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Interview with Ruins

Interview with Alex Pope



Introducing Ruins


Alex Pope – Guitars / Vocals

Dave Haley
– Drums


Live Session Members


Joe Haley – Guitar

Kai Summers
– Bass


How did you come about obtaining the band name?

I wanted a one-word band name, I remember. Not sure exactly why this word emerged. It just seemed right. It described the more personal view and the more collective view of the world, from the standpoint of where this band is at. It can be quite a broad idea conceptually.



How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard you before?

We try to achieve a powerful, emotionally engaging style of music. We are driven by a love of heavy rhythm.


If I were to ask one of your closest relatives what they think about your band, how do you think they would describe it?

That depends on who. It is not a band for everyone that is for sure! But anyone close to me respects my efforts and achievements to a point.


What one thing do you feel sets you apart from the rest in this genre?

I do not feel part of any particular genre specifically. It is other people’s business to categorise and pigeon-hole our art for us, haha! We just make stuff. Yes, we have ended up mostly being classified as a black metal or death metal band and this is probably most appropriate. I don’t really think about stuff like that when I am actually coming up with music. If we started with an outcome there would be no point really. The songs kind of emerge and eventually after sometimes years they resolve themselves. So there are very diverse sets of influence coming into this music; from my ideas, through Dave’s drum patterns and so on and so on... Sure, we show many strong influences clearly, many I would personally classify as black metal and death metal musical influences, but also so many other different musical and artistic influences. And mostly, more importantly, are our own personal experiences and thoughts and feelings in reflection of these. We have always certainly worked to make our own unique standards. I suppose it is not really a deliberate act, it just happens as such. We can’t help but set ourselves apart from others; for better or worse. Ha!


How long did it take to record your latest material? And is there any particular message you are trying to relay to your audience with this album?

I had my musical ideas together by the end of 2009 mostly. 2010 was spent refining this into proper pre-production when possible and getting the concept and lyrics together. We tracked the drums in January 2011 and have been getting the rest of the production finished since then. It appears we have basically spent all of 2011 producing this album. We have nearly finished tracking and should be mixed and mastered by the end of the year.

There are many messages, but I can simplify and say that this is our death-themed album. Death was very close to me through this most recent writing and production. It is perhaps different ruminations on this. As a result I would say it is steeped in warrior culture ideas - of course this includes sorcery. This album is bringing all we have done full circle. It is death and renewal, it is cyclical, it is the completion of our first phase of existence. This album ties all of our first work together I feel.

These first four albums belong together and this album is the 'Gotterdammerung', or 'Ragnarok', or 'Twilight of the...' whatever. If I may be so completely arrogant and talk in Wagnerian terms? I am a fair way off 16 hours of intricately woven genius in 4 x 4 hour operas here! But I would not be the first pompous black metal clown to be all about the Wagner! To look at it with broader musical ideas this is pretty much what it looks like. Our new album even revisits our earliest works; a few of our earliest demo songs. So that is what I mean about this album somewhat completing a circle. Thematically, they are linked and truly are all extensions of one another. I could elaborate on this forever.






To Be Released

ruins front the final foes

Which label, if any, have you produced this album through? Do you think record companies actually make the recording process any easier?

We have never worked with a label that has been funding us in advance of producing anything. We have always self-produced and then set up licensing or distribution deals. Therefore we do not have any kind of deadlines put on us. In fact they have no part in the recording or production of the music. We are DIY in this capacity and then look to partners to manufacture and distribute.


What kind of costs were you expecting when recording your album and how did it fare in the end?

All as expected. Once again, I now have less money and less time and less soul, haha! Nah... the money is not an issue, if it was, we wouldn’t bother. Generally, the idea is that I trade in my mental health and social abilities, my psychic wellness, as some sort of collateral that becomes invested in my art that does pay huge emotional, intellectual and spiritual dividends later as it resolves itself, haha!


Any plans for a music video? And, if applicable, which is your favourite video thus far?

No real plans, maybe? I am sure it could be a good thing to do.


When you go into recording mode, do you find it easy or challenging?

I believe I have answered this above already perhaps?! I challenge myself with it. I mean I choose to challenge myself with it.


Who’s responsible for the bands artwork?

Logo is by Feanors Scribe. We met him around when the band started. He was at that time a part of one of our favourite bands, Portal.

