FRANCIS RUIZ (40 CYCLE HUM) INTERVIEW:
January 5, 2009
Drummer Francis Ruiz has traveled the world over, just finishing up a gig with Thin Lizzy and Motorhead. He has also been a member of C.C. DeVille’s Samantha 7, Great White and his current band 40 Cycle Hum, who are about to release their sophomore effort ‘Entertaining Misery’. In this exclusive interview with Jason L., Francis talks about playing Woodstock ’99, smashing his leg in a car accident, the chances of a Samantha 7 reunion and the loss of his good friend Ty Longley.
Sleaze Roxx: According to your myspace page, you are currently over in Europe on tour with Thin Lizzy. What is your affiliation with them?
Francis Ruiz: Well, I actually just finished with the Thin Lizzy tour. I’m now in Dublin with Motorhead and will be out till the end of the year here in Europe and Scandinavia. The Thin Lizzy shows were good. Uriah Heep was also on the bill for the majority of the shows. Russell Gilbrook is a really good drummer and all the guys were super cool.
I was taking care of Tommy Aldrige and the drum kit on this one while I’m waiting for 40 Cycle Hum to head out (The new album will be out this coming January). So, in the meantime, I have the pleasure of going out on the road with some of my all time favorite drummers. It’s actually very cool!
You know, this business is pretty crazy. I’ve seen and known so many people that climb the ladder and go back and forth on it. One day in the clubs, the next playing in sold out arenas, then the next back in the clubs, and so on. The way I see it is, I love playing drums and music, and any way I can be a part of this great and unpredictable business, I’m grateful for.
Sleaze Roxx: Can you take us through a normal day in the life on the road with Thin Lizzy?
Francis Ruiz: I get to play every day, keep my chops up, and from time to time I’ll jam with John Sykes on some Ozzy! All in all, it’s a quaint little family and a pleasure to work and travel with them.
Sleaze Roxx: Your myspace also mentions that after the tour with Thin Lizzy, you are heading out with Motorhead. How did you get hooked up with them?
Francis Ruiz: Yes. I’m out with Motorhead now. We just did our first show in Dublin. I got hooked up with them through a buddy of mine who drum techs for everyone.
Sleaze Roxx: What will be the extent of your involvement with Motorhead?
Francis Ruiz: As with Thin Lizzy, I’m taking care of the drums and working with another of my all time favorite drummers Mikkey Dee. As with Thin Lizzy, I just took the opportunity to come out and do this while we (40 Cycle Hum) are preparing for the release of the new album. Then I plan to get back behind the kit!
Sleaze Roxx: Where will the Motorhead tour be taking you?
Francis Ruiz: The Motorhead tour will be going throughout the UK, Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, as well as Finland, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Belgium, France, and Holland.
Sleaze Roxx: You are the drummer for the modern rock band 40 Cycle Hum. What is that band up to these days?
Francis Ruiz: 40 Cycle Hum are gearing up for the release of our second album titled “Entertaining Misery.” We are then planning on going out and supporting the album. We’re working on that as we speak. The new album is scheduled for a January 2009 release. The album has been done for a bit, but we’ve been trying to make a decision on the best distribution option for its release. We decided to release it through Fishbone’s label NS-5 Records which is distributed through Nail/Allegro.
Our debut, “Secret Skin,” was released through the same avenue in 2006. The album was unfortunately out for a short period due to the fact that the main chain that was carrying the CD was Tower Records, and Tower closed up shop soon after the CD was released. When that happened, we all decided to just go into the studio and track a whole new album. We went into the studio with producer Stevo Bruno who did Five Finger Death Punch and has also worked with Motley Crue and Drowning Pool, among others. The album was mastered by George Marino (Velvet Revolver, Bon Jovi, etc.) at Sterling Sound in NYC and the CD Art was done by the awesome Mr. Clive Barker (Hellraiser) and given to us by none other than Clive himself!
The CD should be available at Best Buy and FYE, and other retailers once it’s released. In the meantime, you can hear samples on our myspace page. Our official website, 40cyclehum.com, is currently being reconstructed and will have everything there soon.
Sleaze Roxx: One of your early bands was called Cynical Side. Can you tell us a bit about what that band was all about?
Francis Ruiz: Cynical Side was a band of good friends I was involved with for several years. We signed a deal with Triage Records, the label that is responsible for putting out all the “all-star tribute albums.” Billy Sherwood (Yes) produced our debut album and was to be one of the label’s first original efforts. We toured nationally, but unfortunately the label could not secure proper distribution for an original act, as their system catered to the “tribute” albums which they were known for. Eventually we went our separate ways.
