© Mel Garrick
Mark down another win for the blistering Aussie scene! While Ruined Fortune seems to be as much of an experiment in creating music as it does a band, an evolving orb of utter madness, there’s just enough grounding in twisted and infectious pop to keep the music moving in the right direction. The history of the band is an interesting one and most likely showcases why the band’s sound comes off like it does, frantic, yet extremely cunningly performed. Minimalist punk and noise elements seamlessly crash with garage rock and noise-psych a la Chrome, while also inhabiting the body of a mid-80’s club junkie; and in the best senses possible. It’s refreshing to hear a band that’s so chaotic and crazy at times, who still rely on the strength of the, sometimes atonal but always monstrous, unholy beasts of riffs that trip blindly groping out of the anarchy about them. Following up 2012’s Bulls Eye single on R.I.P. Society with a highly anticipated debut full-length on HoZac Records, Ruined Fortune are out to prove they’ve come to kick ass and take names! Armed with enough fuzz, distortion, feedback and churlishness to outfit an army along with an unrelenting urge to use it, this music is for fuzz, garage, psych, head, noise and punk junkies alike. I could spend even more time talking about how amazing the tracks that I’ve heard previewed from the Self-Titled Ruined Fortune LP on the boss HoZac Records are. I could talk about how much they seem to have grown, how infectious and heavy the riffs are, how well the almost vocals compliment the music, even about how the production quality seems to have once again shifted to perfectly reflect the soul of the music that it helps to produce. Instead though, I’ll just say that not only are Ruined Fortune another amazing Australian band, they’re one that isn’t afraid of breaking the mold, make an original statement and they do it all while paying homage to the greatness that’s come before them. I guess the only thing left, is for you to click on one of the links below, read the article and eventually, for you to just cave in and buy the album… Wait for it, the urge’s coming…
Listen while you read: https://soundcloud.com/ripsociety/ruined-fortune-bulls-eye
What is Ruined Fortune’s current lineup? Is this your original lineup or have you guys gone through any changes since the band started?
Nic: Ruined Fortune has had quite a scattered existence, lots of long silences between blurts of productivity. Our first show was actually just the two of us and a cassette 4-track in late 2011, something we’ve returned to for a few shows recently. Since then we’ve been joined by Sam Chilpin and John Duncan on stage, and hopefully some day on record cause they’re mad dogs.
Are any of you currently in any other bands at this point? Have you released any music with anyone else? If so can you tell us a little bit about that?
Nic: I currently play in the rock group Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys, the new-wave (for lack of a better term) group Model Citizen and play solo in experimental-mode as Exotic Dog. I’m a complex person. I need all of these outlets to express each facet of my complex existence.
Angie: I make music on my own at the moment. I don’t really have any other musical projects apart from that and Ruined Fortune. My solo project is just me on different platforms with a revolving backing band style, similar to Circle Pit.
Where are you originally from? How would you describe the local music scene where grew up?
Nic: I grew up in Cairns, Far North Queensland and the music scene was poor/non-existent as far as I knew; I could have been wrong, I have since seen evidence of weird music existing in Cairns. Once I moved away people started putting on house shows and bizarre punk bands formed, which was great to see.
Angie: I grew up in inner-city Sydney. The music scene was kinda boring, like bland indie music everywhere and mostly over eighteen venues that seemed kinda expensive. I eventually gravitated towards the hardcore/punk scene here because it felt more exciting and more dangerous, full of life. It felt like around that time there was a similar feeling from other people and it kinda exploded, and for a while there was a feeling that something was really starting and changing. I feel a bit out of the loop now through.
Did the music scene there play a large part in your childhood, your musical tastes or how you play these days?
Nic: Not really, but I do think the lack of any music orientated youth culture in Cairns was somewhat of a blessing. No “scene”, meant no rules. I got to choose my own adventure through music. I managed to bypass pop punk or any other bland unified youth trend, so I guess that influenced how I play.
Angie: I feel like it doesn't, but subliminally it must.
Was your household very musical growing up? Were any of your parents or any of your relatives musicians or extremely involved/interested in music?
