It's no secret. My Ruin is one of my favorite bands. What's not to like? They play metal that is as catchy as it is pulverizing. Mick Murphy is the riff-meister. Going from sludge-y slabs of southern-incubated sonic hot sauce to sizzling solos, Murph has more than enough weapons in his arsenal. The brontosaurus stomp of the rhythm section led by bassist Chris Lisee along with newcomer drummer JD hold down a framework that is as bedrock solid as it is mobile.
Of course, when you talk about My Ruin, you're talking about the resident hottie, screamer and icon Tairrie B. Miss B is fearless in the face of all comers and possessor of a performing voice that can scare the chocolate off an M&M.
Collectively, they are a volcanic force of nature. If you've heard the band in the past but haven't checked them out of late, you're in for a pleasant surprise. I love their older records but starting with 2005's The Brutal Language, something happened. There was a discernible difference in the material. Perhaps it's just an inevitable maturation process of a band but the songs were just better tougher and more potent.
The band recently delivered a new CD, Throat Full of Heart and while you can read my previous assessment of it, rest assured it is a full-on blitzkrieg. You can almost smell the napalm from here. Tairrie B kindly made time to speak with me just before the band leaves for the UK for another tour to talk about the record, her car accident, drummers and much more.
Tairrie B: First, before we begin this interview I would like to thank you Morley for the incredible review you have given our new album Throat Full of Heart and also thank antiMusic for making My Ruin "Artist Of the Month" during the month of September 2008. We really appreciate the continued rock love and support you and the site have given our band since 2005 with our release of The Brutal Language. It's always a pleasure speaking with you because I know you are a true fan of heavy music and these interviews are always very enjoyable to do. So once again thank you for taking the time to speak with us about our latest release.
antiMusic: It's my pleasure. Would you call this new record a defining moment in the career of My Ruin?
Tairrie B: I believe that any album you record is a "defining" moment as they each define something different for you as an artist at that particular time when you write and record them. Our new album is simply the next in a series of chapters in our life.
antiMusic: You had most if not all the material written prior to your accident. What was the thematic skeleton or the unifying elements for you this time out, if any?
Tairrie B: In the beginning there was no real theme so to speak. There never really is for me. I usually just let the music guide me through the process and see what evolves. Of all the albums I have recorded, this one feels most like a diary for me. There is a look back on and inside of the last year and a half leading up to the scheduled recording and during the 6 weeks post accident. Throat Full of Heart was inspired by real life stories and things we went through with a few of the people who came in and out of our lives for long and short periods of time. It's very much my recovery and not just from the accident. I was carrying around a great deal of emotional weight which needed a release. While writing our new album many claustrophobic memories were conjured regarding things I never had the chance to say when Mick & I were forced to re-record our last album The Brutal Language. Many things I have needed to get off my chest so I could finally put them to rest my way.
antiMusic: What can you tell us about some of the songs?
Tairrie B: These songs are very heavy on more than just a musical level. The content is as real as it gets for me. It's a very mean album which I have no problem saying but it's mean with passion. There is a stylish violence to it. While I see other bands in our genre getting more melodic with sing songy vocals, I feel that I needed to stay true to the fine art of screaming which is who I am and what I do best.
There are many people I believe who do not understand our band. That's fine, My Ruin is not for everyone. However, it gets frustrating when people critique our band (good and bad) without really listening to the music or the lyrics. As a writer I pride myself on telling stories and not just string together words. Substance is an important part of being a lyricist just like skill is an important part of being a musician. I never write a song with the idea of making it as angry as possible because I have to show how hard and tough I am as a vocalist. I have no preconceived notions of what our albums should sound like each time we record. I think that would take away from the art of recording and wanting each album to sound unique and it's own and I believe each of our albums are as unique as we are as individuals.
Throughout my career I have tried to write songs that provoke a reaction in people mentally not just physically. I am not a religious or preachy person but I believe it's good to make people think about their attitudes and feelings towards certain subject matter when it comes to relationships with each other or even themselves. Religion has always been my number one muse and although it is easy to abuse as an inspirational tool, it can also be very difficult to use as one.
