Johnny Ruby, Carlos Laszlo, and Sam Thornton are finally reunited. Dispersed across the country in pursuit of art school educations in London, New York, and Chicago, the three L.A. natives came back home to realize that they worked best together, forming a group under the name The Sister Ruby Band and playing a dreamy concoction of shoegaze and West Coast psychedelia.
On stage at the Satellite, the trio carries out a powerful, no-frills performance. Johnny Ruby stomps his black boots, howling commanding vocals from their latest album, In Cold Blood. The band’s bluesy underpinnings complement an upbeat rock ‘n’ roll groove that never ceases to move the bodies in the crowd. The SRB’s chemistry is undeniable—the three of them are seemingly lost in their own world together, and by the end of their set, I feel as if I’ve been transported into the desolate dream that the video for their song “Graceland Smile” exists in.
After the show, I head outside with the band to smoke cigarettes and chat.
So when did you all move back to LA?
[Johnny Ruby:] We all moved to L.A. about seven to nine months ago.
When did you guys start making music together?
[JR:] About seven months ago. The Sister Ruby Band has been around in some form since ’07. there have been a lot of different members, but no one has really stuck around long enough until now.
What musical influences are you zoning in on these days?
[Carlos Laszlo:] Jesus and Mary Chain, Spiritualized…
[JR:] That’s totally on point. Brian Jonestown Massacre… We also like blues a lot.
[Sam Thornton:] I like classic, roots-oriented things: Neil Young and John Lennon. And we’re all into rock ‘n’ roll.
What do you feel your album In Cold Blood is musically indebted to?
[JR:] I have heard people say that ‘Graceland Smile’ has a Glen Campbell vibe to it, or that ‘Straight Into Your Heart’ feels like a b-side from the Verve or something. For me, writing a song is always distinctly different from the one that came before, in the sense that they all have their own kind of logic and their own inherent problem. Those kinds of issues have very little to do with what influences that track or another at some point. At the core of it is a song that stands on it's own, ideally without comparisons or references.
How do you come up with the lyrics to your songs? Do you write them or do you all collaborate on writing them?
[JR:] When you are on to something good in a song, you try to stay out of the way as much as possible. Sometimes it really feels like you don't have a hand in it at all. I try to not think about it. We currently are writing a lot of material together.
Have you been collaborating with other bands?
[JR:] We've been working as a backing band for a group called Starred. We play with another group L.A. Witch a lot, but yeah, that is something we are certainly interested in.
Do you think L.A. is the place to continue with The Sister Ruby Band?
[JR:] I think L.A. is the city of music, yeah. Out of any other city that I’ve lived in, this city just allows you to play. Space is cheaper than New York and London. It’s kind of groovy—there’s a lot of bands and a lot of rock ‘n’ roll. In London, no one was into rock ‘n’ roll. Everyone’s into electronic shit.
[CL:] Same with New York.
When is 7-inch set to be released?
[JR:] Someone's got to put it out… Soon, I hope.
Written by Sadie Amelia