The Ruiners come straight out of the garage; raw and smothered in punk rock fuzz. The flamboyant crew create a gaudy garage rock clang bursting at the seems with trashy bubblegum hooks and raunchy glitter rock decorated in John Waters kitsch. The tacky proto-punk style of The Ruiners is a generous helping of Alice Cooper, The Ramones, The Cramps, and The Stooges with a dash of Joan Jett and even a dollop of The Partridge Family.
Frontman and co-founder of the band, Rick Ruiner is a rock n roll wild man whose resume of onstage antics include Jagger like gyrations and even setting himself on fire. Luckily for us, Rick was able to put the fire out for a moment and tells us all about his life in one of Detroit’s most outrageous bands.
How did The Ruiners first start?
I went to high school with Rob, the drummer. Years later, we ran into each other while working at Chrysler and talked about putting together a fuzzed up, primitive punk band. He was living in a house full of guys and whoever was staying there joined the band. One guy was under house arrest and was always available to practice. He was very good, so the band grew. People came and went over the next few months and we kept working on songs. Rob left for eight years then came back. There have been a lot of people in this band and all of them added something. After (original co-vocalist) Renee Ruiner died, we never could find a good female fit, until Nina Friday joined. She had been a fan of the band for ten years and got it.
How would you describe the music of The Ruiners?
Fuzzed out Motorcycle punk
What is a Ruiners live show like?
Anything can happen I guess, I have driven motorcycles into clubs, set myself on fire, the girls sometimes start wrestling during guitar solos. We have had pillow fights and trampolines. In the early days we used to smash large appliances –washer machines, dryers, refrigerators, bags of garbage we picked up off people’s curbs—whatever we could find. The early shows sometimes unintentionally turned into brawls—which appealed to guys but lately we have been catering more to woman and encouraging lots of dancing and fun crowd participation. Often during shows I am in the crowd interacting with fans while the girls are going nuts on stage. I got tired of trips to the emergency room after shows.
Who are some of the non-musical influences of The Ruiners?
The band started out as a performance art group, more or less—I was influenced by Chris Burden, Vito Acconci and Gustav Metzger, who is known for Auto-Destructive Art ….certainly Evel Knievel.
What Detroit musicians are the biggest influence on The Ruiners?
60’s era stuff mostly, MC5, Stooges, etc.; Michael Davis even wrote me a few nice notes before he passed.
Is it true The Ruiners served as the house band for Detroit’s amateur women’s wrestling league?
This is true. We did a full music set to warm up the crowd, and some stunts, then the girls would come up and we would play instrumentals while they wrested. They were called NGO (New Girl Order). They wore costumes, did very aggressive and dangerous stunts and were really wresting—real blood, cuts, bruises, stitches, broken bones etc.
Are The Ruiners fans of pro-wrestling at all? Does this influence your music or stage show at all?
People who enjoy wrestling also enjoy over the top fun—we fit the bill for this. With the history of the band, we certainly tip our hat to wrestling—because it was such an early influence on the band when we were playing dozens of shows as the house band for Detroit’s amateur women’s wrestling team. Even the Insane Clown Posse used to come to those early shows. They were big wrestling and punk fans.
The Ruiners have also worked with legendary producer, Jim Diamond? How was it working with Jim?
Jim is an excellent producer with an amazing ear for tone and mixing. He lets us try anything when we come in and does his best to record it. His equipment is a collection of the best vintage gear I have ever seen. I have recorded three records with him and he has also hauled his gear out and recorded us live.
What are some of The Ruiners favorite movies?
Nearly anything from the 1960’s, ’70s stuff like Dirty Larry, Crazy Mary—anything with fast cars and bikes.
Could you tell us about some of the bands you guys have played with?
We did a lot of shows with Question Mark and The Mysterians, our friends Circus Boy, a punk band here in town; we also did a few shows with bands that are in a different genre than us—party bands like The Howling Diablos and Hoozebeth. We have played around Detroit for 16 years, we did shows early shows with bands like the White Stripes and played overseas on a few tours with bands like The Launderettes and some after-parties for bands like The Cramps and Hellacopters.
Nina is also a great artist. Could you tell us a little bit about her art and her artistic background?
Nina came over from Russia in her late teens, here in Michigan. She learned the English language and sold paintings out of her backpack while she was in and out of homelessness. She has had a difficult hand dealt to her in life—parents murdered, poverty, losing all of her possessions a number of times—her paintings are beautiful dark and tragic beauties (mostly big eyes girls) that reflect her experiences and dreams. Her work can be seen and purchased (prints, originals, mugs, t-shirts) at Nina Friday Etsy page
Anything you wanna plug?
We would really like to plug our new record, Motorcycle Lazarus and The Masters of Fire and Love, released on Detroit’s own New Fortune Record label. We sell the album from our Facebook page and electronically from outlets like iTunes. We have a very limited number of 12” Vinyl records for sale (with a free download card). It has a very cool cover designed by Detroit artist and friend, named Nix.
We also have a huge promo poster (24”x36”) we are selling out of very fast. It was created by me and photographer AJ Kahn and has a lovely photo of Nina hitchhiking in a Bikini with The Ruiners Hearse.
I would also like to plug Nina’s artwork, its becoming somewhat collectable now since we did the reality show on The Ovation network by Working Pictures last year called Motorcity Rising. If you punch in “Nina Friday in Motor City Rising, Part 1 and 2″, you can see her story.