The fireball collision of rock and hip hop that took place at the start of the 90s seeded a new strain of aggressive music – one that drew on the best of both worlds. Yet most rap-metal bands were just rock kids with an Ice Cube record and a surfeit of testosterone.
Tairrie B was different. She made her name as a rapper with her 1990 debut album, Power Of A Woman, but within a few years, she’d reinvented herself as the singer with rap-metal agitators Manhole (later renamed Tura Satana), spitting out raging feminist anthems and redefining what it meant to be a woman in a metal band.
Unlike many of her peers, Tairrie wasn’t some suburban knuckledragger. When she rapped it was real. Her subject matter was authentic and radical in the mid-90s metal scene: violence against women, rape, racial tension, pro-choice issues, police brutality, abusive relationships. When Tura Satana ended in the late 90s, she channelled her energy into My Ruin, a project that would quickly mutate into a long-running collaboration between Tairrie and her future husband, guitarist/multi-instrumentalist/co-producer Mick Murphy.
We spoke to Tairrie about her time with Manhole/Tura Satana for a feature on the 50 Greatest Cult Bands Ever in the latest issue of Metal Hammer. But there’s way more to her story than we could hope to fit in, so we decided to print her characteristically forthright and honest interview in full, covering everything from the triumphs and struggles of the 1990s to recent return to her hip hop roots and the state of America today…
You made your name as a rapper. What prompted you to change lanes from hip hop to metal with Manhole?
Eazy E from NWA had signed me to his Ruthless/Comptown Records label in 1990. During the recording of what was to be my second album, Single White Female, in 1992, I happened to attend the Foundations Forum which was a three-day heavy metal music industry convention in Los Angeles. My boyfriend at the time, was the drummer in a rock band, Sugartooth, who were playing the event and that's when I happened to catch Body Count live for the first time.
I knew Ice-T from the hip hop world but had never seen him with his band. Their album had come out only a few months before. I was a fan of Henry Rollins, but seeing Ice T, who was a hardcore gangster rapper, rock with a heavy band backing him really spoke to me. Loudly.
It was the catalyst which inspired me to form my own band. Not long after that show, I went back into the studio to record what was supposed to be the final track on my album and asked Sugartooth to record the music for me. I decided to do my own version of Van Halen’s Runnin’ With The Devil and have the lyrics address the racist/sexist attitudes I had been dealing with due to my being a white female rap artist. I called the track Rhymin’ With A Devil and it was full on. A totally different hardcore vibe than the rest of my previously recorded tracks for the album.
I met with my managers, Eazy E and my label to let everyone know that I wanted to put a live band together and move into a more rap/rock direction musically, but no one liked the idea. In fact, they all hated it. It was very discouraging. I was the first white female rapper to release a full length hip hop album back then. I understood the significance of this for both myself and my label, however something had been going on inside of me previous to the show. Seeing Body Count just reaffirmed my feelings. I never delivered my second record. Instead, I kept my recordings, fired my managers, stopped taking calls from my label and began looking for band members. I formed Manhole a few months later.
I'm actually working on a book at the moment, a memoir of my hip hop and heavy metal years. It's been a slow process and a long time coming. I’m saving the story of how I eventually got out of my contact with Eazy right before his death and more about our working together and everything in between for my book.
What exactly did you want to do with Manhole when you put the band together?
I wanted to rap over heavy music and address more socially conscious issues which were affecting me and people I knew personally.
How did you see it as different from everything else going on around you at the time?
While I loved rock and had a very eclectic taste in music from classic soul to 70's funk to punk, I was coming from the hip hop world. This was the culture I had been immersed in for years so I had a very different perspective than other vocalists in metal bands at the time. Manhole was different because, first and foremost, I was a woman. I was also confrontational with my delivery.
Manhole were an anomaly. I can't name another band with a woman doing what we were doing at the time. I had no idea what I was doing. I just did it, trial by fire. I cut my teeth in Manhole and it was very cathartic to go from programmed beats with a DJ to a brutal band behind me on stage. It felt intense and so much more honest for me lyrically. It also gave me a much-needed strength and a way to vent the anger and frustration I was feeling inside due to a myriad of things going on in my family and personal life. Much better than therapy.
