Do these guys really need an introduction? I think not! Delivering the sickest sound in Oi! today, Battle Ruins' fusion of skinhead rock, metal and sure, probably some hardcore as well, has been the soundtrack of kindred spirits like you and me for years now. With a new chapter, the eight-track mini-LP "Glorious Dead", just around the corner, it was time to have a chat with guitarist Joe. Enjoy!
Hi Joe, thanks for taking the time to do this interview! How are things going at the moment, already packing up for the next Euro-trip?
Hey Mano. I'm far from packed up. These sort of things i always wait until the night before the flight. I think everything is in order band wise though.
Let's kick-off with some of the basic questions like 'could you give a short biography of the band?' first, just for those who haven't paid much attention to good shit in the past decade.
Short biography would probably go like this... Pearse, Brendan and Myself started a band called The Lovely Lads and when that kind of ran its course the 3 of us got another band going. Pearse and Myself still had a few riffs we wanted to use left over that didn't work with the new band so we decided to do a demo just to document them. We ended up getting Justin to drum on it, and after a few months of no vocals we just asked Brendan if he wanted to sing on it. That demo got remastered and put onto a 7" which RNRDisgrace Records put out. We wrote some songs over the next few years, and then recorded the LP in 2014. Cliff joined about a year before the Sweden gig in 2016.
Though some more than others, all members have been active in multiple bands at the same time. Yet Battle Ruins wasn't formed until the demise of The Lovely Lads, another Oi!-influenced band most members of Battle Ruins were involved in. Was this also the reason to form Battle Ruins, to keep on contributing to the Oi!-'scene'?
Yes and No. Like I said above we just had some extra riffs laying around at the time that we wanted to use. The overall idea was just to do a recording project that sounded darker than what was going on at the time, and what we had previously been doing. We never cared about contributing to any Oi scene, seeing as how It's all about Skinhead Cosplay music videos with the elderly or being an Internet personality. I don't think our attitudes are gonna change anytime soon.
I refer to Oi!-influences on purpose, because obviously Battle Ruins' sound consists out of a lot of more influences than just Oi! music. What would you say that are Battle Ruins influences both musically and lyrically?
Well, no doubt the band is rooted in Oi. I think the main goal was just to come up with stuff we'd enjoy listening to. The darker stuff being the base of it. I think most of us grew up listening to equal amounts of 70's rock, American HC and heavy metal. Some more than others perhaps. So, Other influences are just gonna bleed into it. For what inspires my portion of song writing are a lot of the Japanese Oi bands from the 90's, Australian stuff like Rose Tattoo, Buffalo... etc British Metal, and shit like Condemned 84, Bohse Onkelz, Vengeance, Bathory, Black Sabbath. Pearse or Cliff might be on a totally different page with musical influences, but perhaps not. Lyrics are all Brendan's department. He's a big history guy when it comes to war and the human condition. I'd assume he writes mostly on what he's reading about at the time.
What about black metal? I ask this because of the cover that The Lovely Lads were featured with on the "We Breed Ugly" compilation. Any favorites?
I think a few of us are influenced by it but i wouldn't go overboard by saying it's one of the main influences. I also don't go super obscure with it. I like Darkthrone, Graveland, Bathory, Absurd, Satanic Warmaster. While those bands have a dark ambiance that I respect, it's not always something I'm in the mood for.
I think not a lot of people realize that there will be some brand new Battle Ruins vinyl available very soon. The 12" will feature "Glorious Dead Lay Under Waves", "Slain Stripped Scalped", "We Are The Tenth Legion" and "Atomic Fire", plus four yet unreleased tracks! What are the titles of the other four songs (and the album?) and what can we expect from the album?
Yes, 2nd Lp will be out for Berlin. The other song titles are Same Enemy, Below the Black Sun, Martyr's Victory and The Day the Idols fell. I guess the album is titled Glorious Dead. As far as what to expect, no idea. If history repeats itself people will like it, but if history teaches us anything all bands put out garbage from time to time. Maybe this is ours. We're happy with it so that's all that matters. You can rest easy knowing we're not putting out any Jamaican Dub reggae versions of Blood Eagle anytime soon.
