Interview with Rick Ruin of Voodoo Lovecats; June 2006

Combining facets of glam and punk rock, and mixing them with a horror-based image, the Voodoo Lovecats are one of the few Australian independent glam/punk acts that made an impact worldwide in the 90's.

After recent interest in the band on the Glitzine messageboard 'Glitzinet' I decided to dig a bit deeper, unearthing Rick Ruin who agreed to answer a few questions for us.

Q1. Can you give us a brief history of Voodoo Lovecats. Where and how did VLC form, and how did it evolve over the years?

This girl I knew was always nagging me I had to come meet Shawn. She didn't know he was forming a band, just thought I'd get along with him. One day she caught me by surprise and I didn't have an excuse prepared, so I reluctantly said ok, I'd go with her to meet this guy, who incidentally just lived 5 minutes down the road from me. We did get along very well straight away, and that's when Shawn mentioned he was forming a band and asked if I was interested in trying out. I wasn't that keen, as I was making pretty good money in a cover band, but he talked me in to it. The first jam we had I thought was pretty rough, but what got my attention was the songs, and Shawn's unique singing style. Bear in mind I was a bit older than the other guys and had been playing in bars since I was 15, while they were relatively novices. I thought, well there's a lot of work ahead, but the potential is there. Kelli, who was on guitar at first, reluctantly agreed to switch to bass, and I became the lead guitarist. They asked if I was ok with wearing make up, which was fine by me as even as a kid I was in to Sweet, then Kiss, Crue, and loads of other make up wearing bands. The image was over the top glam, the likes of which hadn't really been seen in Australia. Kelli left soon after, and was replaced by Jay Frehley, who played bass on Children shouldn't play with dead things. He was later replaced by Eman.

Q2. The name 'Voodoo Lovecats' is interesting. What is the story behind the band name?

Shawn came up with the name. There wasn't really any story behind it, he just liked the sound of those 2 words together. It somehow suited us.

Q3. The band released a couple of cassette demos, followed by a couple of CD EPs. From the first demo to the final EP there is an obvious transition from bubblegum-glam to punk rock. How did this occur and was this an intentional move by the band?

We were all in to many varying styles of music, and I guess the band became a bit unfocused after a while, or maybe it was more different members pulling in different directions. At one photo shoot, Chaos announced he didn't want anyone wearing lipstick, which kinda took me by surprise. Then one by one they started cutting their hair off. Kelli was staunchly glam and he left the band by this stage. I considered it myself, but decided to stick it out and see what happened. Eventually we ended up with Eman on bass, and it just got more and more punk from that point. I do love a lot of seventies melodic sort of punk, like the Buzzcocks, Sex Pistols, Clash, Generation X, SLF, Star Club etc, so the transition wasn't that difficult for me, but I was never a hardcore punk fan. I don't think the music changed that much really, more just the vocal style and the image.

Q4. Did you guys hang with the punk crowd or the glam crowd, or somewhere in-between? What other bands did The Voodoo Lovecats play with during their time on the scene?

A bit of both. I felt more at home in a metal or Goth club. I got pretty heavily involved in the Goth scene after the band split. The bands we played with were usually either punk or Goth, like H Block 101, Blood Sucking Freaks, Cult 45, Oxymorons, The Redresser to name a few. We did gigs with more well known bands too, like Area 7, Living End, The Misfits, Face to Face, Suicidal Tendencies.

Q5. What is your favorite period of the band?

It's only toward the very end that I started having moments of not enjoying it anymore. I think when we started getting radio airplay on triple J and the video played on Rage, and write ups in the glossy mags was a really exciting time. I liked going to a club and talking to guys like Phil from Grinspoon, or Chris from Living End and feeling like you were part of the scene rather than an outsider. We'd have school girls asking for autographs when we walked down the street, and it just felt good to get that sort of recognition.

Q6. Besides Australia where did VLC make an impact, and what sort of sales did the band achieve?

To be honest, I never had much interest in the business side of things. Of course I'd show an interest if we started selling a lot of cd's, but we never had massive sales. I couldn't even give you a ball park figure, you'd have to ask the record company. I know there were releases in Germany and other parts of Europe, the U.S. and Canada. We got letters from all over the world, even Russia, so I guess they got hold of our stuff somehow!

Q7. When and how did the band come to an end?

The funny thing is there never was an official end. Eman decided to leave, and we had a hard time finding a suitable replacement, or maybe things had become a bit tense between certain members, so the inclination wasn't really there to try too hard to find a new bassist. I wasn't happy with some song choices, Creep decided he wanted to be a guitarist, Leigh was like Madonna or Marilyn Manson or something, just continually re-inventing himself every few months. When he went through his gangster rapper phase, I kinda lost interest. He seems to have stabilized now, and settled on a really cool image. The infuriating thing is it's pretty much exactly where he started, the whole horror/glam thing.
Personally, I would have been happy to take a break, but I didn't expect the whole thing to grind to a halt the way it did. Especially when we were just really starting to get somewhere and all the previous work was starting to pay off. This would have been '99 some time.

