The grim lords of Tasmania, better known as Ruins (not be confused with the Japanese band of the same name) have been creating a dark cloud of fierce black metal for well over 10 years now. They share members with technical death metal gods Psycroptic and have had album covers designed by Lorenzo Mariani, better known for his work with Darkthrone. With a new album out and world domination on the horizon, Alex Pope sheds some light on the morbid creation he calls Ruins.
Ruins started as an idea long before the band formed, right? What were you doing prior to Ruins and how did the band come about?
Our drummer Dave and I met 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. I first started listening to heavy music very young when my mum would play heavy 70s stuff. Then in the mid 90s, when I was in my later high school years, I actually starting to play in bands — at the same time that some of the great names in the second wave of black metal were emerging. I guess this was all leading up to Ruins.
Ok so when did the band actually start then?
Well, it began as an idea between Dave and I around 99, but we were both doing other things at the time, so jams didn't happen until sometime in 2002. We knew we were coming up with what would be described as a black metal band, and this is possibly our initial common ground. But we have no real parameters; we don’t want limitations or rules, I just know what I don’t like I suppose. I will experiment with what I do like. We hopefully keep things heavy and powerful whilst still describing a wide range of feelings and emotions. I think this is a good way to describe what we do.
You play in bands besides Ruins?
I've played in many bands of various styles over the years, including Sea Scouts, and Vodka Party. More recently I've done some guest vocals for Amenta, Thrall, and Beyond Terror Beyond Grace. It's diverse but it has always been heavy music. Ruins is all I can focus on now and I try to channel all my different inspirations and influences into this. Ruins is black metal. We are presenting our black arts and we don’t forget this. We take this very seriously.
Ok I get it. Very serious.
We will not dilute our intent with diverse influences — we will only fortify and enhance it. Dave is also reasonably well-known for his drumming in the world of pretty highly technical death-metal and he also plays for Psycroptic, Blood Duster, Aborted and the Amenta. Dave and I got together not just for our shared interest in the music but in the occult in general.
Right. Who are your influences?
It's really far too varied to even know where to begin. I think Ruins crystallised as a plan whilst listening to Immortal’s Battles in the North [laughs]. Also, Satyricon’s Rebel Extravaganza reminds me of the time we started playing also. Probably the most significant band for me personally, since the very early 90s and still today, is Dark Throne. They helped me understand better the roots in Bathory and Celtic Frost but were also my gateway to bands like Immortal and Satyricon.
I guess it may be hard to pick some of my influences in Ruins. It's there in only the most subtle ways. Other things come through much more heavily. The actual core of the sound. I am pushing forward, yet refining with careful attention given to the past and current masters. This is a summary of one side of my approach and the only part I can get close to defining really. The other elements, features, and sequences involved in my creative process cannot really be explained or understood in rational terms, short of saying it is instinctive...and boundless. Constant and exponential, everything, absolutely everything that I perceive, it is all influencing in one way or another. On this plane of feeling everything is linked.
So you're kind of a nexus?
There is much more obscure stuff too — that's all part of my picture of where we are at. Craft, Shining, Leviathan/Lurker of Chalice; so much stuff.
I don't know what that means.
I grew up on grind and death metal too, but these days I don’t really listen to that as much, just classics like Morbid Angel. And of course the most interesting thing in dark, doomy, death, is Portal. Fucking excellent! Some other core bands for me over the years, from a bit more left field, would be Killing Joke, Slint, and Samhain. I also really like old Misfits and Danzig. Some of the more obscure stuff I really like which is further underground is stuff like Velvet Cacoon, Animus, Ruins of Beverast — I could go on forever and not even scratch the surface.
You sure like a lot of different metal. And how would you describe your music?
If anything, our songs seem to get simpler and more refined, but within this, attention to the smaller details makes these simple things even more complex than highly technical playing. What I mean by this is, when there is a lot of space — which gives this mood — well every little nuance in the beats, and the riffs becomes such a more significant variable, you have a lot more options, the simpler the parts are. It becomes more complex; to approach these feelings correctly can be more difficult to nail than a highly technical sequence. There are only so many ways the notes can fall when they fall at 260BPM. When it slows down and there is space in the mix things become complex in a different way. A lot of options open up with the feel. There is room for the grim and evil feeling to creep in! I guess I am just trying to bring out the different feelings, defining those different feelings more, a certain part, or riff, or whatever, brings with it a certain feeling, because it came from a certain feeling. To define these different feelings or attitudes inherent in the music we have attempted to pay careful attention to those differences. The song writing should tie the feelings together, but the production should help articulate the different moods across different parts. It is savage music, primal music, violent music, but sometimes soothing music. It is cathartic, in a way of speaking it is about destruction, but in another view it is the opposite of this. We cultivate a warrior’s perspective. Sometimes this evolves into a sorcerers view, but primarily the way of warrior is fundamental. Ruins is a bid for power, we attempt to rid ourselves of weakness. 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 death's vicinity.
Heavy! You share two core members with Psycroptic. How do you find the time to write, rehearse and record with them being the road animals that they are?
I always have something to do when I am not able to get together with Dave or Joe. And I certainly always have things to do when I can get together with either or both of them. I make best use I can of what kind of time I have. There is always something happening on some level, things are moving forward with regard to something. Writing is not linear for me. Riffing always 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.
Does that go for the lyrics as well?
Lyrics come separate from music to me, but somehow they are always very definite in finding their ways together. Vocal phrasing is possibly the most enjoyable 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.
You've released a few albums now, together with an EP, can you please list these releases and when they came out?
Well the EP is our demo which was 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 late 07. Our most recent release Front the Final Foes was released this year. We have just recently begun the pre-production for the next album. We always try to maintain a high quality in our graphic design, weather that be with shirts, album covers or posters.
Who does your designs?
Our first album cover for Spun Forth as Dark Nets was done by Italian artist Lorenzo Mariani. He'd previously done a cover for Dark Throne among many others. When it came to Cauldron we had begun to work with Rev. Kriss Hades. He's also done Front the Final Foes for us, and has been working on new art for us too. When Kriss finishes this next painting we will use it for the next Ruins album cover. We also have another artist who's done some graphics for us for t-shirts — I believe he likes to be referred to as Nightmare Goat Productions and has also done stuff for Striborg and various others.
Where do you see Ruins heading in the next five years?
Total world domination.
Any final words for the people?