Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
About this time in every year, the people around these parts catch themselves thinking about why they're feeling so strange and glum, why they can scratch their legs and turn them into powder, why they just itch all over. It's a long winter here in the heartland and there's not been one living resident of these parts that's ever really avoided that very annual fact. The ground-fucking-hog always sees its goddamn shadow around here because that's all there are to see around here until a month into the big league baseball season. It takes a tremendous amount of effort to stay kinetic, to keep from just flipping out and going off the deep end. Ruby Isle, a balmy sounding handle, you're bound to think, is a three-piece band that takes those winter beatings that Minneapolis throws like shots to the kidneys and sucker punches to the testes (it all just feels as if you're being filled with igloo shingles and your skin was a sausage casing) and spins electronic gold out of them. They get loopy - very loopy - and one thing that you'll soon find out after enduring two weeks in-a-row of weather that gives out high temperatures that don't top anything higher than the negative single digits is that most ideas, under the strain of those conditions, seem like ideas that will finally get you that Nobel Prize or Pulitzer you've been burning for all these years. For Ruby Isle, these ideas are all given a roll in the hay and more times than not, they find some compatibility, something fit to take another roll with. It's the id running away with itself, not the dish running off with the spoon. Lead singer Mark Mallman, bassist Dan Geller and drummer Aaron LeMay make music that gets heard - or maybe felt - first in the privates of whichever men or women are listening to it at the time and it's then dispersed into other parts of the body, though the strongest concentration and the throbbing epicenter of everything Ruby Isle stays hovering in and around the midsection. It takes on the ideas of people thinking with those parts, but not just particularly men. It's everyone who consults that area in certain times of need and the covers project that the band has entrenched itself in over the last two years - of covering whichever song reaches the top of the elbo.ws charts the previous week and bastardizing it into its own T-Pain-Robocop-Devo-techno thump-hard narcotic ways - is the greatest proof of it. They'll take Fleet Foxes' "White Winter Hymnal" and Bon Iver's "Skinny Love" - which they recently did - and make them into songs that have glowsticks hanging out of their mouths and would have given Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan better theme songs than that Haddaway song that we all hate. Ruby Isle is a glamorous look at some hard-grinding, some dry and wet humping combined with a geeky obsession with record collections and getting inside of songs to figure out what their acting ingredients are. Mallman seems to have identified many of reflexes that kick in with various parts of hit recordings, like the way a dog's leg goes bananas when it's scratched in just the right way behind the ear. There's no helping gooey, electro-fusion that Ruby Isle does to the songs stocked full of double entendres and innuendos that go a long way in taking them into Def Leppard city, where they enjoy the entire tour. There's sugar poured onto everything. All is hot and sticky sweet and there is a party in all of the pants. And all of this comes from cold as fuck Minnesota, where long johns are birthday suits and where Mallman's been working on all of the various ways to Bolton things up so that they get sounding like the Faint, lingerie and kids turning the lights off, just letting the mirrored balls illuminate them.
Ruby Isle MySpace
Ruby Isle covers project