Q8. What has Rick Ruin been doing since the demise of the Voodoo Lovecats? Do you still keep in touch with any of the band?

Well I recorded 5 of my songs with Creep E, but never officially released it. I was never that happy with the vocals, so didn't want to sink more money in to mass producing it. I did get a lot of positive feedback and encouragement though, and a fair bit of airplay on alternative radio. I formed American Eagle Squadron, with Eman on bass and Dap Raved on drums (both of whom later joined the Deadthings). We played mostly self indulgent covers, with a few originals thrown in. Then Leigh Van Hell (formerly Candii Cane, then Chaos) began jamming with us, and it morphed in to what was actually the first incarnation of the Deadthings. I was doing the vocals. Then I was approached by Frank EEE to join BoyDotCom. We also got Eman in on bass and Jake (Creep E, Tracii Tantrum) on drums. After that I joined the Redresser playing bass for a couple of years.
I've pretty much stayed in contact with all members of the band. I've got a lot of respect for each one of them, and certainly don't have a problem with any of them.

Q9. With the renewed interest in the band is their any chance of a reunion? And if so, are there any plans to release anything or play live again in the near future?

Shawn, Jake and I have jammed recently and thought we'd give it another go. Leigh said he'd think about it, but he seems more interested in concentrating on the Deadthings, which is fair enough. We are currently auditioning bass players. The only way it's gonna happen is if we find suitable members to replace Eman and Leigh, otherwise I'd rather just let it rest in peace. I'm quietly confident we'll find someone though.

Q9(2) If things get off the ground again, any ideas as to what style the band will persue?

There won't be any radical changes to start with. We still want to record a lot of the songs we used to play live, and I've got some new tunes that will fit in nicely with our other songs. I'd like to co-write more stuff with Sicboy, because some of our strongest songs were done that way. I'd like to get back to the atmosphere we created on the "Children.." ep. Leigh's artwork and wall of sound guitar will be sorely missed, but I prefer to see it as an opportunity to come back bigger and better. One thing's for damn sure, it isn't gonna be any less wild and crazy!

Q10. Are there any lost recordings that fans have never had the opportunity to hear?

There's some stuff we recorded in St. Kilda in between the two ep's, but I'm not even sure if I've got a copy. If I find it I'll put it on a disc for you (if it doesn't sound too atrocious).
There's also a gig we did at the Espy that went live to air on 3PBS I've just dug up and put on a cd.

Q11. The past 2-3 years have seen a bit of a revival in the Australian glam/punk/rock scene. Bands such as The Deadthings, Sebasrockets, The shine, The Five Venoms and Hell City Glamours have all emerged and re-created a 'scene' that has been lacking over the past decade. Do you still keep an eye on the music scene, and are you impressed with the current crop of bands?

The Deadthings have improved a great deal over the last year or so. They seem to be moving in to a more melodic, Pretty Boy Floyd/Poison sort of direction. Sebasrockets remind me of the Toilet Boys, without the transsexual singer, great guys to hang out with. 5 Venoms have the best guitar players I've heard in a long time. When they played an Iron Maiden cover, I ran to the front and started head banging like an idiot. Hell City Glamours sound like Faster Pussycat some times. Oscar is a star. The Shine also has a big following, and instead of being competitive with other bands, really tries to help them get gigs and promotion. If there were more bands with the Shine's attitude, the whole scene would be much bigger and everyone would be better off. They're a class act.

Q12. What have been the highs and lows of your musical career to date?

Highs would be playing with the Misfits at Sydney, with Suicidal Tendencies on the Gold Coast, 'cos I always wanted to play the Playroom. All of us driving to Queensland for our first tour was an amazing and hilarious adventure. I really should write a book some time.
The 'El Noche" cd launch at the Tote was an amazing gig too.
Lows would be breaking it to FrankEEE that I was leaving BoyDotCom, cos he took it pretty bad, and I felt terrible about it. Breaking a string at the Arthouse with American Eagle Squadron first song, and then breaking a string on the spare guitar next song, thus having to do the rest of the gig with five out of tune strings was definitely a low point. You really feel the pressure when you're the front man!

Q13. To let us get more of an insight into the mind of Rick Ruin...

Beer or bourbon?
Bourbon

Blondes or brunettes?
Brunettes

Love or lust?
I'm sitting on the fence here. You need a bit of both.

Glam or Punk?
Glam

Sex Pistols or Motley Crue?
Crue..just

Pinball or playstation?
Pinball

Leopard Skin or Lace?
Leopard skin on me, lace on my girl.

Q14. Are there any other thoughts, messages or plugs you'd like to pass on to your fans worldwide?

Don't be afraid to contact the bands you are in to and tell them what you think. It's feedback from the fans that makes it all worthwhile. It's what inspires us to keep trying, keep writing songs, keep recording them. Even if there isn't much financial reward for us, just knowing that our music has made somebody happy gives me a great sense of satisfaction.

Check out our new website at URL

…and as a special treat for Glitzine my solo EP has been uploaded so you can have a listen. Check it out at URL

Interviewed by Lindsay B.

Visit the Voodoo Lovecats Website