Sleaze Roxx: After Cynical Side you joined C.C. Deville (Poison) in his side project band called the Stepmothers, which eventually became Samantha 7. What’s the story of how you met him, and became his drummer?
Francis Ruiz: Well, after Cynical Side, I was introduced to Krys Baratto by my buddy Jeff and Juan Croucier of Ratt. At the time, Krys was playing in a band called Juice 13 which consisted of John Christ of Danzig, Cheese Boy of TSOL, and the late Randy Castillo of Ozzy Osbourne. Juice 13 had shows booked when Randy got called to do more shows with Ozzy, so they needed a drummer. Once Krys found out I was a drummer, we set up an audition and next I know I was filling in for Randy for these shows. The band had a lot of momentum, but underwent a few changes after John decided to focus on his solo album. We played with the guitarist of Leatherwolf for a short while but shortly after Krys got involved in a project with C.C. DeVille. I originally got called to play, but at the time we got together to ‘jam’ there weren’t really any songs written.
So…long story short, the jam was a bit of a train wreck! I didn’t hear anything about that afterwards. Next I hear they were playing a show at the Roxy with Bret Michaels’ solo band and Krys invited me to come down and see the show. In the meantime, I had started playing with Timmy Hall and Phil Deckard (formerly of Cry Wolf) in a new band called Airstream Kings. The music was really great stuff! Very bluesy and groovy, but with a lot of balls! Those guys are really great musicians. After I had gone to see Krys and C.C.’s gig, I was playing a show with the Airstream Kings and I invited Krys to the show. Krys brought C.C.. We were on a bit of a short stage, and the room was packed so you couldn’t really see the band unless you were near the front.
As the story was told to me by Krys, after their Roxy show, they found themselves in need of a drummer. When C.C. heard me play that night with Airstream Kings, he told Krys, “That’s him! That’s the guy we need in our band! Who is he?” Krys then told him, “That’s the guy we had in the first place!” Shortly afterwards, we all got together, again, and began working on writing songs.
Sleaze Roxx: What was the song writing process like for the Samantha 7 album?
Francis Ruiz: When I got together with Krys and C.C. again, they had about 5 tunes already written, demos done with a drum machine. We went round and round with the tunes, first playing them as they were on the demos, then re-working them and re-re-working them until they morphed into the sum of each of our playing styles. We went into the Record Plant and tracked a few songs. I kind of turned up the juice a bit and punked them out from what was on the original demos which were very poppy and a lot slower, almost Beatle-esque but kind of bubblegum-ish. From there, we all would just go into the rehearsal studio and bang out ideas. C.C. would have a riff idea and then we’d all just hash it out till it turned into something, ‘if’ it turned into something. We actually even hashed out “I hate every bone in your body but mine” and tracked a demo. C.C. told us he wanted to save the song for our second CD, but ended up putting it on Poison’s CD. Krys and I found out about it from the internet. Needless to say, we were surprised, but C.C. said something to the effect that it was so he could have a song singing on the Poison record, which would hopefully equate to Poison’s audience being turned on to Samantha 7.
Sleaze Roxx: What do you remember most about the recording sessions for Samantha 7?
Francis Ruiz: Well, about a week or so after John Kalodner signed Samantha 7, we were on our way to Northern California to track the record at Jack Blades’ (Night Ranger) studio. We did the whole thing in 2 weeks. I did my drum tracks in 3 days and then basically hung out while everything else was done. We had Mudrock engineering, which I was excited about. At the time Mudrock had recently produced the first Godsmack record, and also worked with Powerman 5000. Super cool guy and great producer/engineer. He’s since gone on to producing a ton of great sounding albums. We were all pretty excited. We also filmed an EPK while we were there withVH-1’s “Behind the Music” crew which is actually pretty cool. As far as the recording, it was, and always is, great to hear all of your hard work finally get tracked and come to life!
Sleaze Roxx: The debut gig for Samantha 7 was at Woodstock ’99. Can you tell us about that experience?
Francis Ruiz: Yeah, before we were signed to Columbia, we got offered to play at Woodstock ’99. Of course we jumped at the chance. At the time we were called the Stepmothers. The gig was great! It was so hot though! We slammed through our set, and I remember my hands were so sweaty that it was hard to hold on to my sticks. When you’re playing fast notes that becomes a real problem! I remember praying, “God please just let me hold on to my sticks!”, ha. Of course the adrenalin was rushing too. When we finished our set, we had to sign a bunch of autographs, and my hands were so shaky I couldn’t even write. We played on the second day, the same day as Korn and Bush.
