What do you do when you are ready to move to the other side of the world and a pandemic hits?
Brisbane’s Liam Anthony decided it was time to start his own musical project and Idle Ruin was born. I caught up with him few weeks ago to talk about the new single ‘The Devil’s Trade’, what influenced his song writing and what we can expect in the future.
I’m the drummer/vocalist, pretty much the main guy of Idle Ruin. Idle Ruin is not quite a one man band but it’s basically my project. I have Josh Doherty (Decapitated Mum, Powerful Owl) and Kaleb Dawson (When Death Replaces Life) on guitar. They have been helping me out with the music. So Idle Ruin is basically my baby I guess, I do all the song writing and lyric writing, pretty much everything.
Then the boys just come in a do their part?
Pretty much yeah. They have been doing their part very well.
So how did Idle Ruin come about?
I’ve been involved in Brisbane’s metal scene for the better part of 15 years. I used to play in a trash metal band called Malakyte, I was the drummer. We released an album, did some tours around Australia and we got to play Soundwave 2013 in Brisbane when we were a last minute replacement for another band. Things were going pretty well until they weren’t. After that I played more as a hired gun for a bunch of different bands around Brisbane. I played in a black metal band called Elkenwood, played in a Grindcore group called Decapitated Mum.
After Malakyte ended I had a few people approach me to play with them. I was happy to do that, things would be good and then not again. I have probably played drums on 3 or 4 unreleased recording in the last 5 years.
It’s so disheartening when that happens, especially continually.
Yeah. My partner and I had been planning on moving to Edinburgh this year. We were planning on moving overseas and Corona virus happened. Gigs stopped happening. As crushed as I was I thought okay we’re not going to Edinburgh, all the bands that I have been in have pretty much fallen apart, I might just start writing some songs. I thought that I could learn guitar but I’m an impatient fucker, so I thought I’d just learn to sing and play the drums. I know how to write riffs and music, but I don’t know how to play it on guitar. So I thought I would just start my own thing and do the vocals and drums and get some guys to jump on guitar with me to record some tunes and just see where it goes. I thought maybe when we eventually move I ca take this with me and get another line up when I get over there.
So we recorded the EP back in June and it will be released in December. I got Joel Grind from Toxic Holocaust to master it, got a really good sound out of it. The response to the first film clip that we released has been amazing. It’s basically just see where this goes. We have had a few offers to play live but we’re just sort of waiting for the right offer.
So thematically what are the songs about?
First of all the song that we released the other week ‘The Devil’s Trade’ is a piece of Brisbane folklore. There’s a building on George St that was the government printing office. Back in the day printing was known as the devils trade and there are two statues of the devil on top of this building. There was a rumour that if you didn’t remove your wedding ring upon entering the building then accidents would happen to you. Apparently one guy foolishly ignored the warning and ended up getting crushed to death by his printing press.
I don’t know if that story is true, but it is a bit of urban folklore. I don’t think a lot of Australian bands sing or write about their own backyard much. If you dig deep enough there are a lot of great urban myths and legends. Some of the stories in the book Bloody Brisbane have been the inspiration behind a few of our songs. We have another song in the works that is not on the EP about Patrick Maine who was a benefactor to Brisbane, I think the University of Queensland was funded by a lot of his inherited wealth. But no one knows where he got the money from. He got his inheritance around the same time that there was a brutal murder of another wealthy Brisbane resident so there is like a ‘did he do it, is it blood money’ question around it. So thematically yes I write a lot about Brisbane urban myths and stuff like that.
So the songs on the EP?
There were two songs on the EP that were a bit more personal and I rewrote them so that anyone can reflect on them. ‘Gods of Glass’ is about people who basically use intimidation as a means to an end. Yes you’re big and intimidating but I can see through you, you’re just as fragile – God of Glass.
‘Whipped to Death’ is about constantly being screwed over. Whether it be partners, bands, work. People who show promise and then flake out on you. It’s of no consequence to them but it is for you, it drains you and that kind of stuff.
