Locals Only: : A New Day

Ruby Vileos is back with This Is the Day

Jacob Hand


Ruby Vileos



Few bands stick in your cortex as firmly as Ruby Vileos. Employing a versatile sonic palette (from atmospheric meditations to riff-engorged rockers), frontwoman Ali Edwards' distinctive voice and a spine-tingling live show, the band has been burning its presence into area minds since its 1998 inception.

Yet the four-piece — whose current lineup features guitarist Bill Alletzhauser, drummer Todd Drake, bassist Victor Strunk and Edwards — has only one eight-song release in that time, 2001's stellar The King Is Dead.

This unfortunate fact changes very soon: Ruby's freshly minted full-length, This Is the Day, emerges from its three-year cocoon this week. And by full, we mean full — 16 songs clocking in at more than an hour in length.

The opening track, "Squeak," is anything but, featuring a soaring Alletzhauser riff and Edward's ever-visceral vocals. Elsewhere, the gorgeous, twangy lilt of "Suite 2402" shows off her ample ability to convey emotion through words, conjuring a deeply personal yet ambiguous (all the better to inject yourself into the proceedings) tale of a mysterious room and its inhabitants. When the narrator tells us she is "step by step, tiptoeing out of the room," we feel as though we're there, tiptoeing right along with her.

Just as vivid is "Down the Creek," an affecting snapshot of young love (or is it lust?) and burgeoning self-confidence that's as intensely rendered as it should be.

And "I Hear You," a melancholic, piano-laced slow burn, employs the best use of whistling since, uh, I don't know when.

It's a rainy weeknight in late April as the four members of Ruby Vileos gather around a Northside Tavern patio table to discuss the long-awaited fruits of their labor. Though an admitted band of introverts, they're open and self-deprecating when discussing themselves and their music.

"We're the Bad News Bears of promotion," Strunk says of their lack of "business" expertise.

Edwards, sporting an unsurprisingly animated delivery, speaks incisively about playing to Cincinnati crowds ("You know the weight they have upon them") and is amazed at how "nice" their fans are during post-show conversions. Alletzhauser, her polar opposite in method of expression, reveals that This Is the Day likely wouldn't exist without the help of co-producer John Curley, owner of Ultrasuede Studios, where the album was recorded.

The four laugh about being the "brokest band in town" while at the same time being wary of signing a record deal — they'd be interested, but only if the situation is right. An hour into the discussion, it's clear where Ruby Vileos' priorities lie.

"We're all passionate about the music, otherwise we wouldn't be doing this into our 30s," Strunk says, as the other three nod in agreement.

"It takes four to make one," adds Drake of Ruby's close-knit creative relationship.

That "one" is immediately apparent when listening to the intimate This Is the Day, a record clearly influenced by the band's hypnotic, ebb-and-flow live shows.

"There's an underlying theme to all the songs and the sequence, but it's pretty subtle. And I doubt anyone will ever listen to it enough to get it," says Alletzhauser a few days later by e-mail. "It's probably so esoteric it's impossible, but it makes sense to us. John (Curley) is the hero of this record — or villain, depending on if you like it, I guess. John's bullshit meter is pretty sensitive, which comes in handy when I'm trying to run the clavinet through a big muff pedal or something. We spent a lot of late nights mixing and trying weird things, or sometimes we would get frustrated and end up drinking beer and watching Tenacious D."

As born-and-bred Cincinnatians, all four are well aware of the ups and downs of the local scene.

"There's something kind of great about sitting around with 40 or 50 of your best friends in the middle of the Midwest, knowing you're seeing something amazing that couldn't be happening anywhere else," Alletzhauser says of the local scene. "It's funny, some of our best Ruby Vileos shows, we've opened for a nationally known band, like the Promise Ring or Calexico, and these kids will come up to me after the show and ask me where we're from."

But don't think he's complaining.

"The bottom line is I have had no trouble finding talented and inspired people to play with here and keep me here," he says. "I would be really lucky to move to New York or L.A. and hook up with songwriters like Chuck (Cleaver of the Ass Ponys) or Ali."

And we're just as lucky to have Ruby Vileos in Cincinnati.



