Lauren catches up with Ruiners after their show on July 1st at VFW Post 880. The band is (from top) Shan Pasha on guitar and vocals, Hayden Wander on bass and vocals, drummer Joey Mains, and guitarist Ian Hawkins. Their latest release, Plebeian, is out on Miss Champagne Records. Photo: Keith Hatch.
Lauren: How did you feel about your last show in Galveston? That was one of the most packed, high energy shows we’ve hosted in a while!
Shan: Our last show in Galveston was incredible. The crowd was so much fun. We all had a chance to see some of the same people from the previous time we played (Nov. 2016) and was really cool to catch up. Galveston throws a fun party.
Ian: Amazing! There was definitely more people at the second show but the energy was just as high as the first show. Which goes to show how rad and enthusiastic the Galveston scene is.
Your live set just continues to level up. You’ve been compared to Dischord bands like Fugazi, and that totally makes sense to me! Being so high energy, are you pretty tired after a set?
Hayden: When people compare us to Fugazi it brings a huge smile to my face. After our performances I’m usually dripping with sweat and completely out of breath but I think the adrenaline from playing kinda takes my attention away from being tired in the moment.
Joey: Typically once we’re finished playing, there is a great deal of emotion preventing us from realizing how physically drained we are. For me, the exhaustion usually doesn’t kick in until I’m home that night, or sometimes even the next morning.
You played with EVAK the first time we had you down, and you specifically requested to play with him again. Did you guys get along really well? Even though it’s a different genre, both of you have the effect of being so cathartic! Also, you both skate!
Shan: EVAK is the king. The first time I saw him perform, at least four people brought him double whiskeys, which he gladly accepted. He didn’t miss a beat. I would have been on the floor. We ended up hanging out that night and he gave us suggestions on where to skate in Galveston the next day. We love his music and he is the most genuine guy. EVAK for life.
Ian: Flynn Donovan (EVAK) is just such a rad dude! Nothing makes me like somebody more than when somebody is just 100% genuine and that’s what I get from him. The two times I’ve seen him, my jaw was on the floor the entire time. His precision lyrically and performance is like nothing I’ve seen. And also he skates which just makes him even more rad.
How has the band evolved in the last year from your perspective?
Hayden: They way this band has grown just feels right. This time last year we were teaching the older songs to Ian and Joey since they had just joined the band and now we’re planning on recording all new material throughout the month of August so I think it’s been going well.
Shan: I agree with Hayden. We have evolved naturally. When I came back, it was just Hayden and I, and we were playing songs from our first EP five years ago. While I still enjoy those songs, we were more focused on new content, which resulted in Plebeian. Now, with Joey and Ian, we are about to start working on a new album, which I think will be pretty different from our last release, but still maintain a sort of consistency in our sound. I’m very excited for the future.
Ian: I was a big fan of Ruiners before I even joined the band. I fell in love with the energy those three dudes put off, and when Shan asked me if I wanted to play guitar I was smitten. Since joining the band Joey and I have added more to the sound and it’s definitely evolving into something different than I think any of us expected. I’m just so excited to start recording and show people what we have been working really hard on.
Joey: Before me and Ian joined, I had never heard of Ruiners. After hearing old recordings (most everything on Plebeian) and comparing them to the songs that we’ve wrote, i can say with confidence that our new songs are devised with a greater ensemble of parts that are working together to create a fuller, and more unique sound. We are really hoping that comes across in live performances and in future recordings.
David Garrick, who is the music writer most in touch with Houston music, has called you “one of the most pure and integrity based punk bands coming out of the Houston punk scene.” Aside from the many charity shows you have played—most recently a benefit show for Christian Kidd of the Hates—what influenced the values that guide the band?
Shan: David Garrick is such a sweet guy, and everything he says to champion us is very appreciated. We started doing the charity shows because we believe in political activism. It’s very important to be vocal, but even more so to put that voice into action. We are not a political band by any means, but we do hold certain truths dear, which our charity shows reflect. I was influenced by 80s punk bands, Revolution Summer, and Positive Force movement. We wanted to perform for the sake of playing rather than paying.
The B side of the cassette features three songs from a live session at Steamboat Ampworks. I haven’t seen any other Steamboat Sessions around. What’s the story on it? How did that session come about?
Hayden: After Ian and Joey had joined the band we were anxious to record something to show people the new lineup. I had recorded a couple times at Steamboat a few years ago with my band Excusemesir so I was familiar with Captain Jake and his crew and I thought it would be a good idea to record a few songs all in one take while my friend Ronald Jones filmed the entire performance. We decided on two old songs and one completely new song. I contacted Captain Jake over at Steamboat and he was cool with the idea so we just ran with it. I’m really happy with how it came out because it’s so raw and intimate. I had broken my foot skateboarding the day before we filmed so that’s why I’m supporting myself up with a crutch.
Now that the first release, Plebeian, is out on Miss Champagne Records, what’s next for you guys? Touring? Writing?
Ian: Yes! And Huge shout out to Jessica at Miss Champagne! Definitely check her label out! We’re are currently finishing up a new batch of songs and should be in the studio throughout August. Hopefully we will be releasing our new album in the fall. As far as touring goes we have some weekend runs that we’re trying to put together throughout the fall, And hopefully a bigger tour early next year!
Joey: Jessica (Miss Champagne) is one of the loveliest people to walk the planet. We are grateful to her for putting out Plebeian, and we hope to work with her again in the future! As for us, we are spending the next couple of months solidifying our arrangements and rehearsing to transfer our intensity onto permanent record. We’re planning some mini-tours this fall, and we’re planning a bigger tour early next year.
Hayden, you have this awesome practice of going to shows and taking film photos of the bands— sometimes a disposable camera, sometimes an instax. It’s such a cool way of supporting other bands! Where did you get that idea? You also make these mini zines called Be Here Now. What is the general idea of the series?
Hayden: I’m a very sentimental person so I enjoy taking photos of my friends. The Idea for Be Here Now came from the urge to create something that was completely mine and a good friend of mine, Emilio, gave me a lesson on how to fold and cut the zines so that was a huge help. Emilio has amazing artwork of his own that you can see on his instagram @emiliomittry.
I have bigger plans for Be Here Now than what I’ve produced so far. It’s going to be a full color photo zine which will feature some of my favorite photos that I’ve taken. All of the small hand-glued paper versions have been rough drafts for the most part, I’m still figuring it all out and I’m continuously being inspired by other people so it’s nice to be able to take it at my own pace.
Ruiners playing a fundraiser for the ACLU early this year at Walter’s Downtown. Photo: Daniel Jackson.