photo credit: @photophobie.creations. https://www.instagram.com/photophobie.creations/?utm_medium=copy_link
Before the release of their first album everything is, I had the chance to interview three quarters of the Swiss quartet Ruined. Gian, Michi and Stefano and I talked about the hardcore scene in Switzerland, their musical influences, the recording process for their debut LP, songwriting, hardcore weddings and much more.
1. For those who don’t know: You’re from Switzerland. Can you give us a small impression of the scene there and explain to what extent it has influenced you? And beyond that, are there any bands that have impacted you in particular?
Gian (lead vocals, guitar): It’s kind of difficult to talk about the scene in Switzerland because it’s small but big at the same time. There are many different scenes that are quite connected.
Michi (bass): The difficult part is that it’s often not worthwhile for a band to play several shows in Switzerland. Whether you play a show in Zurich or Luzern doesn’t matter, because in the end the same people are going to be there. Since public transport is very accessible, people always go to concerts. The scene is small and fine and it feels like the same 20 people in the same ten bands.
Stefano (guitar and vocals): Apart from that, the scene is divided into German, French and Italian.
I thought that your scene might be exceptional in that regard because of the different languages packed into one small country.
Michi: That’s also pretty much the only split. If a band is touring, it probably makes most sense to play one gig in German-speaking Switzerland and another one in French-speaking Switzerland.
Gian: The Italian part of the scene is probably cool as well, but we don’t know the scene that well and it’s harder to find an entry point because it’s a bit cut off from the rest of Switzerland.
Michi: There aren’t many bands in Switzerland that have influenced us. There are legendary bands like Cataract and Solid Ground, who are very important there. Apart from that, there’s Cage, Stefano’s band, Path of Resurgence, Nofnog, Fluffy Machine, Athlete, Safe State and various other bands active in Switzerland .
Gian: But there aren’t any Swiss bands that have influenced us particularly. We draw inspiration from American bands like Title Fight and Turnover or British bands like Basement.
That shows on the record, but you also have your own style.
Michi: We all come from punk, hardcore, emo and so on. Gian played in a street punk band for a long time, I had a Swiss-German punk band and Stefano has been playing in bands for ages, just like Loris.
All the DIY stuff is important to us, same as sad bands influenced by punk and hardcore. Sometimes we have our difficulties, coming from the DIY scene, for example since we don’t know what to consider about certain contracts.
Gian:That also goes for writing invoices for shows and charging the fee, for example. We’ve never had to do anything like that and we’re just a punk band. That’s why it’s still new for us.
2. How would you describe your style?
Gian: I would describe our style as pop-punk with strong emo and hardcore influences.
Michi: In essence it’s pop-punk, we have melody.
Gian: And it’s catchy, but somehow it doesn’t really fit into this scene, for example we don’t sound like Neck Deep or bands like them.
Exactly, your sound is melodic, but the emo vibes and the energy of hardcore come back to the surface now and then. I think you bring these three worlds together nicely: The melody of pop-punk, the vibe of emo and the energy of hardcore.
Gian: Thank you.
Michi: And the lyrics are all terribly sad. (all laugh) When people see us live, they probably think we’re energetic, but once they come home they realise, “Oh, that’s really just sad”.
3. everything is marks your first full length release. Did that bring special challenges with it or was it a recording process like any other?
Gian: It was quite different.
Gian: The first two releases I recorded in my room. RUINED didn’t exist at that time. We recorded the third EP as a band in Leeds and now for the album, we did everything ourselves, except for the mastering. That was quite the process, recording 13 songs.
Michi: Actually, the original plan was to go to Leeds again, but that didn’t work out. So we spontaneously decided to record it ourselves. Loris’ family has a chalet by a lake where we could record the album and that was a nice but exhausting process.
We recorded it over the course of one week, but we should have taken two weeks in hindsight. We always recorded until eleven at night, cut off from the outside world, in isolation.
Gian: And we started again early in the morning. That was very exhausting, also mentally. Mixing everything ourselves was also a challenge and we put a lot of time and effort into that.
Michi: Gian has only mixed digital instruments so far. I’ve only mixed powerviolence and grind, which just have to sound gnarly, so it was a learning process for both of us.
Gian: Absolutely. The whole process was very different from before. But the promotion process was different too because we tried to do more in that respect than before.
Michi: – but not cringe! We hold ourselves to DIY standards, but also want people to listen to the music. Finding this compromise and staying real at the same time is really important to us. We want to be ourselves!
Gian: As a small band you can be exploited quite easily, so this can be tough.
Stefano: I would also like to say something about the recording process. The place fit what we were doing. The chalet was a bit sketchy and had only one and a half rooms, where we spent a lot of time. We almost started to hate each other, but in the end, it all worked out. The environment around the lake was pretty cool as well.
