My Ruin are the first band I’ve ever stagedived to. Let me start by saying that.

The LA four-piece, fronted by verbal assailant Tairrie B, one-time teen rap star and former frontwoman of rap metal antagonists Manhole and Tura Satana, have been lured by the bright lights of Dudley to promote their volcanic LP ‘A Prayer Under Pressure Of Violent Anguish’ with a performance at JB’s. It’s the first recording and tour to showcase My Ruin as a band, last years release ‘Speak & Destroy’ being more of a solo effort and exorcism of sorts following Tairrie’s controversial departure from the feted Tura Satana. Now armed with co-writer guitarist Mick Murphy, bass demon Meghan Mattox and most recent addition, drummer Ya-el, there’s a war going on again.

And this time, they’re winning.

Of course it hasn’t been easy, Tairrie’s reputation as Evil Personified preceding My Ruin’s arrival like a foul stench on the wind. If you believe half the things you read, this is the girl that eats journalists for breakfast and picks her teeth with their bones. When their softly-spoken and destroyed-looking manager Paul introduces me wearily with the words “This is Little Dave. Try to bring him back to me in one piece.” I giggle. Stupidly. And clutch the silver bullets in my pocket.

When I chirp “Um, thanks for talking to me!” I do feel ever so slightly like Belle & Sebastian man thrown to the lions, but you know what? They’re lovely. The only point I fear for my life is three questions in, when my proper journo query into whether the name My Ruin signals a more introspective lyrical stance is cut short by Tairrie refusing to take any more questions until I address some to her bandmates.

“We just want to rock our way.”

This is Mick The Guitarist, who is like, The Nicest Bloke Ever. When I wish him luck for the gig I’m saved from getting the biggest hug ever with a friendly slap on the back and a “Hey, thanks man!!” Right now he’s explaining how My Ruin fit into the ‘nu metal’ scene. Aw.

Apparently they don’t entirely, like A Perfect Circle in some ways, so I put it to them that an over-emphasis on image whilst saving the genre commercially has also kickstarted it’s descent into parody.

“Obviously image is important for a band.” Tairrie muses, dressed down in low-key nu-goth chic. “You wanna have a good image and you wanna have something to look different. You don’t wanna go onstage wearin’ fuckin’ ripped-up jeans and a t-shirt. Y’know?”

“But that’s just as much an image as anything else.” Counters Mick, ever the voice of reason.

“Right, if that’s your band.” Tairrie retorts. “That isn’t the image of this band. And, um, at the same time we don’t go up wearing anything like masks or… I dunno. Contact lenses.”

“We’re not resorting to shenanigans.” Says Mick.

“Only shamrocks.” Purrs Tairrie. Huskily.

‘A Prayer’s…’ album artwork and lyrical content is drenched in Catholic imagery. Songs like ‘Hemorrhage’ and ‘Post Noise Revelation’ deal in an apocalyptic nightmare dialect contrasting relationship love and the hopelessness of love with the deification of religious icons and struggles of faith. They compose horrible, vengeful blasts of revelation akin to a Birthday Party-era Nick Cave, who drew heavily from Old Testament language and iconography to inform his own writing. My Ruin have covered Cave’s ‘Do You Love Me?’ and it’s proving to be something of a live favourite.

“I definitely think Nick Cave has inspired me a lot, as a writer.” Admits Tairrie. “And I think definitely the bible has had a huge influence on me. Obviously it’s a huge part of the imagery of this band. It’s kinda scary. It’s kinda… violent. I mean the bible is a scary, violent book. Y’know? It’s also very…”

She hovers over the word.

“Beautiful. It depends on the way you look at it. I don’t think I’m coming from the same place as Nick Cave although we both like the imagery and the aesthetic of it. I don’t think he’s an overtly religious person, just as I’m not.”

In his essay on Christ, ‘The Flesh Made Word’, Nick Cave also claims that when he was onstage he could feel The Voice of God pouring through him. All he’d have to do was open his mouth and point a damning finger. Tairrie’s driven stage persona, commanding fear and worship in equal measure, is something of a similar character.

“Well, definitely. I think that when you make a record it’s definitely a religious experience. When I was in there doing these songs I didn’t know what was going to come out of me. I knew the lyrics but I didn’t really know how they were gonna be delivered until I did them. So, I don’t know, it’s like um… I think being onstage is like that as well. You know.”

Just recently an embittered and overblown feud between My Ruin and the music press erupted in the pages of a well-known monthly heavy metal magazine (give you a clue, rhymes with ‘Kettle Mamma’). After two female journalists, including the former editor of said publication, launched a series of scathing tabloid-style personal attacks on Tairrie and her body image she declined to be interviewed by one of them. The result was, as Tairrie puts it “a bunch of bullshit”, with the frontwoman consequently vilified and portrayed as a fickle media whore. The snide, bitchy sideswipes over her weight and attractiveness meanwhile were about as warranted as they are accurate. Despite the disingenuous and oft-quoted line in album-opener ‘Beauty Fiend’ ‘Please forgive me for not being pretty or sexy…’ Tairrie remains something of a lust icon for scores of nu metal boys and girls alike. With the media being the filter between band and audience I suggest these kind of representations must be problematic.

Do you worry about how you’re perceived?

“Well if I worried about how it’s perceived in a serious, serious, serious light I’d probably be in a lot of trouble by now. Because I’m sure I’m perceived really… horribly. You know? Yeah, I can be a bitch like anyone else can. I can also be a million other ways and if someone treats me with disrespect I’m going to disrespect them right back. I think a lot of the problem right now with the coverage of us in the media I brought on myself because I wrote a song called ‘Beauty Fiend.’”

