Lauren Boquette of Lords of Ruin has been in the game for a long time. He was the frontman for alt-metal group Drown, he helped put together the “Tattoo The Earth Tour” with Slipknot and Slayer, and opened the show with his group Famous. Now, Boquette is back with his new group Lords of Ruin who continue to tour in support of their album Life Is War and are recording a new effort as well. We caught up with Boquette to chat about everything going on with Lords of Ruin and his career throughout the years.
Lauren, we are in 2014 and Lords of Ruin are putting out in your face rock n roll, something new yet similar to what you have always done, so what’s with the new band? How are you? And where is Lords of Ruin at?
Boquette: I am a product of this kind of music. There is nothing better than the energy in hard rock n roll. As an angry kid it was metal & punk for me so as I’ve grown that is the hybrid I create. As much as I listen to all kinds of music, heavy stuff is where I come from, so it’s who I am. I love this kind of music and no changing tides in the music industry will ever change that. As for the new band, it was originally a name change for my old band SiX but since then, my friend & creative partner in SiX, guitarist Alfunction, has gone on to work for Clutch full time so I decided to build a new team and let Lords be its own beast and stand on its own. I’m actually stoked on how it has all worked out. SiX worked our asses off, released 3 albums, toured America constantly and did it all totally independent. I’m very proud of that because while the industry was changing, we just kept on working… but finally it was time for a breather. Lords of Ruin is the new beginning.
You signed on with Sullen Musik for the Sullen Musik Vol. 1 Compilation album and to distribute the new EP. How would you describe the new Lords of Ruin EP?
Boquette: Our friends at Sullen Clothing were putting out a compilation album to showcase all of the artists they sponsor, we were asked to have a track on that comp so we chose “Life is a War”. That sort of set in motion the writing process that became our entire EP. It’s huge riffs, huge choruses, head banging hard rock! Our goal was to hopefully capture the elements that ACDC, Pantera, Metallica and countless others did before us, just good, strong, powerful, hard music. The term “metal” has been warped into something else these days and punk got mall friendly so we’ll carry the hard rock banner, thank you.
What was the band’s creative process in doing this CD?
Boquette: We literally, grabbed some beers, got in a room, turned everything up loud as fuck and just rocked. We dug deep into each other’s creative head spaces, the way bands are supposed to work. It’s exciting and urgent. This music is made from real humans bleeding out their souls. Not fabricated mall rock created in a board meeting.
What does the EP’s title “Life is a War” mean?
Boquette: I feel we are all constantly faced with decisions that will either help or hinder our lives. There is always an internal battle going on between what we should or shouldn’t do and it’s something that is instinctive. Regardless of what we are told, taught or experience there is always a fight between what we want or don’t want to do or think. Every moment is full of these thoughts. It is our daily battle as humans and I believe the real “war” is the one going on inside of our own heads.
You’ve been playing heavy music for many years and you have been consistent with your musical approach. What are your thoughts on today’s rock scene?
Boquette: My thoughts have always been the same, I don’t get following trends, and I don’t understand copycat bands. I fall in love with and respect originality. It seems so hard for bands to just create their own trip. Someone gets popular then everyone follows their look and sound. I’ve never done that. I’ve stayed in my own creative world. My heroes were innovators; therefore I’ve always wanted to just be me. Not anyone else, just as I saw my heroes do. Queen sounds like Queen, Sabbath sounds like Sabbath, AC/DC sounds like AC/DC, Motorhead sounds like Motorhead… should be easy, it’s why these bands stand the test of time and it’s why my music sounds current no matter what album you put on regardless of when it was written or recorded. It is also why I allow the space for every project I work with to evolve into a new band if that is where it takes us. I’ve never tried to be a part of a scene or a movement, I just do what I do and leave it up to my own musical instincts to guide the way.
Here in the L.A./Orange County area, we have not had a true rock station since KNAC 105.5 signed off in 1995. Do you think that has hurt a once proud part of the region for rock?
