Runis interview!

The australian Ruins has alerady appeared in the site Fémforgács, when I asked David Haley about the Psycroptic and his projects. I felt, that I should ask more about them. But when you make an interview through email, there’s no ability to reflect, or re-ask something. At the end of october, because of the Front the Final Foes album, there’s a new opportunity to know this band. Alex Pope, the guitarist and frontman of Ruins answered my questions.

At first, please italk about the band This album is already the third. Have you worked with David since the beginning? Does his activity in Psycroptic take effect to your band?

Our drummer Dave and I met one another in 96. We listened to music together a lot and by the turn of the millennia I would say that Ruins existed as an idea. But we were both doing other things at the time, actually working towards getting the band together and having some jams did not happen until sometime in 2002. So writing really begins properly then. Our demo was recorded 03 and released as an mcd titled “Atom and Time” in 04. We started recording our debut album “Spun Forth as Dark Nets” in 04 and it saw the light of day in 05. Through the next couple of years we were working on “Cauldron” which was finished recording in 07 but it did not see release until March 08 in Australia and some months later for the International release. Our most recent release “Front the Final Foes” was released this year. We have just recently begun the pre-production for the next album. There is always something happening on some level, things are moving forward with regard to something. Writing is not linear for me. Always riffing begins with me and I will eventually feel that I have enough happening to present the idea to Dave… enough of an idea that I am already hearing a song. But it will usually always take a few different turns from this point. I may have beats and structure in mind, but usually that all changes when Dave starts playing… because it evolves for the best. Mostly I would say I have a strong plan for tempos at least, but really the song is coming together between both Dave and I jamming. Lyrics come separate from music to me, but somehow they are always very definite in finding their ways together… vocal phrasing is possibly my most enjoyed part of the whole craft, not that it takes precedent but I always feel like it is going to be challenging to really create what it is that I want to hear, and somehow this part of the process just ends up coming really naturally. It is perhaps quite an enjoyable time in the process because it is the first time that I myself am even getting a clearer picture of how the songs can sound in the end… after becoming quite familiar with the music just instrumentally until this point; and the words poetically, as separate from the music until this point. The core of this band will most likely remain the duo that it began as, Dave and I. Joe who is Dave’s brother and also a member of Psycroptic is the next significant character as our producer really… and he is second guitarist for us live… he is perfect. Our live bass player Kai has actually recorded the bass session on our latest album ‘Front the Final Foes’ which is the first one for him. Truthfully it is just as difficult for me to have more time for Ruins ‘live’, as it is for Kai, as it is for Dave and Joe regardless of their commitments to Psycroptic. For Ruins to operate as a ‘live’ band more consistently, it will require lifestyle change from me and Kai, let alone scheduling the time with Psycroptic. It is not a problem though, as far as I am concerned.

You played in a band called Evil Dead before (not the same as the thrash legend from Los Angeles). You published only one demo in 1998, what kind of music was that, and why did you split up?

Evil Dead was a juvenile band, I mean really… it started in the last couple of years of high school, the recording came when we stopped playing together really. I was drummer… it was a token band, basically its only merit was that it was amusing. Haha! It was kind of death/grind/thrash with rock n roll/rockabilly/blues/stoner influences. It was pretty cool and certainly a most fun band, but none of us took it seriously at the time, so we certainly don’t now. My good friend who wrote the music for that band is now living in Japan, G’day Luke!

No big deal. I was always guitarist first. The first band that I had any measure of success with, that is, the chemistry worked enough for us to do shows/albums/tours etc, I was playing bass and doing some vox/lyrics. Drums had always been a hobby, I always had friends who were better than me at drums, but I liked to play anyway, there were never enough drummers to guitarists in the school days that is for sure… so that is the main reason that I had ever really had a go at drums. Playing all instruments across the board has certainly helped me as a songwriter I feel.

The lyrics of Ruins are from the darkness, but not in the usual chliche way. Where do you find inspirations?

