Age Of Ruin: A Reawakening with Thieves
Age Of Ruin: A Reawakening with Thieves
Age of Ruin is a metalcore band from the Washington DC suburb of Fairfax, Virginia. The group formed in 1998, releasing albums on legendary underground labels such as Tribunal Records and Eulogy Recordings. The band would trek all across the country, including an epic summer spent on the Vans Warped Tour in 2004. Last heard from in 2008, nearly a decade later and right before the worldwide pandemic, a reawakening would occur within the ranks of Age of Ruin, resulting in a brand-new EP entitled Thieves.
Highwire Daze recently interviewed brothers and founding members Daniel Fleming (guitars) and Christopher Fleming (bass) to find more about the unveiling of Thieves, their return to the band after a long hiatus, hitting the highways of America on the iconic Vans Warped Tour, and a whole lot more! Read on…
We’re here with Age of Ruin. Introduce yourself and tell me what you do in Age of Ruin.
Daniel: Sure, I’ll go ahead and start. My name is Daniel. I play guitar in Age of Ruin. With me is actually my brother Christopher, who’s been in the band since we started this band back in 1998.
Great to meet you guys. So let’s just immediately start talking about the new EP. Is there any overall story or concept behind the CD title Thieves?
Daniel: Sure, I’ll go ahead and take a stab at that. The title track, the lyrics to that have the phrase `thieves and treason`, and it centers around a theme of being isolated and feeling like there are people, like sort of thieving or stealing away solid elements of one’s life. So the lyrics go, “Who will save us from thieves? Who’s betrayed us?” And it’s kind of like a feeling of isolation and needing to almost a desperation sort of call. The rest of the EP isn’t really as thematic as one might say. We wrote the whole EP during the pandemic. We actually started writing these songs right before the pandemic started. And as soon as we were ready to get into the studio, we started firming updates to get into the studio. This virus appeared. And you get where I’m going from there, right?
I do. And I figured that was the timeline too.
Daniel: Yeah. So it’s taken a little bit longer to get this out in people’s hands than we would have hoped, but it was a really interesting creative experience because of it. A lot of times fans, ourselves included, would take some time off, just enough time to hammer out some songs and get them into the studio, get them recorded. But because of the pandemic, there weren’t shows happening, and there were a lot of people at home doing a lot of stuff over zoom like we all saw, it just didn’t create a big sense of urgency for us to finish it as quickly as one might have wanted to at the time, but in a way that actually benefited us.
Where did the new members come from?
We had played some shows in around 2008, 2009 for a little bit as one form of Age of Ruin, and in doing so, we ended up playing a number of shows with a band called Absolute Vengeance, also from the Northern Virginia area. And when the time came, when we were getting this act back together in 2019 or so, we contacted one of the guitarist, Jonathan Clay, to come and join us, add his elements to it. And a little bit later, after we had recorded this particular EP, we got into the realm of actually venues opening up and us being able to play shows. And in doing so, about then when we gained the skills of Hendrik to come play drums with us, and when we recorded the EP and got back together, we contacted Jonathan Clay. We had also started working with Brian Gant, with the original singer of Absolute Vengeance at this point. Brian was the vocalist that’s featured on the Thieves EP that we just recorded.
What made you decide that 2019 was going to be the year to bring back Age of Ruin? Of course, not knowing there was a pandemic looming.
Daniel: Ken, I was looking through your site and I noticed that you started your page in 1990, which is really impressive. That’s a long run, 33 years of doing something. And I can only imagine that in that amount of time there were probably some periods where you may have taken a little bit of lapse and how much time you could dedicate to it. Around 2009, 2010 or so, I would say – this band never really broke up. It’s kind of like growing older. Things started taking different direction in people’s lives, like having children and getting married and things. So, we sort of just fell off our radar a bit. But we started getting back together in 2019, really just with the idea of playing with old friends. So, we started jamming, the two of us, with Jonathan and Brian, as you mentioned, right around that time, with our original drummer, Patrick Owens, who did record on the record. And it just felt like Age of Ruin again. And we were like, well, this is silly. We thought about just kind of starting this new project. It just all sounded exactly like we just picked it up from having not missed a beat at all. So it really kind of just came together organically, to be honest.
