My Ruin: Interview at the London Highbury Garage W/ Tairrie & Mick- December 7th 2000 Supported by SugarComa
I’m not quite sure whether I should be terrified or excited. The powers that be have decided to allow me to interview Tairrie B and her band on the penultimate night of their UK tour. Despite Tairrie being sick (with it) earlier in the day, Mick and Ms B were on hand to answer the burning questions.
1. For the benefit of the tape recorder, could you tell me who your are and what you do in the band?
Mick: [adopting an infomercial voice] My name is Mick Murphy and I play guitar for My Ruin.
Tairrie: I know you have to do this cause I sound like a man, but I’m Tairrie, and I’m the throat of My Ruin.
2. How’s the year 2000 been for you?
Mick: One of the best years of my life.
Hugh: That good?
Mick: Definitely. [both laugh]
3. You’ve come to the end of your tour. How’s it been?
Mick: It’s been a lot of fun.
Tairrie: It’s been hard on my throat.
Mick: It’s a bit tiring at times, but mostly it’s been nothing but fun.
4. How have the support acts been on this tour? I know Snake River Conspiracy had to pull out.
Tairrie: Yeah, we never even seen them yet. But Sugarcoma rock.
Mick: It’s been pretty simple. Two bands; no drama.
5. There’s a lot of religious imagery in My Ruin’s work. Where does that stem from?
Tairrie: Why doesn’t Mick answer this? He knows it now.
Mick: Well, my take on it is that Tairrie likes to use religious imagery to paint the picture, to send the message that she’s trying to send. Which isn’t necessarily a religious message. She just uses the imagery for all other aspects, like relationships or battles, and whatever. The Bible, whether you think it’s true or just a story, it’s quite a story. When you use that kind of imagery you paint quite a picture. I think that’s why.
Mick: Thank you!
6. This might be going back a while, but I read somewhere that you were supposed to be contributing some backing vocals to the last Kill II This album, but…
Tairrie: I did them. But it was like a big nightmare. I recorded them in LA…I like Kill II This. Mark’s really cool. But it didn’t really happen…we did them really late. I don’t know what happened. Then I found out they got somebody else to do the album, and I wasn’t really happy about being on the album after that, to be honest.
7. Duets: About the time “Speak and Destroy” came out, you said you wouldn’t consider doing a duet with anybody other than Robb Flynn. What made you change your mind and record “Miss Ann Thrope” with Jack-Off Jessika?
Tairrie: I’d still love to do a duet with Robb Flynn as he’s got an awesome voice. He’s an awesome frontman. But I think it’s more like when you’re making a record it’s more about how you’re feeling at the time. I never want to do record with like ten different guest performances. That’s ridiculous, it’s not even your record. Jessika is my good friend. We’ve always wanted to sing together but we’ve never had the chance. This time we happened to have the perfect opportunity and the perfect song. I also duet with Mick on the album, on “My War”.
Mick: That’s right. I don’t do it live, but we sung together on the record.
8. Would you sing “My War” live with Henry Rollins if he wanted to?
Mick: I doubt Henry would want to do that.
Tairrie: I don’t think he would ever do that.
Mick: He won’t play any Black Flag.
Tairrie: We’re doing it tonight with Sugarcoma. And a special guest on drums.
Hugh: Would that be Ray Mayorga I saw walking about earlier?
Hugh: He looked very stern. And scared of all the people outside.
9. The line-up: it’s changed quite a bit since the last album.
Mick: The first album wasn’t a line-up. It was a hired band.
Tairrie: We kept Meghan. Meghan rocks. She helped write the record. My old drummer from Tura Satana was there. Melanie had written a few songs with me. But we had to get a second guitarist in because she wasn’t really a metal guitarist. She was really cool as she was the first woman I ever worked with. But when it came down to playing the heavier stuff live, it really wasn’t her thing, so…
10. Mick, what’s it like being the only bloke in the band?
Mick: It’s fine. You know, this is the first time I’ve played in a band with women and…they’re my friends, they’re cool as Hell, and we all get along great. We can all communicate, and they’re all very talented. I think it’s great. A lot of people would be like “Urrgh! What’s that all about!? Is that crazy!?” It’s just like being in a band with three guys only it’s women. We’re a band.
