The Coachella Valley is full of musicians pushing their limits and creating heavy rock soundtracks that would make even Kyuss proud—but it’s always a treat to come across a band creating a completely different desert-influenced sound.
This brings us to the self-described “desert jangle” of Plastic Ruby.
“It’s really the only thing I can use to describe our sound,” said John Marek, the vocalist, guitarist and leader of Plastic Ruby. “If you’ve ever heard of jangle pop, it’s like that, and we also have some desert influences in our music. We associate our psychedelic sound with the desert. Most of our sound is poppy-’60s influenced.”
The music created by Marek and co. is extremely pleasing, with each song from the band’s self-titled EP—as well as the two recent singles, “Beach Day” and “Just the Type”—featuring dance-y and groovy guitar lines backed by dreamy basslines and synth ambiance; Marek’s extremely distinguishable vocal melodies are just the cherry on top. “Bad Conscience Blues” and “Soda” are some of my favorites. Those two new singles are signs of a forthcoming album, which Marek confirms is “already in the works.”
Marek’s talent also stretches beyond music, as he has been producing and editing intricate music videos for some Plastic Ruby songs. The release of “Just the Type” was accompanied by a video transporting the viewer through dreamscapes, fences—and even a Plastic Ruby practice session.
“With that video, I was really inspired by the old White Stripes ‘Seven Nation Army’ video,” said Marek. “That was my influence for it, but I wanted it to be sloppier, more like you’re going into a different room versus however they did it. That video took me two or three days, and I always wait until the last minute. We actually filmed the last scene the day before its release. I’ve been making skate montages since middle school, and making videos was honestly my first love before music.”
A trip over to Plastic Ruby’s Facebook page (facebook.com/plasticruby) reveals that Marek also creates hilarious promotional videos for some shows.
“My friends and I are all fans of alternative comedy. We’re big on the Tim and Eric Show,” he said. “It’s what we grew up watching, and it’s definitely found a way into our videos.”
Marek has been creating music for a long time, well before Plastic Ruby’s genesis in 2017; he’s been uploading songs to his YouTube channel since 2012. An upload from six years ago called “John Marek—Back of My Head (Guitar + Drums @ the Same Time)” has more than 1 million views, with numerous awestruck comments on how Marek manages to play the guitar and drums simultaneously.
“To be honest, that video really helped me a lot,” Marek said. “It actually got placed in a commercial for a fiber-optics company in Canada, and one of my other songs, the first I ever made, was featured in an Audi commercial. It really got my foot in the door in terms of getting my music published. People keep telling me to make another one, but I don’t really want to be known for that. I don’t want to box myself into a corner. I’d rather people just appreciate what I do based on the merit of what I do.
“I put a lot of effort and time into how I create songs, rather than being the biggest shredder in the world. I can appreciate technical musicianship stuff, but what I want is the catchiest, coolest-sounding song possible. I just want to make a living off music. I don’t want to be famous or whatever. I just want to make a living off of what I love doing.”
Plastic Ruby will perform at Beats and Brews, starting at 3 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 21, at the Saguaro Palm Springs, 1800 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. For tickets or more information, visit www.facebook.com/events/383126549267702. Plastic Ruby is also scheduled to perform at 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 17, at the Concert for Autism Pre-Show Party at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert; admission is a suggested $5 donation. For more information, visit plasticruby.com.