Tell us of your new full length, ‘Place of No Pity’ from Listenable Records! This marks your fourth full album, yes?
Yes. This latest album has been out a while here in Australia now, but it has only just recently seen release in U.S.
What can fans expect of this album? Would you say it is a new direction for Ruins or a reiteration of past experiences? Why?
“Place of No Pity” is certainly our epic effort. I personally consider this album to be completing a circle back to our first release. I always wanted to rework a couple of our earliest songs and I felt it was a good time to do that because some of the newer material was very thematically linked to some of the oldest stuff. So I guess you can look at the dates and see the first four albums as linear progression; but I think really I see it more as our first cycle. All of that said and each of the albums has a different kind of character, reflected by differing approaches happening through each production. So to answer your question it is a little of both.
‘Place of No Pity’ was also self-released, yes? I noticed a different album art online…tell us about the self-release versus the Listenable version.
The album is the same… it is just a different cover. Listenable I guess wanted a new package to differentiate from our original self-release. I like both of the images. They are two different artists working in different ways but both to the same concept brief outlined by me. It is interesting to see two different versions of the same vision.
How did your relationship with Listenable Records come to be?
We sent them stuff, they have also released Amenta who we have been involved with, I guess they had heard of us for a while and enjoyed this latest album when they checked it out.
The material on ‘Place…’ is solid, very atmospheric, energetic and aggressive. Does the band write as a whole or as individuals?
It is the first album we have actually had all 4 members of the ‘live’ unit appear on an album. Earlier I had just handled all the playing myself and later shown to the other guys how to play for live shows etc. I am still writing the stuff, and Ruins will always be like that, it is basically my riffs that start things off, I jam with Dave and he crafts his drum parts and we sort of arrange together. But Joe has stepped up in his role as producer and started to get a bit more involved beyond just the technical side… also he is actually playing guitar on this latest one. And Kai is playing bass and was more involved in the actual stylistics of the bass parts. So it is basically my song-writing, but the band has certainly evolved over the last few years particularly.
What ideas or messages that you wanted to convey on ‘Place…’? Is it a ‘concept ‘ album to any extent?
You could say all of our albums are. I guess I already discussed the link between them. Basically we have a kind of view of the world that we present, it may evolve and change as it does but generally speaking I would say that we have a pretty kind of consistent set of ideas and themes that we are dealing with in this band. It is just a personal expression of ideas that I may find resonate with me. We are attacking self-image, attacking the position of rationality, weakening the position of ‘common-sense’; and asserting the power of the will. Lyrically it is filtering important things for me, it is dealing with issues in my personal life but done mostly with metaphors, which are mostly just echoes of philosophy or poetry, and other things that I may read, or hear, and that resonate with me; this can in turn make ideas slightly more tangible for others to comprehend, and at the same time actually make the structures that bit more surreal. I am always thinking about the lyrics being perceived from multiple viewpoints. It is definitely a death themed album. It is about life and death I guess, consciousness. I like for others to find their own more direct meanings, as I have my meanings within my personal sphere, which I am unlikely to share more than this. This is a reason for the art for me, I guess dealing with my thoughts and feelings, cryptically discussing things in my personal life; but the lyrics can be taken less personally also, in a different context. I try to write multi-dimensionally, because I know that many viewpoints will interpret this, as they will. They are kind of multi-layered sets of meanings. To a point I speak about attacking rationality, and attacking myself. The idea of Death is of great importance, Death as an advisor, not an enemy. Death informing our decisions, Death is our challenger. Death gives us courage, puts us in the moment, and creates a heightened awareness. When consciousness moves, the self crumbles or dissolves. This is the Place of No Pity. With ruthlessness the self-image cannot be sustained, this results in a greater range of perception. Ruthlessness is a premise of sorcery. Ruthlessness is the opposite of self-pity. Ruthlessness is the opposite of self-importance. We try to present a warriors view, which is sometimes a sorcerer’s view.
How does the album artwork represent your message or vision on ‘Place…’? Was the artist commissioned specifically for this project? Why?
