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Ruach – Interview By: JJ Ulizio.

Posted May 15, 2016 by JJ Ulizio in Interviews

Ruach – Interview

By: JJ Ulizio

By random chance a few years ago I was driving in my car and listening to SiriusXM Liquid Metal and a song came on that I quickly found myself head banging to, hard. To the point where I’m quite sure that people in other cars were starting to stare. I hit the “info” button on my radios head unit and it told me that it was “American Chaos” by Ruach. Once I arrived at my destination I proceeded to look them up on my phone, and found some music on iTunes. I added them on Facebook and left a message about how much I dug their music and if they ever needed a gig in the Pittsburgh area to let me know. Their guitarist added me immediately and we started chatting.

Now, they are in the process of wrapping up a video shoot, and putting the finishing touches on their first full length album, and through the magic of Skype on my tablet and an audio recorder on my phone I had the extreme pleasure of sitting down and having a chat with them.

Ruach is: Jonathon Rockwell on drums, Robert Wainwright: Vocals/Rhythm Guitar, Christian “Chea” Cueva: Lead Guitar/Backup Vocals, and Harry Scannell: Bass/Backup Vocals.

IMG_0612How did you guys first get together and start writing?
Jonathon Rockwell:
I was living in San Francisco at the time and going to art school and decided that I wanted to pursue music, always have. I didn’t play an instrument at all, so I called up Rob, my best friend, who always played guitar and I told him “Hey I’m quitting school and moving back down to L.A. Let’s start a band” and that’s what we have been doing ever since April of ’06. Not only were we starting a band but I was learning an instrument at the same time as well as writing songs. That was pretty much the beginning of it. The rest has a pretty nice timeline up until the present point.

Robert Wainwright: It took us a few years to even play a show; we didn’t play our first show until 2009. It really took us a few years to try and understand what we were even trying to get ourselves into. Correct me if I’m wrong but Jon even felt he didn’t take to becoming a musician until a little late in life. So it was kind of a lot for us to try and decided what we want to do, are we even too old to do this, did we miss our time? It always seems like something you do when you’re like 16 and quit when you’re 20.

So you feel like it took you a little bit to find your groove?
Oh absolutely, like I mentioned I still had to learn how to even play the instrument. I didn’t start playing drums ‘till I was 21. I quit going to art school and started playing drums and the band. There were multiple things going on at once you know?

IMG_0608When I hear your sound I can hear some flavors of your various influences, but it comes together into something of its own. Who would you say are your biggest influences and how do they affect your writing process?

Christian Cueva: I Listen to a lot of Revocation so I try to, not emulate, but I get inspired off of what they do as a band musically because the incorporate a lot of melody and transitions and a lot of movements through their songs. Not like a default thrash band that writes one fast song and that’s it, theirs actually flavor to it so I look up to them a lot. So when it comes to writing I try emulating those kinds of structures, where I try to incorporate clean parts into a song, fast riffy parts, slow melodic parts, especially when it comes to my leads and solos. So that’s where that, or if you hear anything like that, it’s me adding that into it.

Rob: I personally like a lot of that; you know I started out listening to mostly acoustic rock until Jon wanted to start a metal band. I am a big fan of 90’s rock like Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, you know like a lot of those really good bands from the 90’s that came out. But recently I’ve been getting into a lot of early 70s rock, like that kind of stuff, anything with a good melody. I think the thing I listen to the most with like screaming in it would be Slipknot and after that it’s all heavy with the melodic stuff I enjoy.

Jon: Robs very influenced on Alice in Chains Vocal harmonies, he loves vocal harmonies.

IMG_0610Harry Scrannel: I listen to all sorts of music but the biggest influences I bring into this band would be a lot of classical influences, I listen to a lot of classical music. I try to pick notes to play that a lot of other bass players might not play because they’re not the root or something. But my favorite metal band is definitely Dream Theatre, so I like to put a lot of the noodly stuff in places, holding to groove when it needs to be held.

