Interview With Ruins

Hailing from Tasmania, Australia, Ruins brings us a very interesting Black Metal music, that has a unique sound to it.

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. So, let’s get started:

Infernal Masquerade: For all the people that are not aware of who Ruins is, can you give us a little background about the band’s releases and history?

My name is Alex, I front the band Ruins from Tasmania, Australia. 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.  Even now I have musical ideas that have dated back as far as 1996 even... this is loosely speaking... but true to a point.  Ruins began as an idea between Dave and I around 99-2000, 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.  There was a demo for us called ‘Atom and Time’.  The demo was recorded in 2003 and issued as an mcd in 2004. Our debut ‘Spun Forth as Dark Nets’ was recorded through 2004 and released 2005. We have had some great shows over the last few years, supporting Satyricon 2006, Celtic Frost 2007, and Immortal in 2008.  Our current release is ‘Cauldron’ which we are not too far off following up with our next album titled ‘Front the Final Foes’.

Ruins music is hard to describe but ends up being labeled as black metal. Where you guys set up to create a unique BM sound? Or did it just happen while jamming together?

I have no real parameters... I 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 are after.  I have played in many bands of various styles over the years, but Ruins is now all I can focus on, and I try to encompass all of my inspiration and differing influences all under this one banner.  I think this diversity gives us strength so long as we recognize what really doesn’t belong in the first place; otherwise embracing the diversity of ideas to input is really helpful in creating interesting, hopefully pioneering black metal.  I guess it should be noted that Dave is reasonably well-known for his drumming in the world of pretty highly technical death-metal also playing for the band Psycroptic, he also plays for Blood Duster, and has played for Aborted and the Amenta... the list goes on.  I don’t know what to say really?  I am not trying to be obscure and avoid labeling myself, Ruins are certainly a black metal band, but I am not really fighting for any pigeonhole haha!  That stuff is up to others, I really don’t even think about it.  As our record label describes “Cauldron” is an embodiment of the very term ‘black metal’, I guess we are talking about the sound of the album as well as the themes, but a cauldron is a pretty good symbol, of what black metal actually is, or should be… black magic, satanic art, occult work, witchcraft, sorcery, demonology.  A lot goes into Ruins, we are making the music that we want to hear simply through feeling what we seek to feel when we commune... this goes for my writing, working with Dave, producing, and of course the performance ritual.  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 so 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 260b.p.m.  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 haha! 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, 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.  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.

What bands influence Ruins music?

There is really so much that influences...  of course Ruins is to describe my own experience so all that happens in my life is inspiration in a way. I listen to a very wide range of music and would consider that anything I like may influence me in one way or another, as features that might be identified in Ruins music. My listening habits are far too many and varied really to even know where to begin. Over the years I would say that the bands I have listened to the most and consistently are I think the core that is important to our band... it probably begins with stuff like AC/DC really, Black Sabbath, Motorhead. Along from this... Slayer, Celtic Frost, Bathory... and from this Dark Throne, Mayhem, Satyricon, Thorns, Immortal these are all of course big names that people will know, these are just some major names and not even scratching the surface of where my tastes go. There is much more obscure stuff too that is all part of my picture of where we are at... Craft, Shining, Leviathan/Lurker of Chalice... so much stuff... I do listen to a lot of black meal, and keep up with the underground to a degree... I actually enjoy listening to quite trancey and droning black metal a lot, quite meditative stuff for me. I guess I like to balance the all-out rock and aggressive... thrashier, grinding, blasting, brutal...with the meditative, melancholic also.  I grew up on grind and death metal too, but these days I don’t really listen 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 from a bit more left-field would be Killing Joke, Slint, Samhain... I also really like old Misfits and Danzig... honestly so much stuff... Some of the more obscure stuff I really like further underground, trancey black metal stuff like Velvet Cacoon, Animus, Ruins of Beverast... I could go on forever and not even scratch the surface.

Can you tell us more about the concept behind “Cauldron” your new album (if any) and some more information about the lyrics?

Ruins is just an extension of my life, my view or views really haha!  We have tried to describe or even command, or invoke many different feelings and bring many different thoughts with what we have created over a couple of albums. Its music for the weak to die by and the strong to live by; I am really speaking more personally, internally that is how I feel about the music... what it does to me, what I am trying to do within myself. At the same time as inspiring my will; it is my will. I want it to strengthen, I seek personal power. It is savage music, sometimes vicious music, because I want it to harden people; or send them running. It is heavy and primal, strange but seductive.  It 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. The landscapes of altered states of awareness, and of non-ordinary realities, these are indescribable realistically because reason and rationale is not boss; I think my lyrics sometimes illustrate the obvious limitations of any language... yet hopefully also the incredible powers of.  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.  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.  I am glad to work its meaning from either direction.  ‘Cauldron’ is very ritualistic but it represents a variety of ideas depending on what view might be taken... depending on what questions one may have in mind they will find different answers, in this way it is like an oracle.  But fundamentally it is a multi-layered representation of multi-faceted concepts.  Possession is at its core.  Divination, necromancy, sorcery, and demonology, to use the broadest of terms... It is a vessel, I have some personal meaning attached to this symbol of vessel, what might manifest within.  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, so I couldn’t tell you what the lyrics are ‘all’ about; basically that which is of metaphoric nature can be taken so many ways, and that is the plan.  In the end I may not even remember sometimes what is really metaphor for what initially?  I work up different views in congruence.  There are messages in ‘Cauldron’ and ‘Front the final Foes’ of a personal nature, but it can be taken in a more generalized way also, whatever the focus it is heavily allegorical either way.  Intertwining views is a harmony, a balancing of views; ‘reason’ and ‘will’.  I guess you could say that in my view of the world, I seek feelings that make for an empowered knowing.  To a degree there are not words for this stuff, and I don’t mean to belittle my own efforts.  I am very proud of the atmospheres the lyrics have helped me to create.  I do not plan to identify certain personal meaning... and beyond that, with the more generalized scope on the themes, they are almost too many and varied to really discuss.  It is ‘Black Metal’ so Satan has his way of course, but this is broad for me... the mysteries of Satan.  I must say that ‘Death’ is perhaps what I truly worship, this Hades/Death element in an earlier Satan; in not the first Satan, but an early Satan.  This is certainly an image I may identify.  But Death is what to measure all things by, always ready to die, so death is always at side. This is a warrior’s view regardless of focusing any satanic view.  After Satan hijacks Pan and such like, well bring on the romantic view Satan down the line a bit, this side, and the whole Luciferian idea.  Sometimes the lyrics focus this side... the rebel, the archetype of the rebel!  Evolution of ideas is very engrossing for me; and all sorts of shamanic secrets.  We are also interested in things as diverse as Quantum Physics and Taoism amongst our Beyond Good and Evil. 

How do you think the band has grown musically since “Spun Forth As Dark Nets”?

I think ‘Cauldron’ follows ‘Spun Forth’ as it should, and likewise our new stuff is a reaction to where ‘Cauldron’ leaves us.  We are just a little further along our path.  Our next album will be titled ‘Front the Final Foes’ and is due out mid-09.  We have evolved yet refined our approach. The songs are a bit more direct and powerful, yet still they go deeper and more complex in some ways. I am pleased with our development, things are tighter and more concise, but it is still chaotic, vicious and natural... it is aggressive and violent, but sleek and strong.

The band’s releases are 3 years apart; can you tell us what happened during these 3 years between releases?

We took a long time with ‘Cauldron’.  We were in pre-production for a year, and then production for another year.  I am very pleased.  It was a lot of work.  You could say we are prepared before tracking but there can be room to move definitely if the inspiration is there and things are moving really, never static until the final master.  I write, and then arrange with Dave, then record with Joe Haley, Dave’s brother as producer.  He is engineering, mixing and even mastering this time.  Yes it is a great relief to finally have ‘Cauldron’ available worldwide. We had it complete by the beginning of 08, it was released here in Australia in March 08 just in time for our tour with Immortal. This was a great way to get it out here, but we had a few issues we needed to sort out before we could release outside of Australia. Here we are over a year later haha!

There is difference of almost one full year between the release of “Cauldron” in Australia and the rest of the world. Why did this happen?

