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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

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.

Published in Previews

John Marek is a jewel in the local music scene. Not only is he a great guitarist and songwriter; he’s also one a hell of a showman.

In recent years, Marek played in War Drum, and he had a band called Ideation. Now he’s with his new band, Plastic Ruby, which includes Isidro Corrales (guitar/keyboards), Julio Corrales (bass) and Eddie Airada (drums).

Plastic Ruby released its first, self-titled EP earlier this month and has been playing shows locally since mid-2018. The band has a classic rock ’n’ roll sound—with some psychedelic groove to it. Whether you like to dance or simply enjoy musical fusion, Plastic Ruby is a band you’ll appreciate.

During a recent phone interview with Marek, he discussed his reasons for ending Ideation.

“I just wanted to start all over,” Marek said. “I developed a new sound over time.”

Considering Ideation had some fantastic songs that showcased Marek’s songwriting talents, I asked him if any of that material might resurface with Plastic Ruby.

“Possibly, but probably only when I run out of ideas or something,” Marek said with a laugh.

Since Plastic Ruby started playing live shows, the band has gotten tighter and tighter. When Marek is performing, you can feel the passion in his voice.

He explained how each of the other members of the band made their way into Plastic Ruby.

“Julio was in Ideation with me, and I’ve known that dude for over a decade now,” Marek said. “I knew Eddie when he was in Deadend Paradox, and I’d play shows with them. We hadn’t actually spoken to each other in years, and we sort of rekindled our friendship, and he joined the band and adapted super-quickly. Isidro is actually Julio’s cousin, and I brought him in because we were looking for an extra person to do keyboards and guitars, and he fit in just fine.”

Marek said he’s satisfied with the new EP—even if it didn’t come out exactly the way he wanted it.

“I’ve recorded most of my own stuff, even for the publishing deal that I had. This one was mixed by professionals,” Marek said. “I’m not into spending a whole bunch of money. I’m definitely trying to keep it as cheap as possible, but I don’t think it cheapens the music. … I have one good microphone that I use to record everything, and it definitely gets me by.”

More material is on the way soon, Marek said.

“We’re probably going to release a single in a few months, and I have close to half of a full-length album ready to record,” he said. “There’s tons of material for this band that needs to get out.”

The Coachella Valley music scene is something that confuses Marek, he said.

“I honestly feel like this place doesn’t even have a music scene. I feel like there are just a whole bunch of different-sounding bands,” he said. “Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss and all that stuff was a scene. There were quite a few bands that had a particular sound. Nowadays, you have a punk band here, a ska band there, a rock ’n’ roll band here, and there is no scene. There’s still a well of talent, but it’s a whole bunch of different sounds.”

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/plasticruby.

Ideation has been around the desert for a while, as frontman/guitarist John Marek has gotten in and out of other projects.

However, it’s finally Ideation’s time: The band made it to the final round of the contest to play at the Tachevah Block Party, and has been enjoying steady gigs since the winter.

Ideation has a sound that’s close to ’60s garage rock, and the Marek talks to the audience much like Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones does. Marek is quite animated as he struts while playing guitar riffs in between vocals; in fact, other musicians have expressed appreciation for Marek’s stage presence and vocal style.

“Ideation has been around for, like, seven years, but with different lineups,” Marek said during a recent phone interview. “It’s kind of been my baby, and I’ve made all these songs, and other people hop along and help write the songs—or, I should say, reinvent the songs. Basically, it started out with me and this dude who was a bass-player, and he taught me how to play guitar. We got in this crazy car accident, and we started writing songs.”

As for the name: “The name came from this lady that guy knew who was schizophrenic and had a lot of problems, and she would tell him all these crazy stories about how she thought the CIA was after her. One day, he checked out her prescription-medication bottle, it had all these different side effects, and one of them was ‘suicidal ideation.’ ‘Suicidal ideation’ sounded like a punk band or something, or a metal band. So we just stuck with Ideation.”

Marek was a member of War Drum for a period of time, during which Ideation got put on the back burner. He discussed his dismissal from War Drum last year.

