Keeping It Brutal: The Beauty Of My Ruin
Band Photo: My Ruin (?)
I have been a diehard metalhead since first seeing Iron Maiden's "Number Of The Beast" tour here in Los Angeles at just twelve years old. Since this legendary performance, I have seen the baddest, meanest, most intense and furious music acts ranging from Slayer to SuperJoint Ritual. I have to admit that I would be the first one to trash My Ruin if they weren't as masterful in the art of true heavy music as they are. Tairrie B on vocals has always possessed a Mae West "Fuck me? Fuck you!" swagger since her early days with Manhole and Tura Satana and has gone head up with anyone that dared to disrespect her or My Ruin's music. Let's face it, she has over the years slowly become one of the most important female vocalists in Rock 'n' Roll history and My Ruin has grown to be a band that's darkly passionate, highly outspoken and thoroughly unrelenting in their live stage performance. Their latest album "The Brutal Language" is a major thrill-ride in distorted doom riffs and howling death cries. I consider it an absolute honor to have nailed this interview down with My Ruin's lead singer, Tairrie B, lead guitarist, Mick Murphy, bassist, Chris Lisee and drummer, Matt Lechevalier .
Rocket: What do you think is the biggest misconception about My Ruin?
Mick: That Tairrie is a nightmare and difficult to work with. I have worked with her for 6 years and while she can have her moments like most people can who are in a band whether male or female, she works very hard and is very serious when it comes to this band both on a business and artistic level. She expects a lot from people she works with because she gives a lot. When people are slacking she lets them know and either they get it together or they've got to go. We work well together because I understand her and vice versa. I am the musical director and she respects what I bring to the band. She is the creative director and I respect her vision and share it.
Tairrie: That we have gone through tons of line up changes and labels. Not really. Compared to most bands we know, we don't even come close. Being in a band is like any business, sometimes people just don't work out for one reason or another and it's not always a nice goodbye. I also think that people who have heard tracks from the first My Ruin album "Speak & Destroy" tend to think that is what we sound like now. The fact is, that album was a solo album. A transitional experimental recording in a way, which took me from my last band to where I am today. My Ruin are in no way a "Gothic" band and whenever we hear this terminology used in describing us, it kinda freaks us out. No one was or is a Cure fan....hahaha. The Birthday Party & Nick Cave, yes but I think it's funny and also sort of sad that people immediately assume that dark lyrical content equals goth. I think I have been accidentally put into various genres over the years sometimes based on the way I look rather than the music I play. We all have our personal musical influences and they are diverse and inspire what we all bring to the band. Especially Mick & I as far as the songwriting and recording on the new album.
Chris: I agree with what both Mick and Tairrie said. Before I joined the band I was aware of many of the "misconceptions", and now having been a part of it for the past year I have a first-person view of the "realities". I know that the people that are into the band for the right reasons will do the research and homework and understand what it's all about. Other people are going to think and say and believe whatever they want regardless of the facts, and I think that's where the "misconceptions" start.
Rocket: The new album "The Brutal Language" is released on your own label Rovena Recordings. Why?
Mick: Bayside Distribution offered us an imprint and we went for it.
Tairrie: The offer came to us and it felt like a good decision. We are very happy with the choice we made. Who knows what the future will bring. Right now, this is where we are. We are on a label called Undergroove in the UK/Europe via our label.
Rocket: What exactly were you trying to achieve this time out with your music? Tell us something about the new album that people may or may not know.
Tairrie: Mick played all the instruments and produced it. He's not much for bragging about his playing but he really has a lot to brag about with what he just accomplished. It was strange when our rhythm section quit while making our album but it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to us.It was time to clean house and the trash decided to take itself out this time. Saved us the trouble in the long run I guess. It was no secret, none of us were happy. Mick made the decision to rerecord all the tracks our former members had laid and when he did, the record came to life for us in a way we never expected. We came to life with it.
Mick: "The Brutal Language" has more of a rock vibe, more guitar solos, a deeper sound, different new vocal styles, metaphorical
lyrics, less flash/ more backbeat. It's a more focused album. Every My Ruin album is different from the last and we didn't want to make "The Horror of Beauty II".
Rocket: Tell me something about the new members of My Ruin.
