It might come as a surprise after all the band went through: But in 2013, British Punk Reggae innovators Ruts DC are still a touring band. Four dates in Germany are about to go down. For a list of all the current dates we recommend you go to theruts.co.uk/.
“DC” as in “da capo” (= from the beginning) because RUTS DC was formed by the three surviving members of influential punk band, The Ruts, after singer Malcolm Owen died of an overdose in 1980. For three all-too-short years and one album (The Crack), they had fused punk with reggae, much like their successful contemporaries, The Clash.
“The one thing you have to say about The Ruts is that these boys could play reggae. Not the dire rubbish peddled by The Members (Offshore Banking Business) or ATV (Love Lies Limp) but classic stuff like ‘Love In Vain’ and ‘Jah Wars.’ It took the Clash 3 albums to get to this standard.” (Sir Charley Parker of fab Punk Rock online archive punk77.co.uk)
Overcoming their initial shock at Malcolm’s death, RUTS DC released two albums. “Animal Now“ (1981) still showed a lot of their punk influences, but in 1982 they went into the studio of a young and unknown engineer called Neil Fraser – who would soon become one of Britain’s most successful reggae producers under his nickname “Mad Professor” – to produce a radical and highly original dub album, “Rhythm Collision”. The band disbanded shortly after and the album did not make many waves at first, but it has become a bestseller over the years and a massive influence on dub reggae in the years to come. Today it has now sold more than 100,000 copies. There have been countless remixes of the original tapes and “Rhythm Collision” can safely be called a cornerstone of modern dub.
It lasted until 2007 for RUTS DC to reform. The occasion, a benefit gig for guitar player Paul Fox, who suffered from lung cancer and died a few months later, was a really sad one. The reunion was an emotional triumph with the band being augmented by guests and fans like Henry Rollins, Tom Robinson, Edward Tudor-Pole, TV Smith, John Otway, various members of The Damned, Misty In Roots, Splodgenessabounds, The Blockheads and Buzzcocks.
Here’s a clip of Henry Rollins singing “SUS“ at the gig:
It could have been the end of the RUTS DC, but miraculously Dave Ruffy and John ’Segs’ Jennings returned earlier this year with “Rhythm Collision Vol. 2”, again engineered by Neil Fraser, but also Prince Fatty. It is a triumph of an album which unbelievably holds its ground against its now classic predecessor.
To make matters even more wonderful, Ruts DC are now about to perform their new and old material live. The band will also include vocalist Molara (Zion Train), Seamus Beaghen (Madness, Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra) on hammond organ and Leigh Heggarty on guitar. For those of you who speak German, here’s an interview with drummer Dave Ruffy in Rocking Steady magazine (pp. 16-17).
German Dates 2013:
18. 09. Berlin, SO 36
19. 09. Hamburg, Hafenklang
20. 09. Bremen, Lagerhaus
21. 09. München, Feierwerk