Korn, Coal Chamber, Fear Factory and early System Of A Down were emerging around the time you started Manhole. Were you part of that whole scene, or were you on the outside looking in?
Manhole were definitely a part of the scene at that time. I began booking our first shows for our band in 1993. I personally curated numerous Rock For Choice and violence against women benefits throughout Southern California to raise awareness and funds for various organizations in those early years. I invited lots of our friends in other up and coming local bands to be a part of these events with us.
Coal Chamber, System Of A Down, Snot and Human Waste Project often opened shows for Manhole back in the day and we supported Korn on many of theirs, as well as Downset, Hed PE, Suicidal Tendencies and Rage Against The Machine. Fear Factory took Manhole on our first big European/UK tour in 1996 which was great exposure for our band but unfortunately, wasn't a great experience behind the scenes. We kept busy.
How much of struggle was it to get a deal? Did the fact you were a woman who took no shit and was unafraid to tackle subjects that no one in the metal world addressed count for you or against you?
We built our name in the LA club scene very quickly. We worked hard, paid our dues and we got noticed. Maybe it was because we stuck out like a sore thumb but we were selling out shows and kids were into as much as we were into what we were doing. Our male fans always respected me. If or when they didn't, my band members or crew usually didn't hesitate to remind them. I wasn't on stage with my tits out trying to sell myself as a sex object. I made a conscious effort to not come off that way. I dressed very masculine in the beginning because I wanted the focus to be my message and I wanted bands I respected who we were playing shows with to respect me.
It was the suits at the labels who were afraid of us. I was not Gwen Stefani and our songs were not commercial or radio friendly in the usual way. Neither were we. Our band kinda felt like a gang. My guys were from Venice [Beach, Los Angeles], they were tough, I was kinda scary and we had no desire to be another cheesy Hollywood band playing watered down pop rock or a freakshow like Coal Chamber, for fucks sake. That was not us in any way. We endured many dinners with A&R dudes who came on very strong but were usually so full of shit and full of themselves we hated it.
In 1994 we released two songs on a seven-inch vinyl with Lethal Records, then were asked to be part of a Noise Records compilation called The Fall And The Rise of Los Angeles in 1995. We were told that our song got the best response and they offered us a two album record deal soon after. They seemed to get the band and it seemed like a great fit for a while, until it wasn't.
Did you compromise anything to get a deal? Did anyone ask you to tone anything down?
No, not with Noise but there were instances where I was asked if I would be willing to tone down my lyrical content and stage persona by label execs who were interested in working with me before we were signed. I was told I should get rid of my band members by certain producers we had recorded demos with or labels who had approached us wanting to put me with musicians they had in mind or create a “new” band for me. This was something I was never going to let happen. I was not interested in being Svengalied.
Ross Robinson produced Manhole’s debut album, All Is Not Well. What was that experience like? Do you have a crazy Ross Robsinon story, like other bands have?
We were introduced to Ross at a club in Hollywood by the guys in Korn. Manhole had just been signed to Noise Records and we had been meeting with various producers. We chose Ross because we liked the production on Korn's debut album. He seemed super cool and into it so we got our label to hire him.
Pre-production went well and the vibes were good but once we got into the studio things got very strange. Looking back, both myself and my ex drummer Marcelo Palomino still feel we could have made a much stronger album had we not been rushed through the recording of it with Ross, or had we gone with someone else. Yes, I have a crazy RR story. I am also saving it for my book…
All Is Not Well is such a radical album in terms of what you were singing about - rape, violence against women, abortion, racism…
I was outspoken about many hard truths in unflinching detail because I felt these were serious subjects that needed to be addressed at the time due to what was going on with the anti-abortion, religious extremists shooting doctors and bombing clinics, police brutality, racial tensions and various socio-economic factors. A friend of mine had shared her story of being raped with me which upset me to my core. It inspired me to write Victim and begin donating my time to work with various women's organizations in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, I was quietly dealing with an abusive relationship myself with someone I had been living with for numerous years and which I had been keeping a secret until I finally got the courage to completely end it. Cycle Of Violence, Empty and Hypocrite were about this situation.
