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Why Bother ?  {Ruin Web site}

November 1999

Why a Web site featuring an obscure band that hasn't been active in years?

If not for the success of their brief ReUnIoN in '96/'97, I wouldn't have bothered. This activity consisted of three shows with packed houses in Philadelphia and a cd re-issue of their vinyl recordings. The ReUnIoN confirmed that their old fans remain steadfast in their support. More importantly, it confirms that Ruin is able to excite new listeners and that the band's efforts are still worthy of attention. Why else would WKDU still give them airplay?

Consider also that Superchunk (indie rock band) covered one of Ruin's songs,"Hero", back in '96 for an ep cd. A song 9 years old by this time.

A fan (thanks, Puffy) recently emailed that the Ruin symbol has a cameo role ;-) in the hollywood movie, SLC punk (don't think I wanna see that tho').

I suppose it's nods of recognition like these over the years that compel me to do some documentation about the band.

Ruin was more than music, or at least aspired to be more. Initially, it was a propaganda project . Students of the arts, philosophy and religion, doing lab work with music. Experimenting with a way to be activists for social and individual evolution.

Founded in 1980 by Dr. Glenn Wallis, (then a religious studies' undergrad), Ruin was ostensibly a model "old school" hardcore "punk" rock musical group. This model was characterized by hyper speed rhythms, banshee lead guitar, raging vocals and ideological lyrics. A dillion dime a dozen bands exemplified this style but few were distinguished masters such as Dead Kennedys, Bad Brains or Minor Threat.

During the time this style was in its infancy, Glenn heard the call and joined the mutual evolution. He began scrawling poems to be roared with thrash tempo rhythms; songs that wanted to transcend entertainment.

Glenn was nurtured on artists such as the STOOGES, LEONARD COHEN, the Ramones, Sex Pistols, Stiff Little Fingers, SHAM69, and the CLASH. While he was shaping his vision, he was listening to Crass, (anarchist art punk band), and Motorhead, (seminal speed metal band). Glenn became convinced that rock could be a vehicle to help stimulate the transformation of one's being to a higher stage of development, resulting in positive social behavior.

Lofty aspirations

While he was forming a band to meet that aim, he began his missionary work and pasted the city with posters.

(here's an example of one posted in the later years)

They started a buzz in the scene because of their striking images of real life horror accompanied by words that appeared to be scrawled by a mad mystic on the lam. Juxtaposed by another band poster, the lack of gig listing made one wonder, "What is this Ruin?...Is this a poem? ...

What is this symbol ?"...

The Rest is Mistory

Ruin achieved headliner status locally in Philadelphia's mid sized music halls. Live, they experimented with noise, genre bending, pamphleteering, theatrics, and audience participation. They toured across the States a couple of times, and in their small way, helped to promote Buddhism as a means to enrich one's life.

Their last recording featured their flirting with mainstream rock. Theoretically, they were hoping to reach a wider audience to spread Buddhist ideas further, but basically they were becoming serious about pursuing a career as a rock band. This was frustrating as Ruin eventually found that rock as a business was overwhelming their creative efforts.

During their last year as a group, the band members re-evaluated their vocation and decided to pursue other courses, assuming they had done as much as they could as punk rockers on a mission.

Over a thousand dollars in debt, they disbanded before punk got pop, and missed capitalizing on the growing market for old-school punk in new boots. Still, I hear Ruin played on WKDU 91.7 FM. Just last week I was tuned in to a DJ (I didn't catch her name, but she was) telling us about one of her favorite Philadelphia bands,

"..Violent Society, who I think probably is the best punk band in Philly, definitely now ...definitely over the past several years, I don't know, they're up there with [pause] Ruin . . ."

Yesterday's Now Music Today

Glenn is currently a college professor teaching courses in Buddhism. He used to have a mission.

....still does....


The Sign of Ruin . . .

During a religious study class, student Glenn Wallis had a flash of cosmic consciousness while doodling in his notebook.

Upon returning to his ordinary state of consciousness, he discovered that he had been a medium for a transmission from another realm.

A whole page had been filled with the "automatic" doodling of a cryptic glyph, repeated many times over.

Glenn later adopted this glyph as the insignia for his hardcore rock band, Ruin... from there, this symbol, sign, insignia, (whatever), found its way to be graffiti, fingered in cement, painted on jackets and tatooed on living flesh.

It was rendered on canvas by Mike Stevens for the cover of Ruin's "Fiat Lux" lp, and later used for the "Songs of Reverie and Ruin..." disc label art .

Is it the secret sign of a benevolent occult organization?

Prof. Glenn has no comment.

 

 

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