Matt Carmichael
mattc@rocknroll.net
Ruth Ruth
Ruth Ruth's story, like that of many great bands, begins in a basement. Not some suburban basement with a bunch of rug rats plugging in their amps next to the pool table. But an industrial basement, filled with the pipes that cool and carry the ice cream that is manufactured here.

Chris Kennedy, the 28-year-old singer and bassist, worked in this factory making ice cream during the day. At night he was joined by Mike Lustig on guitar and Dave Snyder on drums to rehearse songs for Ruth Ruth. They recorded demos which they gave away free to fans at their concerts.

They have impressed listeners on every step of the road that has brought them here, signed to a major label and touring with Everclear. They convinced the owner of a divey club in New York to give them a standing weekly gig so that they could develop a following. "We were able to do some damage," Lustig says referring to the impact they had on audiences.

Then they impressed someone from American Recordings so much that they were signed to record "Laughing Gallery," with Ted Niceley (Fugazi) slated to produce them. Niceley wasn't impressed after the first day recording. According to Snyder, he even asked if they were the same band whose demo tapes had made such a good impression on him. But things worked out and the album is doing rather well for itself.

"Laughing Gallery," could be called a punk album. Yet the songs are a little to pop sounding to really fit, and Lustig might take offense, since he thinks that "punk is dead." The songs were all written by Kennedy during the days in the basement. He describes the as a "time capsule" of that time of his life. He says that future Ruth Ruth ventures will also draw from his experience, but should take on a different flavor. "I hope that I've matured since then. I write from a private thing," he says, "which is retarded because I put it out and hope that people like it." Yet he doesn't write songs hoping they will be popular. "I really can't think of anything but me. I gotta be what I am or I'm doomed."

As a young band, they are learning a lot about the business of being a rock and roller. One person who has helped the band is Art Alexakis of Everclear. When Everclear went out on tour this time around, he announced on MTV that he wanted Ruth Ruth to go with them -- before anyone had even contacted them! Now he plugs the band any chance he gets, including his interview with Coverstory. "Chris is an extremely talented guy," he says. The praise flows in both directions as Kennedy is quick to discuss what an influence Alexakis and the rest of Everclear have been on this tour. "I've learned a lot from hearing Art night after night. He's tapped into a lot of what I want to get to within me."

c1996 Thompson Target Media