“I was playing with them because I didn’t have a band at the time. Jack (Kohler) asked me to be in the band,” Marek said. “It was their baby, and I kinda wanted my own baby. We just went our separate ways. There weren’t any hard feelings or anything like that; I still love those dudes, but I just wanted to do my own thing.”

After War Drum, Marek played as a solo act and did some recording.

“That was a brief period of a lot of recordings that I will probably never release,” he said. “Sometimes, I would just play with my acoustic guitar, and sometimes I would have a bass drum, but that was rarely, or sometimes I would just have a tambourine I would stomp on.”

Marek has sold some Ideation songs to a publishing company.

“I got this publishing deal,” Marek explained. “This guy named Ikey Owens, who was Jack White’s keyboardist, and who unfortunately passed away not too long ago, hit me up, and we started playing shows together in Long Beach. He got this publishing deal for me, and we started recording with that, and we basically spent three or four months recording this eight-song whatever-you-want-to-call-it; I don’t really consider it an album. We recorded that, and he handed it over to a publishing company called Heavy Duty.

“What they’re doing is they’re shopping my music to TV commercials, TV shows and movies. As far as the shows the stuff has been in, there’s one on AMC, and a couple on MTV. A recent one was on NBC on a show called Chicago Fire, which I was pretty stoked about. I think one or two out of the eight songs are ones Ideation will still play live, but the others are really old folk songs we don’t play any more.”

Marek said new recordings from Ideation are in the works.

“We’re actually playing very few shows in the next coming months, because we’re recording our EP right now,” he said. It’s going to be a five-song EP, and we’re planning on making a music video to go along with one of the songs. We’re probably going to have a release party at The Hood. … We’re going to have some down time playing shows through the summer, and when the season comes back, we’ll go full force and play a lot of shows. We’ll have our shit together.”

Ideation will perform with The Rebel Boise at 9 p.m., Saturday, June 20, at Bart Lounge, 67555 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Cathedral City. Admission is free. For more information on the show, visit www.facebook.com/bartlounge. For more information on Ideation, visit www.facebook.com/IdeationMusic.

Published in Previews

October is here, and in theory, we should begin to get some relief from the oppressive heat.

In theory.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has two excellent events coming up that you probably shouldn’t miss. First, the Experience Hendrix Tour will be coming through at 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 11. The lineup is packed with big names, including Buddy Guy, Billy Cox, Zakk Wylde, Jonny Lang and many others. As you can probably guess from the name, the tour pays homage to Jimi Hendrix, and has been going for more than a decade. Tickets are $29 to $69. And now for something completely different: Cheech and Chong and WAR will be stopping by at 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 24. Cheech and Chong are the comedy world’s biggest stoners, of course, thanks in part to films such as Up in Smoke, Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie, and Nice Dreams. And if anybody asks, Dave’s not here, man. Tickets are $29 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 800-827-2946; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has two fine events scheduled. The Beach Boys will be performing at 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 3. Former Beach Boys frontman Brian Wilson came through the Coachella Valley in late August, so a performance by the Beach Boys should be a nice follow-up; however, keep in mind that technically, Mike Love is the only original member of this group of Beach Boys, although Bruce Johnston, a touring member since 1965, is also part of the lineup. There’s no word on whether or not John Stamos will be performing on the drums. Tickets are $45 to $75. Creedence Clearwater Revisited will be performing at 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 17, featuring Creedence Clearwater Revival members Stu Cook (bass) and Doug Clifford (drums). The group formed in 1995 to play a couple of shows that a friend of theirs wanted to put on—and then they decided to tour. This did not sit well with Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman John Fogerty; Fogerty filed suit against Cook and Clifford, forcing them to perform under a different name until the courts ruled in favor of Cook and Clifford. Tickets are $40 to $60. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has a couple of events worth mentioning. They’re back: Thunder From Down Under returns to Morongo at 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 3. Tickets are $25. If mostly naked men aren’t your thing, you’ll be happy to know that Paquita la del Barrio will be performing at 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 24. The renowned singer has been fighting sexism in Mexico since 1970—and she’ll put you on the spot if you give her any flak. This is a show definitely worth checking out. Tickets are $59 to $69. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