There is a very fine line for me with how far I am willing to take things and why. Sometimes I will cross the line when the description calls for it and it makes sense but I do not write for the purpose of 'shock value'. For me telling the truth can sometimes be shocking enough. I have always been fascinated by writers who tend to incorporate gallows type humor within their lyrics. I suppose that is why I enjoy listening to the songs of Nick Cave. His talking about murder, love, death, revenge, lust and Jesus always intrigued me. All those things that make the imagination run wild. I get it and I relate to him as an artist and as a fan. I hope there are people who feel that same way about what we do.
antiMusic: What elements besides your accident contributed to the emotional makeup of the record?
Tairrie B: I suppose I could say that earth and fire have played equal parts in the making of the new album. My lyrics are usually rooted deep in personal experience and translate into self exorcisms for me. It's not easy for me to write from a third person viewpoint with My Ruin. When I record stories for the spoken word side project I do with Mick called "The LVRS" I can easily take on the role of the character I am creating in my tales because I am detached from her, whoever she is that have created for that particular scene and story. It's exciting to keep people guessing and questioning what is fact verse wise and what is fiction on those tracks unlike with My Ruin I tend to keep more lyrically true of heart. I think my writing has come a long way and I have grown and developed as an artist over the years on my own without every really feeling that need to imitate someone else. I think that's pointless.
I don't think I've ever heard or seen a band and told Mick, let's copy them, but I do think there have been a few bands out there who have copied My Ruin without a doubt. We've watched it happen and it's not something we feel flattered by to be honest. We are who we are and I think we have a sound that is all our own and identifiable as My Ruin. I pride myself on the fact that although I scream and you can understand what I am saying and I can also pull it off live which is what really counts.
Personally there are some of these girl fronted bands that I have heard and I'm just not interested in listening to them because I think the vocals are indecipherable, the lyrics are uninspiring and the music is mediocre at best. I don't want to hear another female fronted Korn, Slipknot or Mudvayne. No thanks. It's been done to death and it's boring to me. That being said, there are also many people out there who want to dismiss us simply based on the fact that we have not sold a ton of albums which is funny to me. There are a million crap bands on MTV selling millions of records. I can't say I would want to listen to most of them and most of them will be gone in 5 years.
What these people forget is that although we may not have sold a million albums, we have continued to write, record and release albums on a regular basis and we have continued on through whatever obstacle or chaotic situation came our way including losing a few band members and changing labels. Sometimes when you have come to the end of your rope you have to just tie a knot and hang on. We have persevered through many hard times that probably would have caused other people to hang it up and have. Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.
I feel I have stayed true to myself since 1993 when I formed my first band Manhole. I am still screaming over heavy music. I am very proud of what I do and I make music for myself first, no one else. I've never made a secret out of the fact that I am a very emotional person and I like to articulate my feelings into my lyrics. I write very true to my life and I am always inspired by real events and people. Looking back over the last 2 years, a certain clarity prevails. I don't obsess on trying to make angry songs but I do obsess on making honest ones.
Amidst the madness and sometimes mayhem of certain situations beauty can be born. Words have always been my therapy and lyrics tend to be a lot better on the body than smacking someone in the mouth I suppose. A lot of my lyrics reflect lessons I've learned and mistakes I've made in trusting too much throughout my life. I am not a religious person but I am drawn to the Bible for its language and imagery which I have always found to be an ongoing source of influence on my writing and a great source of inspiration. The Bible is filled with brutality, betrayal, resurrection and redemption and I have often felt the same way about My Ruin over the years.
antiMusic: Can you tell me a little about the title "Throat Full of Heart". Where did that come from?
Tairrie B: I actually came up with the name of the new album before we began recording it. One night I had fallen asleep with the TV on and while I was sleeping this b & w classic movie from the 1940's happened to come on. It was really weird because I was dead asleep and all of a sudden I just woke up right as the main character in the movie was saying "I have throat full of heart" I remember hearing it and thinking wow what a cool phrase it was and I understood what she meant by it within the context with the scene. I continued to watch for a few more minutes before falling back to sleep. When I woke up in the morning I remembered the line as if I dreamed it. It was stuck in my head so I guess it really spoke to my subconscious. I remember telling Mick and thinking that I loved the way it sounded when I said it. I knew I had woken up in the middle of the night and heard it for a reason. I just felt a connection to it immediately and as it became attached to the album it suddenly took on a whole new meaning for me after the accident.
antiMusic: Did you add anything or change anything lyrically or musically following your accident.