With Rock 'N' Roll Disgrace calling it a day, you've decided to release the record by yourself – though I can imagine several offers were made. What is the reason behind this?
I'm not sure if RNRDisgrace has thrown in the towel. They did help contribute some money to this release, though we're personally handling most of the orders.
Yes, we've had some nice offers from European labels but we're not into making the band anymore known than what it already is. Add that to the fact that this is our own thing and we only want to be associated with other bands we like. It doesn't really leave much room for record labels you know? Nowadays, I think if you've got 5 grown adults with full time jobs you should be able to get a record out by yourself if you want to do the leg work. If people buy it... that's something else. I also recognize the hypocrisy in trying to keep the band a bit unknown and doing an interview with you. You've always been a pleasant guy to chat with though so I couldn't resist.
Despite the various pressing runs, both 2010's debut EP and 2014's mini-LP were released in limited quantities and especially the first press of the 12" was an instant collector's item the moment it was released. How many copies were pressed of the upcoming LP and will there be any cover or color variants available – perhaps in Berlin?
I'm not even sure. I think it was discussed at a band practice recently. It's under 1000, and I've only seen black vinyl so far. We might have a second color but I can't honestly tell you. Same goes with the cover art. I think it's basically all the same.
I know some people enjoy record collecting but for the most part it's for pretentious assholes. It's trading giant baseball cards to most people. I spend my money on stupid shit as well so maybe I shouldn't judge.
When forming Battle Ruins, did you ever expect such a hype (deservedly) and huge run on your music? How do you feel about this?
No, we weren't looking for it and I find the demand for it flattering yet silly at times...I don't honestly see why people would drop the money some have in the past on a record you could easily take from some Russian Blog or youtube. It's fine though, we've met some nice people who've become personal friends.
And then there were the bootlegs... Besides the lathe cut 7 inches, I also spotted a compilation cassette on Discogs. All are very limited (or say they say), so I wouldn't say they're directly a reaction on the demand (which is high) and the number of copies being pressed (which is relatively low), but still. Besides anger, does this worry you on future releases and does this have any effect on how you will plan on releasing releases in the future?
Yah the bootlegs piss a few of us off. I know we don't keep our shit readily in print but it's not done to create urgency or collectors items. We care about how the band is represented so we don't want shitty looking releases or shirts.
It doesn't worry us because people are gonna do what they're gonna do. It'll just make us trust even fewer people outside our circle. I think it's retarded that so many bands are just merchandise machines... they'll print lame scarfs or a billion different shirt designs, before they even have a record out..people buy it up just to look the part of the subculture. I think quality should always win over quantity...
So, as far as the lathe cut singles, I hope they where done out of love and not to cash in on fast money from collectors and I personally hope it's the last of them. As far as that boot discography tape... it looks like trash.
I was thinking of – and searching for other modern day Oi! bands getting bootlegged, but couldn't find any. When you think it through, it's actually quite bizarre – right? What might be next though, a live registration?
Fuck, I hope not. It's weird, I have a few bootleg shirts of older groups so I guess I'm a bit of a hypocrite in all this. It just annoys me that because we choose not to constantly keep everything available for everyone it results in this sort of thing. It boils down to us living in the days of amazon prime and everybody wants everything mailed to their door 30 seconds before they log into PayPal. whatever happened to underground music being underground? It created a cult like feeling that made you more connected to it all. It made it personal. It goes across the board with everything....
This is probably a shitty example but maybe you have a really great brewery in your town, and I could only sample it if I traveled there and waited in line only to be turned away at the last second because it goes out of stock. Tough Tits for me. When I do get around to buying a can or two I'll appreciate it a lot more because I've waited. What i wouldn't do is go brew my own knock off under my kitchen sink and slap their label on it.
