Houston's Ruiners Get Straight to the Point With Dischord-Style Punk

Ruiners' latest release, Plebeian, is available on Houston's Miss Champagne Records.
Ruiners' latest release, Plebeian, is available on Houston's Miss Champagne Records.
Photo by Keith Hatch/Courtesy of Ruiners

Growing up 50 miles outside of Houston in the town of East Bernard, Shan Pasha always hoped he could live in a big city. “It’s the middle of nowhere,” Pasha says. “The high-school graduating class is like, 60 students.”

His father’s job as an insurance agent brought his family to the town. And while Pasha went to Houston a lot in his youth, he finally got around to living in town when he went to U of H for his undergrad and later, law school. “Houston was a big city for us,” Pasha, now 30 and living in Montrose, says. “Growing up, even Sugar Land was considered ‘the city’ for us. Whenever we’d make it into Houston, it would feel like New York City.”

What was pivotal for Pasha was seeking a life outside of a small town. He came from a musical family, so it was natural he would be hooked on a music at an early age. “I would go to Houston and meet people at shows,” Pasha says. “I’d go to Best Buy and talk to people that were in the music department. Read magazines. Stuff like that. We had a hunger growing up.”

All these years later, he’s fronting a hotly buzzed-about four-piece called Ruiners.

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Recalling early '90s Dischord releases from Fugazi and Nation of Ulysses, the band has a caffeinated take on wiry rhythms, skronk chords, and shouting. There are warm melodies in there, too, especially in the choruses. Their most recent release, a seven-song EP called Plebeian, rips from start to finish. No song is longer than three minutes, but this band is not one for epics. Getting to the point is what Ruiners do best.

The punk/post-punk dynamic of the band is an obvious influence, and Pasha doesn’t shy away from it. “I love Dischord,” he says. He doesn’t try to rip off albums by Fugazi or Nation of Ulysses. “The fact that people liken it to that era is very complimentary. I love that era of music.”

Getting to this point has been an interesting ride, as the band has had quite a few lineup changes since Pasha started Ruiners as a bedroom recording project five years ago. He found friends to play with him, and one of them was bassist Hayden Wander. They played a handful of shows and cut a self-titled demo before Pasha left the country.

He was accepted into a Masters program in London, and kept writing songs for Ruiners. Placing an ad on Gumtree, the British equivalent of Craigslist, he met a handful of guys and found a practice space. They played around East London for two years before Pasha’s visa ran out. He came back to Houston and restarted Ruiners with Wander on bass. The current lineup is rounded out by Ian Hawkins on guitar and Joey Mains on drums.

Right now, their material is only available on Bandcamp, and Plebeian is available in physical form as a cassette on Miss Champagne Records. As much as it’s a groaner for older generations that went through the vinyl/cassette/CD cycle, cassettes have become the much cheaper and easier option for young bands. You don’t often hear about six month waits as the pressing plant for cassettes, as compared to vinyl. (Note: Plebeian is currently sold out via Bandcamp.)

“It’s the most cost-effective way to get your music on a medium,” Pasha says. “Whenever you’re playing shows, it’s more about supporting the band and collecting moreso than listening.”

With plans to record a full LP in August and mini-tours later in the year and full-on tour in 2018, the band has a fire lit under them with no signs of going out. “We just want to play,” Pasha says.

Ruiners will perform at the Lilith Fund Benefit Friday, July 28 at Walter's Downtown, also with Giant Kitty, Lace and Clare. Doors open at 8 p.m.; suggested minimum donation is $10.

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