Tairrie B: Yes, I changed a few things here throughout. In some strange way, I think it was very important to me to get everything I was feeling onto the record at that time being that I felt like I just went through such a near death sort of experience. I was looking at everything with new eyes after the accident. I usually try to put the name of the album within my lyrics but I just couldn't seem to find a place for it on the album until after the accident which brought about the album closer 'Through the Wound' which was originally called 'S.A.D.' meaning 'Seasonal Affective Disorder'. 'S.A.D.' was something I had read about, related to and decided I wanted to write about however, for some reason I was having a hard time finishing the lyrics to this song even as we were about to go into the studio.
Once my recovery had begun and I felt I was able to attempt to record, I went in and began my vocal tracks. I started listening to all of the music the guys had laid while I was in the hospital almost as if it was new to me and in a way, I guess it was. After several failed attempts to connect with 'S.A.D.', I decided to rewrite the lyrics keeping the same somber tone but turning it into more of an anthem for my recovery. This song soon took on a new life and became 'Through the Wound' which poured from me lyrically and was one of my easiest songs to write. Saying that seems so odd now knowing that it's probably the most emotional song I have recorded in my life and represents the epitome of living in the moment of pain, instead of in remembrance of it
The song 'Memento Mori' is another strange one for me. It was one of the first songs I had written for the album and when I listened back to it after the accident a few of the lyrics felt almost eerily prophetic with lines such as "all my precious wounds will leak from this prophecy I speak". 'Ready for Blood' is also one of my all time favorite songs and it stands out to me as one which took on a life of it's own after the accident. It's the album opener and was written as a warning to take heed because a smack down is a brewing. Not of the physical kind but musically speaking. It's a meta-statement to the listener about the record as a whole and really sets the tone and mood of the album.
Mick and I are very much huge fans of the HBO show "Deadwood". Mick's father turned us onto it not long before he passed away and it will always reminds us of him. We were obsessed with watching it while we were writing the new album and there was this line which said so much to us "Tell Your God to Ready for Blood".
I love the way the titles of our songs emerge during the writing process. They are very much of the moment in our lives and how we are feeling or reacting to things around us. 'RFB' is very descriptive of our state of mind at that particular time and while 'Through the Wound' focused on the more vulnerable side of things with fear being the driving force behind searching for strength within the lyrics, 'RFB' deals with having no fear whatsoever and confronts our demons head on in a very aggressive and protective manner. I love the dichotomy aspects of this album.
We also shot a music video for 'RFB'. It was our first serious video since filming 'Made to Measure' from our 2003 release The Horror of Beauty and was directed by the same guy who directed 'M2M' Ben Le Vine. None of us in the band love making music videos. They are kind of uncomfortable to film, especially when you have to suddenly act out the meaning of a song and people start throwing cheesy ideas at you that they think are cool. Next thing you know you are in a huge argument because you refuse to do silly s--- or dumb yourself down to be more commercially viable for MTV or whatever. Most bands could give a f--- and they will do whatever someone tells them to do at their label or management company.
We are our label & management company and the last thing we want to do is look like a bunch of a--holes in our video. Our bass player Chris & I came up with the concept for 'RFB' based on true life events and we just kind of kept the story along the lines of what happened when we were getting ready to go in a record. Everything was going great and then it all took a turn for the worse but in the end we recovered from it together and although it feels like I dreamed it, I have the scar to prove it was real.
antiMusic: This was released earlier this year in the UK/Europe and in the U.S. this past August, both on your own imprint label Rovena Recordings. Can you tell us how that is working out for you?