RUBY VILEOS (

Jacob Hand


Ruby Vileos



Few bands stick in your cortex as firmly as Ruby Vileos. Employing a versatile sonic palette (from atmospheric meditations to riff-engorged rockers), frontwoman Ali Edwards' distinctive voice and a spine-tingling live show, the band has been burning its presence into area minds since its 1998 inception.

Yet the four-piece — whose current lineup features guitarist Bill Alletzhauser, drummer Todd Drake, bassist Victor Strunk and Edwards — has only one eight-song release in that time, 2001's stellar The King Is Dead.

This unfortunate fact changes very soon: Ruby's freshly minted full-length, This Is the Day, emerges from its three-year cocoon this week. And by full, we mean full — 16 songs clocking in at more than an hour in length.

The opening track, "Squeak," is anything but, featuring a soaring Alletzhauser riff and Edward's ever-visceral vocals. Elsewhere, the gorgeous, twangy lilt of "Suite 2402" shows off her ample ability to convey emotion through words, conjuring a deeply personal yet ambiguous (all the better to inject yourself into the proceedings) tale of a mysterious room and its inhabitants. When the narrator tells us she is "step by step, tiptoeing out of the room," we feel as though we're there, tiptoeing right along with her.

Just as vivid is "Down the Creek," an affecting snapshot of young love (or is it lust?) and burgeoning self-confidence that's as intensely rendered as it should be.

And "I Hear You," a melancholic, piano-laced slow burn, employs the best use of whistling since, uh, I don't know when.

It's a rainy weeknight in late April as the four members of Ruby Vileos gather around a Northside Tavern patio table to discuss the long-awaited fruits of their labor. Though an admitted band of introverts, they're open and self-deprecating when discussing themselves and their music.

"We're the Bad News Bears of promotion," Strunk says of their lack of "business" expertise.

Edwards, sporting an unsurprisingly animated delivery, speaks incisively about playing to Cincinnati crowds ("You know the weight they have upon them") and is amazed at how "nice" their fans are during post-show conversions. Alletzhauser, her polar opposite in method of expression, reveals that This Is the Day likely wouldn't exist without the help of co-producer John Curley, owner of Ultrasuede Studios, where the album was recorded.

The four laugh about being the "brokest band in town" while at the same time being wary of signing a record deal — they'd be interested, but only if the situation is right. An hour into the discussion, it's clear where Ruby Vileos' priorities lie.

"We're all passionate about the music, otherwise we wouldn't be doing this into our 30s," Strunk says, as the other three nod in agreement.

"It takes four to make one," adds Drake of Ruby's close-knit creative relationship.

That "one" is immediately apparent when listening to the intimate This Is the Day, a record clearly influenced by the band's hypnotic, ebb-and-flow live shows.

"There's an underlying theme to all the songs and the sequence, but it's pretty subtle. And I doubt anyone will ever listen to it enough to get it," says Alletzhauser a few days later by e-mail. "It's probably so esoteric it's impossible, but it makes sense to us. John (Curley) is the hero of this record — or villain, depending on if you like it, I guess. John's bullshit meter is pretty sensitive, which comes in handy when I'm trying to run the clavinet through a big muff pedal or something. We spent a lot of late nights mixing and trying weird things, or sometimes we would get frustrated and end up drinking beer and watching Tenacious D."

As born-and-bred Cincinnatians, all four are well aware of the ups and downs of the local scene.

"There's something kind of great about sitting around with 40 or 50 of your best friends in the middle of the Midwest, knowing you're seeing something amazing that couldn't be happening anywhere else," Alletzhauser says of the local scene. "It's funny, some of our best Ruby Vileos shows, we've opened for a nationally known band, like the Promise Ring or Calexico, and these kids will come up to me after the show and ask me where we're from."

But don't think he's complaining.

"The bottom line is I have had no trouble finding talented and inspired people to play with here and keep me here," he says. "I would be really lucky to move to New York or L.A. and hook up with songwriters like Chuck (Cleaver of the Ass Ponys) or Ali."

And we're just as lucky to have Ruby Vileos in Cincinnati.



RUBY VILEOS (rubyvileos.com) celebrates the release of This Is the Day with a show Saturday at the Southgate House.

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