The Purple Room reopened as The Purple Room Restaurant and Stage just before Labor Day. Machin’, The Judy Show and The Michael Holmes Trio still have their usual weekly residencies, and the fine folks there have added the David Ring Duo on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. They play jazz and old favorites from the American Songbook. There is no cover. The Gand Band will be ending their snowbird season in Chicago and returning to the Purple Room at 8:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 3. Tickets are $10. The Gand Band is also leading some themed events in October, such as Tiki Chic on Friday, Oct. 10, and an ’80s Halloween on Friday, Oct. 31. The Purple Room Restaurant and Stage, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Copa in Palm Springs has a full calendar in October. At 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 2, and 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 3, Suzanne Westenhoefer will be appearing. Known as a panelist on GSN’s I’ve Got a Secret, and for her LOGO Television comedy special A Bottom on Top, this lesbian comedian will have you laughing for sure. Tickets are $20 to $40. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 11, Gloria Loring will be stopping by. The actress and singer has released several albums and helped compose the theme songs for Diff’rent Strokes and The Facts of Life. Fun fact: She was married to Alan Thicke—and is Robin Thicke’s mom. Tickets are $40 to $60. Jazz singer/songwriter Tony DeSare will be appearing at 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 18. DeSare’s songs have appeared in films such as The Tooth Fairy and My Date With Drew. Tickets are $20 to $40. Copa, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.copapalmsprings.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has booked several great shows. Dawes will be stopping by at 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 11. The Los Angeles folk-rock band has played the late-night talk shows, performed with Jackson Browne at an Occupy Wall Street event, and received acclaim from critics and fans alike for their albums. Tickets are $25. At 8 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 15, The New Pornographers (above) will be performing an outdoor show. The band’s blend of pop and indie-rock has made them popular since they formed in 1999. If that’s not enough to convince you, consider the lineup: Neko Case, Dan Bejar of Destroyer, Kathryn Calder of Immaculate Machine, John Collins of The Evaporators, Todd Fancey of Limblifter, and independent filmmaker Blaine Thurier. Wow. Tickets are $30. Tycho with Com Truise will be at Pappy’s at 7 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 26. Tycho is a well-known ambient-music artist and producer, and Com Truise is a solid name in dance music. Tickets are $25. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Hard Rock Hotel’s schedule is heating up. At 7:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 24, it will be “Dive-In Movies” night, with the Palm Springs Film Society screening the Talking Heads concert film, Stop Making Sense, in the pool area. It’s a perfect pairing of venue and film, isn’t it? Admission is free. BB Ingle will be having his Annual Halloween Bash at 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 31. I can vouch for the fact that it’s a lot of fun. Tickets are $20 in advance, or $30 at the door; 21 and older only. Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs, 150 S. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9676; www.hrhpalmsprings.com.

Bar is hosting a special event at 9:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 9. The Rebel Noise will be playing the first show of the band’s California tour for the hometown crowd. Also on the bill are CIVX and former War Drum guitarist John Marek. Admission is free. Bar, 340 N. Palm Canyon, Palm Springs; 760-537-7337; www.barwastaken.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has two events that should not be missed. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 3,punk veterans Guttermouth will be returning to The Hood. The controversial and humorous punk band puts on an excellent show. Tickets are $10. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 31, the Koffin Kats (below) will be stopping by for a Halloween show. The Detroit psychobilly group’s performance would be a perfect way to celebrate Halloween. Admission is free. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

The Date Shed is back with an encouraging calendar of events going into 2015. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 11, rapper and producer Warren G will be performing. In 1994, his song “Regulate” was a major hit. Tickets are $25. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe Street, Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

Here’s some advance notice about an early-November event: Celebrate the Day of the Dead on Saturday, Nov. 1, and Sunday, Nov. 2, at the Dia De Los Muertos festival in Coachella, at Rancho Las Flores Park. Scheduled to perform are Chicano Batman, Noel Torres, Banda Nachos, La Santa Cecilia, La Bikina and others. There will be food vendors, art exhibitions, and many other things Day of the Dead. This is a great event for all ages. Tickets start at $20. Rancho Las Flores Park is located at 48350 Van Buren St. in Coachella. For more information, visit www.diadelosmuertosusa.com.