We actually came down the first day and everything was all nice. There were even big tents set up with the internet and everything, but when we showed up the next day, we were warned not to go near the tent because overnight, the toilets had already been full or trashed, and people decided to make the tent into the new toilet. The raves of the night before had the place pretty trashed already. Obviously we all know what happened the last day. Peavey and Rich Bartle sponsored our backline, so afterwards we got to keep all the backline, so that was a nice little bonus!
Sleaze Roxx: I read somewhere that after Woodstock ’99 more shows were scheduled but the tour was cut short because you were involved in an accident where you were hit by a car as you were crossing the street. What actually happened?
Francis Ruiz: Oh boy. Actually, it was some time after Woodstock. We were still unsigned when we played Woodstock. After we got signed and the CD was released, we actually did a proper tour. We did a 7 week run in the U.S. About 6 weeks into it, we were playing a show in Jacksonville, FL. While the gear was being set up, C.C., Krys, and I decided to take a walk and get a bite to eat. On the way back, we were crossing an intersection about two blocks from the venue, when I got run over by a car! Can you believe it!
Basically, C.C. was to my left and we were about to cross the street. C.C. stepped out into the street first. We were talking about serious band matters, so I can’t say I was fully aware of my surroundings. But anyway, C.C. steps out into the street, so I’m thinking it’s gotta be clear, right? Cars are coming from the left, and C.C. was on my left. I step out and boom! Out of nowhere I feel myself get pulled down. Immediately after, I sit up and am like….”What the….” I didn’t feel hurt, just thought I probably got a couple scratches and bumps. Then I looked down at my right leg and freaked! My leg was snapped half way between my knee and ankle and bent in a 45 degree angle, THE WRONG WAY! Just then, I saw the tendons or muscles snap the leg back in place (although the bones were a clean snap in two) and THEN the PAIN came! Whoah!!!
C.C. was shouting out, “Call 911!” All I could think about was the SHOW! I was telling the guys, “Don’t give me any drugs! I can still play the show!” They were like, “dude, I don’t think you’re gonna be playing tonight.” When I finally realized they were right, I asked them to let Paul, my drum tech, play the show. That’s finally what happened. I had to sit in the hospital and then go back the next day for a temporary cast.
The worst part is that our next show was to be in Pt. Jefferson, NY. We didn’t have enough time to get me on a plane otherwise we would not make it to the next show in time, so I had to ride in the back of the bumpy bus all the way from Florida to New York. Every little bump meant major PAIN! They were at least nice enough to park the bus in front of the venue with the doors open so I could at least hear the show! Ha. From NY, I flew home to recoup. While home, I actually had a friend set up a kit for me and I started rehearsing playing all the songs with my left leg/foot using a double bass pedal. My right leg had a cast up to my crotch, so I had to also work on balance. I actually came back and played several shows using my left leg! I’d cruise up to my kit on crutches, sit down, and threw down one legged! I even played the Mark and Brian KLOS Christmas show at the Wiltern like that.
Sleaze Roxx: Samantha 7 never recorded another album. Was it always known that it would be a short lived thing?
Francis Ruiz: When we first got together, Poison hadn’t done anything in years. C.C. told us he wanted to do something totally new, and was convincingly passionate about it. I wouldn’t have gotten involved if I knew it was just going to be a short lived project. After we were already pretty involved in the band, the talk of a Poison reunion started coming up. Whether or not C.C. knew about it previously, I can’t say. It seemed every time we were gaining momentum, Poison would come up, and as a result, Samantha 7 was put on the back burner. By the time C.C. could devote time to S7, it was too little too late.
Sleaze Roxx: Do you still keep in contact with C.C. DeVille? Any chance he’ll resurrect Samantha 7 for another album or show? Would you be interested if he asked you?
Francis Ruiz: I haven’t spoken with C.C. for quite some time now. Krys still talks with him though. C.C. is also now a father, so his priorities must have surely changed. Krys and I still keep in touch. I saw him a couple months ago and he mentioned that C.C. wanted to start writing again with him. I don’t know if that means a new Samantha 7 album, but I think it’d be fun to be involved if it does happen, this time approaching it as a project. We all have our respective bands, so it would also depend on what we each have going on. We actually did play a sort of ‘reunion’ show for the Ty Longley memorial benefit concert.
Sleaze Roxx: In 2000, you joined up with Great White. What’s the story of how you started playing with them?