Did – and do – you see yourself as a feminist?
A feminist is simply anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men so yes, I have always considered myself a feminist. Feminism is for everyone. Men included.
Was there a double meaning behind the name Manhole? Or am I reading too much into that?
No, there was never a double meaning. I named the band after walking in my neighbourhood and coming across an open “City Of Los Angeles” manhole cover. When I looked down, it felt so deep and unknown. I remember thinking I can't imagine what all is hiding beneath the city, down in that dark abyss. I brought the idea for the name to my guys and they loved it. There was certainly no sexual innuendo behind it.
What do you remember about the response to the band?
Overall, Manhole had an incredible response when we debuted. I remember, Kerrang called us “the angriest band in history”, which we happily took as a compliment.
Of course there were also things that annoyed me. The press loved to focus their attention on me, often without my band included in interviews, posters, features and cover shoots. This pissed me off to no end because I knew I had to do the press to help our profile but I hated that they became more obsessed with my persona than interested in speaking with me about my lyrics and our music. This has been a double edged sword which has plagued my entire career in My Ruin.
You had to change the name from Manhole to Tura Satana between the first album and the follow-up, Relief Through Release. How did that affect the band’s career?
We had been building up serious momentum and had no idea there was a punk band in Texas who had put out a 7-inch vinyl record before us and apparently owned the band name. There was no social media or internet like there is today back then and no one had advised us to legally copywrite it. It sounds ridiculous I know but we just didn't think of it at the time.
When we were notified about the other band wanting to be paid for the name or sue us and take it, we were on tour and unable to deal with it ourselves. We were actually the band who was out there working with the name. They were not. We had to trust Noise Records who assured us they would handle the situation. They didn't. Instead they ignored it and that fucked us. It created a huge distrust which slowly escalated from that point on. Had we been able to handle it as a band, we might have been able to keep the name. I hated the fact we had to give it up. Especially with all the work we had done to build it. No one knew who the other band was and they never did.
It affected us personally but we finally got over it and moved forward. Noise was forced to reissue our album the following year under our new name with new cover art but All Is Not Well will always be the OG Manhole album in my heart.
You named yourself after the actor Tura Satana. What did you admire about her?
I was a big fan of the violently sexy, Russ Meyer cult classic Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, which she starred in. It was empowering to see this aggressive woman, kicking ass and taking no shit from the men around her. I was fascinated by the feminine rage of the powerful black-clad, iconic character of Varla that Tura Satana portrayed in the film as the leader of the daredevil trio of vixens. Her exaggerated heroine, feminist bravado dialogue, delivered with dramatic make up and attitude had a visceral effect on me. She also did all of her own stunts and fight scenes. She was my spirit animal and a bad ass babe!
With the help of a friend, I reached out to Tura and got her blessing to use the name. She was actually just as cool in real life. I found out years later that her middle name was Luna which oddly was the title of the first song/video we released from our second album. I had no idea and the lyrics had nothing to do with her, just a cool little happenstance. I love it when that happens.
Relief Through Release is a different-sounding album to the debut. Where did that change come from?
When we were forced to give up our band name, we decided to move in a bit of a different direction musically. Where Manhole was more external and in your face, Tura Satana was more internal and emotional. We had been touring heavily, and being on the road for so long helped us to grow as musicians and become more confident in ourselves.
We knew that we didn't want to work with RR [Ross Robinson] again and we were introduced to Michael Vail Blum, who had worked with a wide range of artists from Suicidal Tendencies to Madonna. He had a cool, laid back attitude and was more interested in helping us achieve our musical vision rather than push his own so we decided to have him co-produce our 2nd album with us.
We explained how our name change led to our music moving in a less rap rock style and he got it. We weren't interested in making the same album again. He nurtured our ideas and we worked well together in the studio which came through in the music. Michael also encouraged me to express myself and experiment much more as a vocalist.
