A network of creative people in the Asbury Park/Red Bank area have given us such a warm welcome to the scene. We have met a lot of them through M.A.D. and they are here tonight — listening, displaying their art, making sure the event runs smoothly. If this is the indie showcase of the Jersey Shore area then we are honored to be part of it, but it feels more like a family party.

PB: The band was born in Philly but plays often in New Jersey. Can you talk about the difference between the Philly and Jersey original music scene?

RTH: We actually live a little outside of Philly in South Jersey, but South Jersey venues are non-existent unless you want to play dive bar covers, so we always end up in the city. The Philly music scene is big and spread out. Lots of indie, noise rock, metal, pop-punk, hip-hop, but no one sound dominating. We have only scraped the surface in Philly. It’s a hard place to dig your claws in. In the Asbury Park area there is this undeniable, old-soul rock vibe kicking around. It gets stuck in your bones. The music scene around Asbury Park is smaller and deeper — it’s easier to make a name. We have befriended some great people around AP that have introduced us to bands, hooked us up with shows, recorded us, put the pill on the night stand with a glass of water before we crash. It keeps us coming back.

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites