When I was fourteen years old, I was a naive freshman in high school. My biggest fear? Not getting worked over by upperclassmen much larger and meaner than I.
Bex Chilcott, who records and tours under the name Ruby Boots, had much more significant teenage concerns. On her own by her mid-teens, she was laboring on pearling boats off the coast of her native Australia by fourteen, the same age I was navigating the halls of my high school, living a safe and, in comparison, sheltered existence.
That her mettle was tested at such a young age is apparent in Chilcott’s music and is much evidenced on her new release, Don’t Talk About It. Out now on Bloodshot Records, this new collection of songs speaks to Chilcott’s wandering spirit, which eventually landed her in Nashville, and is ripe with hints of punk and garage rock inspiration.
It’s a kick ass recording.
Chilcott, or Ruby Boots, was kind enough to tackle some questions from me about the pearling, her new record, and taking her music back home.
BRO – Hardest day on tour versus hardest day on the pearling boats. Which is worse?
RB – This is so tricky, as they are very different environments. When you are out at sea, chipping pearl shell, the work is very, very repetitive and grueling on the body, as it’s very physical, whereas touring can be mentally draining and everything is constantly changing. I don’t know. I guess I really enjoyed, and enjoy, both things and take each day as it comes, so it’s hard to compare. But I do remember when I started pearling that I had really bad carpal tunnel – so bad that I couldn’t use a knife to butter my toast in the morning. It lasted for three months and was pretty brutal. Oh, and there was this weed that used to grow on the ropes that was called fire weed and when it touched your skin it felt like you had your flesh to a flame. So, yeah, maybe the pearling industry was worse when it came to hard days. But you also don’t get to see whales and sharks on the road!
BRO – Nikki Lane is a longtime Trail Mix favorite. Can you talk about those songwriting sessions with her?
RB – They are fast and fun. It’s almost like firing back and forth in a rap. It helps that we are close friends, so we relate to each other lyrically because we are very like-minded. Nikki has a love for a good chorus and melodies much the same as I do, so we are very quick to be on the same page.
BRO – I’m curious if you are a gear nut. Got a favorite pedal or piece of gear that you can’t play without?
RB – I’ve just started to go down the pedal rabbit hole now that I’m playing electric guitar live, so my pedal board is still very PG. I’m keeping it simple but classy. I’m loving my Xotic BB Overdrive with my EP booster. It’s big and ballsy. And my MXR Carbon Copy Delay is just what I need for my clean sound.
BRO – We are featuring “It’s So Cruel” on this month’s Trail Mix. What’s the story behind the song?
RB – I love the theme of this song. It is so real. The song is based on that predicament that you can easily find yourself in without even knowing, where one person fails to tell the other person they have a significant other yet acts as though they are single and ready to mingle. It’s a classic dog move, and that’s being polite about it!
BRO – You’ve got some shows lined up in Australia. Excited to take these tunes home?
RB – I am extremely pumped to be taking the songs to stage in Australia and the US. It’s more of a rock show now, which I have been chomping at the bit to unleash. I just launched the album at The Hideout Inn in Chicago and the place was pumping. Everyone was dancing and sweating in a snow storm and singing along. It was the most perfect start to this album release.
Ruby Boots is on the road with her fuzzed out roots rock to celebrate the release of the new record. This week, you can find Ruby and the band at Folk Alliance in Kansas City before she heads back to Nashville. SXSW is also on her calendar in March.
For more information on Ruby Boots, the new record, or when you can see her live, please visit her website.
And be sure to take a listen to “It’s So Cruel,” along with new tracks from Rainbrother, Janiva Magness, and Django Django on this month’s Trail Mix.