Nic: I didn’t grow up in a musical household, although my Dad was involved in the making of a musical comedy cassette while in medical school under the name Doctor Funk. I did grow up in an extremely encouraging household though, which paired with my discovery of the “it was easy, it was cheap, go and do it” ethos has given me the confidence to waste my life playing music.
Angie: My Dad is really into rock and roll, has a great vinyl collection and would play me Credence in my cot. I always grew up around great music, basically classic rock and then Aussie rock like Rose Tattoo, Sunnyboys, etcetera. My dad loves ZZ Top and Blue Oyster Cult, so I got exposed to that kinda stuff as a child too. He never played music though; he was a scientist by trade. My cousin runs operas, and has been a concert pianist and my grandfather plays amazing piano.
What was your first real exposure to music?
Nic: I don’t really have any fond or strong memories of music as a young child. I’d say I had a pretty typical relationship with music as a kid. Then as a teenager I got into hip hop, Wu-Tang, Gang Starr, Public Enemy, etcetera (note: this music was all ten years old by then) and some more current “underground” hip hop. This was the first time I had an intense, active interest in music and I think the attitude and subversiveness of hip hop paved the way for future interest in punk, rock ‘n’ roll, all sorts of out-there experimental music and so on; in short rap rules, Geto Boys 4 life.
Angie: I used to listen to my dad’s music all the time, heaps of Oz rock and classic rock, and then when I was a teenager I would stay up all night and watch RAGE, which exposed me to more current music that really just exploded from when I was about fifteen. I became obsessed with learning every single song I could on guitar and incessantly playing it over and over. My room was full of tab sheets everywhere, ha-ha!
If you had to pick on moment of music that redefined everything for you and opened up the infinite doors of possibilities, what would it be?
Nic: I think hearing The Stooges “I Wanna Be Your Dog” was a key point. I mean, it’s kind of made me re-assess what qualities were significant in music entirely, and then when the Funhouse album clicked the floodgates really opened. It was rock music divorced of any attachment to a counterculture stereotype I’d ever seen on TV, or in movies or anything. The Saints were a similar phenomenon, especially considering they were from Queensland. I guess this lead to a fairly standard pathway of finding those groups that preempted punk, or attempted to subvert-the-punks, or music that wasn’t in the punk lineage by any means, but seemed to have a similar renegade streak. This could be early electronic music, jazz, Beefheart, Whitehouse, lots of stuff. Of course beyond that, I’ve developed other ways to navigate through music beyond the typical, teen-against-the-status-quo route. I think I’m even into the group Status Quo now.
Angie: I think it’s hard to pinpoint this exactly, but I guess I would say when I first heard bands like Beat Happening and DNA, weird American bands that made me realize, “Wow, there’s no real way to define rock music anymore, it can be whatever it wants to be”. I wasn’t really aware of an Australian legacy like this at that point but wow, it’s good and weird too.
When did you decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music and what brought that decision about?
Nic: Seeing The Sex Pistols on cable TV, hearing/reading about punk, hearing The Stooges first record, somehow hearing The Electric Eels and Throbbing Gristle (although only a brief snippet). As naive as it now sounds this was incredibly liberating, it gave me a completely new set of values as to what constituted music and sparked my curiosity in hearing more righteous, weird sounds. Also my now band mate in Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys Joe, said we should start a band in high school. I didn’t play anything so he said I should sing, so I said, “Ok”.
Angie: I wrote my first song when I was about twelve. It was called “Urinal Cake”, ha-ha. It wasn’t too bad, actually the other day I was saying to a friend I feel like my songwriting is regressing back to that point when I wrote songs as a twelve year old. I didn’t really make a “decision” to do it. It just happened naturally I guess. You can only appreciate music so much before you make that leap in creating it yourself.
When and how did you all originally meet?
Nic: I met Angie as a fan of her previous band Kiosk. When I moved to the outer-Sydney region of Penrith at age seventeen, they were the first Sydney band I became a fan of and ritualistically travelled the hour in on the train to see every show I could. They were a great introduction to the Sydney music underground, a politically important band for Sydney. She thought I was a freak because I wanted her to sign the Kiosk 7”s which I bought for two friends up North. To my surprise I was greeted as a friend at the next Kiosk show after she researched my MySpace account and saw that I enjoyed Can, Rocket From The Tombs, etcetera.