It was a great experience which led to Relief Through Relief becoming a super heavy album but in a totally different way than our previous one. Ultimately, it got great reviews from both the press and the fans and we were very proud of it, so we were finally able to make peace with the change.
It seemed like you were on the verge of a proper breakthrough with the second album. Is that what it felt like to you, or was it still a struggle to be heard?
Our main struggle to be heard came from the fact that our label had constant distribution problems. It was one issue after another that had nothing to do with us. When a band is on high profile tours, playing festivals and doing tons of amazing press to promote their album but it can't be found in the stores and they can't get enough copies to the band to sell on tour, that is not the fault of the artist. This is the main responsibility of the label.
Tura Satana officially split in 1998. What happened?
Actually, I ended Tura Satana. It was my band and when I decided I was done, it was done. I've never really spoken publicly about my reasons behind ending the band. I was very angry at the time. Fed up with a myriad of things which began to build up over time with our label and a couple personal issues in the band.
Of course, a part of me was gutted because I had been working so hard to make things happen for us, so it was very painful to walk away from it but it was also a relief. A ‘Relief Through Release’ as the title I had given our second album eerily prophesied. Another story I plan to reveal in my book…
The $64,000 question: why weren’t Manhole/Tura Satana as big as contemporaries like Korn or Limp Bizkit?
Here's the $64,000 answer: A lot of it had to do with our label. They just didn't have their shit together like they should have at the time. We were working hard and they were hardly working. To be honest, I could give a fuck about bands like Limp Bizkit. I've never viewed Fred Durst as my contemporary. I blame lazy journalism as the main reason Manhole and Tura Satana both got lumped into the whole “nu-metal” thing. We were our own unique entity. We didn't really sound like any other band at the time.
You formed My Ruin shortly after ending Tura Satana. What did you want to do differently with it? And was it conscious decision to have other female musicians in the band for the first time, or was that just the way the cards fell?
Initially My Ruin was to be a solo project where I worked with various friends, musicians and producers, male and female. I did this on the debut album Speak and Destroy in 1999, but once Mick Murphy got involved and we recorded the next My Ruin album together, A Prayer Under Pressure Of Violent Anguish, we decided to make it an actual band.
It was never a conscious decision to have the two women in My Ruin with us. It just worked out that way in the early years. After they both left in 2004, we were not interested in having female musicians in the band again. The “three-chick-factor” thing would sometimes overshadow the music and both Mick and I were not into it. We made a conscious effort from then on to play with guys and we were better off for it.
How did Mick come to be involved in My Ruin, and how did that change things for the band and for you?
I met Mick by chance at a party in the Hollywood Hills in 2000. It was at the home of an LA designer friend who had asked me to walk the runway in her rock’n’roll fashion show with a few other musicians earlier that evening. She hosted the after party at her home and Mick showed up with a mutual friend who had just been on My Ruin's first tour in the UK with me a few months prior. I wasn't looking for a guitarist or a boyfriend at the time but fate brought us together.
Mick is an extraordinary musician. Besides guitar, he plays bass, drums, sings and produces. He's passionate about playing in a way unlike anyone I've ever known or worked with. I've learned a lot from him about music over the years. When he joined My Ruin, he brought a whole different vibe, talent and set of influences with him. This felt like a rebirth for me, musically and personally.
Looking back at Speak And Destroy, I can honestly say it was all over the place. It was a very experimental album consisting of many elements. Although it has some really cool songs, it still feels a bit disjointed because it was written and recorded with so many people in different studios. I know now that It would have sounded much better had it been a band of the same musicians on every song with one person producing and mixing it.
At the end of the day, Speak And Destroy allowed me to get from point A (Manhole/Tura Satana) to point B (My Ruin), so I have no regrets but I consider [2000’s] A Prayer Under Pressure Of Violent Anguish to be the one that best represents the real starting point of My Ruin as the band we became, rather than just my solo rock project, because that is when Mick and I first collaborated and came together on record.
What do you get out of each other creatively that you don't get out of people you've worked with?
