It was a dark and stormy night in Richmond, IN this past Sunday night, but no amount of rain could stop Every Mother’s Nightmare from delivering a high energy, hard rocking set at Firehouse BBQ & Blues. The band burst on to the scene back in 1990 with their self-titled debut record. Twenty-seven years later the band has added to their impressive legacy with the release of their new album, “Grind.” The record sees the Tennesse based band continuing their hard rocking ways, while evolving their sound to contend with the best of what 2017 music has to offer. “Grind” features guests appearances by Shinedown’s Zach Meyers, Wayne Swinny of Saliva and the iconic Jim Dandy. But the true stars of the record are the guys from EMN. Rick Ruhl on vocals, Troy Fleming on bass, Travis “Gunner” Butler and John Guttery on guitars and Jim Phipps on drums.
The guys gave their all in a high energy set for the Richmond, IN rock faithful, but were gracious enough to give me some of their time after their set. Sadly, John Guttery was with us only in spirit due to a stomach bug. A huge thank you to Rick, Jim, Gunner and Troy for a great talk. It was a great honor for me. I hope you all enjoy reading this as much as I did talking with these guys. And be sure to pick up your copy of “Grind.” I know you will love it!!!
The Music Room: I’m sitting here with four of the guys from Every Mother’s Nightmare who just finished playing a killer show here at Firehouse BBQ & Blues in Richmond, IN. How did you guys feel about that set?
EMN: (cheers of praise)
Rick Ruhl: I thought it was awesome! I think this is one of the nicer places that we’ve played in a long time.
Jim Phipps: They treated us so well…
RR: Man, anything we wanted all day. I mean look at this room! Sometimes we are in actual closets.
JP: We’ve had a really good run since rehearsals back in Memphis. Last night was great (Harpo’s in Detroit, MI) and tonight was great. We had fun.
TMR: You guys are promoting the new record your new record, “Grind.”
RR: We’re planning on playing it as much as we can, everywhere we can, any time we can.
Travis Butler: To anyone who will listen.
RR: To anybody who will listen…we’ll play it.
TMR: You guy have been around since the early nineties. You guys went through the MTV circuit and the scene back in that day…
RR: We call it the ballad to be valid era.
TMR: So tell me about “Grind.” Why put out a new record at this point in your career when so many people are saying rock is dead and that there is no point in making new music? Why does Every Mother’s Nightmare have a new record out?
RR: There are a lot of bands from our era, I’m not going to name names…I’m not saying it’s a bad thing at all, but they’re living off what they’ve done. We don’t want to be known for what we’ve done. We want to be known for what we’re doing. We want to keep pushing the envelope as music changes. “Grind” came about as an experiment. We called Justin Rimer, he produced the record. We kept hearing stuff that he had done and it was awesome. We told him that we’re an old school rock n’ roll band. Turn us on and let us go. We didn’t even think he would give us the time of day. We just said can you put some of your wang into our wang.
JP: Let us do what we do and put more modern…
RR: Yeah, we had to come up to date.
Troy Fleming: Justin Rimer at Cross Trax Studio in Tennessee. The guy is amazing!
TB: Yes he is. He’s the best in the business.
RR: What had happened was, we went in with “Loco Crazy” and just did an experiment with it. He said let’s go into the studio and do one song. We’ll see if it happens…if it gels. We came out and it was right where we wanted it, but totally left field of what we thought we were going to do. We took it down and dissected it. We came at it with a different perspective and just loved it. We said let’s do a whole record. We couldn’t get enough songs done fast enough.
TMR: Let’s talk about that. “Grind” originally started off as an E.P. Then just recently you guys released it as a full-length album. What happened and what caused the record to evolve into a full length?
RR: Us banging around and selling it out of the trunk of our car. We played for a friend of ours in Houston. He was friends with Bill Chavis from High Vol Music. He called him up and said man, have you seen the nightmare’s lately? You need to call them and see what they’ve got going on. He called and I sent him an E.P. He called back and said, let’s do a full record. I said well, let’s do it. When we decided to make this record, it wasn’t a comeback record. It was just the next evolution of this band. We said we want to put three live songs on here. We recorded eight new songs…
TB: We put some videos on it.