She pauses, a wicked smile twisting across thick red lips.

“And I wrote a song called ‘Stick It To Me’ which is basically saying ‘Fuck what you read in these magazines.’ Cos one minute they support you and one minute they drag you down. And I’m sick of it. I think it’s kinda fucked up. Y’know, you have to kiss a lot of ass in this business and I just don’t think it’s really cool. I’m not really into it, so…”

Do you have to be quite thick-skinned to do something like this?

“Yeah. Which makes me wonder how long I wanna do it.”

How long do you think you will be doing it for?

“The day I don’t want to do it I’ll quit. And that’ll be the end of it. And it won’t be because a magazine drove me out, or someone in the industry drove me out. No one is going to drive me out of the business. I’m not in it to be a huge rock star.”

Is the rock star thing really a myth? Everyone likes to believe it’s dead glamorous.

“Have you seen our dressing room?!” Explodes Tairrie. “It’s not fuckin’ very glamorous!”

Nice Mick supports the sentiment, but gently ushers the Dudley décor out of the line of fire: “It’s totally not like you think it is, you know? You have to work really, really hard. The bands that are, like, super huge? They had to work really hard to get there.”

“Well, some did.” Someone hisses.

“You wanna be alone for a minute and people, like, come up to you and start shoving shit in your face and screaming at you. And this is a low level thing. I can’t even imagine how someone like a Marilyn Manson must feel.”

Tairrie has been holed up in the back of a tiny tourbus parked outside JB’s for most of the day, missing soundcheck and presumably postponing any sightseeing visits to Dudley Zoo & Castle. ‘The Kids’ started to congeal around all venue exits and entrances sometime this morning… and still haven’t left.

“You have no privacy and it must feel like you can’t really have a life. I think to myself ‘Would I ever really want that?’ In this business? And I really don’t. I don’t wanna feel like that! And it freaks me out a little bit. It’s kinda creepy, it’s kinda scary and it’s like…”

Queen Bitch coughs up a small laugh and smiles.

“I was going to the bathroom the other day and two girls climbed over the bathroom stall! You know? Trying to have a conversation with me, yelling at me when I was like… you know? Its like whatthefuckisthat?! I wouldn’t do that to another person no matter who they were.”

“That’s your worst nightmare.” Mick emphasises firmly.

“That’s your worst nightmare. And it’s soo gross. You know? And your life isn’t anyone else’s life, that’s not fair. When I’m onstage, this band’s onstage, we belong to everybody I feel. We’re doing a show, we’re there, right there. That’s when it goes down. And after when you’re talking to people and hanging out it’s all good. It’s like, if I wanna walk and have dinner with Mick up the street and sit and talk to him and all of a sudden a bunch of kids come in… There’s certain nice things, there’s also certain like, “Damn, this is a long time for a minute.” You know what I mean? And it’s a little crazy sometimes.”

Has that kind of attention ever been dangerous or threatening though?

“There have been a few things that have happened to me that have been really weird. That have kinda freaked me out. Yeah. And… it’s uncomfortable. I’m not a really overtly friendly person or mean person, I’m just… normal. And I don’t go out of my way to like… I don’t know. I just kinda like to be by myself sometimes and just do my own thing. It’s great when kids come up to you and say ‘We got your record!’ and I’m like ‘Cool. That’s awesome.’ I love talking to people. But there’s also a point where everyone runs in your dressing room right after you’ve just walked offstage, it’s like “Wait a minute, we just did like a blistering hour set, we’re gonna drop. We need a minute.” And people think “Oh, you’re trying to be rock stars.” And no, it’s not that at all. But it’s like “Fuck, man!” it’s brutal up there. So…”

Brutal actually just doesn’t do the experience justice.

“I think it’s an outlet for anger and aggression, sure.” Concurs Mick calmly, a man who I feel certain has never seen so much as a bad hair day.

“In my life I pretty much keep things simple and sometimes you let things build up and it’s a good way to let it out. Y’know, it’s like something that means something. It’s anger but it’s also beautiful and it’s also fuelled by love, y’know? And relationships and camaraderie between us. Y’know? So… that’s what I think.”

Aww!

My Ruin are the first band I’ve ever stagedived to.

Of course, on the second attempt nobody caught me and I landed on my face. Ow.

Despite the occasional apathy towards each other, the love and respect the gathered masses have for Tairrie B and company is almost disturbing. Girls clamour onstage to kiss her, boys fight (literally) over the chance to touch her boots. But if there’s one thing My Ruin and other bright new hopes like Amen have confirmed – metal is the new punk. Even at their most dramatic, angsty perhaps, there’s a ferocious poise to My Ruin that prevents any inclination towards bullshit from worming its way out. Clichés are strangled and stamped on and each song is as hard and beautiful as a kick to Billie Joe Armstrong’s teeth. ‘Beauty Fiend’ is just pulverising, Tairrie screaming and growling at demons closing in just out of our peripheral vision. When she grasps the outstretched arm of one lucky lad and stares into him with those whirlpool eyes, eyelashes like flick knives, for a whole verse, you can sense the conflict between violence and romance that characterises My Ruin at their most incendiary.

By the end people are scrabbling for their shoes, money and in my case, cartilage. Dusting ourselves down and pulling ourselves together we’ve at least learnt one thing – you can have your heart broken, but you’re never going to get it repaired without breaking a few bones











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