Yes as I mentioned I had outlined my concept to both artists, and they both came back with very engaging images. I was after a multi-dimensional being, to keep a very long story very short; and I gave quite detailed description of certain ingredients and components, they both did very impressive work.
Give us a history of Ruins! I am wanting to know the when, where and why the band was formed…
We are all from Tasmania, Australia, or at least we all grew up down here, Dave is living in Melbourne, Australia these days, but that is not so far away. Dave and I were friends for a while and had done some music stuff together as kids, we were always talking about our potential to do this kind of thing, eventually it became something that was really happening, not just being talked about. Dave and I had the concept for this band since probably about 98-99. We developed the idea for Ruins quite a while before it actually came to getting some songs together. And when that happened there was not exactly a plan to be a band in the traditional sense. These days we are a full band really; it was just not really certain for some time that we would even be playing shows and whatever? The music is primarily written by me so there was no need to really involve others earlier in the piece. Dave and I were inspired in a sense by bands like DarkThrone/Immortal/Satyricon because of just this… there was two of us, we were into doing this kind of music without a thought about actually promoting it through a ‘live’ vehicle. Fenriz/Nocturno, Abbath/Demonaz, Satyr/Frost, these guys showed us that we didn’t really need a full line-up, and that involving many people would probably even be to our detriment, at least in regard to us getting the ball rolling. It has evolved naturally, and we have all basically found a way that it can work for us, and we are comfortable with our roles. So I guess we did have a reasonably clear vision of what it was we were going to try and pull together pretty early in the piece at least theoretically. The style developed itself slowly over years and it’s still happening now. We took it pretty slow at first… Up until probably 06 even we weren’t really a band functioning like we do now. This is how it worked for a while, simply because that is just how it was… Dave’s brother, Joe was helping us to record our stuff and basically became involved through that. When it came time to actually do some shows he was obvious choice for extra guitar, and another friend of ours Kai stepped up to play bass. It has grown over time and basically it was not until 06 I think that we pulled together a full line-up that could do shows. Basically since about 08-09 Joe and Kai have become a bit more involved. I guess you could say we were inspired by the way certain black metal bands were able to operate as individuals and duos in writing recording and production, I guess given the timing and situation we were most inspired by bands like dark throne, immortal, and satyricon, knowing that a band could operate that way. We were just much more interested in writing music and producing albums. Playing live was a bit of an afterthought really, once we realized we had a set of songs together.
The liner notes state the album was recorded between Jan. 2011 and Jun. 2012…seems like a long time, why the wait, etc.?
Well I spent a very long time with the ideas on this before even really getting to work on production, and same again at each turn of the road during the production process, so it was well considered like this at every step, taking some time, separating myself from it, then coming back to it and evaluating. I am primarily writing riffs all the time, just hearing something in my head and messing around with it, this can take years from first working something through to actually finding somewhere it belongs. Also lyrical ideas I am always pulling together, at some stage along the way these things find their ways together. With the song development I am just finding groups of riffs that work well together, and then try and figure the tempos they work well at and the sequences they seem to work best in, then I jam these ideas with Dave drumming. The ideas just kind of tumble out and find their way. Then I get really motivated when Dave likes some of that and same again if Joe is into it, it helps me get things done. Ideas kind of filter themselves, so I am just doing what I am into doing, making the music I want to hear, and that is drawing from very diverse tastes and experiences. I am very pleased as I have been with all of our albums so far, with the flow of songs. The sequence, the structures belong in this sequence. I see the songs in their own right, but I also see them as they relate to one another within the scheme of the album, and how the album sits within the scheme of the other albums.
The liner notes also speak of being engineered and mixed by Joe Haley, your guitarist. How beneficial is it to have a band member also run the recording sessions? Do you think that all bands would benefit from this or does it just work better for Ruins? Why?
Well it is just the way we work. I guess if we didn’t do it all in-house so to speak we would probably not be spending 18 months on an album haha! I prefer for us to work like this, it is kind of like our potential in our albums grows in congruence with Joe’s progression with his audio work.