It’s almost undefinable. We've been through almost every scenario you can imagine together over the last two decades, in and outside of our band. We've seen the best and worst of each other and we've managed to stay together since 2000 because we love and trust one another. We've been married since 2008. We left Los Angeles in 2017 and moved to his hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee. I will always love LA but leaving that toxic city was good for the soul. I can't imagine working with anyone else at this point. We just work so well together. It's the deepest possible connection beyond music.
The musical landscape changed in the first half of the 00s. Did it feel like you were getting left behind at any point?
I don't understand this question. My Ruin was just starting out and we were consistently making albums and playing shows. We didn't feel left behind by any means. We were having a killer time. The music industry as a whole began to change but we were just doing our own thing, like we did from the beginning. We never tried to chase musical trends or appeal to the mainstream. We have always been an underground, independent thinking band with a very DIY style of punk rock ethos and more of a cult type following. If anything, I suppose you could say that we left the music industry behind.
You’ve talked about “falling out of love with the music industry”. What happened? Why did you just not walk away from the whole thing?
Many things happened over many years. Too many to mention here. We love making music and have a never-ending desire to create but we hate the bullshit that comes with the business side of the industry.
I guess it's been somewhat of a fucked-up dichotomy. The industry is filled with creeps, from liars and con artists to assholes and opportunists. We've learned hard lessons on several occasions. As I said, Mick and I enjoy making music and we're fortunate that we can do it all on our own without having to work with the ego of an overpriced producer or pay for costly studio time. Many bands are not in the same position. We used to be one of those bands having to rely on other people but these days, we're not willing to compromise who we are or our art.
I’m also not willing to be controlled by some sexist idiot at a record label who really doesn't give a damn about my band and just wants to put me in my place. I’m a strong woman on stage and off. I have never been afraid to speak up for myself or any of my bands. People love my honesty until I’m honest with them about something they don’t want to hear. They love the stage persona but when they realise I am the same person off stage that they have to discuss business with, they usually can't handle it. We have walked away from the industry but I don't think either of us could stop making music. At least, not yet.
The flipside of that is: when did you realise you could do this on your own? Was that scary or liberating?
It was both scary and liberating to different degrees. My Ruin has been signed to many labels over the years and even when we were signed, we still felt like a DIY band because as often is case, they make big promises and always seem to do the bare minimum with the least effort. Some of the stories would blow your mind. It becomes very frustrating to say the least. When you put your heart and soul into an album, not to mention blood and sweat, just to have some prick at a label decide they are too lazy to do their job.
Mick and I have been through a lot together in and around our band but thankfully we trust each other. With age comes wisdom and we have learned to be pragmatic about things. There are a lot of crazy rumours out there about me not being easy to work with. I have a reputation that often precedes me and everyone has an opinion on who I am. Some is based on fact, some is pure fiction but the truth is, I work hard and I keep my word. I expect others around me to do the same. When they don't, I'm called the half-mad harpy or big-mouthed bitch and a nightmare to work with.
Of course It would be wonderful to find a label that loved our music, shared our vision and was willing to work hard with and for us but we don't see this as a reality. So yes, while doing it ourselves has been scary at times, Mick and I prefer to release our music on our terms. We are not entertainers, we’re artists and it’s better to feel liberated than lied to, exploited and degraded.
Was it tough for you as musician through the 00s and early 10s?
We got through fine. My Ruin wrote and recorded nine albums, which we either co-produced or produced ourselves. We've consistently released music, videos and toured. We put the band on hiatus after our last UK headline tour in support of [2013’s] The Sacred Mood because we needed a break. It gave us the chance to focus on a few other projects. We love performing with the band but being on the road comes with its own set of challenges and after so many years, all the bullshit behind the scenes began to wear us down mentally. Especially me.
I recorded a solo rap album Vintage Curses, which Mick co-produced with me, and he began playing shows with Taylor Hawkins’ side projects Chevy Metal and The Birds of Satan. Mick also recorded and co-produced the Teenage Time Killers album with Reed Mullin and John Lousteau. This was a supergroup of metal, punk and hardcore musician who came together to make a really cool record and play a one off LA show. I was actually the only woman involved in the project and it was a fun experience.
What inspired your return to hip hop with Vintage Curses in 2015?