‘Spiritual Contagion’ is about the corona virus, but its about the people who are trying to pray it away. It’s like okay where is your God now? I do like to sing more about real events more so than the devil or things like that. ‘The Devils Trade’ being a minor exception.
But that’s based on a semi-true story.
Yeah. Instead of singing about hell and Satan and whatever, there are some true evils in this world that you can write about.
Where do you draw you influence from then, not so much thematically but musically?
I’ve always had a background in thrash metal. I love thrash, I have always leant towards the darker side of it. Bands like Kreator, Possessed, Sodom, Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, even some of the Australian stuff like Hobbs Angel of Death, Armoured Angel and Slaughter Lord. Definitely inspired by a lot of the Teutonic and the Brazilian sound. So bands like Sepultura, Kreator and Pentagram from Chile. Band wise I have drawn a lot of influence from all of those. Like I was saying my background is primarily rooted in thrash metal but with Idle Ruin I didn’t want to be another ‘hey we are a new trash metal band that’s going way back to the old school’ We have been doing that since 2005. You get these bands that take thrash and push it and make it their own instead of being pure thrash. And I’m not dissing on any bands here I love those bands that are just straight up Exodus, Worship or whatever. But you get the bands that push it and make it their own. So you have bands like In Malice’s Wake who have done amazing. In terms of musical sort of attitude Powertrip, In Malice’s Wake. Those bands those bands didn’t just take their favourite Exodus riff and recycle it. They went okay this is what thrash is how can we evolve it. How can we push it a little bit further. I wanted to try and adopt that same mentality with Idle Ruin. I just didn’t want to be a carbon copy thrash project. I’ve had a lot of people make different comparisons to Gatecreeper, High on Fire, Possessed. One review said Immolation if they were a thrash band. I was like I’ll take that!
Shatterbrain is another one that took thrash and made it something their own. Death metal, Hardcore and Black metal have all done the same thing. They took something and over time they have evolved it, but I think thrash just kind of stagnated for a while.
In terms of influences as well when I was writing these songs I really did rack my brain for a while being like how can I write something that is not to cringey for thrash or thrash fans. I focused on writing something that was good first. My day job is User experience design, so building software and interfaces with the user in mind, so how will they interact with it. I thought why not do that with writing music? That’s how the music for The Devil’s Trade came about. The goal in mind was to make the listener head bang and raise their beer glass. So how do we do that?
I didn’t want to write thrash for the sake of writing it. I wanted something that was an experience with the audience in mind. You know some chorus’s they can yell back. It’s all about the music but also let’s make the audience enjoy themselves and the originality will come later.
So the whole EP had been written that way?
Yeah. I tried to make the riffs catchy, make the drum beats head bang worthy and have some chorus’s that can be shouted back.
That’s what any audience wants. And by the time this covid shit is over they are going to be desperate to have that. I’ve only just gotten into thrash the last few years since moving to Adelaide. I was a grunge/pop-punk girl for a long time, even though my music journey started with Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden. My kids introduced me to metalcore through Parkway and Amity and the likes.
It was the same with me to I was primarily into the traditional metals and thrash metals. When I was playing in the Grindcore band Decapitated Mum it opened up to a whole new world of extreme music which I have adopted and thrown into the mix with the Idle Ruin stuff. I think having a mixed influence is important.
I think it is too. Taking something and experimenting and evolving it to be your own.
That’s what I said in my press release. People have made these comparisons of different bands to us like Toxic Holocaust, High on Fire and Gatekeeper which are three different types of bands from three different corners. I was like that’s fine, its totally okay. In the press release I gave the description of us being blackened thrash with death metal crossover. I’m letting people decide where to put us in that regard.
We are looking at doing an album and I have already started the writing process for that. While I’m still stuck in the country I’m making use of the time the best I can. In the one week since we have released The Devil’s Trade video the response has been amazing. We’ve done really well with EP pre-sales. We’ve had a couple of labels knock on our door as well. The next step is to take this live; we release the EP on December 4th. I’ve been trying to use the lockdown time as constructively as I can. Just to incubate the band with fans before we do any live stuff.