EVERY MOTHER’S NIGHTMARE – Grinding On

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Rick Ruhl

Formed in Nashville, Tennessee in the early 90’s, hard rock band Every Mother’s Nightmare (EMN) is no stranger to the music scene.

After arriving on the Memphis rock scene, word spread about their energy-packed live performances gaining them the attention of Clive Davis, of Arista Records. After signing with Arista, Every Mother’s Nightmare soon became staples on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball with their music videos for Walls Come Down, Love Can Make You Blind, and House of Pain.

Today, Every Mother’s Nightmare is vocalist Rick Ruhl, drummer Lonnie Hammer, Guitarists Travis “Gunner” Butler and John Guttery, and bassist Troy Fleming.

The band is gearing up to release its new full-length album, Grind, on Oct. 6 via HighVolMusic– which features a guest appearance by Zach Myers of Shinedown on guitar for the track Loco Crazy and appearances by Jim Dandy (THE Jim Dandy of Black Oak Arkansas) guest vocals on Stand Up, and Wayne Swinny (Saliva) guitar on Snake.

Vocalist and founding member Ruhl recently interviewed with Screamer Magazine to talk about the band’s upcoming album, Grind.

As one might expect, there have also been many changes in the lineup throughout the years, with Ruhl now serving as the only original member. Even so, the adjustment is always easier to make when you enjoy the company of your bandmates, according to Ruhl.

“The band right now– on bass I have Troy Fleming. I’ve been with him for 20 years now. On the one guitar, I have John Guttery. I did a couple side projects with him. Our other guitar player, Travis Butler is a great guitar player. We’ve got a monster on the drums, Lonnie Hammer. The thing about these guys is that it can be real hard when you start changing members in your band. It can be hard to get a chemistry going. It’s hard to find five guys where everybody’s aiming at the same bullseye,” said Ruhl.

While the lineup may have changed since those primary days, what brought the band attention in its early days is still very much the primary focus for EMN, said Ruhl.

“The main thing we try to bring to our fans is the live show,” he said. “That’s why I started making music to play live and do my own songs. I love playing live and just getting to play with the guys. The band and the live show is what we’re working on the most. That’s the most fun. The most honest. You either gotta be on or you’re not. When it comes to our music, what we see and what we live is what we write about and what we play. It all comes from the gut and it’s real. It’s real. It’s heartfelt. It’s all something we lived and felt and just want to share.”

When it comes to his songwriting, Ruhl pulls from his many life experiences, both good and bad. As an example, Ruhl talked about the song Blown Away, which gives listeners a glimpse into a very personal moment between he and a friend from his personal life, who recently passed away.

“That song, for me personally, the whole song was pretty much a conversation that me and one of my very best friends had right before he passed away. A lot of the words and everything it’s talking about is stuff we were sitting in his room just looking out the window talking about stuff that’s happened and where we were at. He was my boy and the words came out and I don’t know how to explain it. He was a good guy and I loved him. He was my brother,” said Ruhl.

In their heyday, EMN received a great deal of national press and hit the road to promote the first two albums. This allowed them the chance to open for high-profile bands like Cheap Trick and Dream Theater. They performed many headlining shows, drawing in large crowds and selling out venues—days which Ruhl remembered fondly.

“That was a very big point in my life. I got to play in Nashville, actually to put this stuff together. I went there and played with Cheap Trick. At this point, we’ve done so many cool music festivals, Rocklahoma, all these things with all these great bands and it’s like… we were kind of the biggest band nobody ever heard of,” Ruhl said with a laugh. “It’s kind of cool now, with the internet and everything that people are more open to what you’re doing. I think that’s the best part of where things are at today in the music world.”

For many bands which have enjoyed long-term success, it can be difficult to break from the chains of monotony. While many of those bands lean into the sound that made them famous, reproducing the same single over again—EMN is looking to keep expanding beyond its creative horizons. Producer Justin Rimer, of Cross Trax Studios, served as a catalyst for some of that change and helped bring a revitalized sound to Grind, according to Ruhl.

“He’s produced a lot of records here in Memphis and I heard a bunch of stuff he’s done and I really just dug where he was at. We were really old school and we would just play rock n’ roll. We’d grip it and rip it and see what would happen. But I heard a bunch of his stuff and I really dug what he was doing and so I went and met with him in the studio. I showed him the songs that we were doing and what we do and just talked to him about how he’s got more of the modern-style, what’s happening today, and we did a little experiment… I didn’t know if it would actually work, but we did a little experiment with Loco Crazy and I loved the way it came out. It’s different. It’s more modern. It’s what’s going on but it’s still what we do and it’s still rock n’ roll. He definitely brought the biggest twist to the album.”

Having been on the music scene since the late 80’s, Ruhl said he can’t believe the changes he’s seen in the music industry since he started on this adventure nearly three decades ago.

“Music has changed so much since back then. Back then, you had to be a certain way, be a certain type of this or that just to get noticed or played back in the day. Now, with the Internet, you can go and find just great stuff everywhere,” said Ruhl. “When we did our first record, we played 13 shows and all of a sudden I had a record deal with Clive Davis at Arista Records. The biggest studio I would have been in before that was an old 8-track studio my buddy had in his basement at somebody’s house. The biggest thing that’s helped us mature is we jumped in there, we wanted to do this. I always wanted to write songs and do this and then I got a deal all of a sudden, but didn’t really know what we were doing. We were just four kids and everything was new! Then the first two records were real raw, real… inexperienced. They were a big learning experience for us.”

In his songwriting, Ruhl said he has been influenced by some of the sounds of his youth— harnessing influences like Alice Cooper and The Marshall Tucker Band.

“I grew up listening to Alice Cooper and most off-the-wall, Marshall Tucker, everything. Like those off-the-wall acts, we want people to listen to Grind with an open mind and dig in and see what it’s all about. There’s more in there than you would think,” said Ruhl.

Grind contains 11 tracks which include five from the band’s self-released EP, three new studio tracks, and three live tracks recorded during a performance at Minglewood Hall in Memphis, Tennessee. The enhanced CD also includes the videos for Loco Crazy, Blown Away, and the recently released video for Push.

With their sixth studio album recorded and ready to hit the shelves, Ruhl said he and his bandmates have absolutely no plans to hang their hats anytime soon.

“We’re already writing new songs,” said Ruhl, who added he can’t wait to see what’s next for the band.

Currently, EMN is set to perform with American hard rock band Kix in early November and are also set to perform at the 40th anniversary party for Memphis-based radio station, Rock 103, alongside Bret Michaels, Tora Tora and Roxy Blue in October.

The full list of upcoming shows for EMN can be found on the band’s website.

“I love my fans. Come out and see us and come out and hang,” Ruhl added. “That’s all we want, is for everybody to come see us live and leave all the other crap at the door and come out and have a good time with us, listen to some good songs and talk about some cool shit.”

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