Spun Forth original artwork was by Lorenzo Mariani from Italy. He has done many great pieces for many great bands, including Dark Throne's 'Sardonic Wrath'.

We have had a couple of t-shirt and poster designs done by a couple of others, but all album artwork from 'Cauldron' onward has been completed by Rev. Kriss Hades. Mostly the artwork has been the result of my visual conceptions, or my description of my ideas, as interpreted and conceived by the artist. I think Kriss does well with his versions of my visions. It is his painting on the forthcoming 'Place Of No Pity'. I expect that he will do more work for us.


How hard has it been to get to this point?

The albums themselves I think reflect our struggles. I think they are hard albums, but I think they are worth it.


Where does your main fan base / support tend to lie?

I don’t really know. I think we have a pretty good crowd in all the major cities in Australia. I mean pretty much the same kind of numbers for us at shows in all the major cities. We would always like more people of course. Besides New Zealand, we are yet to tour internationally. That will change in 2012 I believe.


Can you recall a favourite venue?

I like to play at home at The Brisbane Hotel in Hobart, Tasmania. I also used to enjoy the Arthouse in Melbourne and Rosies in Brisbane, but they are both gone now - we got them in on our last national tour though. It was truly the end of an era. The more interesting venues we have played with Ruins would be The Forum Theatre in Melbourne for the Arts festival and the Moorilla Estate in Tasmania as part of the opening of the Museum of Old and New Art.


What are some of your favourite Australian acts? And have you had the chance to play alongside them?

Most I have admired I have become involved with in one way or another. I have admired Portal for a long time and been connected to them vaguely since beginning Ruins, but we have never actually done shows together until now - we have upcoming shows with them in January.


After a live performance do you tend to go and hang out with the fans or do you prefer to keep to yourself?

We have fans? Haha! I, most of my time, am keeping to myself day to day. Usually when we are doing shows I am having a good social time with my friends in the band and sometimes the other bands we are with and sometimes our friends in the places we are visiting.


What would be your most memorable gig / performance to date?

There are many. First show, first interstate shows, Satyricon tour, Celtic Frost, Immortal tour, New Zealand shows… Wolves In The Throne Room... The coming shows with Absu and Portal should be awesome! Hopefully we get overseas in the coming year.



Have you got a favourite song you like to play? And is there one in particular your fans seem to prefer?

I don’t know about this. There are certainly some songs that we are not ever likely to play again; they just exist as recordings. Some songs are obviously more successful in the live domain.


If you created your own metal festival, who would you prefer was playing alongside you and where would that be?

I am not really into festivals that much.


What kind of instruments do you use?

I have a lot of guitars. A few I got at a reduced rate - not really endorsement as such. This is something I have never pursued. I really don’t need any more guitars but free strings would be good!


What have been some of the more bizarre signings you’ve had?

Anyone wanting anybody to sign something is kind of bizarre to me. Sure I have signed stuff for people. If they are going to ask me for that I generally wouldn’t refuse, but it is not something that has ever made any sense to me. I have never been one for this kind of thing myself. There are many artists I admire whom I have met in person and perhaps spent time with and I have always felt that token things like signed mementos and even taking contrived photographs etc, that none of this has been something I have ever pursued myself. I feel it is really only a cheapening of such an experience to be honest. I just haven’t felt the need to do things like that. I have my memories and if I should grow so old that I don’t have my memories anymore, a picture probably won’t help anyway. Also, I just wouldn’t deliberately imply such status upon anyone I am personally dealing with.


Have you ever had any Mystical experiences?

I don’t think that answering this will really be of any use to anybody else. My lyrics describe my experience in the best words I have found. It is important to understand that there are no words to describe and there is no time to speak of.


Let’s pretend you were creating a tour survival guide. What would be your top three tips for surviving a long tour with the band?

My personal survival guide tells me I shouldn’t leave my home most of the time, so it’s really all a compromise once I am out the door anyway. If it is a long tour that is to bring this band unstuck, then so be it! I’ll be surprised though, we are some stubborn horrible people. Haha!


What words of advice can you offer anyone looking to enter the music industry?

Probably don’t.


Anything you'd like to add or say to your fans?

'Place Of No Pity' coming soon!

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‘Interview with Ruins’ by Déa di Morté © 17 December 2011
Hails! to Alex for agreeing to participate and taking the time to complete this interview
All pictures courtesy of Ruins and Direct Touring