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08/05/2009 – Interview with GROUND OF RUIN

The Irish Blackened Death/Thrash Metal band GROUND OF RUIN (official website) have been around since several years, working hard to get the name out, doing gigs and even making sure own material was available to the masses. Last year they released a very good and surprising EP titled "Cloaked In Doctrine". You can read my review at this location. The band has the debut full-length in the pipeline, although exact details about the release date, song titles and more are not available yet.

As "Cloaked In Doctrine" showed a young band with lots of potential, I wanted to know more about the how, why, what, when, etc... of it all. This interview was supposed to be uploaded a few weeks ago, but due to powers beyond me there has been a delay. GROUND OF RUIN is currently searching for a new singer, so that kind of jeapordizes any gigs, even if they have a temporary backup. You can read more about that and other items below. Guitarist Dom Brennan was appointed as the man to provide explanation.

Ground Of Ruin logo

A classic question to start with: how was the band formed? And what's the story behind the band name?

We officially formed in 2003 under the name GROUND OF RUIN, but some of the guys had already been playing under a different guise for a couple of years. Everyone was pretty young when the band started, so obviously there was going to be some maturing and changing of styles. Rob (guitar) started the band along with Fran (drums) and Derek (bass). They then discovered Dave (vocals) after trying out a couple of singers. I was the last one to join, I met up with the guys in 2006 at a gig they were playing. Most members knew each other in some way or form as we grew up in the same area, I was friends with our bass player from a young age, but had lost contact for a few years. Somehow it all managed to come together through a series of coincidences! There has been one or two changes along the way, but in general the line up has been pretty solid. Despite looking for a new singer, I feel we have a very solid line up to now move forward. The name GROUND OF RUIN came from a lyric in one of our songs, we don't play the song anymore, but the name has stood the test of time!

How did you get into Metal? And how has your taste evolved over the years (as a child to now)?

I got into Metal in my early teens. I had always been into more guitar based music as a kid, but didn't have much exposure to Heavy Metal. As I got older I gradually started to look for more extreme music, more intense listening experiences. Everything was very new then, alot of Metal I discovered seemed very exciting, but as you get older you of course get a bit more selective in your taste. As I got older I became more aware of underground Metal and realised you often have to do some digging in order to unearth the best stuff. Nowadays I really just want to hear quality songwriting from bands who are not afraid to think outside the box.

On your latest release, "Cloaked In Doctrine", you play a mix of Black/Death/Thrash. Has your style gradually evolved towards this (e.g. the first efforts were more Black than Thrash) or has it always been like that?

No, there has been major changes to our sound over the years. When the band started, everyone was just starting to get into Metal, so there was so much for us yet to discover along the way. I guess more and more influences were gradually added to the mix as we progressed. It took us along time to discover what was the right sound for us, we did alot of experimentation until we came up with a sound we were satisfied to call our own. There are certainly bands who play a key part in our sound, but we never try to directly emulate anybody, we always strive for originality. When we started, we played a more Thrashy style which was mixed with Death Metal more and more as we progressed. We were finding ourselves increasingly unhappy with the style we were playing after out first EP. We started to experiment more and more with a darker style of metal and eventually came up with the sound that you hear on "Cloaked In Doctrine". Dark melodies and atmosphere now play a much larger role in our music. I feel that "Cloaked In Doctrine" is a good blueprint for our sound, we will continue to improve on this, but this is definitely the sound that feels right for us.

You've been very active with writing new songs since the founding in 2003. Almost each year did you put out something, be it a promo or an EP. Are you easily inspired and do songs come to existence rapidly?

In the past it seemed like we were banging our heads against a wall. We were all pulling in different directions and were not very sure about what we were trying to achieve. Since the writing of "Cloaked In Doctrine", we now feel alot more focused and the material seems to be flowing better than ever. We still scrutinize every riff and spend alot of time playing parts before we give them the approval. In general I'd say we take a long time to write a song but if the work is put in, there's no reason why we can't keep up the steady output.

Cloaked In Doctrine coverWhen did you start working on "Cloaked In Doctrine" and are all songs new or did you use left-overs from past writing processes?

We started the writing early in 2007. The first song we finished was "Burning the Olive Branch" and that was released that year on a promo cd, just to get some new material out there as we knew it would be quite a while before we got the full EP out. This song took a really long time to write and was a very important song in shaping a sound we were happy with. It is probably the weakest song on the EP but important non the less. We didn't initially expect this song to appear on the EP, we originally recorded a different song in it's place. We had the four songs for the EP, but once they were recorded we felt one song didn't suit, so we decided that the aforementioned song suited the overall tone alot better. It was very important that it all flowed and sounded part of the same release. We are not going to re-record these songs for the first album, "Cloaked In Doctrine" is a proper release and not just a demo for an album.