Tairrie: They are both really great guys. They're talented musicians and real people. Mick and I have been through a lot this past year and it's taken a long time to find people we feel comfortable with and trust.... again. We had a killer time together on our recent UK tour and you know, that's the thing...you don't really know someone until you go on the road with them. That's when you get to see the true person. My Ruin is not some shoe-gazing, melancholy, pretty little lyrical vehicle for people to just jump into and take their turn on the ride. We are a mean motherfuckin screaming machine. You'd better have some balls to get into the car with us but at the same time, the vision to share the journey and the integrity to reach the destination.We've seen some really lame shit go down with former members of our band but we're tired of talking and thinking about them. It's a waste of time. Chris and Matt, we enjoy spending time with and talking about. On and off stage but noone knows what tomorrow will bring any of us. Right now, we are all very happy and having a great time together. I wouldn't change a thing.
Rocket: One of my favorites on the new album is the Vince Vaughn song. How did that exactly come about?
Tairrie: It's a love song. The way we do a love song, rough and playfull, tongue in cheek. Mick and I are Vince Vaughn fans and when we were writing the new album we were watching Made, Clay Pigeons & Swingers a great deal. Sometimes, Mick impersonates people and he would often do Vince Vaughn imitations for me so I took a few lines from the various movies we were watching at the time and turned them into a little homage to Mick with a dirty rock & roll twist. Vince Vaughn is our heavy metal dance song...haha.
Rocket: What type of touring have you been doing so far for this album?
Tairrie: We did 2 six week US tours in late 2005 and we have recently toured the UK in January/ February 2006. We will be returning to the UK/Europe in June for part 2 and will be recording a new 6 song mini album.
Rocket: I have noticed that My Ruin has a strong following in the UK. What do you attribute this to?
Tairrie: I have spent a lot of time in Britain over the years. My previous band toured the UK a great deal and I was fortunate enough to develope a following that followed me when I ended that band and started My Ruin. I have had an on again off again love affair with the British press since 1996 and whether they love me or love to hate me, they talk about me which combined with continuing to record and release new material and tour, has kept a solid/dedicated fanbase that I have been very connected with. The UK has always been our biggest supporter and it feels like our second home whenever we tour there.
Mick: UK tours have been some of the best times of my life. I fucking love it. I've been there 6 times and I can't wait to go back.
Chris: I had THE best times of my life in the UK recently, and I attribute My Ruin's strong following there to the fact that Tairrie has always maintained a relationship with the audience. I just read some reviews of the shows there that people have sent to us, and they seem to really appreciate some of the things we do as a band; like take the time to meet kids before and after shows, engage them while we're onstage and make them a part of the show, and read and answer the emails and messages they send us. In turn, we appreciate that the kids take the time to write to us and support our band by picking up the cd's and coming to see us live.
Rocket: I can hear so much Slash and GNR influence in Mick’s playing. Is it safe to say he’s one of your biggest guitar influences, Mick? If not, who is? And why?
Mick: I think that Slash is a great guitar player and "Appetite" is a classic album, but Slash was not a huge influence on me. Randy Rhoads is my all time favorite guitar player. I also love Ace Frehley, Michael Schenker, Edward Van Halen, Joe Perry, Tony Iommi, Glen Tipton, Jake E Lee and Rick Derringer. Those were the guys I was listening to growing up in the 70's and 80's. I think Dave Mustaine and Chris Poland from the classic Megadeth line up were incredible. "Peace Sells..." is the best thrash guitar album.
Rocket: Matt, I love your energy on the drums, man. When I last saw My Ruin perform in Hollywood, you were seriously locked in and creating major damage on your kit. How is the experience of being a new member?
Matt: The best experience ever!! Today it’s only 4 months since I've been in the band, but I feel like we've known each other forever. I think when I first met Tairrie, Mick, and Chris we humanly clicked right away, which is very important. The following day, when I auditioned for them, the same thing musically; something happened.I couldn’t tell what exactly, but i've known that feeling since that day and it feels like we've been rocking together as I said, forever. They really make me feel like a part of the family. Tairrie, Mick, and Chris are passionate about what they are doing and so am I. I think anybody can feel it when they come to see My Ruin playing today. The Hollywood show you mentioned in your question is the best illustration of that judging by what you are saying and it was only our second show together. This is the first time I've played in a band at this level and it's even better than I expected.