Jon: For myself, I grew up heavily on thrash metal and like 80s skate punk and so there is always that fast pace, like Dave Lombardo from Slayer is my number one favorite drummer, so there’s that power and intensity. But I’m also big on song structures, I can structure out a song as easy as rob can come up with a riff. I was also raised on 70s prog rock and a lot of classic rock from my dad, so I see a lot of structure as far being epic and seeing the beginning, end, intro, verse, chorus, I see those things really clear and these guys just fill in the pieces and I think we do a pretty decent job giving each other respect like “hey that’s your riff, I’m going to play drums how I want to play to that riff and this guy he’s going to solo how he wants to play” and we kind of do whatever we get inspired by from each other.

So you guys were working on a new album, you already have an e.p. and a single both currently available on iTunes, and you’re currently building up towards your first full length. Tell us about the writing process of that album and how the recording process has been going.

Rob: In a nutshell dude, this album was really awesome because we… Well number one, quickly, we lost our bass player, our original bass player, we’re all on good terms and still friends and everything but we gained an amazing new member, Harry, he was also a big part of our vocals so that kind of did some damage, made us realize “Oh Shit we better start stepping up our vocal game”. Harry is one of the best people I’ve ever worked with as far as explaining music and understanding it, so it’s been awesome. But the process we did a little different than last time was that we weren’t going to drop fifty, twenty, or ten thousand on a record every time, we want to do it ourselves, we want to record ourselves. With technology nowadays it’s dumb for us to not even try. We spent a good six months researching how to record, researching mic’s, asking people, and interviewing people just like you. Christian took a big role of the engineering, originally it was going to be him and I but he just killed it and really understood it. With this album, we tracked everything direct in here at the studio and then we reamped it, later on. In case you don’t know so you have a better idea. Normally you put a microphone up to a speaker and you track it. So if you mess something up you can go and track that whole thing again or go back and fix that one part. BUT if we track clean, so pretty much were plugging into an interface and the interface goes into the computer, and that just tracks the clean guitar signal so everything that’s being tracked is just clean. Then we resend it through the computer through our amp, and then we dial in the exact tone that we want. Then as we add more instruments we can go “oh you know, that doesn’t sound too good, why don’t we try and do that again, without having to stress on the performance again. So it’s been really great and you can really notice a huge difference as far as the quality and the sound. I think this album lyrically we have stuff to say, we intellectually put our minds together and made some points that I think could really relate to people much more. I think this was the hardest art project that I’ve ever worked on but it’s also the most proud art project that I’ve ever been on.

IMG_0609Jon: For you JJ, what to expect from this album, it was actually a three year process, because when we lost our bass player, things shut down for a bit. We were down a member, each member struggled with some personal issues and we were in the process of, actually the room that we’re in right now; we built our own studio to record the album with. That took a while to get together. We were out a member; we finally got a member, so it took quite a process. All the lyrics that you hear are true to the highs and lows that we were going through these past three years. The struggles and what we got out of it. It was pretty sketchy for a while but we pulled through and we just completed the first single off the album that’s soon to be released, and the album is almost finished too.

Rob: We can literally say that blood, sweat, and tears went into this album!

Jon & Christian: Absolutely.

That’s awesome, it’s always cool to see that when you go through personal adversities and tribulations, or even as a band, when you can go through all that stuff and then come out the other side of it stronger.

Jon: Actually, I want to mention something, it’s the first time I’m going to say it In front of these guys, but we rented our van out, our band van to another band this week. I had never met the guy before and he told me “Yeah we’re going out on the road” and was asking about the band. He goes “It’s been a while since you guys released music, but I want to give you guys credit, cause you know most bands break up when they are at their lowest and after two years you guys remained the same and you pulled through and that tells a lot of your integrity as a band” I just wanted to let you guys know that (Christian, Rob, & Harry). I was just told that the other day, and it was a proud moment, especially when you’ve been struggling yourself. But now we can see some light at the end of the tunnel as we’re finishing up the record.

