By Mindee Jorgensen
Header Photo Credit: June Liwanag
Ruby Ranoa is a 16 year old drummer living on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. Her drum style is hard-hitting, solid, total punk rock. She is a very passionate, eye catching, and enthusiastic performer. Watching her drum live is always a real treat.
She is getting ready to travel to Los Angeles CA with her high energy, riot grrrl inspired punk band: Rotten Blossom. They are extremely excited for this rare opportunity, as any show outside of their small island starts and ends with a hefty priced plane ticket.
Ruby has been drumming for 3 years now. As a freshmen in high school, she wanted to start a punk band, but didn’t know of any drummers in the area. So she began taking lessons; watching videos of Travis Barker was a huge inspiration to her, and she still looks up to his drumming style today.
Ruby realized it was time to form a band and get on stage while listening to The Misfits.
“What got me to actually start playing in a band was listening to the Misfits and realizing that their drummer had pretty simple beats that I could already play. My thought process went a little like: If a band as famous as the Misfits can be successful with drum parts as basic as that, I’m decent enough to start up a band of my own.” She explains.
Ruby, along with Kelly Bongolan of The Bougies, are the only 2 active female drummers in Oahu’s DIY scene. Luckily, she receives tons of support from the regulars that come to the shows.
“Being a female drummer is weird sometimes; when I mention to a guy that I’m a drummer, I often get the response of “Oh you’re a GIRL drummer?” It’s odd to me that “girl” becomes a qualifier. I’ve learned to embrace this title, and to be proud of being one of the few female drummers on Oahu.” Ruby says.
People may not always consider what life is like for an island band. Without being able to travel to new cities and tour the way a mainland band can, it’s hard to gain a following outside of the island, or even online. Adding to this is the fact that few bands make the trip out their way to play shows since it’s an expensive trek. However, the scene in Oahu is very tight knit and supportive of each other. When touring bands do make the journey to Oahu, they are always shown the best of hospitality and it is a special occasion for everyone.
“Although the Hawaii scene is very limited, I’m completely in love with it. I like being able to know nearly every person’s name at a show. Since the scene is so small, we get a crazy amount of support from a huge portion of the people in it.” She says.
While in Los Angeles, Rotten Blossom will be playing 3 shows, including The Smell alongside Peach Kelli Pop. They’ll also be recording with one of their musical inspirations, Steven McDonald of Redd Kross and OFF!
“Traveling to LA with Rotten Blossom is a dream come true. I never thought that I’d be going to tour with some of my best friends. It’s a huge deal not only to us, but also to the rest of our friends in the scene who’ve supported us from the beginning. We plan to play a few shows in the Los Angeles area and record in the Whiskey Kitchen with Steven McDonald. Touring is an opportunity to meet and connect with mainland bands and spread our music somewhere else besides our beloved Chinatown on Oahu.”
Ruby has big plans for her musical career and a lifelong drumming journey ahead of her.
“In the future, I’d like to expand my drumming style more, especially in the direction of fast-paced hardcore music. In the next couple years I’m planning on moving to the mainland, so hopefully in 5 years or less I’ll have started another band over there. I hope to continue having bands as long as I can manage throughout my life.” She explains.
You can show Ruby support by downloading and listening to Rotten Blossom’s debut full length “Get Lict,” released February of this year: Rotten Blossom Bandcamp