Michi: Also referring back to the first full-length release: everything is is everything we have done as Ruined so far. We play all of these songs live and some of them have been released before, hence everything is ruined: it’s all Ruined up to this point in time and everything you hear on the album is what you can expect from us.
4. Your songwriting is stronger than ever and on this record you find a good balance of energy and melody, both in faster punk tracks like the opener Left Of Me and in songs like Blame, where you switch from a ballad to a hardcore verse. What is your songwriting process like and did you want to push yourselves in that regard with this being your first album?
Michi: This was the first time that we all wrote the songs together. Previously, it was only Gian and 80 percent still come from him, I can hardly play an instrument, not gonna lie (laughs)
Gian: You just have to play bass. (laughs)
Michi: We talked a lot about it and wrote songs together. Apathy was written when Gian was playing around with a delay pedal in a rehearsal and that’s how the song came together. In one rehearsal we also started writing five or six songs at a time.
Gian: Certain songs already existed before, for example Left Of Me. That one was already finished before we even thought about the album. Worn Out is actually the first song I wrote for Ruined. We then adapted it to the band to make sure it really sounds like Ruined.
But I don’t think we pushed ourselves to be more creative or something. We just played what we think is nice and what we enjoy. Besides, you always have to keep in mind that you have to be able to play the songs live. Sure, not every song, but you should be able to play the majority of the tracks, just in terms of energy.
Michi: I’m not a fan of mid-tempo songs, but unfortunately I always lose there. I like slow and fast songs, but mid-tempo is not my thing.
The powerviolence producer is talking.
Gian: I like mid-tempo. You could say we push each other.
To pick up on the DIY idea and authenticity again, because it fits quite well: I also have the feeling that on some songs, such as Vivisection, you kept the vocals a bit more raw than in the older versions and at the same time also brought in melodies and layered vocals – maybe to make it a bit more real and authentic?
Michi: Vivisection was one of the songs that we re-recorded with real instruments. If you do that, the music also sounds more raw.
Gian: Depending on how well you can produce, that is. (all laugh)
5. Some of the songs feel like they were written for a live set, for example Apathy, which pretty much calls for sing-alongs towards the end. Are there any songs that you would like to play live in particular?
Stefano: We already play some of them live, some for a year already.
Michi: We can adapt quite well: if we play with a hardcore band, we play a set with 20 minutes of fast-paced songs. We always adapt to the evening. But it always depends on the mood as well.
Gian: I would actually like to play all the songs from the album live eventually. Maybe not all of them work that well in a live setting, partly because of the energy. If you play a slow song and the crowd doesn’t feel it, you sometimes feel stupid because you have to play this four-minute song to the end.
Michi: If you have an energetic crowd that is up for cool shit and you play your four-minute-long crying music, it doesn’t come across that well.
Gian: Yeah, it really depends on the audience.
Michi: We also do weddings. (Laughter)
6. Which experience of your band history so far has been particularly memorable for you? When I did my research on Instagram, I saw that you actually played at a wedding once, would you like to elaborate on that or share some further experiences?
Gian: That was really cool. A close friend, the singer of Safe State, had his wedding that day and we played there. During the ceremony, Stefano and I were also allowed to play acoustic guitars and it was a nice experience.
Michi: The bride walked in while they were playing accoustic guitar. But as they were playing, wind came up and blew the note sheets away.
Gian: But it was still cool.
Michi: It was actually a hardcore wedding. Almost the entire Swiss hardcore scene was there and a few more people from America too.
Gian: The over-30 scene. (laughs)
Michi: We also played a Cro-Mags cover and Harley Flanagan even saw it and commented.
Gian: That was pretty cool. What I also remember fondly is the recording process in Leeds. We flew to England and stayed there for about a week.
Michi: We were also really lucky because that was a period when you could enter the country without having to go into quarantine. We got there in that exact time slot. If we had arrived a day later, we would have had to self-isolate.
Gian: It was a cool process to record somewhere else, in a real studio, but especially in a place you’ve never been to before.
Michi: James is also a legend. He has worked on the best European hardcore releases in my opinion: Violent Reaction, The Flex, but also the Leeds scene with Higher Power.
Gian: They always work with him on the tracking too, I think.
Michi: Yes, and he is also such a nice person, an angel. Recording in the chalet was also cool. But it was also tough and I even fainted once (laughter)
Gian: Right, we were also at the lake! That was in April and the water was still really cold. There was snowfall over night. But we still thought we could just go into the water, so Stefano and I went in. Then Michi joined us and just fainted. (all laugh)
Michi: I think the pandemic was also a special thing for the band. We would have had the chance to play with Turnover and were already planning for that, but then the pandemic came. However, we used that to make music and play shows whenever it was legal, for example outside in skate bowls and at house parties. So, despite the circumstances, we played live a lot and I think people really appreciated that.