Tairrie B: Mick and I started Rovena in 2005 when we released our album The Brutal Language. At that time we were distributed by Bayside/33rd St. Records in the states and Undergroove in the UK/Europe. In 2008 we decided to join forces with Cargo Records U.K. in England & Europe and recently we began working with Redeye USA here in America. Things have been going really well for us so far and we are already talking about plans for next year. Cargo works really well with our label and band and seems to share our vision. Having artistic freedom and good distribution for our records was very important to us. Rovena has allowed us to be more hands on, in control and self sufficient than we have been in the past and at the end of the day we are making the decisions for our band which is how we like it. Chris is also a big part of what we do within our label. I guess in a way he started it with us because we all went into it together and the three of us have responsibilities we handle within the label for our band. We all have our strong points.
antiMusic: You've let your audience in a little bit on what happened to you last fall. Tell us about your accident and what the fall-out from it was.
Tairrie B: On September 29, 2006 I was the passenger in a car which swerved and hit a flatbed truck which was parked with a street cleaner on the back of it which had some sort of metal rod sticking out. The metal rod went through the passenger side window and ripped through my arm and tore it up from top to bottom. It all happened very fast and many of the details still come and go to this day. Sometimes it's hard for me to remember exactly what happened and sometimes it's very vivid. It's weird. I can't explain it. I was pulled from the car and began bleeding pretty badly on the street. I eventually passed out and when I woke up I was in the trauma room at Cedars Sinai Hospital and they were about to operate on me. I was covered up so I really had no idea how bad it all was and neither did Mick when he arrived however, the next day they said they were thinking about amputating my arm because the damage was so deep. I went through a few surgeries and a skin graft before I could really think about the idea of ever using my arm again. To be honest, I did not think it was going to happen for a very long time.
There really wasn't any fall out from my accident. In fact, oddly enough only really great things have happened to me since. Let's just say I have been very well taken care of on many levels thankfully. As for people's reactions to what happened, I think it brought me closer to certain people in and around my life and showed me that I have some truly amazing friends. It also reassured me that many of the decisions we have made over the previous two years were the right ones. I am glad we parted ways with many of the people from our past because it gave us the opportunity to meet new people who have become so important in our lives. Chris is one of those people. Besides my relationship with Mick, one of the things I have missed having within my former and present bands over the many years and various members who have come and gone was a real friendship with someone like the one I have developed with Chris these past 4 years.
antiMusic: Can you describe your rehab and the operations that have followed?
Tairrie B: My rehab started the day I woke up from my first surgery and continued for a very long time. I still have my good and bad moments to this day, just like anyone who has gone through something and been left physically and mentally changed from the event. In my early stages of rehab I was sent to see a very nasty woman in a cold office in Beverly Hills and forced to listen to her tell me I will never have the normal use of my arm again for many years while she happily took my money and gossiped about all of her patients behind their backs when they left the room. It made me physically sick and was not my idea of recovery. It was also not a positive experience for me not to mention healthy one. My doctor agreed.
I knew very quickly that my healing would have to come from myself and not someone else and in the end, it did. My surgeries were all intense at the time but since I was on so many pain killers, it's difficult to talk about them looking back in depth. I think my scariest surgery was the skin graft which consisted of a big piece of skin from my thigh being cut and put onto my arm. When my doctor told me this was what had to happen I was a bit freaked out but now when I look at my leg and my arm I realize just how resilient the human body truly is. My leg looks fine and although my arm has a huge scar it is a far cry from the mangled piece of flesh that resembled raw meat it used to look like. Mick is always amazed by how much it has healed because he was the one who literally cleaned the open wound every day for weeks and got the up close view of the injury in all its blood and glory.
antiMusic: At any point in the early hours of the accident, did you fear either for your life or for your arm? Did you ever think your musical career might be in jeopardy?
Tairrie B: Yes, without a question. I feared for all three. I love what I do and to think that I might not be able to perform the same way I always have due to an injury was very scary for me. Luckily that was not the case. I've written about death many times in my life based on things which have happened to people I have been close to but it wasn't until I myself experienced the fear of dying that I really understood it on a deeper level. When you live through something that is life threatening, I think you develop a new respect for death because it becomes real and you now realize that it happen to you at any moment and that's it. You're just gone. People can die from the simplest thing and we tend to forget that. The trauma of the accident had stopped me in my tracks and left me suddenly questioning more than my abilities as a vocalist, I was not sure if I would be able to use my arm, hand or fingers again let alone continue with my career.
antiMusic: Even before you had healed sufficiently, you entered the studio to do your vocals. Tell us about your experience and was it harder than you thought it might be or was it strangely cathartic?