RR: We threw some videos on there. One stop shopping with EMN.
TMR: I talked to a couple of you guys earlier about it, but I thought it was really cool that you all are not only doing a vinyl pressing of the record, but you are doing a really impressive and cool vinyl pressing.
RR: Man, you can’t get vinyl anymore. He said they were going to press vinyl and he sent a picture and it was green. I said IT’S GREEN!!! It’s awesome and beautiful.
JP: And I don’t even have a record player.
TF: Me neither
RR: Hey, my kid doesn’t even know what a record player is. What is this thing you’re spinning around there?
TMR: As a fan, sometimes that is the difference between buying a record and not. You have so many bands putting stuff out, but then you see that green vinyl and say, I have to get that. It shows you all put time into it, and that means something.
RR: Yeah. I told them that we want the first ten just for us. We’re going to keep them. I know they are making a comeback now, but you never know when you’re going to see that again.
TF: We never quit playing. We wrote a lot and played some shows here and there. It’s just more serious.
RR: The music scene got really bad for a while. We were playing people’s garages and basements.
TMR: I ask a lot of bands about this. Obviously, when you first came on the scene it was the age of the big record company. Then with Napster and all of the streaming that all changed. But with what the business has turned into, does it benefit a band like you guys?
RR: What I think about it, with the internet now…Like I said, back in the day you had to have a ballad to be valid or you had to be whatever radio was pushing. With the internet, you can go on there and find anything. There is so much good stuff. It’s kind of a catch 22, but if you want to find really good stuff all you have to do is go out there and look for it. It’s out there. That’s very cool. When I started listening to music there was Van Halen and bands like Marshall Tucker. It was all out there, you just had to hear it and go find it and dig it out.
TB: But you know back then, I think that was a more fun experience. You don’t have a computer. You have to go to the record store and go through the bins.
RR: You got to mow the grass to buy the Ozzy Osbourne record!
TB: I would mow one lawn a week, that’s what I did man. That’s how I got my Iron Maiden collection. I’d mow one lawn a week and then I would go out and get an Iron Maiden tape.
TF: You had an Iron Maiden collection?
TB: Oh my gosh, I had an Iron Maiden collection! I had “Piece of Mind.” I had “Number of the Beast.”
RR: Hey man, he’s still got his Star Wars action figures!
TB: This is funny actually. I was allowed to have “Number of the Beast” but I was not allowed to have Motley Crue “Shout at the Devil.” My mom actually went out and bought Van Halen “Fair Warning” and said I’ll trade you. Just give me that Motley Crue tape. I was like OKAY!!!
TMR: Like you said, you have never really stopped playing, but for a while there Jim was out of the band. Just this October he came back. Can you talk about how that came about and what brought you back?
JP: Actually, Rick and I have never really been not in touch. There were times where there really wasn’t an Every Mother’s Nightmare. Rick owned a studio and I would come down on the weekends. We would record anything we could. But in 2008 I left the band and went back to Nashville. I toured with a couple of national artists.
RR: He went country. He went to where the money was.
JP: Well, when you get a paycheck at the end of the month …it’s pretty nice.
RR: It’s pretty good, ain’t it?
JP: It’s pretty good.
TF: He’s still got his hair though, so he’s good.
RR: It kind of worked out…it was just good timing there. We went to an iPod expo in Nashville and I stopped by his house for about two hours. He had a gap in his situation and we had a gap in our situation. I just happened to stop by his house to shake the sh!t for a couple of hours and I said what do you think about coming back?
TMR: That is really cool. There is obvious chemistry there.
RR: Yeah, among all of us.
JP: Troy has been in the band for twenty years.
TMR: So the record is still fresh, but are there any plans for the future?
JP: We’re going to ride it as long as we can ride it.
