Ruined Families: There’s Always Something Not Functioning Well

I firstly came across Ruined Families at Fluff Fest in 2010 and they turned out to be an amazing band and decent people. On the last day of Fluff they offered me a ride since I was hitchhiking for a few days across Slovakia and Czech Republic heading to Play Fast or Don’t Fest the week after. So I ended up hanging out with Ruined Families in Prague and occupying the free seat in their van. Since then they have released some great records, including their amazing “Black Language” in 2013, they’re still touring and gaining more and more attention worldwide. They are touring Balkans together with This Routine Is Hell from the Netherlands in the end of February/beginning of March 2014, so I’ll finally book a show for them in Sofia.

Here’s an interview with Takis Zontiros, singer of Ruined Families, conducted by Apostolis for his Keep It Real fanzine (RIP). Enjoy…

Hey Ruined Families! I bet that they have already asked you before about your band name… But what do these 2 words symbolize?

Hello there! It has been a while since we last got interviewed. Our name “Ruined Families” is not about reacting to the family term, it’s simply the acceptance that there are no good families, there’s always something not functioning well. We don’t believe that there are families that are not ruined or even fragmented, in any ways. The “Family” term is embarrassing, so, it’s all about the clarification of the fact.

You are a pretty young band as far as I know. Why did you decide to form Ruined Families and what motivates you to keep going on, both with the band and the hardcore scene?

All of us have been friends for a while. It has been a while trying to find the perfect people for the band and make it really work out. This band is an outlet of anger, the declaration of losing faith in man, love and god. We are motivated both by the current going-ons in the world and the observation and analysis of it.

What influences to create music and art in this fucked up world and in the middle of the so-called financial crisis? Creating your own world is a solution.

All of us grew up in different kinds of music, but, met under the punk rock label. As every other thing in this life, “punk rock” is a common idea to everyone involved, but, everyone interprets the term in his own way. We love different kinds of music and we try to get inspired by different stuff. We try to steal from the best ones, either if this is post punk or black metal. Some musical influences are Black Flag, Negative Approach, Orchid, Rorschach, Born Against, Nirvana, Darkthrone, The Sisters Of Mercy, Modern Life Is War’s “Witness”, Dischord and Ebullition catalogs, everything by Chris Colohan, Napalm Death’s “Scum”, Wipers, early black metal, post punk and darkwave, every Interpol record.

About the idea of creating a world of your own, I think that the world that we live in, is divided in different realities. Each one of us lives in a different reality and understands the world in a different way. Even the most familiar things to everyone that have a certain name and a certain identity are always differently interpreted in individual ways. I believe that it’s arrogant to claim that you live in “a world of your own”, it’s narcissistic to think that your lifestyle is unique, concerning habits or music or knowledge or appearance. It’s a way to make yourself feel less guilty for being a human, a way to exalt your ego. You can’t create more realities, as the reality itself is not one and is already divided.

Your first full length album is out since last July (2010). Give us some more info about this. How’s the feedback till now? And why did you print it only in vinyl & tape and not in CD format? It seems that vinyl gets all the hype nowadays.

Our record “Four Wall Freedom” is the first thing we ever produced as a band. Each individual project, product or idea is assembled with a certain aesthetic. All of us felt that the record would perfectly fit in a vinyl record and a cassette, because, this is the way it should be presented. All of us buy vinyl, so, it was kind of a personal aspiration for everyone, too. The feedback has been really good at the moment. It’s a great honor to hear from people that they enjoy something that you made and buying your records.

About the whole “vinyl comeback” thing, I think that vinyl gets the treatment it deserves anyway. Music is cheap nowadays, both as an art and as a product. Vinyl is at least a more honest medium or we just enjoy more looking at the past than looking forward.

Touring Europe last summer was a lifetime experience, I guess. Any weird stories, nice & bad memories, ‘thank you’s and ‘fuck off’s you wanna share with us?

All of us loved the experience and loved playing together and sharing hours and days playing music and escaping the routine of the everyday life.

I think what’s more memorable to us is a 16-hour drive to Czech for Fluff Fest where we drove through forests, with heavy rain outside and slept in the van for 1 hour then headed to Fluff. It was the most tiring, great experience really!

We are more than grateful to everyone that helped us with everything. It’s amazing to meet people willing to help you, share their food and a house with you without any interest.  It’s amazing to find people that have common ideas or that connect with you and share the same passion for music and ethics. There are no “fuck you’s” really, we only got only nice memories.

How hard is for a band from Greece to tour abroad? Greece is a shithole in the middle of nowhere, so as far as I’m concerned, Europeans do not care a lot about bands from our local scene. If you are not in the roster of a fashionable hardcore label, then you have much less possibilities… On the other side, we have a strong D.I.Y. scene. So, what’s your opinion?

