From L to R:

CHRIS ATCHINSON (Guitars)  /  CRAIG BEHRHORST (Guitars)  /  RICH WILDE (Vocals)  /  

LUKE BOWMAN (Drums)  /  ERIC WONG (Bass)

PATRICK DE SLOOVER had a talk with: 


Metal To Infinity

The American band Ruffians debuted in 1983, and was born out of friendship and the mutual musical interests of its founding members Craig Behrhorst, Luke Bowman (drums) and Chris Atchison (guitars). It’s really amazing that this band is still together, alive and kicking. And it is even better that there are plans to come over to Europe once again (April 2010)!  So let’s say that the time is high to have a chat with the most friendly guitar player Craig & bass player Eric!

Q: Well Craig, it really feels great to arrange this interview with you. How are you doing lately?

Craig: Life is good, thanks for asking. Ruffians are firing up again this year and it feels good. We have been invited to play RockTower Festival in Lubeck, Germany on April 3 so we have added 3 extra dates.  


Q: I hope it’s okay that we talk a bit about the past as well. You guys started around 1983, and it’s rather unusual that 3 of the founding members are still in the same band.  Can I say that there is a special vibe when you create and play the music that you like to play?

Craig: It can be hard to keep the same group of people together these days.

Our current lineup includes original members Chris Atchison & myself on guitar. Rich Wilde who replaced Carl back in '86 is on vocals. Eric Wong plays bass and we have a new drummer Scott McKenzie. Scott played with Eric in a band called Laughing Dead back in the late 80's. Our relationship with both Eric & Scott goes back 25 years. It's important for us to play with people that we have history with. It is a special vibe when your playing & creating music with people that you consider friends.  


Q: There must be some kind of chemistry between you, Luke and Chris, right?

Craig: There has always been chemistry between Luke, Chris & myself. We were the ones who started the band and created our sound. We all attack it differently and somehow it comes together.  


Q: After the departure of Carl Albert to Vicious Rumors, you got in touch with vocalist Rich Wilde, who’s still in the band. Can I conclude that Ruffians is a bunch of good friends in first place and musicians in second order?

Eric: I actually wanted to audition for Ruffians around 1984 but it didn’t work out. I've known these guys since the beginning.

Craig: We all met because of the band and then became close friends.  


Q: Years ago, when I was at the Dynamo Open Air Festival in Holland, I got in touch with a man called Eric Wong. He was promoting his own band Unjust and gave me a handful of promo cd’s to send around to my contacts in Europe.  One of the mailings that I did was to Mascot Records in Holland.  Soon after, I noticed that the band got signed to Mascot, and that man is nowadays bass player in Ruffians. How is Eric Wong doing?  What happened with Unjust and how did you get in touch with him?

Eric: Ive been great. Unjust is on a break right now. We recorded two cds with Mascot, “Thin Line Emotions” and “Makeshift Grey”. One with KoolArrow (Bill Goulds label) “Glow” and another titled “To Lose A Name” with Swell Creek out of Germany. Craig contacted me in 2003 about playing bass for the band. I was already seeing Craig on a regular basis because his company was printing the Unjust t-shirts .  


Q: The musical direction of Unjust is totally diverse, compared with Ruffians. Does a musician need a few different styles to work things out?  Is it a kind of ‘broaden horizon thing’ to play in several bands?

Eric: I've always been an old school metal fan. Black Sabbath, Dio, Iron Maiden, UFO. Unjust was originally Bay Area thrash and developed into a FNM, Muse Hybrid. Its fun to play different styles of songs.

Craig: I enjoy playing different styles of music. Metal & Rock n' Roll!  


Q: During summer of 2004, the band played their first overseas gig at the legendary ‘Bang Your Head Festival’. How was it to come to Europe in first place, and secondly to play for a few thousand headbangers including great weather conditions?

