Single landmark for punk icons
ON STAGE: Ruts DC are at Blackpool Opera House on August 6 as part of the 2016 Rebellion Festival
New track is a pile-driving three minutes and six seconds of unrelenting fury
THE Ruts’ glorious punk anthems, Staring at the Rude Boys and Babylon’s Burning, still sounds livid with indignation. And the sonic needle is revved back into the red with the Ruts DC new single, Psychic Attack, a pile driving three minutes and six seconds of unrelenting fury.
“It’s been a long time coming but the time has never been so right,” says Ruts DC bassist John ‘Segs’ Jennings.
“Psychic attack is about pressure, being persecuted by enemies, so called friends, the state or even yourself.
“Look at this government who have such a disregard for people, closing libraries and destroying public services based on the whim of an accountants spread sheet. “It sickens me and the song is a reflection of how we feel
at the moment.
“I’m 60 now but I’m just as angry about the injustices in the world as I did when I was a kid in The Ruts.
“It’s important to know that you are not alone in your struggle.
“Our message is still the same – people unite.”
The Ruts’ short career took off when John Peel championed their debut single In a Rut, blossomed in the summer of 1979 when Babylon’s Burning made the top ten, and it all but ended when their leader Malcolm Owen died in his bath of a heroin overdose months later.
“It was all over in the blink of an eye.
“We had 18 months on the dole, signed a record deal with Virgin and a year later Malcolm was dead,” added
Segs, who plays Blackpool’s Rebellion Punk Festival with Ruts DC in August.
“And I still feel the great pain of Malcolm’s death; it is still hard to deal with thirty odd years later.
“This might sound hard, but at the height of Malcolm’s addiction we sort of gave up on him and split the band up briefly to try and jolt him out of it.
“It worked for a while, but his death came as a terrible shock because we loved each other as a band and as people.
“We carried on through the grief but it was never the same.
“The whole thing was like a mad rock and roll book.
“Our singer had died young to a drugs overdose, we had no new songs and the music industry had chewed us up
and spat us out. I’d had enough.”
The remaining Ruts continued to perform for a while under the name Ruts DC. But the group collapsed and Jennings went on to have a successful behind-thescenes studio career, notably with the Chemical Brothers,
while drummer David Ruffy played for Aztec Camera and Dexy’s Midnight Runners. But when original guitarist
Paul Fox was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer several years ago, Jennings and Ruffy agreed to do a benefit
gig for him, and they have continued to play ever since.
“Every time we are on stage I look over and expect to see Malcolm and Paul, it is still so hard but I’d like to
think that they would be incredibly proud of the new record.
“They are not with us anymore but they are still so intertwined with The Ruts history.
“Many times I’ve thought this is just too difficult, to carry on without them, because I miss them both dearly.
“But we are still flying the flag for them and there’s a ballad about Malcolm and Paul on the new record.”
That album, Music Must Destroy and due to be released later this year, will be their first LP release since Animal Now in 1981.
“For a long time I didn’t want to re-form – it felt a bit cheap,” added Segs.
“It had to have integrity, but then I thought let’s do some of the songs we all love, the music that changed all our lives, and how poignant they were.
“I see it more of a continuation rather than a reformation and there’s some great tunes on Music Must Destroy.”
See Ruts DC at Blackpool Opera House on August 6 as part of the 2016 Rebellion Festival. Rebellion runs August 4-7. Box office 02476 601678.
By TONY DEWHURST