Tairrie B: It was both actually. I rode a fine between the two. A part of me was aching to get into the studio and scream every last word I had been holding onto and another part of me was very hesitant and sort of restrained. Back in the day I used to write lyrics everywhere and anywhere I was. It didn't matter. I was always writing. I had countless journals, notebooks and scraps of paper which up until last year I have held onto for some reason or another.
When writing both our last album The Brutal Language and this one, lyrics came to me on a different level. They just poured all at once. There was no type of piecing songs together. While some people feel very disconnected when they write, I feel the opposite. I am almost too connected to my lyrics. They are personal to a fault. People tend to think I'm just this angry bitch because in most interviews over the years, all I ever seemed to get asked was "why am I so angry" which I always found to be such an offensive question. I think I'm a very passionate person and sometimes my passion translates in different ways to different people. I think it's very dismissive to label someone as simply an "angry rock bitch". It let's me know who is paying attention and who is not immediately. I believe that going into the studio when I did helped my healing process immensely. It let me know I was still here so yes, to answer your question, it was a very cathartic experience for me. Indeed.
antiMusic: Did the pain add to your performance or was it sometimes a challenge to rein it back in for the less dynamic parts?
Tairrie B: I don't think I have ever held back in the studio or on the stage for that matter. It's impossible for me to perform like that and in the studio it's important that you really feel it and give 100% of yourself just as you would when doing a show. I am not big on using tons of vocals tricks on record or live. I like to be myself and have the realness of my voice shine through on our recordings whether it is within the intensity of a scream or the subtlety of a whisper. Pain is a great motivator whatever the context, emotional or physical and it makes you stronger as a person. CS Lewis once wrote 'God whispers in our pleasures but he shouts in our pain'. I believe that to be a very true statement.
antiMusic: Aside from the obvious physical and mental toll, were there any hidden silver linings (if you can call them that) that presented themselves to you as a result of the accident. I'm thinking in terms of an inner strength that even you didn't know the depths of prior to the event, or a renewed or altered sense of your mortality?
Tairrie B: Many. Throughout the years, I have always talked about scars with the focus being more on the internal side and that of my mind rather than the body. People used to think I was a cutter because of certain lyrics I have written which have been misinterpreted. I have always worn very thick wristbands on each arm which I have recently found out many people believed I wore/wear these to hide failed suicide attempts. Not the case at all and could not be further from the truth. I am adamantly against the idea of cutting. I think it's disturbing and smacks of lame when people in bands actually promote this type of behavior in my opinion. I promote healing. Always have.
While most of my lyrics and scars have always revolved around relationships be it on the love, family, friends or business side, this was the first time I felt myself writing about a scar of a different kind. A physical one that was visible to the naked eye. One I cannot hide from the world or myself. This whole thing has been a huge lesson in strength for me and it continues to be daily. I found out it takes a great deal of strength to reveal your insecurities.
I have always been seen as this sort of tough, loud mouthed, confrontational chick and I have a reputation which sometimes precedes me. I have done some crazy s--- in my time, I can't deny that but I have learned a lot over the years and I am a lot more to myself these days. Don't get me wrong, I can still hold my own but I am not interested in being around people I do not like. I'm over the drama. Life is too short and as I found out, all it takes is one small mistake and that's it, lights out. I've come to realize that toughness is in the soul and the spirit not in muscles and immature minds. The accident taught me a lot about myself and the people around me.
antiMusic: They say that people find out who their real friends are in times of adversity. Were there any surprises revealed by your time of trouble, both positive and/or negative?
Tairrie B: There were definitely some unexpected moments that took place. Friends came and stayed with me at the hospital and were all about comforting me. They read to me, fed me, talked with me and walked me around with my big rolling IV drip to help me get back on my feet (literally).
One of them also helped me with my settlement and made sure I was taken care of legally. This included all of my hospital bills which were over $180,000. This was a huge relief to me as you can imagine being that I am a musician and not a "rock star". We soon hired him as our attorney for the band and got him involved in that side of things with us. I was his first big case right as he joined his new firm fresh out of law school. I have known him longer than Mick actually. It's strange how things happen in life. He helped us negotiate our new label deal with Rovena and has been incredible supportive of us as friends and artists. We hate lawyers. We were not happy with our previous situation and felt totally neglected by our former attorney for many years. It's good to have someone on your side that actually cares about you on a personal level and not just there to collect his %.
