Ringworm’s James “Human Furnace” Bulloch Reflects on 30 Years of Being the “Black Sheep in the Community”
Hardcore/metal crossover veterans Ringworm are back with their new record, Seeing Through Fire, out now via Nuclear Blast. Having been in the game since 1989—as long as I’ve been alive, for anyone who’s counting—they’ve seen a significant shift in the scene since they first broke through. What was once weird and taboo—blending metal and hardcore to create something unique that fits in with both genres—is now pretty much par for the course. Still, Ringworm find themselves to be in a category of their own and feel they don’t quite fit in with other bands—for better or worse.
Seeing Through Fire is a coalescence of their sound so far, and while they pioneered something huge, outside of that context, this album on its own stands strong as a testament to a band who have been at it for years, sharpening their skills and honing their sound. We talked with vocalist James “Human Furnace” Bulloch about their new record and changes over the years.
What are some of the lyrical themes on this album?
I write about all kinds of things; it could be anything in life. As I’m getting older, I’m not singing about the same thing I was 30 years ago when I started the band. But the lyrics range a lot—love stuff, hate stuff, the way I see the world. Sometimes I don’t even know what I’m writing about until I sit down to write. Or I Iook back at something from a year or so ago, and I’m like wow, that song totally makes sense with what I was going through at the time. I’m not overly political, and I don’t really try to preach to anyone about anything. I just sing about how I feel and try and find an honest approach.
I’ve been a fan of Ringworm for a while now, and I know you’re a seasoned band, but I don’t think I realized until I got this recent press release that you’ve been around since 1989, the year I was born. That’s nuts; what has it been like to be at it for so long?
We started the band when I was, like, a senior or junior in high school. I had no idea we’d still be at it some 30 years later. (laughs)
Having seen the metal and hardcore scene change so much during that time, how do you feel about those changes, and how do you think the band fits in?
It’s always kind of strange. I still don’t think we fit in for whatever reason. We didn’t really when we started the band. It wasn’t anything strategic, but we grew up on thrash metal and punk rock, skate rock, that type of shit. So in the early years when hardcore started, that was a big part of our upbringing, but we were into metal, too, and we wanted to bring that into the mix a little bit.
But being so young, we weren’t great musicians, you know, we couldn’t play that well. So people say we were one of the first metalcore bands, I guess, but we just weren’t talented enough to sound like some of the metal bands we liked (laughs). But we still had some metal influence in the riffs for sure, just not the soloing and stuff like that. It kind of just happened organically; we brought our metal leanings into what we were doing. And I felt like we were kind of a black sheep in the community because we were too metal for hardcore and too hardcore for metal. For whatever reason, it still feels that same way. Sometimes people don’t know where to place us or what to call us, but that’s OK; we just keep on truckin’.
I mean, maybe you don’t quite fit in, but some bands don’t really stand the test of time because they’re so cookie-cutter. I feel like that’s helped you stay relevant 33 years later.
Yeah, there’s a reason why people still give a shit.
I know it’s a bit early to say, but do you all already have plans for more music after this?
Not yet; we’re just letting this one stew a bit. It was weird because the writing process was normal, but with the pandemic and the lockdown and all that stuff, it was a weird dynamic, just getting the record done. There were two whole years when bands couldn’t do anything, and when we put out our previous record, the world shut down, and we couldn’t really get out on tour to support it. So in a lot of people’s eyes, that’s an old record now, so we had to start fresh. But I’m sure the band is writing right now, and we’ll have more stuff soon.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Just that we’re stoked on this record, and we’re hoping it translates well with everybody. For being around so long, we’ve had our ups and downs. Sometimes we hit it right, the ebb and flow of musical culture, so we’re hoping it translates well with everyone. We can’t wait to get out and play it for everyone, scream in everyone’s faces and all that shit.
Catch the band this fall on tour with Venom Inc, and get the album here. Dates for the tour can be found below.
VENOM INC. ‘BETTER TO REIGN IN HELL’ TOUR
W/RINGWORM, SATAN, 72 LEGIONS
09.27. US New York, NY – Meadows
09.28. US Clevand, OH – No Class
09.29. US Milwaukee, WI – X-Ray Arcade
09.30. US Chicago, IL – Cobra
10.01. US Iowa City, IA – Wildwood
10.03. US St. Louis, MO – Red Flag
10.04. US Covington, KY – Madison Live
10.05. US Spartanburg, SC – Groundzero
10.06. US Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade
10.07. US Tampa, FL – Brass Mug
10.10. US Raleigh, NC – Pour House
10.11. US Leesburg, VA – Tally Ho Theater
10.12. US Wilmington, DE – The Queen
10.13. US Clifton, NJ – Dingbatz
10.14. US Portland, ME – Genos Rock Club
10.15. US Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall