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Review:
Road To Ruin

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Grind Inc.

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Interview

Deutsche VersionInterview mit Ruins (17.12.2009)

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HH: Hi! How are you? I think, not a lot of people already know your band. So, would you please start telling us something about your history? What was the reason to form the band? What are your influences?

Alex: Our drummer Dave and I met one another in 96. We listened to music together a lot and by the turn of the millennium 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.
Ruins music is to strengthen, to harden. We cultivate a warrior's perspective... sometimes this evolves into a sorcerer's 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. 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 ourselves 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 warrior's task... Ruins is a bid for power... 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 death's vicinity. 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. 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.

HH: What is your background? What kind of music do you prefer when you are not playing in your band ?

Alex: 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. 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 are after. I have played in many bands of various styles over the years, some totally diverse activity for me... but it has always been heavy music... I started with metal when I first got into music for myself, and have explored many regions of heavy, I have tried many instruments... 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; Ruins is Black Metal, we are presenting our black arts and we don't forget this, we take this very seriously, we will not dilute our intent with the diverse influences, we will only fortify it, we will enhance it. 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. For Dave and me to play the "Black Metal" thing came because of our shared interest in that realm, not just the music, but the occult in general. My listening habits are far too many and varied really to even know where to begin. 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 me 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 Darkthrone. 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 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 metal, 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 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 over the years from a bit more left-field would be Killing Joke, Slint, Samhain... I also really like old Misfits and Danzig... honestly so much stuff that this is impossible... 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. I like AC/DC and Slayer... and NWA haha!

HH: Ruins constists of two Members, so can we call Ruins a projekt or a band?

Alex: Well all bands are projects in a way of speaking. Not all projects are bands though aha... This project is a band, whether we are two or four people.

HH: Let's talk about Front The Final Foes. What is the meaning of this titel?

Alex: Front The Final Foes might more specifically refer 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. The foes could be many and varied, but in a manner of speaking... my first and final foe is myself, your final foe is yourself, it can be as simple as that... or maybe as elaborate a vision as some grand apocalyptic battle image that may come to mind... either is relevant to the title and themes. 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.

HH: What kind of reactions did you achieve with your album? Have you expected them?

Alex: 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.

HH: You describe your style as Black Metal. What about religion? Do you believe in God? Or something else? What makes in your eyes the live worth living?

Alex: My warrior's task makes this life worth living. That is all really, for someone like me. Whatever it is, my intent seems to find some home or other. It doesn't really matter. It is savage music, primal music, violent music, but sometimes soothing music. It is an attempt to describe the warrior's view; that may lead to a sorcerer's understanding of things. To describe the warrior's view death is always at your side. This is what Ruins are all about. Death as my adviser. 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.

HH: Unfortunately there were no lyrics with the promo-disc. What are the songs on your debut about? Would you please tell us something about the "message" of each song? Are they only fiction or are they referred to reality?

Alex: 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. 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, words really are just grunts and groans haha! I think my lyrics sometimes illustrate the obvious limitations of any language... yet hopefully also the incredible powers of.

HH: When I first heard your songs, I thought of a Scandinavian band, not an Australian one. How did you manage to sound like Black Metal from Scandinavia?

Alex: I attempt to gesture to the power that is there before ruins arrives; as did Darkthrone salute to Mayhem, Hellhammer/CelticFrost, Bathory. In many cases I think black metal stagnates where it does not embrace this depth... there are many bands that seemingly begin and end with the early 90's Mayhem or Burzum, or Darkthrone, without really seeing where these bands fit in the whole scheme of things... I grew up with these bands and was always looking up to them for sure, but by this time I was playing guitar and trying to get bands happening... teenage years. The vintage of Celtic, Slayer, Bathory, this was something I always felt less peer to... it is before me and it is what hooked me... what captured me and spawned me! 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 guess we just do what we want to do, but this is more of a feeling what we want to feel from playing or hearing a song. We try to pay careful attention to the tradition, the roots of what it is we are a part of you could say. I am really into charting the evolution of ideas and so on, it has always been important for me in music to really check out how things have come about and who have been the pioneering artists so to speak across the whole spectrum, how have we gotten to where we are? But this is only a small part. A large part of me pays no mind to anything but future direction for my music.

HH: I think your sound combine elements of Immortal and Satyricon. Am I right or do you think in another way?

Alex: I am a huge fan of both, and they are a significant feature in the overall picture of Ruins. But the Immortal or Satyricon thing has become much easier to identify since we were lucky enough to open for them when they came to Australia. What I mean by this is... people can only identify what they already know really... there are much more obscure influences in Ruins music of course that hardly anyone would or could ever pick. But for example when we supported Satyricon, people can say oh Ruins sound like Satryicon. When we played with Immortal, people say oh they sound like Immortal. In analyzing anything by just comparing and contrasting you can only go with what you know I suppose. People who have never heard those bands would have no capacity to say that... they might say, Ruins sound like Killing Joke, or Slint, or the Melvins haha! I have heard all of these things too.
Artistically speaking we try to create entirely our own world, other people's music is a feature in this realty, but the overall aesthetic and feeling that come with listening to Ruins or seeing a Ruins performance, this is definitely unique. However, again on that other level you could say we try to channel primal feelings that are not at all unique... actually common essence. I don't stop the archetypes from coming through me. I am pushing forward, yet refining with careful attention given to the past and current masters, what qualities are inherent to the music that has hooked me over the years.

HH What plans do you have for your future? What do you want to achieve with your band ?

Alex: Total world domination! Haha! Look out!

HH: Are there any plans to promote this album by touring? Perhaps here in Germany?

Alex: We definitely hope to make it to Europe and U.S. and elsewhere 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 over three years. Immediately we have had great achievements with regard to this. Satyricon, Celtic Frost, Immortal. 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 the other side of the world... it is costly and 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. I think we will certainly make it fit in within the next year or so.

HH: If you should describe your music as a meal, how would ist look like, how would it taste?

Alex: We are as a carcass is to a crow... and we are the carcass, and we are the crow... and the billion parasites!

HH: What other Australian bands are worth to be mentioned, in your opinion?

Alex: 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 are 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?

HH: Thank you for answering my questions, the famous last words are up to you.

Alex: Cheers! Thanks for the support!

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