I don't know what I would have done without certain friends of mine being so personally there for me extending as far away as the U.K. where my best friend lives. Mick's mother was a saint and she got me through many nights via the phone. Mick's father had just passed away only a few months before my accident and she was still in those first mourning months herself.
It was all very surreal. When you get in an accident, strange things sometimes happen. People you don't want to hear from tend to contact you out of the blue and suddenly feel the need to send their so called 'love & support' and want to know all the personal details of what happened. This happened with a few people from our past which we found pretty ironic and nervy. There were people who had spent the last 2 years doing nothing but talking s--- about us and in one case a certain person we once considered a good friend who hired both our ex band members to play in his band the minute they f---ed us over decided he wanted to reach out to us but that's the beauty of Hollywood and you have to know the difference between what is real and what is not.
I can count the people I truly love & trust on two hands. The ones who I know feel the same for me unconditionally. I like it that way. I have learned over the years that people mislead you, betray and deceive you. Not to sound all melodramatic but it's true. 'Ready for Blood' really addresses how we feel on this subject. Mick and I have watched people who we've trusted in both business and our personal lives f--- us over in ways even we could never imagine and yet we're still here doing what we do on our terms and their still searching for a warm drum stool to sit on somewhere. We just have to laugh because rotten people come and go but one bad apple can't spoil the whole damn band as the saying goes.
antiMusic: Did your accident spawn any material that might show up in The LVRS down the road?
Tairrie B: Definitely but that is only a small part of it. Mick and I have been recording for The LVRS whenever we can find the time. We are planning to release Lady Speaks The Bruise early next year on our label via Cargo Records. This will be our second official release and the follow up to Death Has Become Her which we put out on Rovena in 2006 through Undergroove. We currently have 4 completed stories set to music on tape . "Darkwood, Ride, Miss Magdalene & The Truth Is". We recently played them for a few friends and got a great reaction so I think we're on the right track. For us, our spoken word recordings have always been very organic. We talk about them and then when the mood strikes, we record. We never really make plans. It just happens. That's what I love the most about The LVRS is that it's all done in the moment.
antiMusic: I'm sure you'd like a chance to tell everybody what role your band, and in particular Mick, played in your recovery.
Tairrie B: Mick played a huge role in my recovery and was supportive from day one. We have been through so many things together in our 8 years as a couple and as band mates. The highs have been very high and lows, low. I was in the hospital for 7 days and instead of wanting him to spend every hour there with me, I wanted him to stay on schedule with the guys and begin the recording as planned. I knew we were about to be spending every minute together during my healing when I came home and at some point I would need to decide when and if I myself would be able to record.
I had a lot of people with me at the hospital everyday. I was rarely alone. I didn't document my stay because I was way too drugged up to and the pain was overwhelming at times but when I got home I asked him to help me document everything in photos and a few videos which he did. I had a nurse come to our house for the first few days after I left Cedars to dress my wound. She taught Mick what to do and he took over for the next 4 weeks leading up to my 4th surgery.
Although we documented it all, I did not actually see the wound myself for a very long time. I had kind of disconnected myself from it for some reason in my head. Mick, on the other hand, was very connected to it. He knew every inch of it and would describe how it was changing to me as he cleaned it daily. The cut was deep and it went up my forearm and around my elbow and there was a huge gash on the underneath area of my arm as well. This was the part where most of the pain dwelled. They had pulled my skin together on top and sewn up certain portions of the wound but the main area ripped needed to be grafted and this meant it had to remain open for 4 weeks so the remaining skin could die and be replaced.
It was a painful process we went through everyday and even with the painkillers I felt it. It felt exactly how it looked and there was no escaping it, especially at night. Mick was a brave guy to deal with all he did in such a calm way. He's not a doctor and wasn't prepared for this at all. Neither was I.
