Artist: MF Ruckus

Origin: Denver, USA

Genre: Rock, Rock ’n‘ Roll

Release: 14.10.2016

Label: Rodeostar / Soulfood

Link: https://www.facebook.com/mfruckusband/about/

Bandmember:

Vocals – Aaron Howell
Guitare  – Parker Clark Whitton
Guitare– Tony Lee
Bass – Logan O‘ Connor
Drummer – Tyrell Blosser

Time For Metal / Rene W.:

A massive Cheers to Denver, the homebase of MF Ruckus.

MF Ruckus / Aaron H.:

And a massive cheers back to you as well!

Time For Metal / Rene W.:

Let’s talk about Thieves Of Thunder today which has been released by the end of 2016. The release has been available digitally since October last year and the vinyl-edition followed in December. Please describe the importance of dropping the record on black gold as well.

MF Ruckus / Aaron H.:

I have a friend who is a walking, talking, sarcastic record-store-guy archetype. He told me once that we should print most of our records on colored vinyl and only a small amount on black as opposed to many artists who do it the other way around making the colored vinyl the „limited edition version“. He felt it made more sense to make the black vinyl „limited edition“ for the people who actually give a shit about sound quality and make the colored vinyl for the masses who „only want to reinforce their lifestyle“. Hahaha! I don’t know how true that is, but I do know that when we printed Thieves on CD, we had a little trouble selling it. I think it’s a matter of perceived value. In many ways, CDs and eventually digital downloads have devalued music. Made them more disposable. Now they’re like sticks of gum that people can chew up and spit out. A vinyl LP is a piece of a collection. It is a tangible artifact that one can hold in their hand, they can read it. They’re required to handle the record gently, place it on the turntable, drop the needle, listen to side one, get up, flip the record, listen to side two, lift the needle, stop the turntable, remove the record, gently place it back in the sleeve and back in it’s place on the shelf. There’s ritual involved. It’s an engaged listening process. That’s why it’s far more impressive to see an actual turntablist perform than just a guy with a CD collection or an iPod. We received a better response from the announcement of the vinyl release than any other release we’ve ever done. Better than CD, better than digital, better than any merch item. Plus, opening that box of vinyl was like Christmas for all of us. It’s just cool. Makes us feel like a real band!

Time For Metal / Rene W.:

Besides your Rock ’n Roll attitude you’re spreading slight influences of Punkrock which form a solid basis for your songs. Alongside with fast, rude and partly dignified passages there’s always space to bang your head to the beat as a listener. What’s your recipe when it comes to songwriting? Do you compose your music in the rehearsal room? Are there reoccurring patterns or do you take what comes to your mind?

MF Ruckus / Aaron H.:

The metaphor which comes immediately to mind is that of the influence of language and culture. I was raised in the US. It would be difficult for me to be completely unaffected by the influences of my cultural upbringing. English is my native language. It would be difficult for me to forget how to speak English, barring an injury to the language centers of my brain. The same could be said for the influence of the city, state, family, era and class in which I was raised. The influence of Punk could be seen the same way. We all listened to a ton of punk bands as kids. We were deeply impacted by it. As such, we cannot „forget“ this influence in our creative journey. We cannot un-learn or un-experience Punk Rock. The same could be said for Metal, Country, Jazz, Soul, Blues, Classic Rock….hell, my Mom has seen Neil Diamond about 100 times. There’s no way Neil Diamond has not influenced me dramatically as an artist. I can no more avoid being influenced by Neil Diamond than I can growing up a particular gender, socioeconomic  background or a member of my particular generation.

As for our process, it’s pretty simple. Over the past few years, we have really opened things up. Any and all ideas are welcome. We strive to create an environment which is free from limitations. Everyone brings their ideas to the table and we just move forward with whichever seem to be the most ready to go. We keep a drop box folder full of demos, riffs, even just random lyrics I’ve yelled into the voice recorder on my phone. It just so happens that our primary shared influences fall under the category of Rock, Punk and Metal. We actually have some ideas for the next couple records which make a fairly dramatic departure from what we’ve done in the past. We enjoy growing and learning as a team. Some guys have car clubs or bowling leagues. We have a band. For us, the creative process exists for it’s own sake. The well never runs dry if you keep on digging!

Time For Metal / Rene W.:

You seem to like repeating characteristic rhythms but they never appear boring. Vocal-wise and music-wise there’s a clear line visible. How about the lyrics? Is Aaron (Howell) the only one responsible for the output?

