Ahead of their upcoming European reunion tour in July, RUINER vocalist Rob Sullivan sits down with us to discuss his professional MMA career, reuniting one of the hardest working mid-late 00’s melodic hardcore punk bands from Baltimore, and going back to Europe.
RUINER (2004-2010; 2016-now) are heading back to Europe this July. They will play 10 shows in 7 countries, including a Fluff Fest performance in Rokycany, Czech Republic. The trek comes 8 years after their last European tour with CARPATHIAN and marks their first European tour since their reformation in 2016.
19.07.18 Germany Karlsruhe Die Stadtmitte
20.07.18 Belgium Herk de Stad Rock Herk Festival
21.07.18 UK London Boston Music Room
22.07.18 Germany Oberhausen Kulttempel
23.07.18 Germany Hamburg Hafenklang
24.07.18 Denmark Aalborg 1000 Fryd
25.07.18 Germany Chemnitz AJZ
26.07.18 Poland Warsaw Poglos
27.07.18 Hungary Budapest Dürer Kert
28.07.18 Czech Republic Rokycany Fluff Festival
Hey Rob! Thanks so much for taking some time with us here on IDIOTEQ. Appreciate it! How are you? How’s Baltimore?
Things are good. Baltimore is currently in rain season so I have been dealing with that. We have been experiencing some issues with flooding. I stay pretty busy with my home and work life.
Before we get to RUINER, it’s hard not to mention your recent retirement fight in MMA. What promped you to leave the cage and how does it feel now that’s it’s over?
I started feeling like the miles were adding up. I wasn’t as focused as I liked to be and was always training around injuries. Also a lot of personal distractions. It became very hard to have a proper camp. I love the sport and love fighting but I needed to stop.
When did you first begin training for MMA and what sparked your interest in the sport?
I wrestled from a pretty young age. I would say the competitive drive/work ethic is what kept me always wanting to tour so much when Ruiner was full time. At some point in my mid twenties a lot of my friends were getting into BJJ and a few were fighting. I got asked to come in and help with the wrestling side of things. That was when Ruiner was also at our most active. I would come home from tour and do what I could for everyone in training. It took a few years for when I really started dedicating myself to BJJ and kickboxing. As Ruiner wrapped up I was training constantly if I was home. At first I was pretty apprehensive of fighting. I definitely considered it but I really didn’t want to go from touring constantly to another constant grind. Obviously that opinion changed quickly. I took my first fight less than 6 months after Ruiner’s final show.
What’s the most satisfying thing about training and competing?
The constant push and structure was something that always drove me. I am very much a creature of habit so it kept me focused to be back in the gym everyday. To that the most satisfying feel with reaching the competition and feeling I had progressed through out camp/in my training.
Which moments of your career do you feel were the most satisfying? Also, was there something that could have been done to make it more successful? That Bellator performance perhaps? By the way, why didn’t you stay there?
The quick answer for Bellator is that you get an open contract early on. They bring you in under the guise that they can bring you back but they will need to pay you more. So if you didn’t have some big standout win, you probably won’t get that call.
As for the first question that’s a pretty hard thing to answer. Maybe if I was able to maintain fighting at the 135 weight class I would have been more successful. Maybe if I stayed single and took on no other outside distractions. Maybe if my knee never blew out. A lot of things could have went into this. It’s a really hard question to answer. I would travel and train with some of the best in the world. I would feel very confident in those experiences but things don’t always play out as well as you had planned. It’s a tough sport and you can’t beat father time.
Ok, so to wrap up the MMA part of our talk, which orgnizations, promising fighters do you follow and what things in MMA maes the biggest impression on you these days?
This could be such a long answer but I really don’t want to keep talking about MMA. Just keep your eye on Baltimore. We have a lot of guys finally about to break out of here.
Fair enough. Will you remain involved in martial arts in any way or do you plan to focus on your life outside of the sport?