Rocket: Tairrie B knows I consider her the female Phil Anselmo. Are you guys fans of his Down or Superjoint Ritual projects?
Mick: I really like Down and Superjoint Ritual. Phil is one of the best metal vocalists of our generation. I saw Pantera play The Roxy in Atlanta (350ish capacity)) in 1991 right before "Vulgar" came out and it was one of the most incredible shows I've ever seen. I am a long time Phil and Pantera fan. I had the pleasure of meeting Vinnie and Dime that night after the gig. I was 20 years old and REALLY stoked to meet them. RIP Dime.
Tairrie: That's a nice compliment and yes, we are fans of both of his bands. You either love him or hate him, that's the beauty of him. Phil is one hell of a frontman and he has inspired many people over the years, including me.
Chris: I'm really into the first Down album, but I also think Down II is great. Right now, I'm much more into that southern-stoner style of music, as opposed to SJR, but I have and love both of those records and dvd's, too. I'd say that yes I'm a fan of Phil's, and I'm interested in hearing whatever he puts out. I agree, there are many parallels between Tairrie and Phil.
Rocket: Mick, what are your feelings on Dimebag being shot on stage in 2004? And moreover, is venue security weighing heavier on your mind today than ever before? Or do you - like many people - just choose to ignore it. You know, the out of sight, out of mind type of thing.
Mick: I was in shock and really pissed off when I heard about Dime's murder. It was so unfair and just fucked up. I mourned for days. Dimebag was one of the few guitar heros of the 90's and he was one of the greatest of all time. My Ruin played that venue (Al Villa Rosa) in 2001 and it just seemed like a cool place for national bands to play in Columbus. I think Security is necessary at shows. I just don't like it when the Security guys are assholes to kids at the show or the bands playing the venue. Hopefully, what happened in Columbus was an isolated incident.
Rocket: I catch quite a bit of heat for calling My Ruin a legitimate metal band. Why do you think there’s a problem with acceptance of your music in metal circles. And does it even really matter to you? Cause I think you guys are ten times heavier than the crap Korn just released…or say even Opeth’s latest "Ghost Reveries", which has gotten tons of praise.
Mick: I know how much hard rock and heavy metal music have meant to me pretty much my entire life. Anyone that knows me knows this. I don't have to defend My Ruin's legitimacy to anybody. I think the fact that we don't have a stereotypical metal image and don't have a million double bass parts going all the time (although our new drummer, Matt, has quick feet) makes some narrow minded metal heads write us off. To me I think it makes us different, which is a good thing. I also think the fact that we used to have 3 girls in the band might be a factor. I'm glad we have a male rhythm section now. We also appreciate rock n roll which I think is missing in a lot of metal these days. To me the most extreme doesn't always mean the heaviest. The most hardcore, not always the heaviest. The most popular, not always the heaviest. The fastest, not always...etc. etc. People also love to try and cut Tairrie down 'cause she has never been afraid to say what she thinks. She isn't some sugar coated bimbo posin'. She is the real deal. A force to be reckoned with and untouchable on stage. People like to talk shit about My Ruin. Fuck 'em. I'm having a blast in this band and I have met many people out there from all over the world who love and appreciate what we do.
Tairrie: We're not on MTV and never aspired to be. Don't want to play Ozzfest and you probably won't hear us on rock radio. That's okay. I have never felt the need to defend what we do musically or whether or not our band should be considered 'legitimate". WTF? To label a band nowadays is a bit pointless. I mean since when did having a cool haircut equal being a great guitar player? Back in the day, when I was in Manhole, Korn were awesome and original. Today they are doing videos with their faces on dogs and their music bores me. I would never want to compare what we do to that. .There is a quote which I have always loved by Mr. Hunter S. Thompson "The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." I think a band is legitimate if they are making honest music for honest reasons. Are we? YES
Chris: We don't need to legitimize what we do to be accepted by anyone. The beauty of My Ruin has always been the songwriting. You either like it and get it, or you don't. If you do, thank you. If you don't, you have no business talking about what we are or aren't. Period. There are so many different genres and sub-styles of music today that who really gives a fuck what anything is called anymore? How about you call us My Ruin and we'll let the music do the talking. Bottom line is, there will always be people "for" or "against", and I prefer to spend my time rocking, instead of trying to justify how "metal" we are.