MF Ruckus / Aaron H.:

I write most of the lyrics, although Parker, Logan and even Tony have been taking an ever greater interest in contributing. I encourage as much input as anyone wants to give. At the same time, lyrics, phrasing, vocal characterizations…that’s my instrument. That’s the craft I strive to develop. I like to experiment with different approaches. I also really like learning a lot of other people’s stuff so that I can blend their styles into my own. I like Ween, Faith No More, Queen, Iron Maiden, Dio, Valient Thorr…if someone’s style speaks to me, I set out to study it and stir it into the pot. I’m sure I have some stuff I do just by default though. I’d be curious to find out which keys, modes, patterns, etc. I tend to use most frequently. That’s how a signature style is developed though, I suppose.

Time For Metal / Rene W.:

Naturally five musicians might have conflicts sometimes. Do you have something like a B-material archive with songs which don’t suffice everyone’s needs but might see the light of day later on slightly reworked?

MF Ruckus / Aaron H.:

I really like the idea of open ended writing. Leonard Cohen worked on „Hallelujah“ for years and it only became a hit after Jeff Buckley released a cover of a cover and died under mysterious circumstances. I encourage the guys to focus on producing „50 lbs of clay„. By that I mean, put the emphasis on the process of creating rather than the end result. Who knows? Something we wrote as teenagers could be scrapped, cannibalized, re-worked and turned into something amazing. Songs change every time you play them. Just as a memory changes every time it is revisited. We’ve got a SHITLOAD of back catalogued material. Our ideas are our greatest resource. We try to keep the silo full.

Time For Metal / Rene W.:

When you’re entering the studio…is the record already completely written or do you see the recording process as inspiration to change minor things?

MF Ruckus / Aaron H.:

Haha! Not even close! I look at it as a process of mining. First, we mine as much ore as we can and then we chip away, cut and polish raw stones into precious gems. You’ll forgive the hyperbole, but it’s true! We go in with enough to get started. Then we flesh out the song in the studio, get something we like and learn to play it live. It might not be the most cost-effective process, but it sure is a lot of fun!

Time For Metal / Rene W.:

Your art has made its way across the pond to Europe. How interesting is the market over here for you and what are the major differences regarding music-culture over here and in the US?

MF Ruckus / Aaron H.:

It is night and day. We are largely unknown in the US, even more so than we are in Europe, haha! We have found that Europe values art and music much more than they do over here in the U.S.. It is not my intention to run down my country. We have so many brilliantly talented people over here, but the business end of it is a little bit cutthroat. We could go into a huge discussion about it, but I’ll spare you the tirade. All I’ll say is that in our personal experience, Europe has just been an overall more fruitful experience. We’re not rich rockstars by any means, but we always have food to eat, a place to sleep and an exciting adventure. I feel like some of the people behind the scenes over here take advantage of fans and artists. In Europe, it seems that live entertainment is treated as a vital part of society, like social services, hospitals or roads. I had never even heard of a Jugendkulturehaus before visiting Germany. In the U.S., live entertainment is considered a luxury and something to be profited from. There are people working to change that, but that’s largely our experience.

Time For Metal / Rene W.:

Could you please explain each song of Thieves Of Thunder in a little Track By Track-review for your fans and our readers?

MF Ruckus / Aaron H.:

Gasoline (for my Party machine) – This one is about cocaine. I wrote it while I was on house arrest for a drug and alcohol charge. I was reaching the end of my career as a user and wrote this as a declaration of defiance against the very well-meaning people who were encouraging me to get my shit together, haha! Mostly, it’s just supposed to be a fun little song about partying too hard.

Hall of Champions – This is the story told from the perspective of a King who is standing in his empty dining all, recollecting his past life and rise to power. He tells of a close friend with whom he fought side by side in the great war for their homeland. At the end of the war, his friend and not he is named King of the newly won territory. The King assassinates his friend, out of a thirst for power and for the good of the kingdom. The whole thing is a metaphor for releasing an identity which was once useful, but now, no longer serves you.

Coffin Built For Two – This was written to my ex-wife during our very painful split. She had become addicted to heroin and I had been complicit in enabling her addiction. I wrote this song shortly after moving out. It was a pretty angry time.