Boquette: 100%. After touring around a while you see how rock radio is in most markets EXCEPT this one. We live in area that has tons of labels, managers, agents, etc. It’s totally a music industry mecca and this area has spawned major artists in rock, from Van Halen to Korn to Rage Against The Machine, Janes Addiction, Motley Cue, the list goes on and on. We are a rock mecca yet without a real rock radio station? How is this possible?
Check out the song “Ghost Of Finneran”
How has the music industry changed from your days in Drown to now?
Boquette: I’m not sure if it really has on a creative level, artists have been artists throughout history but on the business level, I think most real indie labels are always doing their own thing, most manage to keep moving but major labels I don’t think will ever take chances on new bands anymore. The companies are now owned and operated by corporate people; very few real “music” people are in charge, as it once was. It is all just numbers and business now, no different than any other major industry. I’m not mad at them for it at all it is just how business works but the art, risk and excitement of “new” on that level is gone.
When Drown signed to Elektra Records, they didn’t really know what to make of us. Our A&R man Michael Alago did, but he had previously signed 2 other “weird” bands Metallica and White Zombie so they trusted his gut with heavy stuff… the rest of the company was new to this type of music… it was something literally brand new. Crazy as it sounds this was just before bands like Korn, Deftones, System of A Down, Slipknot, and tons of others and even before the birth of “Ozzfest.” This was a brand new time for heavy music, it was at the tail end of grunge and all of us new bands were very angry and dark. This wasn’t pop music at all and we weren’t pretty like the mainstream stars, but major labels were trying to understand this new world. It was the new cutting edge and I’m very proud that I was a part of that time. It was incredible.
Do you feel that bands have more control over their music now compared to 90’s when the labels were wanting more radio friendly songs?
Boquette: Bands do have more control now simply with how technology has evolved. You can finally record, release and promote music worldwide without any label support at all. As for radio, labels will always want something that will work on the radio but that doesn’t mean it has to be lame. Rage Against The Machine got tons of airplay and still do; they certainly never had a commercial sound. They did it right, let radio come to them. If you spend your time, worrying about what is being played on the radio right now, and try to write for that, by the time you get your music out there it will have changed. Just do what you feel at all times.
You have told me in the past that Bruce Springsteen and Prince are two of your favorite artists. Do you see anyone else following in their footsteps nowadays?
Boquette: Those artists are Gods. They continuously inspire and blow away artists half their age. These artists really know who THEY are. That was my point earlier, they are themselves. And because of that, they matter and will always push others to reach deeper into themselves and into their art. The unfortunate part about today’s industry is that most labels don’t give artists time to develop and they did when a lot of our heroes started. That being the case, I don’t know if anyone will really have a chance to follow these footsteps. I love a band called The Gaslight Anthem, best straight forward American rock I have heard in a long, long time. They love Bruce but will they ever reach a worldwide stadium level like Bruce? Highly unlikely with the way things are. In R&B, Bruno Mars kills it, he’s amazing, but will he reach a Prince status? I seriously doubt it and it’s a shame but in today’s world even greatness has a shelf life…. That is a sad thing for music as a whole.
The Rock scene now is more towards a folk rock/indie with The Lumineers, Fun, and Mumford and Sons. Is this just a cycle or do you see this type of music going on for a while?
Boquette: I feel it’s just another trend, something new for a while and it works because it’s done well and it’s harmless but I need danger in my rock. I need rock stars, ego, bravado, balls… I don’t relate to this current trend of nerdy bands. It’ll disappear just like every other safe hippy movement.
Dave Grohl said in a recent interview that “Modern production has it made it so that music seems inhuman.” Do you think that today’s young people have taken on this approach to liking pop and hip-hop? It seems like this sort of “flash in the pan” music has also taken away good songwriting. Agree or disagree?