11. Where does the title of your latest album, “A Prayer Under Pressure Of Violent Anguish”, come from?
Tairrie: The title comes from a couple of different prayer books I’ve been reading, in different parts. I kind of put it together, I read “A Prayer Under Pressure” in an old 1800’s prayer book and then I read “Of Violent Anguish” somewhere else and I thought “That sounds kinda like my life and what we’re doing” so I put them together and liked it.
12. The album seems to have taken on a darker, heavier line to the old. Is that due to a new line up or has it been the direction you’ve always wanted to go?
Tairrie: I’ve always been a dark person. I always been lyrically dark. Just because last year I did a couple of lighter things. Some of the things on that record are so very dark, I’ve always been drawn to that, but Mick came in and had a lot of ideas that were really, really cool and a lot heavier.
Mick: I jumped into this band head first. I had a lot of musical ideas. I like to write, I like to right a lot. I like to be in control of what’s going on musically, and we pushed her, encouraged her to do a heavy record.
Tairrie: Everybody like totally lost it.
Mick: But that’s not why we did it.
Tairrie: We were like “So we’ve gone soft, huh? Wait till you here the new record!”
Mick: We did it because that’s just the way I write music. One thing led to another, and before you know it we’ve got this brutally heavy album. I’m totally happy about that because I think metal needs to be raw, and not necessarily easy to listen to. I think that this record is truly heavy, so I’m proud of it.
13. Mick, what were you doing before you signed up with My Ruin?
Mick: Well, I’d been in a band with my best friends for about ten years. It was a band called “Movement” and we’d been located in Hollywood, and we never really achieved any major success, but we did a lot of writing, recording and growing. I broke that up, and I’d just been filling in for a band called “Dead Girls Corps”, which the singer had been the keyboard player in the last incarnation of My Ruin. It was through Toddy, the singer of Dead Girls. He introduced us and…
Tairrie: …I stole him! Got rid of Todd, got him.
14. Cover songs: you’ve done a few in the past, and you’ve got two on the new album. What made you choose “Do You Love Me?” and “My War”?
Tairrie: Nick Cave [Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds originally did “Do You Love Me?”]. Nick Cave is a huge inspiration to me.
Mick: Black Flag have always been just a huge inspiration to me. My old band Movement covered “My War”, and she liked the version we did, so we took that and made it My Ruin.
15. I read that you did your first US shows this year, which seems really strange as you’re at the end of your second UK tour here.
Tairrie: I’d never played with My Ruin in the US till then no. We’re a British band! [laughs]
Mick: It’s weird. It’s weird but it’s cool.
Tairrie: People in America are like “So what are you guys? A British band? What is going on here? You live in America but you’re always over there”
Mick: Basically we have no support in the states right now, as far as the label is concerned.
Tairrie: The label is a nightmare. We’ve been trying to get out of a bad deal there for a long time.
16. What would you say the main differences between doing shows in America and shows in the UK are?
Tairrie: I think the kids over here are way more crazy. As far as the music is concerned, they’re far more into it. They’ll sit out here and wait for hours and hours. People…..I don’t know. It’s just really exciting to play here.
Mick: It’s kinda hard to make a fair comparison as we haven’t toured the US with this band.
Tairrie: I have with my old band.
Mick: I’ve told the US too, with my old band. I find that in the mid-west, and in places where they don’t get a lot of bands, the kids are very enthusiastic.
Tairrie: I still find Britain completely different. I’ve always found it different.
Hugh: It’s to do with “band starvation”. We just don’t get bands over here.
Tairrie: It’s really cool when we go somewhere and people go “Thanks! We never get any bands here!” I just think “God! I feel so lucky to play here”
Mick: We do well in LA though, considering.
Hugh: Most bands I talk to say they hate playing LA.
Mick: It’s a hard town. We had good luck there.
Tairrie: You’re playing to rock stars there, not your fans.
17. What does the B in Tairrie B stand for? Or is it a secret?
Tairrie: It’s my last name, but Mick always likes to say…
Mick: It stands for “Ball Buster”
Tairrie: Busting Balls All Over Town! [both laugh]
18. Theoretical question now: If Limp Bizkit offered you insane amounts of money to tour with them, as I know Fred Durst has not said some nice things in the past, would you do it.
