Interview ~ Rick Ruhl of Every Mother’s Nightmare

Holy Flashback Friday Batman! Have you ever had a band from the 80s/90s that you were into and, for whatever reason, lost track of? You find yourself wondering ‘whatever happened to (insert band name)?’ I struck up a conversation at a recent show that we were covering about the band Every Mother’s Nightmare when the topic of power ballads came up. “Love Can Make You Blind” has been a favorite of mine and has appeared on numerous mixtapes and CDs made throughout the years. The person I was talking to asked the same phrase from above and I had to give them the Cliffnote version (hope that isn’t too dated of a reference there) on the band’s history.

For those not in the know, lead singer Rick Ruhl has kept this train rolling since beginning in 1987. There have been ups and downs, life struggles and numerous personnel changes, but the band is stronger than it ever has been. They are about to release a new album entitled Grind on October 6 and it’s their first new full length album in fifteen years. Producer Justin Rimmer has added his magic to this well-oiled, seasoned and kick-ass machine and the result is something that will blow you away! It’s one of those albums that demands to be heard through big, loud speakers. Earbuds and laptop speakers just don’t do these songs justice. We sat down with Reverend Rick and he caught us up to speed on all things Every Mother’s Nightmare.

I think some bands have a tough time transitioning from being an 80s band trying to make music today, but still sounding current. For me, this new album captures that feeling of Every Mother’s Nightmare, but then it’s jacked up on steroids giving it a fresh, modern sound. I am curious as to how much Justin Rimer had to do with that. Did you guys talk about the sound that you were going for as you went into making this?

Rick Ruhl/Every Mother’s Nightmare: I heard a bunch of stuff that he had done; he’s a very talented person and writer. I kept hearing his name and stuff, so I just wanted to meet him. We were writing stuff for the Grind EP and his name kept popping up, so I went to his studio. We sat down and talked; I told him that I was old school rock and roll with my Marshall guitar, microphone and drums. I told him that I needed him to put the twist that he puts on it and the modern things that he does. That magic thing that he does needed to go with the magic that I do and let’s see if it works. We tried it with one song to see if it would mix together and that was “Loco Crazy” and I was blown away. We changed a few things, a few words, it clicked and just happened. He’s so easy to work with; he’ll just grab a guitar and we’ll sit down and start writing. It was awesome and for him to give an 80s rock band a shot with all of the other stuff that he’s doing is much appreciated.

This was first released as an EP, so are those same five songs on this new album version?

Yes, those five are and when I ran into Bill Chavis from High Vol he told me that he wanted to do a deal and release a whole album. That sounded good to me, so we wrote three more songs and threw them on there. We were going to do some more, but it was a timing thing. We played a benefit for Patrick Francis the bass player for Tora Tora. Everybody in town got together and rallied for him and the show was recorded for a Blu-ray/DVD. They happened to shoot us over a couple of mixes of it and it’s real hard to get a board mix to come across that’s worth a crap. We listened to it and it was pretty good; it’s not perfect, but it’s not supposed to be. I said that we should throw three of those live songs on there too as well as putting three videos on it. We’ll just see what it does; it’s just rock and roll!

You got that right brother; it is rock and roll and it’s needed in this crazy music industry today. It’s hard driving, catchy and infectious choruses, crazy licks throughout and a ton of fun. If you are a lover of rock and those elements, how can you not gravitate towards this new alum?

We play what we see and we write what we live; it’s all gut and it’s all lived. It’s nothing contrived or anything like that. If it feels good to all five of us and we’re not fist fighting over it, then it’s great.

“Loco Crazy” is one hell of a way to kick open the door on this album. You not only kick the door open, but you kick the damn thing down! Zach Myers from Shinedown is on that one and I was wondering how that connection came about.

I’ve known Zach since he was just a little ol’ kid; I think I was actually the first person to record him. He had his blues band as he was growing up and they would come over to my studio. I would record him and watch him grow up and become the player that he is today. We were recording with Justin and I saw Zach and just asked him if he wanted to record on a track. He told me that he’d love to; he did some fills on some other things too. He and Wayne Swinny (Saliva) are both very talented guitarists; if they say they want to play on your record, then come on in!

I’m a huge Shinedown fan, but I think everyone really needs to see Zach do his solo stuff to truly appreciate what that guy is all about. I knew the guy was great and I had a ton of love and respect for him, but that all quickly elevated when I saw him on his solo run.

That’s where he really shines; that’s how I’ve known him most of my life. Just sitting there on a stool with his guitar and doing his thing. He used to make me mad with how good he was and he was only twelve.

Speaking of young, how old were you guys back when those first two albums came out?