What subjects did you use for the lyrics? Religion? The church deceiving its followers? And what inspired you (news, books, every day life, ...)?

We have many different topics in our lyrics, some are recurring, but in general we don't have a set theme. Religion of course plays a part and will continue to. We will continue to speak out against all institutions which only serve to enslave mankind and threaten freethinking. In my opinion, this defiance is important and at the heart of Metal.

Any view on sales so far?

It's been ok but because of not having a singer, we have not been able to tour. This has obviously had an efffect. We will be back gigging soon and hopefully will continue to get the cd out there.

You've already shared the stage with several big names, from DESTRUCTION to MOURNING BELOVETH. What was it like and did you learn from them when it comes to live performances?

Yeah, we have been lucky in getting to support some great names. Our live show has always been a priority and has led to some great opportunities. We of course learn from ever show we play. It's great being on the same bill as bands we admire, but no matter where we are playing, we will always approach it with the same dedication. Its just a bonus getting to do it with names such as those mentioned above.

Speaking of gigs, any plans to cross the North Sea and do some gigs on the European mainland (save for that one or two times you played in Germany)? Or is the situation currently not favourable enough to give you some time-off from work, family or other things?

We are planing to do more European gigs as soon as possible, we have had to turn down a couple due to the singer situation. Also because of this, we pretty much ruled ourselves out of all festivals this summer. Its a bit frustrating but no point in dwelling. We have some contacts in Germany and are hoping to get back over there at the end of this year. The main thing now is getting the word out that we are ready to gig again.

Ground Of Ruin bandYou're still unsigned. Have there already been talks to labels and if so, will anything come from that or do you still prefer to be "free"?

We have only started looking for a label to release our first full length album. We have sent out some promos to some labels we would be interested in working with, so hopefully something will come out of that. It would certainly make it alot easier having some backing for it.

Does everyone of you come from a musical family? And how did you learn to play your instruments (courses, self-learning, ...)?

Our other guitarist Rob comes from a very musical family, he also plays in a traditional Irish bands with his father and brother. Our bass player also comes from a line of musical people. The rest of us just had the desire to play an instrument, and at the end of the day that's all you need. Once you really want it and are prepared to persevere then you'll get there.

Lugga Music Productions (or Adrian De Buitléar) added GROUND OF RUIN to its list of "clients", so to speak. How did this happen? Did he contact you or you him?

We know Adrian from when he used to play in MOURNING BELOVETH. We had been talking to him for a while about promoting the EP when it came out. He is not living in Ireland anymore, but works closely with many Irish bands. He has been doing a great job for us over the past while and would recommend him to any band in need of promotion.

In November 2008 vocalist Dave Hynes left due to not being able to combine GROUND OF RUIN with his other occupations. At the moment you've got Pauric from DECAYOR taking over for an undeterminded time. How's the search for a new singer going at the moment?

We have been trying out people over the past while, but haven't yet settled on a decision yet. We are hoping to have the vocalist situation sorted soon. Pauric is a friend of the band and we have him there to help us out in case we have to do any gigs in the near future.

Although "Cloaked In Doctrine" is out since a few months, are you working on a full album or will the follow-up be an EP again?

The work for our first full length is now well under way. We started recording "Cloaked In Doctrine" last July, but it took us a long time to actually get the finished product out. So we have had a good few months at writing new material. I'd say by the end of the summer, we should have the bulk of the material wrote. By the time we get it all tightened up and ready for recording it will be well into next year. It's hard to know really, because there's always alot of factors which tend to slow down the process.

Plans for the future? Or do you take it day by day? I mean, consider GROUND OF RUIN more like a hobby than a profession?

At the moment, we really can't plan too far ahead. We are just concerned with writing new material and getting a new vocalist in place. After that, who knows?! In the short term, we need to continue getting the latest EP out there and securing some good gig slots. GROUND OF RUIN is certainly more than just a casual hobby for us, we put in alot of time and effort. There's very few bands playing extreme Metal who can make a living out of it, so realistically it's a matter of having to balance the band and our professions. Metal is a way of life for me, I will continue to play it whether I am making money or not.

When not devoting time to GROUND OF RUIN or your jobs, how do fill your spare time? Do you have time left for hobbies, so to speak?

We all have different interests as well, but I can't be too sure what the rest of the guys get up to in their spare time. The band along with our jobs does take up alot of time, but we will always make sure we have some time left for ourselves. It's important that we are enjoying the music we are playing and it doesn't become too much of a chore.

That's it from me, for now. Keep up the good work, all the best with the search for a new vocalist and may the gods grant you lots of success. If there's anything you wish to add, fire away.

Cheers for the taking the time to talk to us and listening to our music. Keep supporting the underground!

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