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The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Small Artist Spotlight: Ruby Leftstep

Meet some stars of the Connecticut music scene, Ruby Leftstep.
Torch Photo / Jack Joiner

From the sticks of Northwest Connecticut, Ruby Leftstep is a young, four-man indie-rock group made up of Adam McDonald on vocals and bass, Dylan Hrinda on vocals and guitar, Thomas Busemeyer on vocals and guitar and Eddie Dahill on drums. 

Their music is one that could fall into the broad category of indie-rock, but it’s something along the lines of introspective, northeast emo—with a hint of folk—taking on the title of “Garden Emo.” Their developing discography is currently made up of a handful of singles and one EP entitled “The Ground Up,” but will soon be growing after the release of their next single, “Shuteye.”

The Torch sat down to chat with the band to talk about their group’s dynamic and their music. 

The group began to develop in August 2021, after Hrinda and Dahill met while taking music lessons at the same place Busemeyer was teaching. “Eddie and I were playing this show, there were 15 people in the band,” Hrinda said.  “It was like everybody playing music all at the same time together. Eddie was playing bass, and I think I was probably playing guitar. And then after that show, it went really well, I messaged Eddie and said, ‘Why don’t we do this forever? All the time.’”

Once Dahill agreed, the two played together, coming up with the name for the band through a combination of random word association and Hrinda’s old dog, Ruby. 

In November 2021, Busemeyer joined and started “playing some awesome solos and writing all the lead parts.” The group cycled through a few drummers until January 2023, when Dahill switched to his current instrument because he thought drums “were cooler than bass.” Finally, McDonald joined the group as their bassist and the rest was history. 

Growing up, their interests in music varied from Green Day, to Stevie Ray Vaughan and John Mayer, all the way to Breaking Benjamin. Nowadays, they each pull influence elsewhere — such as Jerry Garcia according to Busemeyer, or Big Thief for Hrinda. 

“Well my personal ones —I know Adam doesn’t like this — but for the [rest] of us, Pinegrove and Big Thief are big ones. Big Thief is very cool. I think we all grab different influences from all around which kind of helps us sound more unique,” Hrinda says, describing their musical direction. 

Dahill elaborates on their differing tastes saying,“Thom’s a jam band guy and I grew up with jam bands, too, but I’d say my drumming is not similar to the Grateful Dead, which gives it a cool contrast. And then we got Dylan playing Breaking Benjamin.” However, Hrinda wants to make it known that he hasn’t played Breaking Benjamin in “seven years.” 

Torch Photo / Jack Joiner

Their sound is unique in its nature due to the mix of influence each member brings, but also because practically every step of the creation process is done by themselves. For each of their songs, the recording takes place in Dahill’s living room, then gets mixed and produced by Hrinda in his bedroom. This is something that continues to develop with each new track. Speaking about their latest release, “Remaining,” Busemeyer says “I feel like we figured out how to produce things a lot better, so it just sounds better than the earlier songs.”

When it comes to writing their own music, their process is very fluid, changing for each person. “Some of us prefer to map it out, and then kind of present a finished product. Some of us kind of prefer to work on it from the ground up with just a riff and then work on it from there. I think almost every song has had a different starting point. But they all kind of end with the same workshopping process of coming into rehearsal, presenting different ideas, playing it differently for about a month, until we kind of settle on something comfortable,” says McDonald of their creative process.  

To the band’s surprise, fans have been singing those lyrics right back to them during shows. At a show in Winsted, CT, people were singing the chorus of their song “For the Record” loud enough for Dahill to hear all the way back on the drum kit. At a gig at UConn, fans in the front row were even singing the lyrics to a song that hasn’t been released yet. 

“We were honestly, I wouldn’t say scared,” says McDonald of the experience, “but it took us a second to find the comfort in that because you’re like ‘Really?’” While excited about the fans’ energy, Hrinda admits: “I mess up lyrics a lot, too, so I was really worried.” As the band grows, clearly so does the dedication of their fanbase. And with songs as captivating and electrifying as theirs, how could fans not sing along? 

Ruby Leftstep has a lot of character, both in personality and in their music. The group had no shortage of laughter, joking about things like pre-performance rituals and adding a fifth member to the band, contemplating Neil Peart, Django Reinhardt and even Ice Spice. But as of right now, they’ll remain a group of four, continuing to make the music they love and have fun doing it. 

With approaching shows across New England and upstate New York, the upcoming release of their new single “Shuteye” and the possibility of an album dropping this summer, Ruby Leftstep is certainly a band to keep an eye out for. 

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About the Contributor
Molly Downs, Culture Editor
Molly is a senior English major with a minor in Creative Writing serving her second year as Culture Editor for The Torch. Outside of her role at The Torch, you can find her reading a book on the Great Lawn, listening to one of her many playlists, or watching one of her favorite movies, like “Little Miss Sunshine.” Molly can be reached at [email protected]
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    Ulysses S. GrantMar 5, 2024 at 5:29 pm

    Very good

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