Contrary to popular belief, just because I started screaming in metal doesn't mean I stopped loving or listening to hip hop. Quite the opposite actually. I've remained a hardcore rap enthusiast since the 80s. I knew the day would come when I would want to revisit my past and record a solo rap album once again and it finally did.
It was just the right time. I had a definite concept in mind for the album so I asked Mick to co-produce it with me and he helped me to bring my ideas to life. In our band, he is the musical director but with this, I took the lead.
I describe Vintage Curses as a dark and witchy, feminist journey back to my hip hop roots with a classic old school West Coast influence. It's one of my favourite albums I've ever recorded, and after so many years immersed in the metal world, it really meant a lot to me to create this type of an album on my own without approaching anyone in the hip hop world to help me.
Mick played live drums, bass and guitar and we also incorporated a lot of interesting samples throughout. I'm very lucky that I have a musical partner who is able to transcend musical genres and adapt to different styles of writing and producing so easily. We had a blast making it.
My Ruin released a career-spanning ‘best of’ album, The Cathartic Collection, last year. What was it like listening back over 20 years' worth of music?
It brought back a million memories for us. The good, the bad and everything in between, but was an enjoyable nostalgic trip down memory lane. Mick remastered it in our home studio and we thoughtfully sequenced it with tracks from our nine albumsand three spoken word interludes and a new song video for Sacrosanctity which we recorded in 2020. The video featured new and never before seen live footage from over the last 20 years. We both feel extremely proud of it. We did what we wanted to do our own way and we feel that our music has aged well. How could we not be proud of that?
You put out a solo hip hop album, Feminenergy, last year too. How much was that album directly inspired by the Trump presidency? And now he's gone, how are you feeling about the future?
I dropped Feminenergy right before the election. From police misconduct to white supremacy, fear-mongering, racism, inequality and misogyny, I found myself needing to address so many issues which had kicked my activism back into action through my art but also online and in person at various protests against Trump and for social justice and women's rights.
The new album is 12 socially conscious, up-to-the-minute, politically reflective, hardcore tracks of hip hop infused with rock and a raised up fist. It was an act of resistance. A reflection of how I was feeling in dealing with the chaos of the last four years of the reality TV show presidency which was very disheartening to say the least. I've never been through a period of time that was so mentally draining. It was difficult to feel artistically creative considering every day was filled with hateful rhetoric and division being spewed from the mouth of our president.
Donald Trump and his entire administration wore us all the fuck out on a level that America had not experience before. It was exhausting. His presidency forced us to choose sides and in doing so, it ripped friends, families and our country apart. It brutally tore out our heart and in some cases caused irreparable damage we may never fully recover from in the years to come. Then came Covid which opened up a whole new horrific door and global pandemic that no one was prepared for (worldwide) especially Trump who refused to take it seriously, even calling it a “Democratic hoax” and suggesting we inject bleach. On his last day in office there were over 400,000 dead from Coronavirus in the U.S. This didn't have to happen had he not politicized it the way he did. He was an unfit, derelict president whose negligence and incompetence is now infamous.
In this era of reckoning, writing and recording this album was a form of self-care. No histrionics, just aggressive lyricism. Articulate, intelligent, rough and relevant. It wasn't all directed at Trump but it is heavily political on purpose. Musically, there is an old school flavor to all of the songs. Many live instruments accompanied by samples with respect to the architects and a nod to some of my personal hip hop influences such as Schoolly D, Eazy E, Chuck D, Ice T, and Paris. The bad ass DJ Grandmixer GMS blessed me with his killer scratching on two tracks (Truth Bomb and Caution) while my good friend and former tour mate, [ex-Medulla Nocte/current Dead Sheeran singer] Paul Catten lent his unique vocal stylings to our modernized version of the Afrika Bambaataa/John Lydon Timezone classic World Destruction duet from 1984 which I revamped for 2020 because it seemed like the perfect cover.