Steve (Malone) and Mark (McMurtry) had to graduate high school before we could come to Memphis. We were eighteen to early twenties. We wrote a whole album worth of stuff wanting a record deal, but we didn’t know what we were going to do with it when we got it. We played thirteen shows and were thrown in the middle of this producer’s showcase and it was off to the races. We played thirteen shows and all of a sudden we were in this big old studio recording.

 At that age, how did you handle all of that? That’s a lot to have thrown at you at such a young age.

The songs on the first two records were good for what we were doing then and for our ages, but we just didn’t know. We didn’t have enough seasoning and we were just thrown in there. Here’s a $100,000 recording studio and a couple hundred thousand dollars, now go make a record. How do you do that? I’ve learned a whole lot from then until now and I’m glad I did it that way; I’ve always had to learn shit the hard way. That’s the only way it sticks with me!

You’ve pretty much kept this going through all of the years in some way, shape or form. You have a whole new lineup with you, but Troy (Fleming) has been with you about twenty years now.

Twenty, twenty one years now; he’s been in the band longer than the original members were.

What happened with the other guys from the original lineup?

Life takes presence over anything and I have no hard feelings towards any of those guys. Steve told me in one of our talks that we had been recording, writing, touring or going somewhere over the last five years and he was just done. If you’re done with it, then you need to go because I don’t need anyone who’s done with it. I think Mark felt pretty much the same; Jim had kids and was doing his thing. Things happen and people leave; it’s a scary thing when you have a band because of the whole chemistry thing. I’ve lucked out three times so far with that; I love this band that I have with me right now. They’re a straight forward rock and roll band; five guys with their heads aimed in the same direction. All we want to do is go play in front of people and nothing else.

I can hear the excitement in your voice; sometimes things like this happen for all of the wrong reasons. Almost every time, you can pick up on that if you’re truly being receptive standing out there in the audience. You can only fake it so much up there on the stage.

There are a lot of bands in my position and 80s bands too and what they do is their business. I don’t want to be known for what I’ve done, I want to be known for what I’m doing. I’m living day to day and I’m going to keep on trudging.

There was a bit of a gap between Wake Up Screaming and Smokin’ Delta Voodoo and then another gap between Deeper Shade of Grey and the Grind EP. Was that just life getting in the way?

I had two great guitar players in Travis Holland and Jeff Barnes playing with me on Smokin’ Delta Voodoo and Deeper Shade of Grey, but people get married, have kids and move on.

By the way, I have to add that I think Smokin’ Delta Voodoo is a very underrated and underappreciated album.

That whole album was a pretty rough go; that album was a bit of a recovery for me. Every bit of it was lived, struggled and fought where I was at my lowest point. I had an 81 Corvette four speed and I sold it to one of my guitar players so that I could go make that record. I was living in Memphis on someone’s sofa and I decided to throw all of my eggs in one basket and see what happens.  You have to do that from time to time because the ones who are worried about getting paid are the ones who won’t ever get paid. I’m not worried about getting paid right now; I just want to get in front of people and play.

You see bands from the 80s putting out new material these days, but it’s few and far between. Once this thing comes out, how do you gauge its success?

My biggest success is going out and playing this stuff live. Every night when we play “Loco Crazy” the crowd just goes nuts and that’s success to me. We played a club in Chicago on a Sunday night that might hold 100 people if you crammed them in there. It was probably half full and about midnight and we ended up jamming for about an hour and a half. If there are one or two people into what you’re doing, then that’s the payoff in my book.

Hopefully those two will tell a few friends the next day that they should have been there.

Yeah, you missed the greatest band that you’ve never heard of! (laughs)

The album is due out on October 6, so what’s on your radar after that?

Our first order of business is this Rock N Pod thing in Nashville and I’m not sure exactly what it is. I’m on a talk panel with Michael Wagner and people much more successful than me. I’m worried about it because I don’t know what I’m going to say because I have been known to say the wrong thing at the right time. We will be out with KIX on November 4 in Detroit and that’s going to be pretty awesome. October 28 we will be doing a 40th anniversary radio station party in Memphis with Bret Michaels, Tora Tora, Roxy Blue and Under The Radar which is going to be a pretty good deal too.

One last question for you and it’s a two parter. If you could go back and give the younger version of yourself any advice, would you? What would you tell the younger you?

I think I might and I would tell myself to slow down, look and see what you’re doing first. I don’t know how to put that any other way; be aware of your surroundings.

Get your copy of Grind HERE!

Every Mother’s Nightmare : Rick Ruhl (lead vocals), Lonnie Hammer (drums), Travis “Gunner” Butler (guitar), Troy Fleming (bass), John Guttery (guitar).

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