I agree with that 110% because if you look at all the bands that get together, whether it’s in Pittsburgh, New York, or LA, and I’m sure you’ve seen and played with bands that got together and were awesome, good writing, good stage show, and then a year later, that’s it, you never hear from them again. If you’ve gone through that adversity and come out the other side still making music and still playing shows, that’s definitely a triumph. There are so many good bands that go by the wayside that can’t get past, sometimes simple problems, sometimes complex problems. So that is a triumph, I would be proud of that, absolutely.

IMG_0611All: Thanks man!

Rob: So I will definitely say that we are a band and that’s why we do it that is our outlet. Genuinely we were never like “oh we want to get rich and famous!” Even though that is kind of our goal, in a sense. Our goal is to do it to where it’s our outlet, as long as we’re stoaked and we’re able to get our aggression out and that’s like the most important thing.

Jon: We are generally very happy when we are around each other, it’s like a getaway from everything, we all share the same sense of humor and even if we are not playing music we all confide in each other and we are able to recharge, just hanging out with each other. We are very blessed and fortunate, and we all know that it’s worth hanging onto, no matter what.

I always tell people, my music is angry so I don’t have to be.

ALL: (laughter ensues)

I’ve noticed lyrically and even prior to that in some of your artwork that there are a lot of war themes, like in the one image from iTunes, the tail gunner, and the new song you sent me, Wargasser, where does the inspiration for the war, military, and combat themes come from and how does that affect you lyrically on the new album?

Jon: Its symbolism of the personal war that you go through with yourself, with others, whether it’s a spiritual battle or with depression or anything.

Rob: I can give you the backline of the actual art in a sense too. But I would say metaphorically it is that if you can imagine that internal war going on inside your body. It’s really like a battle between yourself and yourself and it’s really about trying to shine light on the world when on the inside you have these visuals going on in a sense. That’s to me how I feel connected to it and that’s exactly how I feel. As far as the art, a man named Mike D, a fucking amazing artist; Jon met him when he was welding bikes.

Jon: I’ve known him for like 13 years now.

Rob: He literally created his own world, called Wargasser, and the god of that world is called Wargasser and for somebody that was in aviation, or boats, or cars, or anything with engines, people into high speed, or adrenaline. Instead of going to heaven or hell you kind of relive your last moments at the moment of death, kind of in this weird purgatory, but that’s kind of what they liked because that’s what they lived for. Most of his artwork is that last moment of death in a sense. He really just showered us with it, he just gave us art and he told us, that we could use as much of his art as we want. We just told him, absolutely, yes! We’ve kind of written a lot around it, just because it’s been around us.

Jon: I’ve known him for a long time and he’s mentored me and Rob a lot when we were growing up, as far as how to be an individual and being an artist and how to express yourself through everything, so we’ve always given him credit, to anything we do, we’ve always given credit to him as well.

Rob: We call him the godfather of Ruach.

Jon: Our band logo, you know the font, he also came up with that as well.



When is the album due out? Do you have a release date yet? Where will people be able to pick it up?

Rob: That is still tentative but I would definitely say this summer, were going to have the full album and it will be out, as far as productions we still have about another month yet to do, so it’s still kind of hard for us to give an exact date. As far as the single, that should be due out within the next month.

Jon: Were in the process, filling out the paperwork and everything to release the single. Hey let me ask you something, did you ever hear that Metallica cover that we did?

I have it saved on my you tube favorites, but I haven’t listened to it yet. But I’ll definitely be checking it out soon.

Rob: I’m excited for you to hear it

Jon: We didn’t sell that one, because we didn’t want to get in trouble

Christian: It’s complicated when you try to sell someone else’s work.


Jon: We played that live for years, and everybody was always like “dude when are you going to record that, so I can listen to it in my car and stuff?” So we did a recording when Harry first joined the band to kind of feel him out and see how he records and whatnot, it was a lot of fun, I hope you listen to it.

I definitely plan on it, Metallica was my favorite band for a very long time, they eventually got dethroned but I loved Metallica for a long time, so I’ll definitely be checking it out.

Jon: Who replaced Metallica for you?

Actually it’s a….

Christian: Ruach

Yeah! Ruach!