What led to the formation of Ruined Fortune and when was that?
Nic: A band asked Circle Pit to play a show, Circle Pit were inactive at that point. Angie said she had a new thing going, which was kind of a lie and we wrote the first four Ruined Fortune songs as a result. Angie says I volunteered to play in her new rock band, although I remember her asking me if I’d like to start a new band with her. The band nearly broke up multiple times before we even did anything.
Is there a shared creed, ideal or mantra that the band lives by?
Nic: Drink and drive, you’re a bloody idiot.
Angie: We don’t really agree on anything but I would say subliminally it would be to not be boring, and to cross that fine line between straight up rock and roll and the outsider, weird elements.
What does the name Ruined Fortune mean or refer to? Who came up with it and how did you go about choosing it?
Nic: I’m not sure but I think I’m the “Ruined” bit and Angie is the “Fortune.”
Where’s the band currently located at?
Nic: Sydney, Australia.
How would you describe the local music scene where you’re at now?
Nic: Marginalized and mostly ignored, but kind of a healthy and interesting musical breeding ground because of it.
Are you very involved in the local music scene? Do you book or attend a lot of local shows or help to record or release any local music?
Nic: I work at my favourite record store Repressed Records, run the record label R.I.P Society and for the last two years have been the co-director of the Sound Summit festival. I don’t believe in being a removed artist or expecting anything from anyone. I love D-I-Y/outsider music culture and believe if you love a culture you should contribute in some way to the good of that culture, for the good of that culture.
Do you feel like the local scene has played a large role in the history or sound of Ruined Fortune or do you think you all could be doing what you’re doing and sound the way that you do regardless of location or surroundings?
Nic: I think Sydney’s music scene has probably indirectly influenced the sound and approach of Ruined Fortune. Culture and the arts aren’t really a priority here; it’s the business centre of the country. There aren’t many established paths or ladders to climb in the “band scene”. It’s either, be a schlub and do things in the boring/correct manner, or choose your own adventure.
I am good at a great deal many of things when it comes to interviewing bands, or at least I’d like to think so, but describing how bands sound to our readers is not one of those things. I don’t subscribe to the fact that music can be neatly labeled or classified and as such my descriptions get quite verbose and end up being more confusing than anything else. Rather than me making some bizarre and ultimately awkward attempt at describing Ruined Fortunes’ sound, how would you describe your sound to our readers who might not have heard you yet?
Angie: A segment of my mind crystallized.
While we’re talking so much about the history and background of the band I’m curious to hear who you could cite as some of your major musical influences? What about influences on the band as a whole rather than individually?
Nic: We share a lot of favourite artists, from Blue Oyster Cult to Brian Eno but there was no real template for this band. The idea of reference points don’t really work when collaborating with Angie; which is good! I would say there’s some type affinity to bands like Swell Maps, Chrome and Royal Trux in the way they’re chained to rock ‘n’ roll while simultaneously trying to break those chains. Personally, I started fooling around with a 6-string guitar a short time before we started Ruined Fortune, so I’d consider that an influence on our sound. I’d been playing bass for years before that. I can pin-point wanting to play guitar down to two people; Roky Erickson and Alex Chilton. Although I’d been a fan of both for ages, hearing Radio City or The Evil One didn’t really make me think “maybe I could do this too”. It was the footage of Roky Erickson in the graveyard, getting the Holiday Inn Tapes LP and Alex Chilton’s Like Flies On Sherbert that made me want to play guitar.
Can you tell us a little bit about Ruined Fortune’s songwriting process? Is there someone who approaches the rest of the band with a mostly finished riff or song to work out and compose with the rest of you or is there a lot of jamming and exchange of ideas when you all get together to play that gets distilled into a song?
