Interview with Kaddisfly frontman Christopher Ruff

- Apr 24, 2007 at 03:24PM
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Coming to you all the way from Portland, Oregon is the five piece progressive rock band known as Kaddisfly. Named after a small moth-like insect, these guys have been on tour for quite some time before and since the release of their latest record Set Sail The Prairie. In fact, Kaddisfly has been a very active band in terms of touring ever since its formation in the year 2000, winning over fans all across North America. They are also somewhat unconventional for today’s standards of rock and alternative music as their message and lyrics pertain to things such as altruism and spiritualism rather than your average song about girls, alcohol or depression. Recently we caught up with Kaddisfly’s lead singer Christopher Ruff on the band’s stop in Toronto as part of the Take Action! Tour with The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. Here’s what Chris had to say....

You guys have been touring almost non-stop for the past six weeks on the Take Action! Tour. How’s the tour been so far and how does it feel to be a week away from its finish?
Chris: It’s been awesome so far, it’s for a great cause and we’ve had some great bands, all the rooms have been great too so all around it’s been a really awesome time. The fact that it’s over pretty soon, ah it’s a little sad but you know we’ve been out since February 1st so it’s a good size tour, we covered the whole U.S. and obviously this Canadian date so we feel fulfilled and satisfied by it and we hope that we helped spread a little positivity and helped spread the message of the tour and some good music along the way.

How did you come to be added to the Take Action! Tour in the first place?
Chris: Ah, I guess Sub City just kind of approached us and obviously it was an easy choice, I mean it’s a great tour so we agreed to it.

Now that you guys have been doing this tour for almost two months, I’m sure you have some fond or funny memories of the experience. Are there any shows that were particularly good or bad that stand out in your mind?
Chris: You know, overall it’s just been pretty consistently good, I’m trying to think, I know there was a College show in there where I got threatened to be beaten up outside by a security guard because I was kind of like standing on him while we were playing. That was kind of funny, but he got kicked out of the show. Other than that, you know it’s been a lot of driving, a lot of hanging out and just meeting fans and meeting friends, pretty late nights but nothing too crazy, just getting down to business and trying to spread the message of the tour and play some good music.

Let me touch a bit on the origins of the band. Kaddisfly has been around now for about five years but how did the band originally come together in the first place?
Chris: Yeah actually Aaron one of our guitarists and I have been playing together for I guess roughly ten years now ever since high school and the band was just a natural progression from that. Kaddisfly itself has been together for six years and we call Portland home, that’s kind of where the band originated. We’re all originally from different parts of Oregon, Eugene and Ben came together collectively in Portland and I guess we’ve been on tour now for over three years basically. We all use to live together in a house in Portland too.

Not only have you been touring like crazy on the Take Action! Tour but you guys as a band have been touring almost non-stop now for about two years. What’s it been like to be on the road for this long? Is there any break in sight for the band?
Chris: No significant break in sight. I mean it gets intense at times but it’s kind of become a lifestyle and it’s kind of come to define who we are. As long as we love the music that we’re playing, I think we’ll be into it, obviously there’s ups and downs like with anything, but doing a tour like this is a big motivator, it shows how much you can really affect and impact people and it shows that we actually have potential at making a career at what we want to do here, plus we just had a new record come out and the response has been good. We’re positive people and we have a good outlook and love what we do.

Your latest album is titled Set Sail The Prairie and was just released less than two weeks ago. Now that it’s out, how do you personally feel about the record and what sets it apart from your previous albums?
Chris: Ah, I actually really like the record, I think it turned out as great as it could have been given our recording budget, we’re all pretty thrilled with it. As far as comparing it to our earlier material, I’d say it’s more mature, um, it’s just kind of the next evolution of what Kaddisfly is, it’s not really a different band per se, it’s just better in my opinion. You know, we’re all better at our instruments, it’s a better recording, it’s more thought out and more went into the making of it and there’s more thought behind it and hopefully people can recognize that and appreciate it. But that’s not to downplay our older stuff, I mean there’s a time and a place for everything and like anything in life we just hope that we can grow and mature in a positive and good way.

