Having started off her career as a rapper working alongside the likes of Dr Dre and Salt N’ Peppa, Tairrie B moved into the world of metal through bands such as Manhole, Tura Santana and, since 1999, My Ruin. Dealing with heavy topics in the shape of even heavier music, the band have just released their fifth studio album -Throat Full Of Heart’ and play Irish dates this week at An Cruiscan Lan in Cork (Friday), Fibber McGees in Dublin (Sat) and the Limelight in Belfast (Sunday). State spoke to her ahead of the shows.
The music of My Ruin has gradually gotten heavier through the years and this is evident on the new record ‘Throat Full of Heart’- would you consider this your musical peak?
I think our last album ‘The Brutal Language’ released in 2005 was a pretty heavy recording as well. We are by no means ready to peak musically. We like to think of My Ruin like we think of a fine wine. We get better with age and hopefully we have more than just a few more moments of heaviosity to still deliver.
You have been very open about your accident, but for those that are not aware of it, do you mind telling them a little bit about it?
In late 2006 I was in a car accident on the eve of going in to start recording. I was the passenger in the car of a good friend that hit a flatbed truck which had a street cleaner on the back of it and a metal rod of some kind came through the window and ripped my arm all the way around from top to bottom. I was taken to the hospital and underwent the first of a few surgeries to follow which would then take place over the next few weeks, including a skin graft. It was a very scary accident and we document my recovery and the following recording sessions 4 weeks after the accident on the DVD which is included with the album. I am very lucky to still have my arm and proud to say that I healed amazingly well. My leg is fine from the graft these days however, my arm does have a rather large scar to remind me that I am still here kicking and screaming.
You had all the material for the album wrote before the accident, but as this happened the night before you were due to record, did you alter anything before you finally entered the studio?
I decided to re-write the lyrics for -Through the Wound’ so it became more of a vulnerable anthem of courage and recovery. Originally this song was called S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and dealt with a whole other subject matter which to be honest I was having a great deal of trouble getting my head around lyrically and vocally once I entered the studio to begin my recording. One day I just decided to change the theme of the song and -TTW’ was born. It made a huge difference for me lyrically and it just poured from me when I recorded it. It was very -in the moment’ and for sure one of the most emotional songs I’ve ever recorded.
Considering what you had just been through, is this album a lot more personal to you in relation to the others?
I would consider all of our albums very personal to us although this one felt a bit more like a diary in a few ways. -Through the Wound’ was such a personal song for me because I was talking about what I was living through. My arm was filled with staples and stitches and I wasn’t sure if I would regain full use of it in the end. I tend to write lyrics which are very true to my life and that being said makes it hard for them not to be personal on many levels. Even when I am telling a story metaphorically speaking, there is always that personal underlining relation for me as the author to my subject.
You and Mick (Murphy, MR guitarist) started Rovena Recordings a few years ago and both of the new albums are being released on this label. What encouraged you do this?
Mick and I made the decision to start Rovena when we met Chris Lisee (our bassist) who joined My Ruin in early 2005. It was something Mick and I had discussed for years and suddenly Chris began to discuss the idea with us. I think we all shared a mutual dislike for the -music industry’ and at the same time, we shared a similar vision for what we felt we needed to do with the band in order to survive and continue recording albums and making music on our own terms. Giving complete control to someone else was something that just never worked for us. We do not like the idea of managers or the machine like operations of most record labels telling us what to do. We know what we want to do and what we do not. It kind of happened slowly and we’re still learning about being a label. After my accident, we decided to cut all ties with our past on many levels and we fired our longtime attorney who was basically useless. He gave us terrible advice and did not believe in our band. We then hired someone to represent us who was the exact opposite. He helped me through my accident settlement and proved himself to us on a personal level. Once we got him involved it made a big difference in our business and on our stress levels.
You did the artwork on ‘Throat Full of Heart’. Is your art inspired by your music and lyrics or vice versa?
I believe my art has always been inspired by my lyrics and vice versa. They kind of go hand in hand. Our home (Mick & I live together) is filled with religious art. I am a collector and have always been influenced by religious iconography and imagery. I find it very beautiful yet brutal in a way, especially the stories behind most of the images. The Bible is one hell of a scary story and at times hard to relate to yet other times, I find myself relating to it on so many different levels that it becomes a like a muse for my own words. For some Religious art represents something frightening and I guess that’s true to some degree but for me, Religious art often has a very calming and soothing effect on my mind. I have no idea why. Growing up I strongly rebelled against it and wanted nothing to do with it. You would never know that by walking in my home today however. People often ask me what my Religion is and I say that my Religion is relationships and I am very passionate about my various relationships bad and good, past and present within my writing.