While The Misfits might seem an odd pairing for a synth-pop act, the music of Boston’s Ruby Ridge has a decidedly dark, post-punk edge to it — as heard on its recent “Intent EP” — so it’s not as big a stretch as it might seem. We asked one half of the duo, John Bittrich, about the band’s clattering, claustrophobic cover of “Come Back,” just released as an early Halloween treat, and the tradition of Halloween cover shows in Boston (see our full picks here).
Q. Why’d you pick this song to cove and what did you do to put your own spin on it?
A. We picked “Come Back” for several reasons. For starters, it’s a very creepy song. It’s slower and longer than a lot of other Misfits tracks and it’s not like “Where Eagles Dare” or “Attitude” or “Skulls,” one of the obvious choices that a million bands have already tried to put their stamp on. We also thought that by taking one of the more rockabilly-influenced Misfits songs in a more synth-y direction, we might be able to pull off something kind of Suicide-esque, blending those two worlds together.
Q. The Misfits don’t seem like a natural choice for an electronic leaning band, right? Or are they an influence that might not seem obvious?
A. I can’t speak for Cal, but the Misfits are actually a huge influence for me. A lot of what I try to bring to the table in our group comes from really dark, guitar-driven stuff like The Misfits and also Killing Joke, Joy Division, Swans, ’80s anarcho-peace-punk stuff, the Birthday Party … That stuff definitely rubs off on what we do [especially in the vocal delivery] and it helps keep us from sounding like another cookie-cutter synth-pop band. Especially if you combine it with our other secret musical passion, which is new-age music. Plus, the chance to do something unexpected and maybe kind of difficult to translate was half the fun.
Q. You’ve done Halloween cover shows in the past. Why didn’t you want to this year?
A. In the past two years, Ruby Ridge has played Halloween shows as both The Knife and The Cure. This year, we did not have the time or inclination to learn an entire set of someone else’s material just to play it once. Thing is, though, we really really love Halloween. And we love doing goofy covers. So we decided to cover a song by the most Halloween-y band of them all and put it up online for people to have forever instead of just playing it out live once. It’s a lot of work to learn a whole set just to play it once, unless you half-ass it, and that’s why I’m always wary about hitting up this type of event if I’m not playing. I’ve seen some bands hit it out of the park — The Daily Pravda as Ziggy Stardust at The Pill a few years ago, Protokoll as Bauhaus back in the day. But mostly it seems like kids just pick four or five songs that are easy to play and then joke their way through an uninspired performance of them, which really only amounts to about half an actual set. We’re not willing to do that. So we decided it would be easier to just do one song right.