When we spoke to Ruler ‘s Matt Batey earlier this year , he detailed how he approaches music “looking for a feeling of being lifted up by the experience.” With his soaring hooks and insanely catchy riffs, he has a remarkable track record for hitting that mark. It’s no wonder that he’s become such a sought-after musician in the Seattle scene, using his instrumental wizardry and dynamic vocals to support acts like Cataldo and Rocky Votolato. Ruler has existed all along while he’s supported these artists, but for the most part, you’ve needed to attend one of his totally life-affirming live shows to hear Batey’s hooks in action. With Ruler’s latest single, “Complicated Mind,” we can now pour over just how expertly crafted Batey’s songwriting really is.
Over a chugging, muted riff, Batey opens the song with a litany of questions, “What are you running from? Is it real or is it dumb?” The push and pull between the pounding drums and the steady bass line heighten the tension, putting the pressure on like an indie rock interrogation. Suddenly there’s a brief pause, then we’re flying again as Batey wails a chorus condemning “you and your complicated mind.” Musically, it fits Batey’s mission of trying to feel lifted, even when the lyrics feel damning. They aren’t mutually exclusive ideas. The feverous pressure he’s exuding throughout the song feels like motivation – a coach grabbing you by the shoulders telling you to get back out there and to prove yourself wrong. It’s two-and-a-half minutes of guitar rock perfection, repeatedly bottling up and exploding.