One of the recent shows that you did was with Madball at the Upstage Music Fest. What was that experience like? And did you get to meet or hang out with Madball at all?
Daniel: It was awesome.
Christopher: Yeah, it was great. That venue, I think originally they were talking about doing it outdoors, which they had done, I’m pretty sure, the year before. This was, I think, was the second annual Upstage Music Fest. And they did this one indoors because there was a question of the weather at that point. And they had two stages up right there. And it was really cool how they ran this. I think they had something like maybe 30 bands and having one setting up, going, punching you just hardcore and metal, everything just hitting you hard all day long. And, man, it was great. And Madball right there at the end to cap it off was just an amazing experience.
Daniel: Yeah. To add to that, you were asking, do we get to meet them? And yeah, man, they were hanging around and being really cool. The generation that followed kind of followed behind them and so they really were influential to us. We’re from DC. They’re from New York, pretty close, so we would get to see them a lot around our area. They played a lot of the old Super Bowls of hardcore and everything, so really interesting. And now I got a selfie with Freddie, which was really cool as a metalhead. Seeing the band has always been a really influential hardcore band. Now Freddie rocks long hair, it’s pretty cool to see those guys come around.
What was it like to go back on the stage again for the first time after this kind of hiatus that you did?
Daniel: It’s a great feeling around here. We’re taking an approach of involving a lot of the younger generation – kind of giving back to the young generation in the same way that the punk and a hardcore scene gave to us. So, we’ve been doing a lot. We’ve been setting up shows here locally and inviting younger bands as well as contemporaries to us, to play with us together. But the feeling of sharing what we do on stage, it’s just a great feeling. The return on investment, kind of telling people that’s what it is for us, it’s not a financial one. It’s a feeling of sharing the creative side of what we do and creating a community with our friends.
One thing I missed the Vans Warped Tour. And you guys played in 2004. I think you were on most of it. What was that experience like? What was the best part and the worst part about being on the Vans Warped Tour? Let’s ask it that way.
Daniel: So, we played local dates the two years before around here, and then we did the full tour. The worst part is like any tour, when you’re younger and you’re playing city to city, just trying to scrape up enough money for gas, and the unexpected happens. Blowing tires on the highway. You can’t expect for that kind of stuff to happen. Back then, cell phones were around, but it was back in the days where you’d be paying for roaming charges if you’re out of town and you’re not just looking up on your phone to find the nearest gas station. You’re actually using Atlases and going into convenience stores and asking people for help, which, in a way, in its own right, was kind of a cool experience. I don’t think a lot of people get to do that anymore. Or maybe they can. I mean, everyone can, but why would you when you have the convenience of a phone that can tell you how to get everywhere? The coolest thing about those opportunities was, man, just being able to be part of the whole experience and to be able to put the guitar down after you play and then shake hands with a lot of people and meet people. But then to walk around the corner and watch Bad Religion play. I can’t remember who the headlining act for that year, but just being part of that was just really an honor. And we were really grateful to be part of those tours.
What was it like being on those legendary underground labels like Tribunal and Eulogy?
Daniel: A really cool experience. And the friends we made on those labels. I still talk to a lot of those people today. In fact, we played in Pittsburgh last year, I think, well, I guess two years ago because it would have been, I think, December of 21, so a year and two, three months. And Matt, who founded Tribunal and runs Dive Bomb Records, he lives up there now, and he came out and hung out with us, and we maintained those friendships. And it was interesting because metalcore was really kind of new. I remember Eulogy when we sent them what ended up being the EP called The Longest Winter’s Woes. They were like, “Whoa, this is cool!” And when I finally started talking to the guys at Eulogy, they let us know they sort of opened the bag that we had sent them the previous EP that we put out on Tribunal, which was called Autumn Lanterns, and maybe only a year or two before we did the Longest Winters Woes. And they thought to themselves. And they told us, “We thought this might have been too metal and so we decided not to go with you guys.” And within a year or two, whatever it was, the time difference there, it was now coming around and bands like Atreyu who were on Tribunal are blowing up, and that whole scene was just becoming something that was a really fun time. It was a great experience.