Nic: Angie and I worked fairly collaboratively on most of the material for the album. For example I’d bring a pairing of riffs, some unformed words or text and we’d make it a song together. As the songs are quite open, almost sketches before heading into record, I think the other players on the recordings and Andrew McLellan as an engineer/producer shaped the outcome of the record immensely. Essentially the structure and lyrics stayed the same, but Andrew in particular turned a lot of stuff upside down. There’s was about as little jamming as possible when recording the LP. It doesn’t feel like a band as much as a “project”. When we record again, I would hope to be more of a unit and for more things to be grappled with and jammed on, as well as some stuff from the incredible minds of John Duncan and Sam Chiplin.
Do you all enjoy recording? As a musician myself I don’t think that there’s a lot out there that beats holding an album in your hands, knowing all the hard work, time and effort that went into it; but mostly knowing that it’s yours and you made it and no one can ever take that away from you. Getting that recording done though, especially when it comes to dealing with an entire band can be a little stressful and nerve-wracking to say the least. How is it recording for you all?
Nic: Unlike everything else I’ve been involved in, Ruined Fortune thought about its recording first, with performing live actually being a bit of an afterthought. I loved recording the 7”. Mixing wasn’t at all painful either; couple of beers with Owen in an afternoon and it was done. Going into recording the album I felt uneasy, as it was much more of an experiment than anything I’d ever done and I felt some pressure from this uncertainty. The stakes felt high and I hadn’t mulled over the material at all, I don’t really know where a lot of the ideas came from. Song-wise the record is a lot more out-of-body and intuitive than I’m used to. Everyone around me was highly capable though, I was just concerned about getting the most out of it. By the end of day two I was quite confident it was going to be a good record and overall, I had a great time. I’m always grateful for any opportunity to do something creative.
Does Ruined Fortune utilize studio environments for recording or is it more of a DIY prospect where things are done on your own time and turf?
Nic: So far we’ve recorded in a home studio, a proper studio, and in a more DIY manner; whatever’s appropriate for the recording and within our means. No doubt Steely Dan wouldn’t be as magical on a 4-track and Darkthrone wouldn’t have the same atmosphere if it was recorded “better”. Funnily, the first review of our LP refers to it as “lo-fi” a few times but we actually recorded it in a professional studio. I guess on our album hi and lo-fi meet at points, for example a cassette 4-track was used as an instrument on one track. If we’re to make another album, I’d like to blur those lines even more.
You have a rapidly approaching album coming in 2014. What’s the name of the album? Was the recording of the material for the full-length album very different than the session(s) for your earlier single? Was the recording of the album a fun pleasant experience for you all? When and where was it recorded? Who recorded the material for the full-length? What kind of equipment was used?
Nic: It’s a self-titled album. I think we covered most of this in other questions right?
Does Ruined Fortune have any music that we haven’t talked about yet, maybe a single I missed or a song that appeared on a compilation or something?
Nic: Nope, there was a demo CD-R floating around but I haven’t even got a copy.
With the upcoming release of the HoZac LP right around the corner, are there any other releases in the works or on the horizon at this point?
With the completely insane postage rates I try to provide people with as many options for picking up imports as I possibly can. There’s nothing worse than knowing an albums out, being able to afford it but not being able to pay for shipping, it drives me nuts! Where’s the best place for our US readers to pick up copies of your music?
Nic: Your local independent record store. If they don’t have it hit up HoZac.
What about our international readers?
Nic: HoZac seems to have good distribution, so lots of places!
And where’s the best placer of fans to keep up with the latest news like upcoming shows and album releases from Ruined Fortune at?
Are there any major goals that Ruined Fortune is looking to accomplish in 2014?
Nic: Avoid self-destruction.
What, if anything, do you have planned as far as touring goes for the New Year so far?
Nic: We’ll play some shows across Australia once the album is out, that’s about it. I can’t imagine doing any shows overseas in 2014, I have other bits of my life I’d like to sort out that have been long neglected and a full schedule for R.I.P Society.
Do you remember what the first song that Ruined Fortune ever played live was? If so, what was it and where and when was that?
Nic: I can’t remember, but it would definitely be one of the following: “Bulls Eye”, “Long Song” (we still don’t have a name for this one), “Hope Diamond” or “Transparent Faces”. It was at the legendary Black Wire Record store. Angie and I played live guitar and sang over a 4-track cassette machine containing multi-tracked synth experiments I had made years earlier. It was quite a mess, but in hindsight I think it went quite well.