Boquette: In pop music it’s no secret that the producers are the artists. The singers are just the voice and sometimes not even that, only the image. It is all manufactured like any other product for mass consumption. It’s fast food… you shit it out and it’s over. But let’s not forget, it really has always been that way, even with Motown, music I love… they were all very talented singers but it was great players, writers and producers doing the bulk of the work.
The only difference was they all had to actually play and sing well, in today’s world with computers, you can fake all of it, then lip sync or pretend to actually play it live at a show. It’s an insult to the true craft. That’s what I think Grohl meant and I feel he is 100% correct. In the end though it’s all just entertainment and if people enjoy it and it makes them happy then so be it. It’s not for me but I’m happy that even fans of that type of stuff will know the real deal when it shows up. It’s the soul in the music that you can’t fake, when true soul is there, the entire room will feel it.
What keeps you going after all these years? What keeps you wanting to make music?
Boquette: I am a fan first. I constantly hear, see and read things that inspire me. Great things that make me want to push harder, write better, dig deeper… it’s the true love of the art that propels me. I’m madly in love with, obsessed and addicted to music. It saved me as a kid and it carries me as an adult. Music is who I am.
You have had major record deals, music in movies, TV shows, video games, toured with huge bands, and have tons of rock stories to share. What are some things you would still like to do professionally or personally with music?
Boquette: I simply want to write, create, perform and tour with my music full time all the time and have that be the only thing I do to make a living. I am more at home and at peace on the road, in the studio or on stage than anywhere else in the world. I want the life I was destined for, the artist’s life. I’d love to produce more. I produced a few groups in the past and that was great. I really want to get into movies, I think I could kill that medium, I just love living in my creative headspace. I have so much more to give that when I am spending time doing anything other than being creative, it drives me mad.
Check out a “Life Is A War” promo
When we have talked in the past, you told me about an experience you had at Woodstock in 1999 where you came away with a new outlook on life. Did this experience change you in a way that you write music now? And what I mean by that is that you have always written lyrically that is in a dark place. Are you at peace with yourself?
Boquette: My experience at Woodstock in ’99 was epic and way too long to explain here, but yes it changed me immensely. I became at peace with a lot of the things that had been haunting me my whole life. In fact, I run into old friends now and they can’t even believe it’s me. But the thing about darkness is you don’t really know you are lost in it, until you see the light after it. When that happens, your entire being goes whoa, wtf? And things start to shift. You become far more aligned with your purpose on this earth and your role in the universe. An intense clarity happens and you just know you have been given a new life. Something re-sets inside of you. It’s amazing. I now have a deep understanding of both the dark and the light and yes; it comes out in my songs.
How do you promote your band, music, and shows with all the changes in the music industry today?
Boquette: We use all of the same tools that everyone else does, our website, email, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, etc… these things have become the new TV stations where people can tune in to find out what’s up with the artists they love. It’s awesome. If they dig you, you are easy to find and you can communicate directly with the people who like what you do. Makes things are more honest and human yet it’s done with technology, imagine that.
What are some of your pet peeves with bands today?
Boquette: Besides bands who are trend jumpers? I feel a lot of new bands are lazy. Yes technology has helped us communicate with fans but it doesn’t mean you can base your life or popularity on Facebook likes, YouTube plays or website visits. You still have to get out there and meet people, perform, flyer, hangout, and genuinely appreciate the people who like your music. Don’t think because you post status updates all day long that the world gives a shit. Go make people FEEL what you are doing.
Who do you see carrying the rock flag today?
Boquette: The man who has earned all of my rock respect is Dave Fuckin Grohl! The guy eats, breathes, shits, talks, walks and IS what rock n roll is all about! He lets his fan boy self-come out, seems to be having a blast, helps out his heroes, he rocks harder than guys in their 20s and he is a no bullshit jeans and t-shirt rocker. Nothing trendy, no ego trips, just rock for the love of rock! That’s the life I dreamed of as a kid and huge props to him for living it. And if you are reading this Dave, let’s grab some beers and talk about rock! Come on over, I live by the beach! Thanks for the questions Scott… hope we got somewhere.