Tasmania is a very beautiful, mysterious and isolated place. I find the solitude I need to where I am… Here in Tasmania you can do that. I am not in total solitude but I am and always will be a very solitary person, to meet me in a public situation it would not seem like this at all, but in actuality I spend most of my time alone… but with music. I have removed myself from most distractions living in my part of the world. Yes this absolutely affects my music, perhaps you would say that my music is linked with my surroundings to a degree… not necessarily always so, when looking directly at certain lyrical themes for example. But always you could say these things focus my concentration and attention to mood, the moods I like to capture in my music, or the moods I need to summon to capture my music at all haha! There are so many things about the landscape that inspire, let alone that reclusion via isolation that breeds the creativity initially. The possibility to be absorbed like an artist must be. Not always distracted by society and bigger city problems. It is cathartic, in a way of speaking it is about destruction, but in another view it is the opposite of this, it is to fortify…. Ruins music is to strengthen, to harden. We cultivate a warriors perspective… sometimes this evolves into a sorcerers view, but primarily the way of warrior is fundamental. We are also interested in things as diverse as Quantum Physics and Taoism amongst our Beyond Good and Evil. The core themes that our band is immersed in always, not just this album specifically… i like to see the albums as a progression through the changing shape(s) of our view(s) that we experience in this band, the band which we use to help recapitulate and therefore fully explore our world(s) of sorcery. We use this band to try and make tangible to oursleves as much as anyone else our sorcerery experiences, and at the same time it is part of the cycle of the sorcery itself, it is a warriors task… Ruins is a bid for power, we attempt to rid ourselves of weakness, sometimes the music is quite uplifting… this is the warriors pleasure at smashing that self-pity that the morose feelings bring… in a way our music is about describing that shift; studying that shift… this is the basis of what we are about, therefore dynamics play a big part in the music, in tempo, rhythms, and melodies… the dynamics to describe the different moods. Ruins come from a place of no pity, and we aspire to remain in that place, despite exploring different feelings and ideas. We are always in deaths vicinity. Front The Final Foes more specifically refers to the archetypal enemies all humans face, of course we talk about being our own enemy… to a degree the enemies are within, but this depends on your view of whether or not the consciousness resides entirely within or not… We like our lyrics to be able to be interpreted from various angles, they are cryptic but they have inherent meaning that can be personal or general depending on addressing as/from microcosm or macrocosm I suppose. Or with Will or Reason?

What do you do besides music? Job, family, hobbies?

I work full time as a cook/kitchen manager, I am also currently studying in relation to cookery. I have a bachelor degree in fine art, and live at an art gallery. Primarily it is music though, always my main passion, I have always been into reading/studying various wide ranging themes/concepts/ideas etc. particularly occult. I now make this part of my work in music also regarding my themes and lyrics.

When I listened to this album, sometimes it reminded me the newer Satyricon. What do you think about this similarity, and the slow transformation of this band, or the splitting up of Emperor?

I have followed Satyricon since I first heard them in 1995. I have always been a supporter. When others did not understand ‘Rebel Extravanganza’ I was right there with them, I thought it was their strongest work… Nemesis cannot be challenged within that realm of mid-90’s Scandinavian stuff I think. It is the perfect evolution and refinement of the first stages of the band, but therefore taken to its end in many ways. They are pioneering artists so they evolved, and I have enjoyed the evolution. We were honoured to open for them on their first Ausralian tour in December2006. It was a pleasure and a privilege. So regarding Satyricon’s evolution in style, I am a supporter all the way. Not all have followed, but more have gathered.

I like Emperor and respect their work as band and individuals. Over the years I have listened to Emperor a lot but never listened to them as much as some other bands, I do not listen often these days but I have kept up with their evolution. I don’t have any particular opinions about anything to do with them really.

What do you think about the religions and the modern philosophies?

That would depend on what or which more specifically, but to answer in a word, inevitable.

Everything, absolutely everything that I perceive, it is all influencing in one way or another, what I am or what I do. On this plane of feeling everything is linked, when inspiration is just at pinnacle… everything is just bridging to everything else, so the musical ideas are just always coming together for me. It is savage music, primal music, violent music, but sometimes soothing music. You can see this keeps my interest pretty broad then when relating this to religion/philosophy/politics/history whatever. For me Ruins is an attempt to describe the warrior’s view; that may lead to a sorcerers understanding of things. To describe the warriors view death is always at side. This is what Ruins are all about. In my view of things this is fundamentally what black metal is built upon, a satanic tradition also colours this; and we also identify these images as part of our black metal. The mysteries of Satan could be seen to be a key ingredient, but for me this is really just a way of talking about something that can be very near impossible to speak of. Satan can perhaps be seen as that spirit of rebellion that can enable desire for spiritual understanding at all, key to the gate even. The will to spiritual freedom… or empowerment, then it becomes a different issue, describing obsession, possession, and Satan describes so perfectly so much else, helps me describe the effects of what would otherwise have to remain occult-(hidden) experiences and workings. Again this is all only a way of talking. My lyrics are pretty broad in scope. On one hand the words do little to get us any closer to the feeling that we set out to capture in the first place with the music. We can be dealing with what is actually completely intangible, however I codify many personally significant things within the scheme of it all. The overall message is quite open to individual interpretation. The listener will always read their own meanings, if they give it any thought at all? Some songs are directed at describing certain events, so in some instances this translates as sounding personal to me, but it can always be taken in the more generalised view too. I like people to have room, for their own experiences to help orient their view of these ideas, and I am glad to work its meaning from either direction. The landscapes of altered states of awareness, and of non-ordinary realities, these are indescribable realistically because reason and rationale is not boss.

Please talk about your favourite bands form your childhood!