Rocket: Mick, without going into too many personal details, how did you and Miss B start dating and become a couple? You two seem really in love.
Mick: I met Tairrie in February of 2000 at a party in Hollywood. We clicked right when we met and started hanging and got serious pretty fast. We also started writing "A Prayer Under Pressure of Violent Anguish" which was our first time working together musically soon after that so it was a crazy, exciting, life changing kinda time and it's still going strong 6 years later.
Rocket: Chris, I need to point out to everyone how live you are on the stage too, bro. You go absolutely wild on that bass guitar. Tell me what this band means to you, be it personally or just from an artistic standpoint or both.
Chris: Thanks for noticing, man. This is the band I've always been meant to be a part of. I'm here to give 100% all the time. To me, there is no point in doing it otherwise, and that's something I noticed and respected about Mick and Tairrie the first time I saw My Ruin. Personally, this is my family now. Artistically, this is what I've been working toward since I started playing music 20 years ago. I don't punch a timeclock when I hit the stage and punch out at the end of the set. This is a lifestyle, and there is nowehere else I'd rather be.
Rocket: How do you guys feel about the way the new material is being received so far?
Mick: I am proud of the new album and the people who write us online seem to love it and people who come to the shows know all the words. The are rockin' just as hard to the new stuff as the old stuff.
Tairrie: The new album has seen some of the best reviews ever written about My Ruin and it's really nice to see that even some of the critics and big magazines who sometimes dismissed us because of the "chick thing" in the past have come around and might have actually listened to the new album. We're not for everyone, I know this, but if you haven't heard us yet and you are thinking about checking us out then "The Brutal Language" is a great place to start. Or come to our website & myspace pages to get a taste. We have lots of music and video clips online.
Chris: I think it's great that alot of people have stuck with My Ruin over the past 6-7 years, and grown with the music. Each album has a different feel, and it's awesome when people come see the band excpecting it to be one way or hear certain songs, and then we hit 'em with The Brutal Language. Some people may have given up on the band after a certain album, but overall I think people are excited to see what we're gonna do, and so far I've seen alot more smiles than frowns in theaudience.
Matt: Mick and Tairrie did an awesome job with the new album. Judging by all the reviews we have had and are still having about it, everybody seems to agree! We are just coming back from the UK where we headlined a tour and after having seen all so many people rocking with us as hard on the new songs than on the older stuff, I can say that “The Brutal Language” is definitely a My Ruin album, and that the fans as the critics both like. Chris and I have been welcomed into the band in a huge way. The fans have been really receptive to us as new members and that isnt always the case when people are replaced. Although we did not write or record the new album we feel like a part of it now.
Rocket: What's next for the band?
Mick: We are in the middle of writing a new 6 song mini album for our UK label which will be released later this year and getting ready to book our follow up UK tour for June.
Tairrie: We are also rehearsing and getting ready to play with one of our all time favorite bands, Motorhead, this week, March 9th @ the House of Blues in San Diego & March 10th @The House of Blues in Anaheim. It's great to be sharing the stage with a band we admire and respect. On April 1st we will be playing a headlining show at our favorite local Hollywood haunt The Whisky.We love that club because it's kinda like our home in LA. and then we're back in SD again at brick by Brick. People ask us why we mainly play The Whisky in LA and the answer is, becuse we love it there. We're very loyal and Tisa who runs the club is a close friend and always so good to us. It's like family. We're also working on our first official DVD "Spilling Open" which was filmed on our recent UK tour and will be released later this year. Our friends from England, Nasty & Sinister have been editing it. They came on the road with us and documented the tour. We just filmed a post tour interview in the style of That 70's Show when we got home.....it was very funny.
Chris: Rock. Drink. Repeat as necessary.
Rocket: Where do you see My Ruin in five years?
Mick: There's no way to predict the future.
Tairrie: I have no idea but in 2 days we'll be playing with Motorhead!
Chris: Drunk and dancing. Or, drunk and listening to Mick's CD comps. Oh! Oh! I know... picture the Jetsons, only it'll be "Here's My Ru-in... meet Mick Murphy, Miss B. his..." well, you get the idea.
Matt: Yeah, what they said...haha.
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