Francis Ruiz: I got called by their management. Literally, I got a call one day asking if I could learn an hour and a half set by ‘tomorrow’. I said, “Yeah!” and they said, “Ok, I’ll call you back in a few minutes.”Then I got a call telling me to pick up a CD and I was flying out the next day to do the show! I guess Audie Desbrow and Sean McNabb had some dispute with the rest of the band and quit or whatever, so Krys and I both got asked to play since we were on the same label.
Sleaze Roxx: Why did you leave Great White after only one year?
Francis Ruiz: Well, after I’d broken leg, there was a tour being booked in Europe with Samantha 7 opening for Great White. I was to play in both bands. It’s a long story, but long story short, I was getting the run around from management (and I use that term lightly) with what my salary was going to be for the tour. They couldn’t give me ANY information. So, when my terms could not be met, I opted to not participate in the tour. That was essentially the end of my involvement with both bands. A really cool guy named Derek did the tour in my place, and continued on with Great White.
Sleaze Roxx: A couple years after you left Great White that fire happened at their show in Rhode Island. Ty Longely, their lead guitarist at the time, who had also played with you in Samantha 7 live, was one of those who lost their lives that night. I can only imagine what you must have gone though emotionally after learning what happened. Do you have any thoughts you’d like to share regarding thatwhole situation?
Francis Ruiz: Man that still is hard to think about. Not just for Ty, but everyone who lost their life and all the people who lost a family member and friend. Samantha 7 played that club before, and I’m surprised the drummer got out ok. The stage had this little box cut out and covered with foam, and that’s where the drums went. If you were behind your kit, you were basically trapped in there.Ty was a great guy. Super great, and obviously left us way too early. There’s not much I can say that hasn’t been said a thousand times already about him and the fire. I was on tour when that happened. As soon as I heard the news of the fire I called his phone, no answer, and then called his room mate. They didn’t know anything yet and were waiting in anticipation. Then, the news came.At first it was surreal. I walked around for days in disbelief, but I never allowed myself to watch any footage or read anything about it. I guess I kinda thought that if I didn’t officially see it or read it, then it wouldn’t be true.
Sleaze Roxx: You acted in a film called “Holy Hollywood.” I couldn’t find much information about the movie on the web. Can you give us a synopsis? Is it available to rent/buy?
Francis Ruiz: Ha. Yeah. It was fun. The film still has not been released. It made its way through the film festivals, and won some awards, but has yet to see the light of day. It was about the craziness of the Extras Casting Business but has a sub story in it. Mickey Rooney is in it, Al Pacino’s dad “Sal Pacino”, Quentin Tarantino’s dad, Tony, and Amy Linker from the old TV show “Square Pegs.” Like I said, it was fun doing it. I don’t know if it’ll ever get released. I think the producers are waiting for the “Big Bucks” offer! Ha.
Sleaze Roxx: Do you have plans to do more acting?
Francis Ruiz: No. It’s a nice dream, but I think I’d better stick to something I’m good at!
Sleaze Roxx: You have obviously done your share of traveling. What has been your favorite and least favorite place you’ve been to?
Francis Ruiz: That’s a tough one. Least favorite would probably have to be Russia. I did a 2 month tour in Russia in 2003 ish. While Russia has some very unique qualities, overall, it’s a very depressing place. I’m not talking about Moscow or St. Petersburg. I’m talking about all across Russia, through Siberia, all the way to Vladivostok. The housing buildings are all the same across the country. Grey, concrete, square, depressing buildings, or little villages where the housing looks like the clubhouses me and my friends used to make as kids, using anything we could find. It’s very antiquated, but not in an ‘antique store’ way. Don’t get me started on the toilets. The food, depends on your taste. If you like Caviar, Vodka, Borsch soup and chopped up ‘mystery meats’ topped with mayo, it’s your kind of place. And most people are chain smokers. EVEN in airplanes!
All that being said, I still wouldn’t trade in my experience for anything. Every place has something interesting, good or bad, to offer. One of my favorite places was a place in France called Dinon. A very picturesque gothic city overlooking a quaint town on the river at the base of the mountain the city is built on. It still bums me out when I travel to exotic foreign places, and see Starbucks, Pizza Hut, McDonalds, GAP, etc.
Sleaze Roxx: What do you feel has been your biggest accomplishment so far as a musician?
Francis Ruiz: Well, I think so far, it’s been the opportunity to play with some of my favorite musicians over the years and making some good music, whether commercially successful or not.
Sleaze Roxx: What advice would you give someone just starting out and wanting to make a name for themselves in the rock ‘n’ roll world?
Francis Ruiz: Stick to your guns. Love playing music, regardless of the business, but learn the business.
Thanks to Francis Ruiz and Jason L.