Hailing from central Illinois, The City, The Ruins is made up of Mitch Lowery and Dylan Morano (Hidden Within Me), Kyle Holliday (Through The Eyes Of A Giant), Dustin Hill (Ghost of Amyrillis) and Jesse Pence (Beyond Constellations). These five guys have created a bond they feel has never been closer before. “The word ‘original’ is something that gets tossed around nowadays. We believe that something original comes from the heart. So this band is our version of original,” said Kyle Holliday.
BRP’s Lauren Van Houwe sat down with the guys at Peoria, Illinois’ Railfest to discuss interesting details, some lighthearted and others heavy, that we didn’t know about them as a band.
[Photo cred: Lauren Van Houwe]
What’s the hardest thing to do as a band? How do you continuously keep on everyone’s good side? Is there a lot of dysfunction at times?
PENCE: Coordinating practice is hard since two of us live an hour to two hours away and our work schedules are different.
LOWERY: When we do get together though, it’s crazy how much we get accomplished in such a small window.
This is for Jesse and Dustin: Why did you choose to join the TCTR crew? Both of you were in other projects, correct?
PENCE: Well I left Beyond Constellations because of the lack of members and practice time. I joined TCTR because these guys are my dudes and are dedicated.
HILL: No, I was not in any other bands/projects. I was writing/recording music for fun and Dylan hit me up about joining the band a couple days after he joined me in the studio. I decided to join the group because I knew how dedicated and hardworking they were.
Mitch! You’re up! How do you manage your time with your family versus the band—because you are a dad and everything? What’s the hardest part?
LOWERY: Well, being a dad is the coolest thing ever. I love my family to death. Obviously I love the guys in the band. But I play for my kids and my lovely lady. Their love and support is what keeps me going and helps me play with all I have.
Why did you pick the name TCTR? Where did it come from?
MORANO: Mitch made it up [laughs].
So it was just like, “Oh let’s call it this?” [laughs]
LOWERY: Well I actually came up with the name. We left a previous band due to member disputes and musical direction. I saw a quote online along the lines of, “As quick as you can build a city, it can crumble to ruins. So keep what matters close to you.” That really resonated with me about how shit can really just go south at any given moment. But as long as you have what is important standing by you, you can get through it.
Who usually writes music? Is it a group activity, or is it just one person, and do they share it when done?
PENCE: Dustin [laughs]. Well as for now, just guitar parts.
MORANO: It starts with scratch ideas from Dustin, then I spice up drums and we kinda fill in the rest with our own bling.
LOWERY: Dustin, thankfully, wrote all the new material In a very timely manner. We needed new material. From here on out, since we have more time, it’ll definitely be a more collective approach.
“As quick as you can build a city, it can crumble to ruins. So keep what matters close to you.”
Dustin: How do you write parts?
HILL: I use a cheap drum machine program and type out basic drums as I come up with riff ideas. Once I get a basic song structure down I’ll go back through and tweak patterns here and there and spice up the guitar work. When I feel it’s complete, I take it to a friend of mine who runs a little studio and I record it there and send it to everybody for feedback.
The lyrical aspect, how does that come out? Personal stories, experiences or something else?
HOLLIDAY: Well lyrically, I try and cover as many topics as possible. For our new material, I chose to talk about personal loss, emotional anguish, corruption in society, seeing perfection in others and creating your reality through conscious positive thought. There will be more topics covered but that’s all for now [laughs]. I try and pick topics and lyrical basis in things that I know not only I have had experience in dealing with, as to show others that you’re not alone in this world when dealing with bullshit, which is probably why everyone in the band tends to be supportive of my lyrics. They all can see the value in many of the words I am saying and would like to make them not just my words, but our words, as a band.
So I know you have one record out. Then there were some things that came up, member changes and things. When can we expect the new face of TCTR? Is there a rough date?
LOWERY: We’re going for a full-length CD instead of another EP. So, as far as actually writing the thing, we’re about 65 percent done. Then, we just have to record it. I would hope we at least have a track by the end of 2015.
What’s one other goal, besides the record, that you have for 2015?
LOWERY: To up our game as far as performance goes. People may think we do a good job as of now but we know we want to bring the biggest and most energetic show we can bring every night.
What’s your plan for shows in the future? Tours? Outside Illinois? If you were able to do a mini tour—a weekend—would you?
MORANO: At this point, any show we can do we will do! It’s really hard to travel due to money and our jobs and lives but hopefully in the near future we can look forward to out-of-state shows! We’re really looking forward to hitting Grand Rapids, Michigan again; that place was awesome.
“They all can see the value in many of the words I am saying and would like to make them not just my words, but our words, as a band.”
After all the member changes and the things that have happened the last little while, do you think you guys are the best you could be at this moment? Is it more of a satisfying feeling when you leave practices and such?
PENCE: Yesterday’s show was the most fun I’ve ever played, personally.
LOWERY: We just played our first show back with all new material. The response was overwhelmingly positive. We had a chant for an encore, which to be honest left me in tears. I’ve never felt more accomplished in this band before. The only thing I could keep repeating to the guys afterwards was, “We made it.”
From an outsiders perspective, it was lit.
LOWERY: We definitely appreciate that. I couldn’t tell you how many people were skeptical at first but apparently completely blown away by the end.
“I’ve never felt more accomplished in this band before. The only thing I could keep repeating to the guys afterwards was, ‘We made it.'”
Jesse: Seeing you in TCTR versus BC, this is definitely a better fit. You all seemed so comfortable on stage.
PENCE: Definitely a better fit! BRP
Expect new music from the guys in TCTR soon! In the meantime, check their Facebook, Instagram, and Bandcamp!
Facebook: The City, The Ruins
Written by Lauren Van Houwe
Edited by Chelsea Renee Scofield