Hugh: Not even if it was…
Hugh: Not even…
Tairrie: I wouldn’t do it. It’s not about the money, it’s about the respect level. Fred Durst does not respect me and I don’t respect him, so there’s no way I‘m gonna put myself in a position where somebody can disrespect me nightly. I’ve been on a tour with somebody named Dino Cazares….
Mick: A King-Sized Cocksucker…
Tairrie: …three months on the road, he disrespected me every day, and I will never go through that again. The Fear Factory Tour was great for my band [at this time, Tairrie was still fronting Tura Satana. It broke us in America. It gave us a lot of new fans and introduced us to everybody. The downside of it was I was in complete Hell. So would I rather have my personal sanity and well-being, or would I rather do this. Na-ah. No way.
18. Media attention: discuss.
Tairrie: That’s a really difficult question because magazines portray me in a certain way. People meet me and they’re like “God, you’re nothing like that!” I’ve had journalists walk in and go “Okay, I don’t want to ask you anything that’ll freak you out or make you mad…” and I’m like “Weird! Relax, it’s okay, chill…” Certain big magazines are like that. I’d prefer it if they concentrated on the songs and the music and asked stuff like “ So tell me about this song” or “what’s this lyric about?” or “how do you feel about this?” or “what’s your viewpoint on this?” instead of “So, tell me about your ex-boyfriend. So…” Y’know what I mean? Bullshit.
Hugh: I think it’s because the public at large don’t like it if people in the public eye have a private life that they can’t know all the ins and outs of.
Tairrie: When you’re in the public eye, people are always gonna know certain things. Nowadays I don’t put my relationship straight out. The person I’m in a relationship with I don’t publicise on a daily basis. I learned not to. I dated somebody, I went out with somebody, and it was mass craziness. I’d go into countries and girls would be screaming at me because I’d broke up from this person. I was “What??!? This is crazy! This is nuts! You don’t know what goes through my private life!”
Mick: That’s because it’s private.
Yael: Key word! [in game show style] Bing!
Tairrie: I’m gonna release all the things I want people to know in my book. When my book comes out, I‘m gonna let everything known that I want known. I’m gonna come out with a few things, I’m gonna clear up a couple of things. I’m gonna explain things that people have made up and dispel a lot of misinformation. I’m gonna put out a lot of my real tour journals, so people know what it’s really like. I want people to know what it’s really like out there. It’s not fucking glamorous on the road. I spent the whole day sick in a hotel today. Sure, I was in a hotel, after ten days on the road. When I woke up I was sick, coughing and sneezing. I was “I’m in fucking London for God’s sake and I can’t even have a voice! I can’t hear myself talk right now!” I was freaking out cause I know we sold out tonight, and if I can’t be up to par I’m fucked. I’d have fucked myself. To me, I’d have wasted everyone’s money. They came to see My Ruin and I’m part of this band. If my drummer’s arm suddenly fell off so she couldn’t drum anymore, we’re not My Ruin anymore. My throat goes out, we’re done.
Yael: You were so visual there that you’re scaring me [referring to Tairrie’s “arm-falling-off gestures]
19. While we’re on the subject of the media, there are two stories that people aren’t sure whether they’re true or not…
Tairrie: They’re not but go on.
Hugh:…Metal Hammer always seem to be having a quiet dig at you in the Editorial. They said that you’d phoned them up because you were angry at an 8/10 review and another time they were whinging about some bad photos.
Tairrie: Can you believe this shit? Let me tell you something. First of all…we got an 8/10 review by a woman called Valerie Potter, and after she wrote this review, and it was a good one, she had to write something like “Finally she got her balls back after the wearisome poor little me references to her ex-boyfriend.” This chick had trashed me a couple of other reviews, and I’ve kept them. I‘ve always been “one day I’m gonna meet Valerie Potter” and I’m gonna tell her “go fuck yourself! You don’t support me, you don’t support my band.” Oh, so now she likes My Ruin? Well good fucking for her. I can give a fuck what she thinks. We don’t need a review to validate our record. I know it’s a good record. I’m proud of it. She requested to do an online interview for a site she runs, which she’s the editor of. So I wrote her a letter, where I said “First of all I want to thank you for the review…”
Mick: No-one complained about that.