Maybe the solution to this is bringing back selling records & demos and only excepting well concealed cash.
Bringing us to the subject of live shows! In 2016 you did your first – and advertised as 'only' – show in Stockholm (Sweden), 2017's show was a little closer to home at the Middle East (Boston, USA) and this year the annual trip will take you to Berlin (Germany). Is this really becoming something that is annually, or is it just a pure coincidence?
We had decided to do the Sweden show after all those years just because we wanted to see Shipwrecked, Agent Bulldog (who canceled) and a few other bands. Plus it seemed like a good opportunity in life to go on a vacation with friends. Also the guys who do PSK were trustworthy and really organized. It was a great time. Though I don't think we ever 100% agreed that it'd be our only show. It was just thrown on the flier.
The only reason why we put together the Boston show was because we wanted to see Shipwrecked on our shores. They're great guys and we wanted to play with them again and have it not be a financial hardship so we booked a two day bill of bands we felt complimented each other. It was great to see The Templars and Fit For Abuse on the same day.
As far as it becoming annual, nah...Berlin happened because we liked the bill the promoters proposed and they seemed like stand up guys who just want to have a good time. We'll play whenever we feel it's right for us. We're all in other bands, we all work a lot, we've got families and we don't want to get burnt out on this. We consider all offers for shows though. It's just got to be the perfect storm for us to commit.
The line-up for the Berlin weekender is stacked though, including some of my favorite bands. One of them is without a doubt your friends of Shipwrecked, who performed with you in both Stockholm and Boston as well. Is it sort of a package deal and what do you expect from zee Germans in general?
It's getting to be the War Music traveling roadshow. Haha, nah. I think it just happened because both bands while musically different have the same attitude. Its just a pleasure for us to play with our friends again. I'm excited to see Foreseen on the Friday and I'm really looking forward to seeing Fureza Bruta finally. One of my favorite LPs as of late.
Expectations....I've never been to Germany before so, show aside, I'm hoping to experience as much as I can of the city. Good food & Beer Gardens, meeting some new people and looking at beautiful women.
I'm very excited for Hammer and the Nails to make their overseas debut hmmm, aside from that I'm hoping people at the show spend their time enjoying themselves going nuts to all the bands and not being preoccupied taking pictures and selfies. Live music is suppose to be viewed live.
Unfortunately their new LP won't be ready during the German shenanigans, but those new songs that have been uploaded on to Spotify (and other platforms) fuckin' kill! Heard them?
Yah. The New SWD songs are great. I'm looking forward to new musical directions they're going for a lot. I felt the Last Pagans LP nailed the classic Boston Hardcore sound and now that they're expanding on that and adding metal influences it's gonna lead to nothing but good gym work outs for me.
What other music have you been listening to lately? Here the new albums by Cantique Lépreux, Aosoth and the upcoming 12 inches by Hammer And The Nails and Live By The Sword have been on heavy rotation lately! Any tips – either local, national or international, we need to check out?
You'd probably be pretty disappointed by what I listen to usually because I think 99% of what's going on currently with Oi blows. I like a few notable bands such as the ones I've previously mentioned. I'd say Burden and The Conmen are the best things happening in the Boston area right now. I dig a few younger bands like The Stance and I've liked what I've heard of Royal Hounds. It makes me feel that some hope might be around the corner and not everything is gonna be acoustic Oi and selfies with MXPX at punk rock Bowling. I do enjoy that last Legion 76 and Templars records that came out... that Live by the Sword group seems pretty good also. They sound like Fortress to me. I'd like to check it out ... I don't know. Lately it's just been UFO, KISS, the Sutu /Growl Strike split LP and Simon & Garfunkel.
Okay I think that is it, thanks for taking the time to answer these questions! If there is anything you would like to add, feel free to do so!
I'd just like to say thanks for the interview and interest in the group. I'm looking forward to meeting soon. Take care.