Thieves of Thunder – This is the tale of how we ascended the highest mountain, crossed the rainbow road to Valhalla and stole Thor’s hammer. Thor had been sleeping on the job. Without his thunder, there was no rain and therefore, no crops.

You Ain’t Nothin Special – Was written by Tony and his brother Damian in their old band Road Crew. It’s a pretty cut and dry tune about one night stands.

Ridin‘ – Is about a murdering speed freak on the run from the law.

We Don’t Party – This is a perfect example of one of those songs that just came together. I wrote the lyrics just an hour before showing up drunk to my then girlfriend’s best friend’s wedding in a sleeveless Ol Dirty Bastard shirt. We broke up as you might have guessed. The music came from Ty and Tony just jamming in the studio after hearing the idea for the lyrics. The whole song is a gigantic lie about how we don’t like partying. Ironically, Parker and I have both since gotten sober and Ty had 2 kids. So now, we really don’t party. At least, not like we used to.

Halfway to the Halfway House – I don’t know if you have them in Germany, but here in the US, we have these things called „Halfway Houses“. Basically, it’s where people go between jail and free society. It’s a court-ordered, monitored residence where people are gradually reintroduced into society. I was getting in a lot of trouble at this point, so I made this story about a guy who’s getting into a lot of trouble and well on his way to ending up in the halfway house.

Tastes like Bleach – My ex and I used to do a lot of coke. Usually, the day after a night of partying, we’d order food from a sandwich shop in our area. I kept having this issue where my soda tasted like bleach. I finally called and complained saying „I think there’s something wrong with your lines“ to which the guy on the phone said „Dude, I think there’s something wrong with YOUR lines!“. Apparently, the bad coke was making everything taste like chemicals.

All my Heroes are in Hell – This song was actually written by an awesome band from Seattle called „All Bets on Death“. The song is about having no fear of hell, because that’s where all the coolest people will be.

Jesus Hellraiser Christ – Is about a post-apocalyptic realm where Jesus has returned as a badass motorcycle riding, shotgun toting, zombie hunter and road warrior.

Satanotron Rising – Is about an ancient cyborg-demon manufactured by an extinct race of war-mongering aliens. Basically, Satan is real, but he’s not supernatural, he’s just a machine from another planet programmed to destroy all life in the universe.

Time For Metal / Rene W.:

Is there any chance for German fans to see you live on stage in the near future on the European mainland?

MF Ruckus / Aaron H.:

We’re currently booked to tour with Nitrogods and Kickin Valentina through Germany this coming fall. Aside from that, we are waiting to hear about some possible festival dates and perhaps even an appearance this winter, but aside from the Fall tour, nothing is set in stone.

Time For Metal / Rene W.:

What are your strengths and weaknesses and what has been the weirdest experience ever since?

MF Ruckus / Aaron H.:

Strengths – We work really hard, we have a lot of fun and we really truly love the people who come to see us play. We want to make the world a better place by leaving a sea of smiling faces in our wake.

Weakness – We can be incredibly disorganized. We show up late more than we’d like and sometimes we fail to plan out all the details all that well. I will say though, this weakness has made for some crazy situations.

Weirdest experience – The first time we played in Germany. I had a guy pouring beers down the front of my jumpsuit and drinking them from my crotch. Nowhere near the weirdest thing that’s ever happened to us, but it was the first thing that came to mind. I thought that was just something people did over there haha!

Time For Metal / Rene W.:

What fuels your show…what moistens your throats before you rock the stage?

MF Ruckus / Aaron H.:

We usually start with a circle, talk about the show, get hyped, sip on a little moonshine, smoke a little weed, do some pushups….then we put our hands in the middle and give a „whoa bundy“. I like to imagine the perfect show and then see myself doing the perfect show and then figure out what kind of guy I need to be to do that perfect show. I’m into all sorts of NLP and other weird hippie voodoo mumbo jumbo.

Time For Metal / Rene W.:

Thanks a lot for taking the time for the interview. We wish you all the best for your future and career. Now the famous last words belong to you. Feel free to tell your fans and readers whatever’s on your mind.

MF Ruckus / Aaron H.:

Now the famous last words belong to you. Feel free to tell your fans and readers whatever’s on your mind.

Thank you very much for all of your questions! We can’t wait to come back! We’re also very excited about our newest project, a serialized concept album and graphic novel called „The Front Lines of Good Times“. To learn more and to support this project, visit www.patreon.com/mfruckus

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