The night before my 4th surgery, Chris came over and with Mick sat me down in front of the computer and showed me all the photos of my wound in graphic detail. The guys both held my hand through it which made taking off the bandages and seeing it up close for the first time a lot easier for me. Chris came with Mick to the hospital the morning after the accident and my first surgery and actually spent the last night with me in the hospital. He slept on a cot by my bed and the next day helped me check out because Mick was in the studio recording. Chris & I are very close. He understands me as an artist and as a friend. We've gone through a lot together in a short time. He is probably the only band member both Mick and I have ever felt such a close friendship with and he is a huge part of our lives. It's hard to remember a time when he wasn't in the band as weird as that may sound.
antiMusic: Your last record, The Brutal Language, in my opinion, dwarfed everything you had done prior to that. What are your feelings about the record, something that was completed under trying circumstances, in retrospect?
Tairrie B: The Brutal Language will always be a very special album to Mick & I. Chris has a special place in his heart for this record as well, even though he did not record it with us (Mick re-recorded and played all the instruments on that album- when our previous rhythm section quit during the recording sessions) because this is the album that brought him into our band.
It also proved to Mick and I that we could do it by ourselves, against all odds if we had to and we did. There are people who do what we do for the money, the fame, the ego, etc. We do it for different reasons. It's never been about the money for us. My Ruin aren't selling millions of albums. We are who we are and we have a certain fan base that loves us for who we are. You don't have to have mega-sales to be revolutionary or inspire people with your music. Today, it's no longer about talent. It's all about marketing and promotion and we are just not down for doing some of the things it takes to get to that level certain people strive to be at.
We toured the United States twice on The Brutal Language as well as the UK & France and we got many great reviews from both the fans and the critics (including you) however, it kind of flew under the radar in some ways because of the people we had hired to work this album. We have something very special planned for a re-issue of this album in early 2009 which is already in the works and we are very excited about it.
antiMusic: What are your plans for promoting the new record?
Tairrie B: There is no huge promo machine behind the band. We have hired 2 press agents in the U.K. & the U.S. that we've very happy with and they have been doing a good deal of publicity on both our albums at the moment. TFOH has received many great reviews and we're hoping the live album will as well. We are not a band that tours heavily because none of us love the idea of living on the road these days. We tour when it makes sense and when the right opportunities are presented to us so it's something we make money doing as opposed to losing money like many bands we know who are always on the road struggling to support themselves and broke.
antiMusic: I see new bands coming up and getting slots on high-profile shows such as Ozzfest, yet My Ruin continues to keep a relatively low profile in terms of how the rest of the industry operates. Is that by design or as a result of your refusal to be dictated to by the industry?
Tairrie B: Both. My Ruin is an underground DIY band in the truest sense of the word. There are many people who view us as a bigger band than we are but we are a still a very 'indie' rock band. People have often asked us why we would possibly turn down an opportunity to play something such as Ozzfest which we have been asked to play in the past.
When we were on Century Media Records, we were asked if we would be interested in the label buying us on Ozzfest. We said no. We've never regretted that choice. We didn't want to pay $75,000 to appear on a side stage at 11am to get sunburned with a bunch of bands we're not into. No thanks. We have always tried to dictate our own career path and we've made many good and bad choices over the years. You live and you learn from your mistakes.
My Ruin will never conform to the norm of what many of these bands around us are willing to conform to. We just don't care. I know that's hard for people to understand out there but it's true. New bands are popping up everyday and getting a huge push with labels sinking thousands of dollars into them but in the end those bands are so in debt to those labels that they never see a dime and a lot of times the labels lose interest in helping them and then they are just stuck. We have learned than making wise choices is an important part of career longevity.
antiMusic: You seemed to have obtained some of the most effusive press coverage with the previous record yet there were still some industry people I spoke to who refused to give any coverage to "anything involving My Ruin". Do you regret how outspoken you've been in the past?
Tairrie B: No. We've gotten some great reviews and press coverage on our last couple of albums and for those people who are not interested in our band, that's fine with us. We're not for everyone and we don't expect everyone to love our band. I did hear a funny story about the editor of 'Alternative Press' in America refusing to cover our band because he hated me personally which I think is pretty funny since I had no idea why and have never actually met the guy but I later found out he was the friend of an ex friend of mine (who is also a female vocalist) so there you go. The truth is, I could really give a good goddamn what someone like this thinks about me or my band so he can continue to promote floppy haired emo crybabies and artsy fartsy, shoe gazing music. My Ruin eats that s--- for lunch. Do I regret having been so outspoken? NEVER. I still am.
antiMusic: Do you feel that you still have enemies in the industry who, while they might not go out of their way to hurt you, do not strive to help you either? Do you care?