ALL (Laughter)

I walked right into that one. (More laughter)

Rob: No but really, who was it?

You ever heard of Jimmies Chicken Shack?

After a brief silence, they responded with no.

I loved the look on your face, it’s the reaction I usually get, they were a hard rock band that kind of hit their peak in the 90s. Real talented guys, they just stopped touring a couple of years ago. They were a hard rock band with some funk elements, and when they would play live they would get kind of jam bandy. If you want to check them out…

All: Yeah we do

I recommend the album Pushing the Salmonella envelope.

More laughter

Jon: Ill check them out tomorrow while I’m welding.

Yeah, they’re a lot of fun. Now, moving on, I Initially discovered you guys while listening to SiriusXM Liquid Metal since we all know what it’s like trying to get music on terrestrial radio during hours when people are actually listening to it. How did you get your music on there (XM) and how did it affect you as a band, did you notice an increase in fan base on social media or in other ways?

Jon: Well, we defiantly gained a lot of outside followers, such as yourself, and people around the world. It was a quick thing; we wrote that song in 5 days and recorded it on the 6th day I believe. It was actually for a favor, we had a friend who worked for Affliction. She’s a photographer and she said that Affliction doing this clothing line called American Chaos and said it would be cool if we did a song for them. You know she’s always helped us out with photography, so we wrote the song really quick and we let them use it for their look book for their new clothing. Well the owner of it really liked the song and started shopping it out to different people and it made its way to Jose Mangin and he was like “Dude I’ll put this on, this is rad!” once it got on, we started getting a lot of outside followers such as yourself. I don’t know if personally that, American Chaos, is the bands favorite song but it’s definitely helped us gain a lot of attention and bring people to the band where they have started to follow, and have deep followers, who like a lot of our older stuff and it’s been really cool because we’ve been meeting and talking to people from all over the world from that radio airplay.

Rob: Ill add to that as well. It’s truly amazing when I realized “Holy shit we’re being played across the United States right now. We have a friend literally; he sent me a video of himself getting out of a car and like pitting in the middle of the street. It’s cool, it’s really awesome but it was also an eye opener like “Alright we can go there to play!!” Only were broke as shit. Hahaha. It really cool and it shows if you set your mind to something you can get it done, it just isn’t going to be the way you imagined it. It was really cool and we got a lot of friends and fans and were still getting some to this day.

Jon: Yeah, it’s been a couple of years already and they’re still playing it.

Are you planning on getting the new material on XM?

IMG_0608Jon: Of course man, were planning on getting our music out as far as we can, like we say, we want to play on the moon someday, that way we can conquer Earth.

Rob: This time we’re also prepping and planning correctly. We are really, seriously, crossing every T and dotting every i, we are doing everything that we can; we are assigning tasks to each member. You do design, you do merch booth, you take care of the legal shit, you do this, and you do that. All of us are doing our best to make sure shits in line, cause we want to do our best because the most and best thing we are giving is our time. We have really put so many hours into all this we really want to make sure we don’t waste our time as we practice. We are trying to make sure we develop a really cool online presence that’s not fake and really, personally, talking and networking our album. That being said we are really going to try and have somebody in here twice a week, just talking and emailing DJ’s throughout the states and just say “hey check out this music.” That’s something we’ve never really gotten to do but I know that, from past experience, that it will most likely help out, and you, you know, you outreaching to us is helping. You are actually one of the first ones of the whole herd.

Jon: It’s been a while since we’ve done any interviews man

Rob: We should do a follow up interview so you can see if we stuck to our word.

Anything you want to promote, you get ahold of me and we will do something that is not an issue. I saw on your Facebook, and you guys briefly mentioned it that you are working on a music video. Can you talk about the process of filming a video and let us know when it will be released?

Rob: I’m doing all the production, we’ve had some help from some friends, some really good friends. Pretty much, it is actually our very first, official music video in the sense that were setting everything up and trying to have a theme, in a sense. The first time were setting up and playing and lip syncing. We’ve never really done that. We did it once with Throne I guess, that was really more of a behind the scenes thing. So we filmed ourselves, we pretty much tried to get as many cameras as we can to get as many angles as we can and record and do what you can before you break your neck . I’m in the process now of putting that baseline down and we are building a story off of it. Our idea is kind of, showing the things we all love aside from music as well.

