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NIGHT LIFE

Branching Out : Simi Valley's Tree of Love plays basic alternative rock featuring strong vocals.

July 14, 1994|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Imagine a night on the town that is like this: Good music, no booze, no long lines to the restroom, no trouble, no hangovers, no DUIs and no cops. Is it a church social in Mayberry?

No, it must be the Vampyre Lounge in Simi Valley, home to industrial strength coffee. Wednesday night, the all-ages venue will host Tree of Love, one of Simi Valley's favorite bands.

In Simi Valley, the land of many malls, many bands and few venues, the Tree band shares popularity with a couple of other local groups, April's Motel Room--which just released an album on Epic--and Contradiction. In fact, Tree of Love bandleader/singer/bassist Geoff Ruble was once in bands with Scott Semple of Contradiction and Tom Kelly and John Baffa of April's Motel Room.

The Tree band plays basic alternative rock featuring strong vocals by Ruble and Kelly Vold. Matt Blunt, who has played with Ruble since they were kids, is the drummer. Jason Orme has been the guitar player for the last 1 1/2 years.

After the important work of the day was completed (surfing) Ruble talked about his favorite band.

How come there's so many bands in Simi Valley and nowhere to play?

I don't know, but there are always parties; we've played so many parties in Simi Valley. Maybe it was just luck, but we'd usually get in at least a set before the cops came. Right now, I think the Vampyre Lounge is kinda cool. Since there's no age limit, it's usually packed. Last time we played there, it was so crowded, they quit letting people in. Besides that, there's the MVP Sports Bar, which is strictly a money gig. We usually only do originals and those people are always yelling at us to do Creedence or some Southern Rock song. But mostly, I'm stoked on the Vampyre Lounge.

What effect has the signing of April's Motel Room had on the local scene?

I'm not sure yet. I guess it tells us that a career in music is attainable.

What do you think Tree of Love music sounds like?

It's a cross between Motown and punk. We can play three sets--we have over 30 songs. Once in a while when we feel like messing around, we will do a cover song. We'll ask for requests, then try to do it right there.

What's the songwriting process like for you?

I usually come up with something on my acoustic guitar, and before I know it, I'm thinking about a melody, then a bridge, then a chorus then some lyrics about whatever's on my mind at the time. The songs I write are mostly love songs and about growing up--the transition from a kid to a man. I have a B.A. in English literature from CSUN which has helped me to write songs, if not get a job since I work at a mortgage company.

Do local bands have to play L.A. to get anywhere?

Well, that's where all the bands go to play. We play down there at least once a month. I mean, it's easy to get our friends to watch us play in Simi Valley, but if you can go to L.A. and play for a roomful of strangers and they like it, then you've proved something.

So what's the plan, man?

We're working on another tape, and we're really gonna push it this time. We've got some things happening with a publicist, and we met this manager guy who said he could get us on the radio. Then we hooked up with this guy named Jeff Eyrich who used to play bass with the Surf Punks. He's a surfer from Malibu and we just hit it off. He's produced a lot of stuff like "A Million Miles Away," that Plimsouls' song. He's got a lot of connections. We want to get this tape out to the A&R guys and play the killer shows.

Do people dance when Tree of Love plays?

My eyes are mostly closed when we play. I just really get into it. If people are just watching intently and attentively, that's cool.

What do you like most about being in a band?

It's just having an outlet for doing what I do. Music is what I do and I know that's why I was put on Earth. Playing music is the most incredible feeling there is, except surfing. The only problem is, music is a job you don't get paid for, at least with money. But once you finally get paid, it's a big paycheck.

What kind of music did you like growing up?

The Beatles. I used to hear them all the time when I was a little kid. I remember I listened to "Hard Day's Night" over and over. Then, I really got into that Knack record, "My Sharona," and then I started listening to all the new wave stuff like Oingo Boingo, but mostly for me, it was Beatles because they always seemed to be having so much fun.

Your wife sang on the last tape, but Kelly Vold is in the band now--what's up?

My wife is pregnant and is expecting Oct. 8. It was cool when she was in the band because we could spend time together. After the kid is born, I've thought about having two female singers in the band, but I don't know what's going to happen. I've known Kelly since junior high school. She used to sing in the chorus and stuff and I remember one time, she sang a Billy Joel song at an assembly. But right now, we just want to get better as a band, write better songs, and just keep improving.

Details

* WHAT: Tree of Love.

* WHERE: Vampyre Lounge Cafe, 665 E. Los Angeles Ave., Simi Valley.

* WHEN: Wednesday, 8:30 p.m.

* HOW MUCH: Free.

* FYI: 526-3264

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