Published in Previews

During a recent interview, War Drum keyboardist Jack Kohler and bassist Robbie Waldman (also a member of the band Waxy) revealed that the band plans on taking a break from live gigs.

However, fans have nothing to fear: In fact, the band is making plans to record a brand-new new album.

War Drum also includes of Ehren Groban (guitar), John Marek (guitar) and Peter Leighton (drums). The band formed in the summer of 2010 while Kohler and Groban were employees of the Ace Hotel and swim club. Waldman watched the band play without a bassist shortly after the formation.

“I remember hearing about War Drum a little bit, and I saw them playing at the Ace Hotel,” Waldman said. “There was a different drummer back then, this guy named Carlos. Peter was playing guitar; Ehren was playing guitar; and Jack was on keys. I saw what they were doing as an audience member, and there was this authorial, tribal, spiritual and desert landscape feel to their music, and I was immediately attracted to it.”

Kohler said the band gained a lot when it added Waldman and his bass.

“Robbie has years of experience, and he owns the Unit A Studios recording studio in Palm Springs,” Kohler said. “He had a lot that we didn’t have at that time when he came into it. It was just a bunch of kids having fun and partying, and playing kind of off-beat rock and roll. We were more of a sound/feel band before we were a harder desert-rock band. I think we’ve formed into that over the past few years. We added a lot more of a dynamic when he joined the group. Plus the bass is such a necessary thing.”

One of the highlights of War Drum’s history is the band’s European tour. Kohler told a story about how his one night to enjoy a bed of his own was spoiled.

“One night, we were in Spain, and we played this show, and everyone was really fucked up—as in next-level fucked up, not normal bar shit,” Kohler said. “We were in a hostel that night, and it was a really nice place. Around 2 or 3 in the morning, no one knew where Peter was, which is not unusual, because as we’d like to say, ‘He’s a drummer.’ He was wandering the streets of Spain for three or four hours, probably. We looked for him, and we went around asking if anyone had seen him in Spanish. I was so upset with him, because it was the only night where I had a bed, and he had the (only) key to our room, which is the dumbest idea we ever had, to give him the key.”

However, the trip to Europe was worth it.

“To me, the outstanding moment was when we played a show in Linz, Austria,” Waldman said. “It was a magic show. It was at a place called Kapu, where bands like Nirvana and Soundgarden played. It’s a small club, but it has a big stage, big P.A.—and something that holds 1,000 people should really only be holding about 300. It was packed; it was smoked, filled out; and it was hot. We played so well. You could just tell the crowd responded, and we sold our merch. It was one of those nights that you wish everyone could experience.”

As for the present, War Drum is planning to go on a short break, so he and Waldman can work on some other projects. However, the band hopes to have a new album out after the end of the year.

“We want to get into the studio and record,” Kohler said. “We just want to get our next album totally done. I think we’re both totally sick of our old album. Robbie and I are both getting ready to go back out on the road with other projects, and his project Waxy. We’re going to go to Australia, and possibly back to Europe again.

Waldman said breaks like this are part of being a serious musician.

“It’s the nature of the beast,” Waldman said. “You always have to be writing; you always have to be doing your thing; and you always have to be doing the next project.”

Kohler said the band’s ambitions remain high.

“I think that it’s about time we do more,” Kohler said, “that we get out and kind of actualize the things we want. We have all the pieces and the opportunities to do it.”

Waldman was a bit more specific.

“In today’s world, bands are responsible for two things, and you don’t need anyone’s help to do this: You have to be able to make your own albums. The second is your image: I think in War Drum, we all have to work on our image, and I think that’s where we should concentrate.”

For more information, visit the band's Facebook page.