Since age fifteen, in the late 1990’s, Dustin Ruth had been strumming his guitar, writing songs, developing his craft until he would have the opportunity to try his hand as career artist. As his high school tenure began drawing to a close, he began to realize that opportunity was scarce in his hometown of Portland, Oregon. So he did what few in his position would have the guts to do: Wide-eyed and filled with optimism, he moved to Los Angeles, with only his guitar and an eager attitude. It would be the classic tale that so many have shared in the City of Angels.
Ruth isn't just the last name of the band's founder, singer / guitarist Dustin Ruth. When his longtime collaborator Nick Wiinikka suggested they call their fledgling group "Ruth" one night while watching a talk show on television, Dustin gave it a lot of thought until something special came to him, arriving with powerful force: Ruth as an acronym.
"'Return Us To Him' just popped in my head. I felt like the Lord put it on my heart," Dustin Ruth explains.
“After years of trying on my own, I decided to commit my plans to God, to submit my life to The Lord, and stop living without purpose inside my goals. It took a couple years but I found a committed group of guys who wanted the same thing. At this point in my writing I was starting to feel like the songs were ready for the world to hear. From there, it seemed like all the doors opened. I blinked, and we were playing shows and releasing an EP. It sold a couple thousand copies and we started showcasing for labels. It wasn’t long before we found ourselves on Tooth and Nail, right where we needed to be, with a huge opportunity to get the music out to many people. ”
Ruth showcases everything that is right about post-90’s radio/pop rock. Think Nirvana, Radiohead, Third Eye Blind, and Counting Crows. Combine that with a touch of the singer/songwriting finesse of Ryan Adams, and you have a formula for emotive melody, memorable choruses, and passionate songwriting. This is Ruth. Intimate. Dynamic. Memorable. Accessible.
“I have always been a sucker for melody. I wanted to take all the best parts of my inspiration, combine them with honest lyrics, and write songs that hopefully people would enjoy, possibly be moved by. Most importantly these songs are a responsibility. We believe they are gifts that we are held accountable for."
In the fall of 2006 Ruth recorded their first full-length with the famed producer/mixer team of Aaron Sprinkle and Jr McNeely (Jeremy Camp, Falling up, Anberllin, The Send, The Almost). If there is one characteristic, one virtue that defines the spirit of Ruth, it is hope--hope amidst real life circumstance. This theme dominated their debut album, Secondhand Dreaming (2007).
Several tracks illuminate this concept. On “Godstorm,” a soaring track which explores the issue of facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles in life, Dustin proclaims, When you call my name, to walk on water. You are the waves that I feel when I’m sinking. You are the storms that i feel when im dying. You are God. The song “Second Hand Dream’n,” which could be classified as the theme track for Dustin’s journey, professes the idea that God gives us the desires of our hearts for a reason, with conviction: I want to be who you want, want to do what you want, want to be only yours. I give you all that I am, give you all that I was, give you all that I'm supposed to be. Finally, “Work it out” is a song that gives a voice to the countless children of divorced parents in this generation: Everyday I'm felling more alone...I can't make it out here on my own, would you call out to me because i want to believe. Combined with the lush melodic landscape of the songwriting, these songs promise to bridge the gap between loss and healing in the lives of real people.
The band released their second album, Anorak, in 2008. Anorak is a band hitting their stride and portending even greater things to come, which is really saying something, considering the band humbly attests to crossing most things off of their meager "to do" list, like "sign to a record label," "see Europe," and that sort of thing. Legacy is important to Ruth and it is likely that they will have one.
"I would hope that the music we play is something a little more timeless," Dustin confesses. "Hopefully whomever gets one of our albums ten years from now, they're driving somewhere, and they can still listen to these songs and enjoy it. When Nick and I talked about our ten year goal for the band it was that no matter what that we would still be real, that we would still be who we are, no matter how many records we sold, we wouldn't be these arrogant superstar wannabes if we sold a lot or bitter and jaded it we didn't.
"We just like to look at each other and laugh when we're on stage because we're doing what we want to do," he continues. "We have been so blessed. We want to continue to be ourselves, to be real, and continue to keep the focus not about self-gain or self-accomplishment, but about doing whatever God tells us to do each day."