Eric: It was a great experience, especially when I realized we were in the same hotel as our good friends Death Angel and Testament. It was like home away from home. That was my fourth or fifth trip to a European Festival. The band was surprised by how many people knew me from partying at the Dynamos.

Craig: It was great to finally play Europe (Germany) after all these years. We were suppose to play in Germany back in late '85 but it never worked out. To play both the "BYH" warm up show and the festival was a fantastic experience. We didn't realize how many fans we had in Europe until we played those shows.  


Q: Shortly after, 2005 to be precise, the band returned to European soil to play about 8 gigs in 5 countries. I saw you guys at ‘Den Auwel’ in Vorst-Laakdal together with The Guardian.  How was that trip?

Craig: That was a fun tour. Tommy Sisco played bass with us on that tour. We played club shows Anvil, Jag Panzer along with the 'KIT' Festival. I remember the show at 'Den Auwel' being a good one. The Guardian supported and they are great. Slough Feg was also on that bill...  


Q: This time you played smaller clubs compared with Bang Your Head.  It was more like a trip to the underground isn’t it?

Eric: It's always a trip to the underground!  


Q: The last show of the tour was at ‘Keep It True Festival’, once again in Germany.  Although this is less professional as Bang Your Head, I do guess that the vibe and atmosphere was awesome? 

Craig: 'KIT' is a great festival and the fans are hard core metal fanatics! Ruffians got a good review and our sound was very good at this show. We were happy to be asked to play this festival.  


Q: Was this your best festival to date, or would you prefer a gig in a smaller club that might be the best Ruffians gig ever?

Craig: I wouldn't say it was the best Ruffians show ever. My most memorable Ruffians shows were the Bang Your Head Warm-Up Show in '04, a show in Leeuwarden, Holland in '05 and a show we played in Bergamo, Italy in '06. We supported UFO on 2 US dates and those were really great too. I'm really excited about the upcoming dates, I think they will be some of our best shows ever!  


Q: How comes that Eric Wong wasn’t with the band in 2005, while you played in Belgium? If I’m correct, you were on tour with Tommy Sisco, who also played bass on the album ‘Desert Of Tears’. Why did Tommy leave and Eric join Ruffians?

Eric: I was busy with pre-production of Unjust’s “To Lose A Name” and I was also not in the greatest financial position at that time to take a few weeks off. Things are much better now!  


Q:  Is the European market the main market for a band like Ruffians?

Eric: Yes.

Craig: I think so because its were our main fan base is. If we covered more ground in the US as far as our album releases and shows I believe we could make more headway. Old School Metal seems more popular now that ever!  


Q: What is the main difference between touring the U.S. and touring Europe?

Eric: The European fans can be more passionate about metal and you get more beer.

Craig: We really don't cover much ground here in the states. Most of our touring experience comes from playing in Europe. We get treated very well in Europe and the beer is good! Hey, we're starting to sound like like drunks here.  


Q: Perhaps, we have other limitations and laws about alcohol, and you don’t have to be +21 to come to a concert.  Do you notice this as a band?

Craig: There are a lot of clubs here in the states that you have be +21 to go to which sucks and it hurts attendance. I don't see it as much in Europe. The drinking age in most countries is 18, here in the states it's 21. I guess us Americans have proven that we can't handle our alcohol as well!  


Q: In the past, you have played with bands like Slayer, UFO, Queensryche, Alice Cooper, Don Dokken, Y&T, Saxon and many more.  How was the contact with these majors?

Craig: We supported many bigger bands back in the 80's & now. Some of these people you get a chance to talk to and some are more isolated. The guy's in Loudness are very interesting we're always get to meet. We opened for Y&T many times and those guy's are very cool. I cut my teeth watching them play live at the age of 15 in my home town of Berkeley, Ca....great guys! I can't enough nice things about Dio.

Playing with bands from our same generation is always fun because you're  fighting for the same thing, especially back in the 80's.  


Q: If you would have the chance to go on tour with a major act, and you have no restrictions at all, which band would you choose?