I could carry on at length about this but I think it is best if I don’t... let us say at least; it involves label issues haha! And all I can take that is positive from that, is the experience and knowledge to hopefully not face a similar problem again in the future... Hopefully with the really drawn out process of getting this thing available here, Europe, and U.S. has actually served the album well for a bit more attention than it would have otherwise received. And also with things drawn out like this it is perhaps good... for any new fans who are only just getting into Ruins, well the new album will be very soon to follow ‘cauldron’, so that kind of keeps us in peoples sights.... for anyone who missed out, our first mcd and album will be re-released together shortly following the next release... so this should result in a pretty constant focus on Ruins over the coming months, with a lot happening.

What’s in the future for Ruins? (New album, tours, etc)

Well I guess I have mentioned ‘Front the Final Foes’ often enough already. We are launching this with a tour here in Australia.  It should hopefully see release worldwide in the coming months.  Once this tour is done we hope to get straight back into the studio and get started on the next one.

Any US tour on the works for Ruins?

We definitely hope to make it to Europe and U.S., and other places too, for shows sooner rather than later.  We only began playing ‘live’ a short time ago really.  Our first show was end of August ’06, so only just approaching 3 years.  Immediately we have had great achievements with regard to this.  Satyricon, Celtic Frost, Immortal.  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 time and timing.

What current bands do you think are shaping the direction metal is going?

I really can’t claim to have any prediction on the trends?  Although I amuse myself imagining what could be next? haha!  This is difficult to know exactly how to address this question? I have stuff that I like that shapes my direction, and I guess we already spoke about this... Regarding the commercial side of things though?  I don’t know it moves so fast these days haha!  I couldn’t keep up if I wanted to.  A great man once said...”Too old, too cold!”

Can you give us some insight on the metal scene in Australia?  How is Ruins regarded in the scene?

We have been embraced immediately by the Australian scene; embraced quite positively as being unique really… Tasmania really does set us apart from others in more ways than geographically haha!  I like all sorts of Australian bands, if I look to the past through ‘til now I could talk about the certain features in Hobbs Angel of Death, Sadistik Exekution, Bestial Warlust, and in another way also Portal or disembowelment, or Amenta… have all been bands I enjoy, just to reel off a few that cover a wide range.  But I guess really the significant bands in black metal are probably Abyssic Hate, and of course Nazxul.  From Tasmania we have Striborg. Striborg has been a friend to me since my youth... not to shatter the misanthrope image. Unless you live in Tasmania you might find it hard to imagine just how real the misanthropy and reclusion of Striborg is!  We are mostly writing letters, I haven’t seen him in the flesh more than once or twice a year for many, many years haha!  He got me both directly and indirectly into so much music over the years.  Much of my core inspiration stems from my connection with him since over fifteen years ago now.  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.  Look for this band.  Originating in Tasmania, and currently living in Japan.  Album should be available soon, not sure who through?  There are lots of good bands from Australia for sure.  There are many interesting black metal bands from elsewhere in the country.  There honestly is quite a lot I could recommend for different reasons.  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 Sadistik Exekution, Nazxul, Portal, Amenta, Astriaal.  In some ways we evolve really quite separately from the mainland Australian scenes; we are isolated in our development and as a result, I think Tasmania spawns quite unique things artistically.  Psycroptic are certainly one of the biggest metal bands in Australia and have just released an album through nuclear blast worldwide, they are from Tasmania. On the other side of things with black metal we have Striborg, he has certainly been recognised globally… he is from Tasmania. Another band to look out for from Tasmania is Thrall. Hopefully their debut is out soon. This is certainly one of my favourite things. 

We are running out of questions, so is there anything else you want to add for our readers?

Yes the vinyl edition of ‘Cauldron’ is on the way and we are very excited about this prospect, it will be the first Ruins on wax. I think we will also look at doing a 2LP vinyl edition and 2cd re-release of ‘Atom/Spun Forth’ also. This re-release should happen after the new album ‘Front the Final Foes’ becomes available. So from June through till the end of 09 there should be quite a bit of activity regarding different releases. Really look forward to seeing the art of Rev. Kriss Hades on the 12” format too, should make the best of his work for sure!

Thanks for the interview and good luck with the new album.


Recent Image Galleries