Jon: We don’t have much money right now, so we have to get creative. We are just trying to be as real as possible and show our true colors. All our other videos, if you’ve seen them, have been a lot of B roll footage that friends have put together for us and made something out of it.

Rob: As far as a release date too, were working that right now, but tentatively two weeks after we’ve released the single.

You guys aren’t far from Los Angeles; I would assume that you play there often. What’s the music scene like there compared to other places? I have known a few bands to have played out that way to some mixed reviews. I’m interested to see what a band actually from that coast has to say about it.

Jon: Interestingly enough, we haven’t played in Hollywood yet, on purpose, in the LA area it’s a little too fake for us. They want you to pay them to play at their place. Hey, you wanna play at the whiskey? It’s going to cost you this much to play and we also take a big percentage of your shirts and we were just not going to do that. We have always gone on the outskirts, where we could put on our own show, or some places where people can just come in for free and just have a good time. For us it’s about music, and it’s about people, and it’s about having a good time and those Los Angeles places, a lot of it is just too fake for us man. We will probably start venturing out there after the release of this just because we think it’s time to, but in the past we just had no interest. What they wanted to take from the bands, we’d rather have a party at our studio and just play for 5 hours all night and get drunk than to have to load gear up and give all of our money away.

Rob: and also parking is a pain in the ass too. Nobody wants to go out there.

Since you took some time off to work on the album and whatnot, do you have any shows currently booked or coming up to kind of get back into the groove of playing again, or maybe any west coast tours or making your way out east towards Pittsburgh?

Christian: We’ve been hit up a lot to do certain shows, or a festival here and there, and the timing hasn’t always been right. Then we got hit up by some good friends. One of our favorite places to play at, The Slidebar in Fullerton, they’ve always treated us really well; they treat us like family when we go down there. It was far enough in advance that we were thinking that we can have at least the single released to try and create a buzz and draw people to that venue. Other than that show, we haven’t really booked anything after that because we’re still not sure how busy were going to be with the album. It going to be good to get out there again and get our feet wet again, and I’m excited because it’s been too long since we’ve played a show. As far as a national tour goes, that probably won’t happen for a little bit because I feel like we are starting over again from ground zero. So we are probably going to be playing a lot of local shows, neighboring counties…

Rob: Unless someone can pay us to get out there, hahaha

Christian: Unless something amazing happens where we can jump on a tour package that will take us along with them, for whatever reason, that would be rad, but as far as ourselves going out on our own, out of our own pocket, that probably won’t be this year.

Jon: Unless nice things happen with the album release, and there’s money in our pocket, believe me man all we want to do go as far as we can and play our music live, we love people and we love playing music so it works well for us.

Christian: We would rather be stuck in a hot sweaty van with a busted AC driving hours at a time than being stuck in a shitty ass job going nowhere.

All right, that’s pretty much all I got, you guys got anything plug like the usual social media and things of that nature for people to check you out?

Rob: Everything you can find on us you can look up with ruachtheworld except our youtube with is ruactheband which we are working on changing. Keep an eye out on our website here pretty soon. We are going to really create a hub for the underground metal scene in LA, not just us, as far as our community as well so a lot of people are going to be putting out a lot of great stuff on our website. We just really can’t wait to get out there and hit the road man, that what my blood pumps for.

Jon: The only thing I can add is to stay in close contact with us and us personally because we would love to get out to Pittsburgh and get out to that area, if you can help out in anyway, just let them know we are coming and if you ever come out this way you got a place to stay man, it’ll be cool to meet up with you.

Awesome guys, thanks. I’ll definitely be in touch. Thanks again!

About the Author

JJ Ulizio
JJ Ulizio

JJ has been a contributing writer and huge asset to Empire and Empire Extreme since the very begining. He is always digging for new bands and has a true heart and desire to see the bands grow and succeed.


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