What goes through your mind knowing that these recordings were created 20 years ago? Christopher, let’s hear from you.
Christopher: I take it from the notion that what we’re laying down now with our new EP’s and what we’ve been jamming on and writing since, that what makes it Age of Ruin, especially having a couple of newer members with it as well. And I think it all comes back from just the creativity behind it, the emotion that we put behind it. Just that it seems like even with the newer guys here, we all kind of have been listening to the same kind of stuff. We’re playing around with riffs that just seem to come from, The Age of Ruin, man, going back and listening to those songs. I would say we’ve been playing some shows. We’ve been taking several songs. It seems like we’ve at least got one song in the live set that we play off of each of those different albums or EPS. If we’re constantly practicing those, we’re jamming and playing them live, trying to lock them in, that kind of refreshes each of those formats and themes, that kind of riffage that you got, those melodies and that kind of stuff, it just sticks with us. So this new material,it’s fresh. We’ve each had 20 years or something to tone our instruments and acquire way better gear and techniques and stuff. And several of our guys are still taking guitar lessons to constantly improve. I mean, we’re all always learning, but it’s not shying away from what we did back then and we’re just trying to kind of take that to another level.
I don’t know if that really answers, but it’s like listening back 20 years, but we’re still playing those songs, so it’s still with us. As a matter of fact, the first record that we recorded, Black Sands of the Hourglass, we just recently had remastered just to make sure it was fresh and still available. Because actually, part of the rationale behind that was that the Bon Jovi song was getting flagged on Spotify and everything, because the original release didn’t have them credited correctly. Well, that sucks. We can’t share that. So we had it remastered and credited them correctly. And so now it’s available, but actually two songs off of that record that we recorded in 1999, we redid on this upcoming release, Thieves, and those are the last two tracks, which are called Withered Rose and Echoes In Stained Glass. And we took those songs musically to an entirely new level. So, I think a lot of the musicianship is us perfecting, and constantly learning over 20 years and being better musicians and taking those ideas and saying, how can we make this a more contemporary sound? And really something that we’re super proud to play. And it really shows, and we’re really excited for this release.
Would you like to do some touring in support of Thieves outside of your own home base?
Daniel: Yes, we do have some plans coming up. We’ve got nothing announced quite yet, a few things coming up in the spring. We actually are, believe it or not, because of the whole time and the pandemic. And now that things are starting to become a little bit more normal, we have more songs that we want to get in. So we’re trying to schedule some time to get in the studio. That’s not going to disrupt touring, but we do have plans to get out there on the road here, probably in early summer.
Are you guys involved in any other bands or projects outside of Age Of Ruin?
Daniel: Primarily, this is our band. I played guitar in Damnation AD, another DC band, from 2007 to 2013 or 14. And I’ve been trying to encourage them to do a 25th year anniversary show or a series of shows from their release, Kingdom of Lost Souls. And I’ve told those guys, “I want to watch your band play, not be part of, but I play if they wanted me to.” Our drummer Hendrik plays in a band called Treble Lifter, and they took a few releases out. A couple of different splits and stuff you can find up online. Otherwise, just kind of fun. Just having fun if we’re just kind of playing around with other people. But this is for both of us, our primary project.
Do you have any messages for Age of Ruin fans out here in the Los Angeles area who maybe haven’t seen you in a while?
Daniel: Our aunt lives out there in LA. I’ve got a lot of friends that live out there, so I actually am out there more frequently than you’d believe, but just, you know, it’s been a long time, so we’re excited to share this and hopefully get to reconnect with a lot of folks that we’ve missed and then make some new friends.
Age of Ruin is:
Brian Gant – Vocals
Daniel Fleming – Guitars
Jonathan Clay – Guitars
Christopher Fleming – Bass
Hendrik Osinga – Drums
(Interview by Ken Morton)
Age Of Ruin on Instagram