Gian: I also think the feedback we’ve received so far has been really good. Especially with Worn Out there was a lot of positive feedback. What happened on Spotify in just one month was really good too – and that even though we haven’t had many chances to play live so far.
Michi: The feedback has been really good and you don’t know about that when you’re recording. When mixing, you hear the songs so often that you lose the distance and it becomes difficult to judge what you are doing. But when the feedback is good later, it’s nice to hear. Even if you get roasted, that’s also funny.
Gian: Hate clicks are clicks. (laughs)
You also have a few more shows coming up, for example at the Concrete Jungle Festival in Bavaria, and one in Austria on 25th February.
Michi: At the show in Austria we’re playing with Oakhands, they’re friends of ours. We’re gonna play with them on a weekender and it’s going to be very cool.
Gian: The way there is gonna be very long though.
Michi: At the moment there aren’t many shows, so you do what you can.
It’s probably cool to go on a little trip, especially if you get along well with the other band.
Michi: Yes, that’s also part of it. We from Switzerland always have to travel far, especially if we play a gig outside of the country.
Gian: Exactly. We also got a request for a gig in Siegen, which is above Frankfurt, and in order to get there you drive six hours at a time for a a single show, the way back not included.
Exactly, you have to travel halfway through Germany.
Gian: Yes, and especially if you don’t play a second show, it’s quite expensive and almost not worth it. But then again, you get exposure and playing gigs is always fun.
7. What are your hopes and wishes for the future? We have already touched on some shows, but are there any bands you would particularly like to tour with or open for?
Gian (immediately): Title Fight. That would be really cool.
Michi: Title Fight, of course. They still have a show left with One Step Closer in November or something and that would be awesome of course. Touring England for one or two weeks would be great as well, because their scene is different. AND Indonesia. We happen to be signed with an Indonesian label and the owner also makes merch and tapes for the release and then distributes them in Indonesia.
Gian: In general, I think the goals for the future are to play as many shows and get around as much as possible, meet people, world domination, … (Michi agrees)
Gian: Yeah exactly, all people have to go emo! (all laugh)
Michi: Stop being happy! But I’m already looking forward to making more new music. We would also like to try out more gear, more pedals, shoegaze and Gian still has an unreleased post-punk project.
Stefano: I would love to play a show that is packed, where people are there for us and sing along to our songs with stage dives and stuff. That’s my personal goal.
Gian: That would be a highlight, although already now it’s really touching to see a few people singing along.
I can imagine that. If you’ve created something that touches people, that’s gotta be cool.
Gian: And if you imagine a whole room of people doing that, that would be extremely cool.
Michi: I find that hard to gauge too. The thing is, when you play in a hardcore band and people are busting each other’s balls, you know they like it. But when you play outside the genre, it’s more difficult to evaluate the reaction of the audience. So far, it’s always been good though. We also want to thank you again. Thanks for having us.
Thank you very much for the interview. I really appreciate it.
Michi: Can we send out another shout out? For Carlos from Inhumano. He helped us a lot, released all the vinyls for us and always supported us.
Gian: Also a shout out to the Western part of Switzerland, Southern Normandy, which is really supportive and where we have played the best shows so far, even though Michi and I have no connection to that part of Switzerland whatsoever.
It sounds cool to have such solidarity in your scene.
Michi: In the past, seven or eight years ago, it was very different, but I think that has changed thanks to Loris (the drummer of Ruined). He organises a lot of free shows in Fribourg at Café XX and brings a lot of young people into the scene. He brought World Of Pain there, for example, and organises lots of shows, all for free.
– Can you praise people from your own band? But I think you really have to praise Loris for what he does. Huge respect!
In general, the DIY idea is important to us. The scene doesn’t just include bands, but also DIY zines, photographers and reviewers, fans and most importantly, those booking shows, so thank you very much for your time and the interview!
Everything is Ruined
Huge respect and many thanks to the band as well!
Ruined are some really likeable guys and play equally cool music. With everything is, they deliver a very strong debut, which is a must, especially for fans of pop-punk, emo and hardcore. On it, they create an authentic mixture of all these genres, which comes across as raw and energetic, but also catchy. In addition to the album, you can also look forward to a show or two in the future.
On 6th May, the punks will make their way to Germany for the Concrete Jungle fest, alongside SLOPE and GHETTO JUSTICE, among others.
Tickets can be found at biletto.
The new album everything is
everything is releases on 4th March via Inhumano.
Vinyls will not be available for the release due to supply shortages, but they will arrive at a later date. Before that, however, tapes will be available via Stand Together Records, the tape label of Michi, Gian and Loris.
Find their music and updates on the band’s socials:
Gian – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Stefano – Guitar, Vocals
Michi – Bass
Loris – Drums