Ask around who are the best live bands gigging today and you’ll probably hear the name The Ruby Tuesdays. David Fearnhead caught up with two of the band to discover their local roots and legendary inspiration
It’s 17th October 1961 and two students are waiting for a train on platform two of Dartford railway station. One is an economics student, the other studying art. They’d been to the same primary school, but barely recognised one another. However, clutched under the arm of one of them were records by Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters. A mutual interest was discovered. It might seem an innocuous moment in history, except the two students were Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.
The Rolling Stones would go on to play an unrivalled set in the history of rock music, and their influence is still felt today after half a century of music.
Lancashire lads The Ruby Tuesdays have developed a reputation for hard driving rock and crowd-pleasing performances where the air, and not just their instruments, is electrified. The band of four, William Tucker, Matty Hall and George Barnes from Blackburn and James Baird from Clitheroe, are united by a love of playing live gigs.
Their name came about after frontman and graphic design student, Tucker, visited the Saatchi Gallery in 2016. “There was an exhibition on The Rolling Stones and at the end of it there was a big screen playing Satisfaction and it just blew my mind.”
He’d been in bands before but that moment solidified his desire to take it forward: “I thought it only right to tip the hat to them when it came to naming the band.”
He wasn’t alone in taking his influence from The Stones as Tucker explains: “Barnsey, who plays lead guitar – his dad copied Keith Richards’ stage presence and Barnsey copied his stage presence from his dad.
“And Mick Jagger is hands down the best front man. Essentially you always look to copy what your predecessors have done, and they are the best rock and roll band there has ever been.”
That’s not to say The Ruby Tuesdays are a tribute act, far from it. They write and perform their own songs. They just have an ethos, like The Stones, which is built around playing live gigs and giving the crowd something to take them out of whatever miseries modern life may be dealing them.
“We are in such a dark time right now with politics, and everyone’s skint. We want to take people away from that. Even for a just few hours to forget about everything,” says Tucker. “There’s too many labels on things these days. So long as you are enjoying what we are doing and we are making you feel something, then that’s what we are about. It’s not just about the music, it’s about the energy that we bring.
“It helps us escape too,” adds bassist and fellow graphic design student Matty.
The Ruby Tuesdays are managed by Damien Lee, the man credited with reviving the live music scene in Blackburn through his venue, the Electric Church. It’s here where many of their new songs are born in organic jamming sessions, which can be difficult to organise with Tucker in Leeds and Matty in Nottingham, whilst Barnsey studies maths in Bristol and drummer Baird is at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute in Manchester.
“Usually when we come together someone brings a riff, and we just jam along to it until it all kind of comes together. It builds very well from that initial riff into a full song,” says Matty.
“It all meshes together and then I will put lyrics to it. I’ve loads of lyrics written down to songs that don’t exist, and I’ll normally pinch bits to follow a theme,” adds Tucker.
When their latest single drops at the end of the month it promises to be something a little bit different as it will only be available in vinyl. The limited run of 300 will be personally signed by the band and contain a visual ‘zine’ with illustrations to accompany the tracks.
“It’s the personal interaction of being able to hold something,” says Matty. “I think it’s important to anything and it is something which connects us to those fans who have followed us from the beginning.”
The Ruby Tuesdays latest single Rivers of Gold is released 28th February exclusively on vinyl