An Interview With The Guitarist Of Face Of Ruin
Wisconsin based death metal band Face of Ruin released a self-titled EP in October of 2008 and are currently writing new material for a full-length release. Face of Ruin's guitarist Brian spoke with me at length about how the band's sound has changed since they started and what's going on in their local scene.
xFiruath: First off I just want to say congratulations to you guys. I was just listening to your EP and I noticed that most of the time I could actually hear the bass, so thank you so much for that. That’s something a huge number of death metal bands just haven’t figured out yet.
Brian: Yeah we definitely try to take a little different approach to things. That was always a big thing for us. All the guys we’ve had in the past before I was with them always have been really good bass players and have been very adamant about being in the mix. It can just get buried under all those de-tuned guitars.
xFiruath: How long have you been with Face of Ruin and how did your originally join the band?
Brian: I started playing with them back in June but I’ve been friends with all the guys for about three years now. Cris, our drummer, has been my roommate for a few years. I also knew them from playing shows with my old band and they had the guy before me, Eric, got the offer to join Inaernaeon on Prosthetic Records. So he took off to go do that thing and stuck around just long enough to record the album. Then the band started doing auditions and went through three or four guys. Some of the guys either couldn’t play the stuff or just weren’t committed enough. They finally came up and asked if I was interested in doing this. I was still with another band at the time and they just said “Let’s take it kind of step by step and do it.” Somewhere in that process I ended up quitting that other band put all my eggs in one basket. I was lucky enough to get the spot. For us it was more whether or not I could play the material, it was never an issue of “are we going to get along with this guy or can we tour this guy?” since I had been friends with them. It was just a matter of learning the material and then being satisfied with the performance of it.
xFiruath: Other than Face of Ruin what other projects have you been involved with before and what first got you into music?
Brian: Before this the main project was a band called Of Her Blood. I’ve been into music for my whole life. I worked at a record store for a long time. By dad’s really big into music and as a kid I was always kind of involved with something through school or something extracurricular. I started playing when I was 13 or 14 and I only played bass for about nine years. I just started doing the Of Her Blood thing and switched over to guitar. I’ve been doing guitar now for probably just right about four years now.
xFiruath: How would you describe the sound of Face of Ruin if someone had never heard your music before?
Brian: I think probably the easiest way to describe it would be progressive death metal. Obviously there is a big Death influence for us, the majority of the guys are big Death fans, me included. We also try and bring other elements in. We’re all big prog rock fans also. Shane, the other guitar player, is currently enrolled in music school and he’s going through all that kind of stuff and he gets really into it. I generally tell people that we’re a progressive death metal band with all the old school stuff and a little bit of a new flavor to it.
xFiruath: I’ve read several comments online of people describing Face of Ruin as a technical death metal band but with an underlining metalcore sound. Would you agree with that statement at all?
Brian: Not anymore. The old stuff, yeah. On the first EP two of the songs have a big break down. One of the songs was even re-written so it doesn’t have that anymore. We’re really trying to separate ourselves from that whole thing. We want to focus on doing our own thing. The focus is always just on the songs, what’s going to make the song the best. We generally do things just for the song. We don’t put riffs in the song just because it’s going to be fucking brutal, we put it there for a reason. It adds something to the composition as a whole. We always kind of go through things piece by piece. The metalcore thing for us is one thing we definitely try and stay away from, we term ourselves a progressive death metal band.
xFiruath: So you weren’t involved with the recording of the last EP at all?
Brian: I was not on the record. But like I said Cris has been my roommate for almost three years now so I got the low down every day when he would come home from the studio. I heard all about how the process went but as far as playing wise I wasn’t with the band yet to be on the album.
xFiruath: Do you guys have any plans for a full length coming up?
Brian: Yeah actually. The EP that just came out, it came out October 28th, that was actually recorded back in March of ’08. It just kept getting pushed back and then stuff with the label came up. By the time that the album came out we had two or three songs written for a full length already. Right now we’re probably looking at five songs that are in the works to go on the full length. The plan is right now to hit the studio September 1st, that’s our goal on when we’re ready to go. Hopefully we’ll try to get a full length ready to go and be out by the first of the year. It’s definitely the main focus. Initially when they went to do the EP they wanted to do a full length and they just went through a lot of issues with Eric choosing to leave and time constraints, so they just decided to do another EP.
xFiruath: What are the lyrics dealing with on a Face of Ruin song?