Do you all spend a lot of time touring or out on the road? Do you enjoy touring? What’s life like on the road for Ruined Fortune?
Nic: We’ve done weekends away, but no real touring. Australia’s too big and expensive, plus too many other duties holding us down. Life, oh life. Du, du, du, Du.
Who are some of your personal favorite bands that you’ve had a chance to share a bill with so far?
Nic: Well the live band came together solely for the purpose of playing with Blues Control when they came to Australia. I think they’re one of the best bands to come out of the USA in the last twenty years! We also played with Home Blitz, another one of the USA’s finest exports. It was really special playing with The Native Cats in Hobart, Cured Pink on a couple of occasions, Oily Boys and Total Control in Sydney and Melbourne’s finest, Constant Mongrel (Interview here).
Do you have any funny or interesting stories from live shows or performances that you’d like to share here with our readers?
Nic: Most are a fairly standard concert affair… We played in an old movie theatre once, though. That was nice.
In your dreams, who are you on tour with?
Nic: If we had a time machine I would love to tag along on the Alternative TV tour where they played the outdoor festivals with hippy collective Gong/Here & Now. Or The Shadow Ring and Harry Pussy “Siltbreeze presents…” tour in the early 90s. Or some type of Blue Oyster Cult/Alice Cooper group, triple-headline tour around 1973.
With all of the various mediums available to artists today I’m always curious why they choose the various methods that they do and why. Do you have a preferred medium of release for your own music? What about when you’re listening to and or purchasing music and if so why?
Nic: I like records best all round. I still buy CDs occasionally and think tapes are great for basement-spun-weirdo stuff, or punk/hardcore demos. Music will be much worse off without the network of independent labels, stores, distros, publications, etcetera. Even with the internet, I feel substantial music culture is still communicated via these networks in a semi-word of mouth/community manner, that’s very similar to how things operated in years past.
Do you have a music collection at all? If so can you tell us a little bit about it?
Nic: Yes. In this day and age I’d probably be considered a record collector, although I just see myself as someone that likes owning and listening to records I feel are interesting. I’m probably considered an obsessive; I think I’m just extremely curious and non-complacent. I don’t care for coloured vinyl, or limited edition pieces, or nothing like that.
I grew up around a fairly large collection of music and there’s was always something awesome about being able to wander over to the shelves of music and pick something completely at random, pop it into the player, stare at the artwork, read the liner notes and let the music transport me off to another dimension. As a result I developed an appreciation for physically released music pretty early on and have never really been able to shake it. There’s something about having an album to hold in my hands, liner notes to read and artwork to look at that serves for a rare, brief glimpse in the minds of the artists that created it and make for a more complete listening experience; at least for me. Do you have any such connection with physically released music?
Nic: I share this connection with you Roman, although I didn’t grow up with a large collection of music at my disposal, at least music I was interested in at the time. I would add that I believe this physical item commands a more active listening experience; the listener perseveres with the record and is likely more engaged with the recording.
As much as I love my music collection, and I do love my music collection rest assured, there’s always been one main problem with it. I could never take it on the go with me. Even with the advent of tapes and CDs I wasn’t able to fill a duffle bag full of enough music to keep me happy out on road trips and the like. Digital music has taken care of that problem overnight and when you team it with the internet has become a real game changer. It’s exposing people to a whole world of music that they otherwise would never have had the chance to experience. On the other hand, illegal downloading is running rampant and it’s harder and harder to get noticed amongst the chocked digital jungle out there. As an artists during the reign of the digital era what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?
Nic: I don’t think Ruined Fortune really has much authority to comment on such a matter. I do have feelings on this, but it’s too much!
I try to keep up with as much good music as I possibly can but there just aren’t enough hours in the day! I spend more time than I would like to admit searching for new music online, poring over the bins at the local shop and chatting up the store clerks looking for listening tips. A lot of the best suggestions I get come from musicians such as yourselfers though! Is there anyone from your local scene or area I should be listening to that I might not have heard of before?