Craig: If I could choose, I would have to say Heaven & Hell (Black Sabbath).  


Q: Is playing live the ultimate thing, the goal to achieve, when you play in a band?

Craig: Getting a good song to come together is a great feeling. Releasing an LP is an accomplishment, but I would have to say playing live is the ultimate experience.  


Q: For some, it is the needed drug to keep going. Do you agree?

Eric: We just enjoy playing music. Its not about getting signed. Its about having fun with good friends.

Craig: I can't put it down. I enjoy being on stage and creating music with people.  


Q: What about new material? Is there any chance that the band will record and release another album within short time?

Eric: We were in a brief writing mode late last year and will pick it back up after our upcoming European trip.

Craig: We will fire the writing up again when we return from Europe. We hope to have a release out later this year.  


Q: If you can provide extra information about that album, it’s more than welcome! (e.g. the musical direction, which label will support the band, …)

Craig: We will let our interaction with one another dictate the writing process and musical direction. It will be riff & vocal orientated metal and sound like Ruffians.  


Q: I guess that the band is anxious to come over again?  Are you already preparing the departure? I’m sure that a lot of things need to be done before a band is able to come over?

Craig: Yeah, we're all fired up for these shows! We have been rehearsing, and getting things in order like merch, travel arrangements...the usual bullshit. We are playing a theater in San Francisco with Hammerfall 2 days before we leave for Europe so we will be primed and ready to go!  


Q: Do you bring all equipment like amplifiers with you, or is there some kind of agreement that you will play on rented, European, material?

Craig: We usually bring our amps because it's part of our sound but the airlines charge too much for baggage these days so we'll use rented gear at the fest and the opening bands gear on the club dates. We bring our guitars and a few pair of socks!  


Q: Is the upcoming tour because of the ‘Rocktower Festival’ in Lübeck/Germany?

Craig: Yeah, we based the club dates shows around the festival.  


Q: You will play together with acts like The Rods, Omen, Entombed, Blitzkrieg and many more.  Great names and Ruffians fit very well on the bill, isn’t it?

Craig: Yeah, there are some classic metal bands on this festival along with some great newer bands. Raven is on the bill too! We have played with Raven, Omen & Blitzkrieg is the past. It will be cool see the Blitzkrieg guys again, there a good bunch.  


Q:  Is it already confirmed when you will play with Ruffians, do you have a good spot and place on the festival running order?

Eric: We are in the middle somewhere. Of course we would like to be higher on the bill but we are very thankful to be playing the RockTower Festival . The promoter treats us very well and is a very classy guy.  


Q: Will you focus on the ‘best known’ songs, or is there any chance that the band will bring some new tunes as well?

Eric: No new ones this tour.

Craig: We will be mostly playing songs from the first EP and "Desert of Tears".   


Q: I hope that you will have a safe trip to Europe and that you will have great moments on stage. It’s only a pity that you aren’t coming over to Belgium? Why?

Eric: We actually got asked to play Belgium after the tour was finalized. Hopefully we can come back after we record some new material.

Craig: We would love to play Belgium again, but this will be a short trip for us this time around.  


Q: Talking about Belgium, what do you know from our little country?

Eric: Best beer in the world.

Craig: I know there are many different languages spoken for a small country. I believe it's Flemish, French, Dutch & German...? Yes - great beer, chocolate & metal fans!  


Q: Well, I want to thank you for your time and if there is any news to spread, don’t hesitate to get back to us!  We hope you will have a blast and keep metal alive!

Craig: We are going to put all we have into these upcoming live shows and are excited to return to Europe.

Thanks for supporting metal! I hope we get the chance to meet again in the future!  

**European Dates**

*April 1 - Gloppe - Leeuwarden, Netherlands

*April 2 - Sounds - Lubeck, Germany

*April 3 - RockTower Festival - Lubeck, Germany

*April 4 - Treue - Bremen, Germany