Tairrie: …and I said “But, I want you to know I support women in metal and I think it’s awesome women are doing things, but I am declining this interview because of the following…” and I pointed out things she’d said about me in the past. I kinda made a joke of it, y’know? There was a bit of sarcasm in there. I ended it with “The Elderly Metal Pin-Up Queen and Recovering Ex-Tura Satana Frontwoman”. I was making fun of things she’d said about me. Saying that Manhole or Tura Satana didn’t make even a dent in this industry is wrong, because we did. If it wasn’t for those bands then no-one would be interested at all in me now. So I’m glad I wrote it. But then there’s a guy at Metal Hammer, Darren Sadler, was good friends with Valerie, and was good friends with Robyn Dorien [editor at the “bad photos” incident] who had given him his first job. So he had to go write a load of shit about me and end it with “I’m going to say some prayers and eat some doughnuts.” The doughnut bit from Robyn Dorien a year ago saying “she looks fat, she should quit eating doughnuts.” I never complained about looking fat in my entire life. I don’t complain about shit like that to magazines. “Oh I look fat! Why did you print that?!?!”: that’s not me at all. If I complain about my appearance it’s to someone around me. I wouldn’t go to a magazine and say something. Like I could give a fuck. [Robyn Dorien] was my friend, so I felt really degraded. It was like stabbing me in the fucking back. It was a barrage of abuse aimed at me for a whole year. I wrote a letter to Metal Hammer eventually. It’s on our website [www.myruin.com] and Metal Hammer’s website [www.metalhammer.co.uk] and it’s huge. It says exactly what’s going on and a load of kids wrote in as a response to it. We did another interview with Metal Hammer the other day and fucking let loose on them. All Hell broke loose, so what’s gonna be printed from that I don’t know. The new Editor called me up and said “We’re sorry about what’s happened. There’s a new regime in here now, we’re not gonna do this to you anymore, blah blah blah…” but you know what? I don’t trust anybody and I don’t really care. I’ll have something to say about it tonight on stage. I do every night.
20. What are your favourite songs off the new album?
Tairrie: “Beauty Fiend”. That’s my favourite song. “Rockstar” too.
Mick: I like “Stick It To Me” and…”Heartsick” They’re probably my two favourites.
Tairrie: There are a lot of good songs on there.
21. What are your albums of the year?
Tairrie: Goatsnake “Flowers of Disease”
Mick: I like Zeke. I think their last album [that would be “Dirty Sanchez”, reviewed elsewhere this issue]. I’m a big fan of Fu Manchu. “King of the Road” was good.
Tairrie: Jack Off Jill!
Mick: I don’t know about this year…a lot of the stuff I listen to came out twenty years ago.
Tairrie: We’re not big fans of all the new stuff that’s dropping.
Mick: Like I though Korn’s first record was great. But now there are a million bands trying to jump on that wagon it’s hard to listen to. It’s a weird thing, when you’re so close to it. Sometimes you get jaded, and it’s hard to like a lot of things.
Tairrie: It gets hard to like bands who are in the same genre as yourself. Well, not hard to like them but hard to listen to them. This is what we do. I like to go home and listen to Morcheeba, Portishead, Boss Hog and Rico.
Mick: I like to listen to old KISS. Just stuff from a different time to separate from all the trends or whatever.
22. What does the future hold for My Ruin?
Tairrie: Hopefully a good show this evening.
Mick: And to secure a good deal in the states for the “Prayer…” record, and to start thinking about the next record. And more touring.
Tairrie: To come back.
23. When are you going to come back?
Tairrie: Hopefully early next year. To do Europe.
Mick: Release a live record.
Tairrie: We want to do it in February in time for Valentine’s Day. It’s called “To Britain With Love”. It’s just especially for Britain as you’ve been so good to us. It’s just us giving a little back. There’s a little spoken word at the start that’s like a love-letter to the country.
Hugh: I say “whoo-hoo!” [Homer-Simpson style, complete with gesture] on behalf of the British people. [ laughs] Somebody has to say it!