Like my previous rap album, I had a concept in mind which I brought to Mick and we co-produced it once again. Mick and I are on the same page politically so he understood my anger and frustration. During the four years Trump's debauchery and making a mockery of Democracy, he gaslit our nation daily. Dumpster fires don't start themselves. For months on end this twice-impeached, desperate wannabe dictator assembled the tinder and kindling, he threw on logs of lies for fuel to have his supporters believe that the only way their victory would be lost was if it was stolen. Which it wasn't but he lit the match which started the fire and continued to stoke the flames, fanned by the people he put in power. On January 6, he literally attempted to burn down our house and destroy our Capitol with an insurrection against his own country, congress and Vice President.
Trump is no longer in power but he is not gone. His small dick energy lives on at Mar-a-Lago. The narcissist grift incarnate continues to perpetuate his big lie about the election and now the denial of the insurrection which he and his cult of sycophantic cohorts openly incited among his MAGA flag waving, right-wing terrorists. He's still desperate for attention so I'm thankful he's been banned on all social media platforms. In the end, the truth always comes out so here's hoping he will eventually be indicted for one or more of his myriad of crimes and those who have emboldened him will also be held accountable.
I voted for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and I stand by that vote today. What a difference a competent president and VP means for a country. Who knows where we would be if things had turned out differently. We've recently been vaccinated so this has given us a huge relief. I look forward to a future where we can all feel a true sense of calm and inner peace… both Covid and Trump free.
What’s the state of play with My Ruin right now?
We have no plans to tour or record anything new with My Ruin at the moment. While archiving our vault for our 20th anniversary album release, we came across professional audio recordings of a big show we played at the Mean Fiddler in London back in 2006, as well as pro shot footage which we hadn't seen in years. We remastered the songs into an album Live In London: A Brutal Birthday 1.18.06 and we edited all the footage into our first full length pro-shot concert with some before and after backstage shots included. We released both for my birthday this past January 2021.
Mick and I have another side project called The LVRS. It's spoken word stories which centre around Love, Violence, Religion, Sex and Death, set to cinematic style soundscapes. We've released two albums, [2006’s] Death Has Become Her and [2010’s] Lady Speaks The Bruise. We're looking to release our third a little later this year. In the meantime, Mick continues to work on his metal-instrumental project/band Neanderthal which will hopefully be back playing gigs along with his fuzzed up, classic rock and old school metal cover band Heavy Seventies, as soon as things open. I'm busy archiving/digitizing 30 years of old photos and live footage while working on my book which is my main focus at the moment.
There’s a clip at the start of the My Ruin song Rockstar, from the A Prayer Under Pressure Of Violent Anguish album, that features a voice saying, “This girl is harder than all you motherfuckers out there.” Does that still hold true, or have you mellowed any?
The voice at the beginning of the song is actually Lynn Strait from Snot. It was taken from a live performance of Manhole at The Roxy in Hollywood circa 1995. I had invited Lynn on stage to sing the duet of Down which he recorded with me as the last track on the Manhole album. It was Manhole who gave Snot their first show in L.A. and we used to play many shows together back in the day.
When I introduced Lynn, he made that statement to the crowd before the music kicked in. He was always very sweet and respectful to me. A good friend. Lynn was killed in a car crash in 1998. I wrote the song Rockstar about him in loving memory, so having him in the intro seemed appropriate.
I started my first band 28 years ago and as my favourite feminist icon Gloria Steinem once said, “Women may be the one group that grows more radical with age.” I agree.
Looking back, does it feel like you changed things in terms of what a rock or metal singer could say and be? Or does it feel like nothing’s really changed since you started Manhole?
I think I can confidently say that I kicked down a few doors for women in rock to walk through just like the women did who came before me. Much like hip hop, metal has always been a heavily male dominated genre where sexism and misogyny runs rampant in the open and behind the scenes. Sadly, I don't think a great deal has changed for women – or rather, the way men treat women – in this regard. The music industry has yet to have it's much needed #MeToo day of reckoning, hwoever there are many more women speaking their minds, screaming in metal and fronting hardcore bands then there were when I was starting out and this is great to see. Empowered women, empower women and we can be whatever we want to be!
My Ruin’s The Cathartic Collection and Live In London: A Brutal Birthday are both aut now