What are some of your more memorable moments from the writing and recording of ‘Place…’? Why?
We tend to find much amusement while we work, but of course there can be frustration too. I suppose when the mood is relaxed we are always trying to make one another laugh because we are a group of friends, and all of what we deal with in this band conceptually is pretty heavy going, and can be tough physically too, so comedy is a good kind of outlet for anxiety and tension and stuff… we take our work seriously, we wouldn’t bother if we didn’t… but it is good not to take yourself tooooo seriously, you have got to have the balance in the long term. We harness negative emotions and energy a lot of the time, totally deliberately; we get stuck in those grooves and utilize the power of those feelings while we do. We also relieve ourselves of this when it is necessary. Of course tragedy and comedy have to go together totally hand in hand!
How does the local environment or area that the band is located influence your sound? Why?
I live to the south of the capital city at the foot of a mountain. The whole of our islands southwest is basically untouchable forest wilderness. There is probably a lot of inspiration from geography. We are isolated and we have a small population. I love the isolation, reclusion, and the beauty of the unspoiled wilderness. Tasmania is a really beautiful and mysterious, isolated place. I have removed myself from many distractions living in my part of the world. Yes this absolutely affects my music, perhaps you would say all these things focus my concentration and attention to mood, the moods I like to capture in my music, or the moods I need to summon to capture my music at all haha! There are so many things about the landscape that inspire, let alone that reclusion via isolation that probably breeds the creativity initially. I am not saying that I would not be an artist making music if I was raised or lived in some other environment, but it is fair to assume the material would come out somewhat differently I would think. 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. To be honest I just make what I want to listen to really. Ideas kind of filter themselves, so I am just doing what I am into doing, making the music I want to hear. Then I get really motivated when Dave likes some of that and same again if Joe is into it, it helps me get things done
How would you describe your sound to fans of extreme music? Why?
The music is just what I want to hear, and that is drawing from very diverse tastes and experiences. I don’t even know where to start and finish with all this? My earliest influence was finding the heaviest stuff from my parent’s collection like ac/dc black Sabbath, led zeppelin, things like that. I grew up in the 80s and I guess it all kind of started with metallica and slayer; and then digging a bit deeper to find more extreme stuff like Sodom and Kreator; celtic frost and bathory. I guess I was just into rebellious and extreme sounding stuff, because I got into a lot of punk and hard core and other stuff along the way. I discovered the grind and death metal that finally kind of reached us around early 90’s. Napalm Death, Entombed, Morbid Angel. The whole time I was into pretty diverse stuff, into Misfits/Samhain/Danzig , Killing Joke, Sepultura. Also always looking back to what came before also. I was just into a heap of stuff, but I guess by mid 90’s bands like dark throne and satyricon really got me pretty inspired in this kind of direction, also then just being an age where I was starting to play in my own bands. mayhem, burzum, Immortal. I also instantly liked the unique character of one-man stuff like isengard and ildjarn, thorns, but among so much other stuff too. Honestly all kinds of things. To be honest we were joking the whole time we made this album that we were making our ‘…And Justice For All’, this was a hugely important album for us when we were really young kids, and subsequently it still is, actually. There are many bands current from all over Europe, U.S. and all around the world for that matter that I am into, but I don’t really keep up with stuff that much. I basically have a few friends who know different areas of my musical tastes pretty well. They recommend me things from time to time, but I really don’t keep up with that much. I am mostly into just rockin all my old classics haha! Bands of note from more recent times would be Craft/Shining, Leviathan/Lurker of Chalice, heaps more of course.
If you had to name one thing that really keeps Ruins alive where so many other bands falter and fail, what would it be?
It seems there is a family connection in the band with two members sharing the name Haley. Is this a blessing or curse? Why?
Everything is always a little of both I guess.
What does the future hold for Ruins, immediate and far-reaching? Shows, tours, releases, etc.?
Well we are about to do a few more shows here in Australia, and otherwise I am just kind of in pre-production at the moment for what will be the next album eventually. We will probably record throughout the later months of this year.
The last words are yours!
Thanks for the support!