What was the writing and recording process like for the new album? Was the process at all different this time around from the writing on your previous albums?
Chris: Um, we recorded Set Sail in three locations in Oregon, we tracked drums in a studio out in the woods outside of Portland and also did piano and organ and some other oddities there. And uh, we moved into a house on the Oregon coast to track guitars and bass and some other odds and ends again and then went back to the city of Portland in a studio to do vocals and mixing and put some finishing touches on the record. In comparison to the last album, we did that one entirely in a studio out in L.A., it felt a lot staler, it didn’t feel like there was as much depth or as much of an overall vibe to the album. We thought we were able to catch more of a vibe back in Oregon and doing it there.

I read that originally Set Sail The Prairie was suppose to be released this past September, but unfortunately the album was pushed all the way back until March. Can you shed some light on the reasons for the lengthy delay?
Chris: I’d call it pushed forward. [laughs] But yeah, we just wanted to give it more time to marinate. We felt like we came out with a great product, I don’t think our label really expected what we delivered to them, I think they were probably hesitant to do this record in the first place, but after hearing it, they felt different towards the whole thing. And we collectively decided to release it later because it made more sense, um; you just have longer to build it up. Everything works different when you’re with an indie label, you don’t have a thousand hands working on what’s happening in promotion and marketing and everything else, it’s a small group of people trying to make good decisions and dealing with several different bands. So by allowing us more time, it let everyone breathe and gave them space to make better decisions and find better options which has happened, this tour panned out and the record came out right in the middle of it. And it let our music soak into a lot of people for longer, it let it sit in their hands as a promotional material longer which I think made for a better response in the end because our music I feel like isn’t something that people can latch onto super quick. I think we’re one of those bands that have the ability to grow on people and like a lot of my favorite bands; I didn’t like them at first. I think that’s how we come off to some people who don’t like us at first and then you know, over time people for whatever reason will end up listening to it and end up liking one song, two songs, three songs....

There are of course fourteen tracks on Set Sail The Prairie and twelve of them are assigned to a specific month of the year while the other two are named after the solstices found on the Gregorian calendar. How did this whole concept or idea come about for the record?
Chris: It came about kind of at the end of the making of the last record. We just wanted to do something interesting and first and foremost write good songs, we’re a band so we want our music to be good, but we threw a little something extra in there. The whole concept thing is kind of multi-layered; the record goes through an array of different emotions that people may feel in different situations and places. It just kind of came from our hearts and we’re pleased with how it turned out.

I wanted to briefly touch on the subject matter of your song lyrics. Your lyrics touch on subject matter such as altruism and the power of the human spirit and are certainly more uplifting than most bands’ lyrics today. Where do get the ideas and inspiration for your lyrics?
Chris: Hmm, I don’t know, it just kind of happens. When I write, I see no reason in writing something that’s already been written and a lot of things have already been written, but if I think that I can say things, I want them to be for a purpose and a reason. I don’t necessarily write to vent my own personal feelings about things, it’s more of a total package for me, taking the whole world into account and seeing the relationships between everything and how things that affect me are the same things that affect everyone else. I guess I like to write from the big picture, that’s how I write. I’m happy for whatever people can take out of my lyrics, I know a lot of people don’t have a clue about what I’m talking about and that’s the point a lot of times. I know some people have taken the time to dissect and get into the lyrics and I’m glad that we’re able to make a positive impact on people.

Everything seems to be going great for you guys at the moment. What does Kaddisfly have planned for the rest of 2007?
Chris: Um, right now after this tour we are doing a few dates on the way home and that will get us pretty close to home. So we’ll be home for a little while, we’re going to do something in mid-May to June, possibly something in Canada I don’t know, I can’t say exactly because nothing’s for sure. And after that, we’re going to be home for a little while and then we’ll be doing the second half of the Warped Tour this summer so that’ll be a lot of fun. So that’s as far ahead as we’re looking so far. So other than that, we’re just going to be hanging out, writing music and we hope the album does well.  [ END ]
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