Tairrie B: I have a line in one of our new songs (Nothing is Sacred) and it goes "If everything I say offends you, maybe you should go back to church- I have a lot of enemies true but it's because I hated them first." There are those I consider to be enemies who have shown their faces to me over time and they have usually become my enemies because I confronted them on something they did or said and they lied about it. It takes balls to tell the truth and most people just like to run their mouths and talk s--- without walking it.
There are those who have become my enemies because they were hired to do a job for my band and failed miserably, were fired and hold a grudge. Then there are those who are my enemies based simply on the fact that they do not like me because of something someone else told them about me whether true or false as I mentioned above. The music industry is filled with people who smile in your face, shake your hand and stab you in the back. It's a dirty place where people who are behind the scenes have no loyalty or integrity when it comes to the artists they work with.
Over the years, the music business has become more about the business than the music and that is a shame. As far as my enemies, they know who they are and why and so do I. No one has ever gone out of their way to help our band and we're not really comfortable asking people to help us. We prefer to help ourselves.
antiMusic: The music industry is in rapid evolution mode; major labels are being bought and sold, amalgamating, and going out of business. You must have no small measure of satisfaction knowing that you've done everything on your own without major label support (some in the past have actually impeded your progress). If you were to start your career again, would you take the same path you've tread so far?
Tairrie B: While I have learned so much over the years, I am still learning. There are some things I would probably do different and some I would do the same. When I meet new bands and they ask me for advice I always try to be as honest as possible based on my knowledge and experience within the music business. Good and bad. Having a good attorney is very important but having band members that share your vision and back you up rather than fight you every step of the way is also necessary to succeed and make good choices. I am happy to say that I finally have this but it took a long time to get to this place. My Ruin is a very different band now than it was only a few years ago.
antiMusic: Any last words about your upcoming live album release and October tour?
Tairrie B: We are about to hit the UK in a couple weeks on our 'ReligiosiTour' in support of our latest release Alive On The Other Side which came out a couple weeks ago in England & Europe and will be released November 25th in America. AOTO' was recorded in Leeds, U.K. on our 'Tell Your God Tour' earlier this year and features 15 tracks including a cover of 'Hypocrite' which was a song by my former band Manhole. We decided to make it a part of the set list because we had Marcelo Palomino (my ex drummer from Manhole/Tura Satana) join us on the road for this tour.
Matt did an amazing job recording Throat Full of Heart with My Ruin and he's featured in the 'RFB' video. He toured a few times with us but being that he was a French citizen he was unable to sort his visa issues out and eventually had to go back to France. We asked Celo to join us on the first tour we did back after the accident and album recording and we had a lot of fun together. It was really cool to share the stage with him after so many years apart.
The new live album is such a great record. It's gritty and raw and rock. Just like My Ruin. There's not fancy overdubbing or studio 'magic' being implemented on the tracks. The only magic you hear is that between the band on stage and the crowd. The recording is very real and it sounds rad.
The digipak also includes a 2 hour on-the-road documentary style DVD that Mick created & edited. Mick also edited the DVD for TFOH. I dabble with editing but he's getting more and more into that side of things now which is a really cool notch to add on his belt. As far as drummers, we seem to have had an arsenal of drummers in and around My Ruin this year including our latest and greatest new addition JD who has only been with the band for a few short months but is already killing it live with us. We've played a few 1 off shows and our U.S. album release for TFOH with JD and he is about to do his first tour with us.
These days we are on good terms with our ex members (Matt & Celo that is) because there was no drama when they left the band and they will both always be a part of our extended family. We may not have toured a ton this year but we've released two albums & 2 DVDs and we've got a few more surprises about to be unleashed soon as well so we've kept ourselves happy & busy in between the hot rockin'!
Morley and antiMusic would like to thank Miss B for doing this interview.