Mick: Whoo-hoo! [in the style of “Song 2” by Blur]
Tairrie: No don’t say that! That’ll remind me of the other night. I got sucked into a slam-pit at Nottingham. They were playing the Blur song and I was taking pictures of SugarComa dancing…
Mick: It was the after show party thing.
Tairrie: …and some 500-pound grizzly bear guy come running for me going “Taaaiiirrriee BBBB!!!” and I’m going “Oh my God!” I couldn’t go anywhere. He grabbed me and my camera went flying into the air. Some kid caught it, I couldn’t believe it. I went through the air, for the very first time in my life, right to the bottom of the slam-pit. All I could think of was to cover my face and let it happen. I got stomped about a hundred times by Doc Martens. I’m completely covered in bruises. My body is all bruised, my arms, my ass, everything. All I can remember is looking up ans seeing the little SugarComa singer, Jess, going “oh my God!” They pulled me out eventually. Then the kid comes up and goes “Ms B! I’ve got your camera!” He was my angel. So that was okay I suppose.
24. Other than that, has anything bizarre happened on this tour?
Tairrie: Not really. Met a lot of cool people. I met Rico at last in Glasgow. I’m a huge fan of his music. We met a lot of cool people who do our fan sites, like Klaire from Ruined [www.angelfire.com/mb/blasphemousgirl]. We’ve matched a few faces to people we’ve chatted to online. They come up and go “I’m Blasphemous Boy! Yeah!”
Hugh: Have any of them been scary 40-year old men who pretend to be teenage girls?
Tairrie: No, but we did have a psycho thing happen last night though! There was this creepy couple. This creepy guy through the whole show kept putting his hand on my leg. I get down with the kids when I sing cause I like to touch people when I’m singing, but don’t like to be groped. This guy was inching his way up my skirt the whole time. I’m singing the Nick Cage song and it gets really bad, so I had to sock him. Then later on, his wife and him come up to each one of us and are [adopting scary voice] “My wife loves you and wants to shag you!”
Mick: He’s like letting his wife hang all over me and I’m “yeah this is comfortable, help me someone!”
Tairrie: We were totally “We gotta go now!” One thing you have to print is that just because someone is in a band does not mean you want to sleep with them, believe me. Kids do not understand this. We’re doing a job, just like everyone else is doing a job. Anybody could be doing the band thing. We’re lucky to be doing it, but we’re no different than anybody else. It really freaks me out. I love it when kids come up and go “I really love your record and you’ve inspired me to do this, and your lyrics have meant this to me”. That’s killer. I really admire that. I admire a lot of people who sit down with me and talk through stuff with me, and open their heart with me. What really freaks me out is when someone comes up to me…
Mick:…and sticks their tongue in your ear.
Tairrie: Yeah! Or touch you, or make out with you. Chill people! I’m not some whore-singer. I’m not some person in a band who’s gonna come sleep with you cause its rock. I have respect for my fans and my friends, and I consider people who come to our shows as my friends. A crazy fan is someone who will do anything to be with someone in a band, and that’s wrong. You shouldn’t, you should have respect. That makes me sad.
25. As it’s December, what do you want for Christmas?
Tairrie: I’m getting it! I’m going to Tennessee to meet Mick’s family for eleven days.
Mick: She’s coming on vacation back to my home town!
Tairrie: It’s gonna be like that movie when Elvira went back to that small town in all black and make-up. Everyone will be like “hiss!
26. Last question: if you could achieve one big target with My Ruin, be it sell a million, million records or perform in front of 100,000 or whatever, what would it be?
Tairrie: Have a great label behind us with a great A&R person who really gets it and we don’t have to explain it to. I want somebody to just walk in and say “I get this, so let’s do it”. I don’t want a million records. I’m not looking for a million dollars, MTV or TRL status. That’s not what I’m looking for with this band. I want to tour and be supported by a label, to have somebody to get it, without us having to go “What the fuck is your problem? Do you not understand what we’re trying to do here? It’s not that hard.”
Mick: In a nutshell, longevity, and freedom to create on our own terms.
Hugh: Thank you very much Miss Tairrie B and Mr Mick Murphy.