Sound Advice: Ruby the Hatchet with Electric Citizen

Saturday • Northside Tavern

click to enlarge Ruby the Hatchet
Ruby the Hatchet

There aren’t many bands that can (or will) claim its name was conceived during an alcohol-fueled bout of dyslexia. But Ruby the Hatchet proudly owns that distinction. At a party, the Philadelphia-based Stoner/Doom/Psych quintet saw a T-shirt bearing the tagline “Bury the Hatchet” that depicted Jesus and Satan shaking hands. In their drunken revelry, they thought the shirt read “Ruby the Hatchet” and were incapacitated with laughter at the seeming non sequitur. When their hangover morning arrived, they realized their error, but loved the phrase so much it became the band’s name.

The band coalesced five years ago after a succession of basement jams in their home state of New Jersey, followed quickly by their relocation to Philadelphia. The fivesome — vocalist Jillian Taylor, guitarist Johnny Scarps, organist Sean Hur, bassist Mike Parise and drummer Owen Stewart — blended Black Sabbath’s black-hole heaviness, Blue Cheer’s acid-drenched mindmeld, shades of Led Zeppelin’s Brit Folk nuance and Alice in Chains’ growling-hellhound ferocity to forge a sound that pummels and purrs with equal intensity.

Ruby the Hatchet self-released its first two efforts, beginning with an eponymous EP in 2011 and followed by the recently reissued full-length, Ouroboros, in 2012. In 2014, the band dropped a number of vinyl variations of its “Eliminator” single, which are now all sold-out collector’s

items. Parise left the band after the release and was replaced by Lake Muir. The newly configured band then signed with Tee Pee Records and began work on last year’s blistering Valley of the Snake.

Like Ian “Jethro Tull” Anderson and Roger “Pink Floyd” Waters in years past, Taylor is often approached by new fans with the idea that she is the “Ruby” in the band’s moniker. Sometimes she goes along with the misinterpretation, sometimes she corrects it and sometimes she tells the newbie that the band is Ruby and she is the Hatchet. With Taylor’s bludgeoning, razor-edged vocal power, that might be closer to the truth anyway.

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