Brian: Generally there’s a common theme of the self destruction of humanity. Ed (the band’s vocalist) writes everything and we all kind of pitch in if he needs help. Ed is big into history and war and stuff so some of the stuff has a war theme to it. Some of it has like a P.O.W. type of theme to it, but generally it’s about the self destruction of humanity. That’s probably the easiest way to put it without getting too deep into it. I can’t speak completely for Ed but that’s usually how he likes to represent what he does.
xFiruath: What is your local scene like there in Milwuakee? Are there a lot of bands that you play with regularly and how is the live show reaction?
Brian: We are always the odd ball, no matter who we play with. We have some really good friends in the area. Milwaukee is a very segregated scene. It’s either you’re in the metalcore or deathcore area or you’re in the DIY, punk and grind, old school hardcore kind of scene. We tend to fall somewhere right in the middle of that. So we kind of get forgotten about. For a long time we were pretty much left to our own resources to get things done and put on our own shows. It was either bands we didn’t want to be represented with who were offering us shows and then the bands that we wanted to do the shows with didn’t want to play with us. So we went through that for a long time and kind of had a chip on our shoulders because of it but at this point we’ve decided that we just want to play. Actually since the EP came out we’ve had a lot of bands change their attitudes towards us, which is cool. We actually just booked a show with a band that are pretty good friends of ours, Half Gorilla, which is this kind of crust grind band. It’s really segregated and if you go to a show it can be all one thing. It’s all metalcore, it’s all grind, it’s all death metal, which gets old after a while obviously. We’ve been trying to change that up lately but the biggest issue with Milwaukee is that it’s such a small group of guys that a lot of these guys are in three or four bands. If one band is playing this other band has to play because this dude wants one to be the cash cow or whatever. For the most part things are pretty good around here it’s just we’re kind of small. We’re not making any money doing what we do in Milwaukee.
xFiruath: Do you have any particular show memory that really sticks out in your mind?
Brian: Going to San Antonio was pretty cool to play a festival down there. Unfortunately the only thing that sucked was the show. The rest of the trip was awesome, we had a great time drinking down in San Antonio. The promoter didn’t necessarily come through like he promised us. A band called Orwell is good friends with us, they’re also on our label, and whenever we play with them there’s always some form of debauchery. It’s guaranteed that something stupid is going to happen and someone will end up owing someone else money in the morning, that’s basically how that always goes.
xFiruath: What are you personally listening to most often these days? Is there any particular band or album that you are all about right now?
Brian: I’m pretty much salivating for that new Mastodon right now. I heard the one track and that’s the one thing that I’m super excited for. The new Cynic is probably my favorite album of last year. Obviously being a progressive band you can hear some of that stuff coming through, especially the new stuff, a lot of the new guitar techniques were kind of taken from the ideas that Paul (Masvidal, Cynic guitarist) was using on that last album. I’m kind of all over the place. I listen to a lot of old stuff too. Carcass and that kind of stuff. Metal-wise it’s kind of touch and go with bands right now. I’ve had a hard time finding a straight forward metal band that I really like these days. Usually it’s like some sort of hybrid like Cynic or Mastodon that is doing something totally different.
xFiruath: Is there anything about the metal scene today that you’d like to see changed?
Brian: For me it kind of seems like it’s the ‘80s all over again. It’s just over saturated right now. It’s too easy to start a label, it’s too easy to be on the road. Anybody can get a group of guys, get on the road, make a label. When you’ve got a thousand bands out there the hundred that are actually good get pushed aside. There’s just so much stuff that sounds exactly the same. It’s going to happen, that’s kind of the cycle. It’s just the ‘80s all over again. There was a lot that was kind of cool in the beginning and then everybody started doing it and it just made the whole thing suck. That’s kind of the way I see things. Obviously it’s popular. I know a lot of the indie labels are doing really well right now. Hopefully over the next few years things will start to die down with all of the trends and the fashion and all that stuff. It will get more back to the roots of what it’s all about. As it is right now if I don’t like I just stay out of it, don’t pay attention to it. We just do our own thing and stay worried about us and not focused on what anybody else is doing.
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