TF: You know, with Jim back it’s tight again. We’re going to go back and start writing for the next one. We have new stuff backed up actually.
RR: We have a couple of songs in the can right now. We’re working on re-releasing “Delta Voodoo.” Bill is really into that. It’s a record we did a while back on Perris Records. Bill from HighVol just really liked that, so we are going to remaster, re-press it and put a new cover and pretty pictures on it. We’re going to ship it out and see how it does. We’re going to use that in between the next one. Like I said, we have three started that we could probably record now. Then we’re going to bang out twelve or fifteen more.
TB: The first couple of days that Jim actually came in and started rehearsing with us, right off the bat before we played a single song…
RR: Before the first rehearsal we wrote half a song.
TF: That’s what this band does. That’s what we’ve done for the longest time. We write.
RR: When they take off I just go sit down because you never know where they are going to go. That’s what’s cool.
JP: He’ll go sit down and it will be about ten minutes later and we’ll still be playing the same thing. He’ll come up with this…he’s thought it through and he’s got a melody.
RR: That’s the way we like to be. That way everything’s from the gut. We try every scenario and every possibility.
JP: Slow it down. Speed it up. Turn it backward and flip it upside down.
RR: When everybody can digest it…
TMR: Maybe digest is not the right word…
TB: The thing I like about it is that it may be something ultra-simple. Maybe something like him hitting a cymbal or something at the wrong time and then another guy says I’m going to mess around with that for a second.
RR: We’ve done that at soundchecks before.
JP: Like Rick just said there, a lot of the second record, “Wake Up Screaming,” was written at soundchecks.
RR: I was living in Memphis and they were in Nashville. I was driving to Nashville every day to practice and I was writing “House of Pain” in my head. I would come in and be like ba-ba-ba-ba. Every time we played somewhere we’d piece it together a little more. Finally, it was like, we made it through let’s try it tonight.
TMR: With all of the history of the band, and your current creativity…how do you go about putting a set together?
RR: That’s the hardest thing to do.
(the rest of the guys at the same time…that’s all him)
RR: Here’s what I try to do. We have a new record out, so I try to play as many songs off the “Grind” record as I possibly can. Just because I’ve got the new “Grind” record out and I’m really proud of it and I want to show it to as many people as I can. But for the people who come and see us every night, I try to throw in a couple of songs from the first record, a couple of songs off the second, throw in some stuff off of “Back Traxx” and “Delta Voodoo.” We do the stuff that got us here. We definitely throw those in every night for the people who come and see us.
TB: Another thing that helps out is when those of us that were new came in…like me and Johnny. When it comes to playing the old stuff we’re given a lot of leeway.
TB: We kind of feel it out.
TF: That means I’m going to half-ass this sh!t…that’s what he meant.
(lots of laughter)
RR: He’s right. All the old songs like “Number 3” and “Walls,” they’re a lot different. “Love (Can Make you Blind)” is a lot different. It’s got to evolve a little bit or it gets stale. We don’t want to play it just like the record forever.
TMR: I think that’s the key. Too many of those bands cling to the retro scene.
TF: I think if you can give enough of the retro, which we’ve done…then we can grow.
RR: You have to show the songs love. That was so hard for me for a long time because we would play “Love Can Make You Blind” every night since he and I wrote it. To the point where I was half-assing it. We started breaking it down. I was like man, you know what? This is the song that brought me to the dance. I just couldn’t get comfortable with it, but I finally just gave in. I said it is what it is. It did a lot for me and a lot of people know it. I try to give it what it deserves and it gives me what I deserve.
TMR: It’s cool to hear, but is certainly not the staple of the set.
RR: Yeah man, we went from living in a 10 x 20 store-all room with no bathroom until that song.
TMR: I’ll tell you what…I bought the cassette for that song. I listened to the whole thing and became a fan of your band. It is a real honor to be sitting here talking with you guys. I know you gave it your all on stage tonight, so I really appreciate the time.