Nic: You could say, start at the R.I.P Society then make a family tree of the members other groups and so on. The same could be said about many starting points in Australia. Down here the guitar pop of Woollen Kits is only one branch away from intense synth outfit NUN. Constant Mongrel is one branch from manic hardcore outfit Velvet Whip, Housewives is only branch away from Ghastly Spats and Teen Ax, two branches away from Pleasure Bros. Love Chants could act as a gateway to the world of Alberts Basement or Matt Earle’s Breakdance The Dawn. Bitch Prefect would lead you to The Friendsters and Roaming Catholics. It’s all connected, whether they like it or not!
What about internationally?
Nic: Neil Michael Hagerty still makes great records with his group The Howling Hex. I think he’s now based in Colorado. The mid-west of America is still the most fruitful region, with tons of great punk, hardcore, basement rock, trip metal and other weird musical activity. Memphis is cool and has a strong link to Australia; I love True Sons Of Thunder a lot! Always worth checking in with Philadelphia's Richie Records and whatever’s going on with Siltbreeze Records. Mordecai are from Butte, Montana (ha-ha). Dan and Letha Melchior reside in North Carolina and sure do make great records. It’s worth keeping tabs on Graham Lambkin’s work, plus everything on his record label, KYE. He resides in Poughkeepsie, New York. From the UK I like the punk group Good Throb, Call Back The Giants and the trendy electronic music group, Factory Floor. Spain seems to be one of the world’s leading producers of raging hardcore. I’m actually uncertain of the country of origin for many of the PAN records artists, but I know the label owner is Greek and has also lived in Germany; some of that stuff is real good!
Thanks so much for taking the time to complete this thing, I know it was kind of a monster and it can’t have been easy to finish. But hey, you’re done now and hopefully it was at least a little fun to look back on everything you’ve managed to accomplish and done so far! Is there anything that I might have missed or that you’d just like to take this opportunity to talk to me or our readers about?
Nic: Dear Sir/Madam
I am a staff of Natwest Bank London. I am writing following an oppurtunity in my office
that will be of imense benefit to both of us. In my department we discovered an abandoned
sum of $22.5million Dollars (twenty two million five hundred thousan Dollars) in an account
that belongs to one of our foreign customers Late Mr. Morris Thompson an American who
unfortunately lost his life in the plane crash of Alaska Airlines Flight 261 which crashed
on January 31th, 2000 including his wife and only daughter.
You shall read more about the crash on visiting this site.
Since we got information about his death, we have been expecting his next of kin or relatives
to come over and claim his money because we cannot release it unless somebody applies for it
as next of kin or relation to the deceased as indicated in our banking guidelines.
Unfortunately I learnt that his supposed next of kin being his only daughter died along with
him in the plane crash leaving nobody with the knowledge of this fund behind for the claim.
It is therefore upon this discovery that I and two other officials in this department now
decided to make business with you and release the money to you as the next of kin or
beneficiary of the funds for safety keeping and subsequent disbursement since nobody is
coming for it and we don't want this money to go back into Government treasury as unclaimed
bill. The banking law and guidelines here stipulates that such money remained after five
years the money will be transferred into banking treasury as unclaimed funds.
We agreed that 20% of this money will be for you as foreign partner, while the balance will
be for me and my colleagues. I will visit your country for the disbursement according to the
percentages indicated above once this money gets into your account. Please be honest to me
and my colleagues trust is our watchword in this transaction. Note this transaction is
confidential and risk free.
As soon as you receive this mail.please do your very best to get in touch with our
(FOREIGN PAYMENT DIRECTOR)
email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Please note that all necessary arrangement for the smooth release of these funds has been
finalised. Our Foreign Payment Director,Dr LEWIS ALDERWOOD.will give you specific instruction
on what todo. Please in your response include your telephone number for easy communication
Mr Crawford Leeds
(2012) Ruined Fortune – Demo CD-R – Self-Released
(2013) Ruined Fortune – Bulls Eye – 7” – R.I.P. Society Records
(2014) Ruined Fortune – Ruined Fortune – digital, 12” – HoZac Records (Gold Vinyl limited to 150 copies, Black Vinyl limited to 450 copies)
© Mel Garrick
Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2014