I first started listening to heavy music very young when my mother played heavy 70’s stuff. Late 80’s was when I first started to find music for myself and that was pretty significant formative times catching up on ALL that had been happening through the 80’s. Mid 90’s is when I am getting to the later high school years and really actually starting to play in bands, coupling this with the emergence of some of the great names of the second wave of black metal that happened in the mid 90’s, this is a time particularly that it had first crossed my mind that I might make my music in such a fashion that the result would sound something like Ruins. My listening habits are far too many and varied really to even know where to begin. I guess really Dave and I would both say that our favourite couple of bands are probably AC/DC and Slayer. But I think Ruins crystallized as a plan whilst listening to Immortal’s ‘Battles in the North’ haha! That was an important album for Dave and I to share. We don’t always like all the same stuff but there are many things where we do cross over. Immortal are always inspirational. So it is ‘Battles’ that reminds me of where we theoretically began as a band; though it is Satyricon’s ‘Rebel Extravaganza’ that reminds me very much of the time in which we were truly beginning musically, starting to play together quite often. We have always respected both bands and have now had the privilege of touring with both Satyricon in 06 and Immortal in 08. Probably the most significant band for me personally, since the very early 90’s and still today is Dark Throne. They helped me understand better the roots in Bathory and Celtic Frost but also were my gate to these others to follow like Immortal and Satyricon. I am a huge fan of Celtic Frost, and they are a significant feature in the overall picture of Ruins, another band that we were massively honored to play alongside when they toured Australia in 07. Celtic Frost is an obvious influence on Ruins. There are much more obscure influences in Ruins music of course that hardly anyone would or could ever pick. I attempt to gesture to the power that is there before ruins arrives; as did DarkThrone salute to Mayhem, Hellhammer/Celtic Frost, Bathory. I guess in essence I have always just tried to highlight the features of the music that I like. But all of this is just talk and reason, when it comes to the will, and the intent etc., well it is not anyone else’s story but ours.

… I could go on forever and not even scratch the surface.

And please, list 5-5 albums from the death and black metal scene, which you like!

So AC/DC, Slayer, Celtic Frost, DarkThrone all this and more just goes without saying…

But recently I liked that Sarke album; that last 1349, the last Watain, Shining, I mentioned Craft already, can’t wait to hear more from Craft.

Could you speak about australian bands, which we should know? The average european metal listener knows the Deströyer 666, the Mortal Sin besides Psycroptic, so please help and introduce us the local metal scene!

I don’t wish to say much on the past, simply because I would be here for way too long. There have been a lot of great bands over the years and there still is now. Like anything there is stuff I like and stuff I don’t like. It doesn’t matter really. I am connected with bands like Nazxul, Amenta, Portal, Astriaal. Tasmania really does set us apart from others in more ways than geographically haha! I am thankful for this. There is a small scene here in Tasmania, with a small population the content is actually quite varied considering this. But as Tasmanians we are isolated in our development, and as a result I think Tasmania spawns quite unique things artistically. There are many great artists from Tasmania, I think we have the best known and most successful, progressive, pioneering couple of bands out of Australia at all… they are Striborg in Black metal, and Psycroptic in Death Metal. Besides Ruins, there is also a brilliant up and coming band called Thrall. Hopefully their debut is out soon. This is certainly one of my favourite things. Album should be available soon, not sure who through?

What feedback did you get from people about the new album, and what do you think about it?

It has been available in Australia since June, we toured nationally to promote the release at that time and it seemed to be received reasonably well. I trust the comments of only a few people really, most people I honestly couldn’t care less if they are into it or not. Some allies are into the older stuff more than the new; and others vice versa. Those who know me best I think understand where I am at with my progression, and the evolution of the band. I don’t really dig for reviews but if I see them I certainly check them out. It has no real impact on what I do, but I appreciate sometimes to hear what people have to say about our work. I am pleased with the final product and definitely this is the important thing about the production, really making the most of the songs, but there are always things that might be done differently? I don’t know how to put this because I don’t really think about it now… I decided that it was at a state of completion, so then it is, and we move on with our new ideas. But of course there was always potential for different outcomes as you are going along the way with the production process. I mostly have a pretty strong idea of what I want, but very occasionally something comes around… usually in the most simple parts, where there is that infinity of ideas… so many ways it might go and if more than one of those options is pleasing to me then I can take a while wrestling with a decision. Vocal phrasing, the phrasing of riffs, deciding on beats, fills, tempos in the first place… etc etc. We have tried to describe or even command, or invoke many different feelings to bring many different thoughts. We have evolved, yet refined our approach. In some ways our songs become deeper and more complex, yet at the same time they are a bit more powerful and direct.

Beer or wine?

Both. But not at the same time.

How often do you play live, and where have you played?

We only began playing ‘live’ a short time ago really. Our first show was end of August ’06, so only just over 3 years. Immediately we have had great achievements with regard to this. Satyricon, Celtic Frost, Immortal. We have played plenty of shows around Australia, but we do not play all the time. Usually we just play a handful of shows in a year. We have played some shows in New Zealand. So we have made it abroad once, but we didn’t go far haha! It is perhaps easier and cheaper to organize for us than it has been in the past… but all the same… it is still costly, and still difficult to schedule the whole group… it is quite difficult for us from here. For me it is important to just focus on the music, but certainly I understand the importance of touring and I do have the desire to do so… but for us it is a matter of timing. We definitely hope to make it to Europe and U.S. and elsewhere for shows sooner rather than later. I think we will certainly make it fit in within the next year or so.

What could you say to the readers of Femforgács, or say something at the end?

Cheers!

Thank you for the interview and good luck!

Zoli

Roading 2020s Tour
június 27.
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július 03.