Geographically speaking, Greece is in a bad place for a band that wants to tour compared to bands from mainland Europe countries. These are the places where most of the music scenes are centered, but, not necessarily done right. You said that “europeans don’t care” and that’s not true. I don’t think that people that care or don’t care are just in these countries. There are people that care for small and independent bands and people that don’t give a shit about them anywhere in this world. It’s pretty much up to what you believe about independent music and how things should be done, not where you live.

Talking about the D.I.Y. scene, what’s this term’s definition for you? Do you enjoy playing clubs or squats / autonomous centers, or maybe even both? What’s the process you get into before deciding whether you play a show or not?

To us the D.I.Y. community has to do with the idea of every human being able to do anything in his own terms. Most of the times people reject the idea of creation and wait for the products that they will get served to them without having the pleasure to be a part of the creating process. So, the easy way is to buy a ticket, go see a hardcore band (with or without political message) and then go back home and brag about it on the internet. The society of spectacle gets deeper and deeper inside the hardcore scene. Every D.I.Y. show is unique, because so many different people cooperate, participate and express their opinions. It’s not only about a show or a political way of thinking or about music, it’s much more. It’s that you get out of your social and existential isolation and re-meet new people, not just to join a social club, but, the pleasure of meeting new people with different ideas and learn a lot from them.

On the other hand, in the DIY scene, like everywhere else, there are a lot of things that have to be questioned. Elitism and rejection of what you don’t understand are common in the D.I.Y. scene and its kind of oxymoron. Rejecting things is just the easy way. Sometimes, it’s a taboo to criticize the D.I.Y. as we consider it as our last standing castle. But, without the criticism we won’t be able to find what’s wrong and fix it.

As a band, we want to play for both reasons I just mentioned. You can reach more people who don’t know about this way of thinking and approach them. Maybe, they’ll get something and will reconsider about certain stuff.

The process to decide where to play is different every time, it depends on the show. We just have some terms and we don’t want to cross the line. These terms are that we don’t want to share anything with sexist, racist, nazi, homophobic and tough guy bands. We have totally different ideas and there is no way to find something common.

Give us some trivia about your lyrics. They are not the typical hardcore lyrics, as I can figure out. Who’s the lyric writer or is it a collective work? I know tons of band members that do not even know what their singer is singing about!  

Lyrics are always a more esoteric thing I believe. I write the band’s lyrics and I take my influences from everywhere; music, movies, books, several phrases that I might listen to, several incidents and thinking. I admire writers and lyricists that follow more abstract ways of writing as well as lyricists that write songs about certain matters but do it well.

I believe that it’s stupid to try to be aware of exactly what the singer is singing. Also, if you get to know exactly what a song is about you might lose your fascination to it. Songs are made to be understood by the listener in his own way, especially concerning the lyrics.

I know that some of you are indie music worshippers. What’s this buzz with indie / alternative music, The Smiths t-shirts and the hipster clothes that a lot of modern hardcore kids follow?!

I think it’s essential to separate the indie rock genre from indie music. The terms are often meaning the same, but, the one doesn’t necessarily mean the other. We are all about indie music if it is the genre or the aesthetics. I think that the modern hardcore kids rely on indie artists like The Smiths or Joy Division due to the lyrical similarities that these bands meet with modern hardcore acts.  The whole theme of pain and misery that might reflect from these artists to hardcore bands to younger listeners is what unites everyone in misery as an output. We are not a band following trends; we are trying to get a nice mix of our influences even if that is called indie, punk, metal, screamo or whatever.

Good artists don’t stop being good because a greater amount of people starts listening to them. This is a pretty stupid and faux-elitistic way of thinking.

What are your future plans? Do you consider the band as a serious project; I mean is it a high priority for you? And how can you help kids to create proper families instead of ruined ones?

We want to take this band to its max considering what we can give to it. The band is really serious for each one of us and we want to play as long as we feel like what we are doing is serious and has some meaning, both to us and the people listening to us.

I don’t think that we can help people create families in any kind of way, as the whole meaning of “a good family” is pretty much almost impossible to be achieved. There are no happy families in order to be ruined ones too.

Thank you for the interview. Last words are yours.  

Thank you for the nice questions! Keep doing what you love and exercise your mentality in any way possible.

It’s important to be aware and never comfort yourself.

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Mittens XVX

Positive person bringing a small fragment of warmth and light in a dark and cold world. Editor of Tigersuit Zine. Founder of DIY Conspiracy webzine. Contact him at: mitkoxvx@gmail.com