Yes absolutely. I manage a gym, train fighters and I am still training in some manner every day. Right now my focus is just pulled in a lot of different directions.
Alright Rob, so here’s the inevitable. The RUINER reunion. Please take us back to late 2015 / early 2016 and tell us about the path that led you to reunite the band at This Is Hardcore Fest in 2016.
We were all in town for one reason or another (Two members live out of state now). A comment was made about trying to get together and actually try our hand at playing some songs. A few months went by and we finally did this. At the end of this get together Joey, our drummer, said so what are we doing here. It sorta felt like if you slept with an ex in some random one night fling. We all talked that we were open to play shows.
Enter Dom from Pulling Teeth (now Integrity). I was putting down flooring in his house and he asked me if Ruiner would play TIHC if Joe asked. I said I don’t know and rattled off some reasons why I don’t think it would happen. The next day I was over Dom said so… I talked to Joe… I knew at that minute chances are this was happening.
The reason we got back together was why not. It’s the lineup that toured the most together and wrote the majority of our music for the most part. Its fun again and far less stressful.
What happened next? Was the early 2017 gig in Baltimore a logical next step or a way to keep you from parting your ways again? Was it already clear by then that you’ll be playing more shows?
Once we got back together we knew Baltimore had to be in the cards. No matter what we did we have to play home once. With doing TIHC we had already decided that this should be a thing we could do when we could. Everyone has families or very real jobs now. Its not easy for us to take off. If we can make something happen we will- is the approach we are taking.
It’s been one year since your last shows in California. How was that tour and how did it feel to be on the road again? What did you miss the most about touring together?
Well it was more of a long weekend get away than a tour but it was fun. We had one really bad show and three really good ones. As a whole it was fun to get back to it. I think all of us missed the ability to unload our shit to each other. Being in a band is also like a form of therapy. Ok maybe I just miss that but I feel like so do the others.
Tell us about the upcoming European tour. How did it come to fruition?
We knew if we got back together we were going to do something in Europe again. Its not something you can pass up. Its always been such an amazing experience. We were trying to do it last summer but one of us had just got a new project at work. We weren’t willing to have him risk that for something we could do in the future. Its not like we have a record support. We are doing this to have a good time.
What do you remember about your previous Euro treks? What memories do you associate of that time?
Well I remember the first couple of times going to Europe felt so odd to me. I wasn’t always the nicest guy (not that I ever seem to be). Being treated so well actually just felt wrong. As I got older I grew to appreciate how things work over there. I am definitely excited to come back.
How do you feel that you have grown over the years and how do you feel that the hardcore punk scene has changed? Do you have a different perspective on it now that you’re older?
I can’t act like I stayed greatly connected. I still listen to the same bands I always have. I keep my ear to the ground to hear whats going on but as a whole I am not involved the way I once was. Fighting took up every extra second of my life. I would be lucky if I made it to 5 shows in a year.
My outlook is still similar though. Just older and more mature I guess. I still find the idea of community to be one of the most important things both in Punk and in life.
Ok, so apart from touring, is there anything in particular you are looking forward to with RUINER in the coming months? Can fans expect more shows in the States or perhaps a new record?
I am just excited to get back to Europe. I think this will be a really enjoyable and needed time away from home for everyone. Add in the amount of people we haven’t seen in nearly a decade.
We will be playing Baltimore the day we get home from this tour. I don’t want to say if we will play a ton more. We will try to play when its possible.
As for a record… As of right now I don’t see that happening.
Speaking of records, what bands and albums do you listen to while working out? Give us some recommendations that would fuel our hungry souls and inject some energy to our muscles.
Ok so I have a lot of playlists. They usually contain AFI, Ceremony, American Nightmare, Modern Life Is War, Less Than Jake, Disfear, Strung Out, Bane, Suicide File, some sort of rap like Doomtree, or older Ice Cube. Bad Religion and a lot of Misfits makes it on there.
The same shit I have been listening to since I was a kid.