HURT – An Interview With Drummer Victor Ribas

Hurt began as a creation of vocalist J. Loren Wince in 2000. After self-releasing two albums, Hurt was picked up by Capitol Records, releasing Vol. 1 and Volume II before being dropped by the label for “strictly financial reasons.” One of the most recognized of Hurt’s repertoire, “Ten Ton Brick,” was actually intended for another album, but was forced to be included on the tracklisting by pressure from the label. After being manipulated by record labels, replacing every single member of the band except Loren himself, Hurt continues to thrive on. Self-producing Goodbye To The Machine in 2009, their sound changed slightly, giving every one of their records an identity. Their latest work is due for release on March 27, titled The Crux. This highly anticipated album has already garnered great reviews on its first single “How We End Up Alone” with one critic raving, “This is undoubtedly the most underrated band in rock today. Do not miss The Crux… and if they come anywhere near your town, drive over your own grandma for tickets if you have to!”
The band that sets to defy industry standards today might be taking a backseat to more trendy pop-oriented music, but their loyal fan base keeps pushing. In a symbiotic relationship, the band relies on the fans just as much as the fans depend on their music. And the band never forgets it. I was lucky enough to have the pleasure of interviewing Hurt’s newest addition, Victor Ribas.
Hey, Victor, I appreciate you taking the time for doing the interview. You’re Hurt’s new drummer on the forthcoming release “The Crux.”  Most of the guys are from the eastern U.S. but you’re from Seattle. How did you land the gig to play with the band?
First, you’re welcome.  It’s my pleasure to chat.   Hmmmm.  Joining HURT.  That seems so long ago. I believe I was in San Diego for a few days attending a Buddhist Convention when I got a call from an old guitar player friend of mine back in Saint Louis.  He asked me if I’d ever heard of the band HURT.  At the time, I had only heard of the band’s radio songs like “Rapture,” “Ten Ton Brick,” and “Falls Apart.” So, my buddy mentioned meeting Michael at a show and caught wind that the band was quietly seeking a new drummer.  Michael got my number and he called me a few days later.  The band flew me to Sickhouse Studios in Saint Louis for the audition.  They had me learn a whole list of songs from all of the records, which proved to be much more challenging than I had originally expected.  But honestly the story that sticks out from the audition the most is what happened in between playing HURT songs.  For the audition, I was playing on someone else’s drum kit and was just messing around to get comfortable. I started playing one of my favorite drum grooves ever, the breakdown from Tool’s “Eulogy” (“You claimed all this time that you would die for me…..”)  I’ve always been a huge fan of Danny Carey from Tool, and that groove is just really fun to play. I stopped and it was obvious the guys knew what I was playing. Michael flipped out, Rek had this grin on his face, and J. said something straight forward like, “Man that’s pretty good.”  I could tell that it had made an impression. After the audition we all stepped outside and sat down for a chat. They asked me questions that you’d expect; “Where did you come from?, Do you have any serious commitments that would prevent you from touring? Do you have any serious financial debts?” Stuff like that. After about 20 minutes of railing me, the guys said another drummer would be showing up at any minute for another audition. As I walked out the front door, another guy was walking in. That was a little awkward.  The next day I got a call from all the guys on speakerphone telling me to get my ass to Saint Louis.  Five days after that I played my first show with HURT in Saint Louis at a festival called Pointfest in front of around 15,000 people.

What is your favorite part of playing with Hurt so far?
It would have to be that we all challenge each other to better ourselves as musicians and artists. All of us have very high expectations for each other because we all realize just how talented we all are. I am EXTREMELY lucky to be playing with some of the most amazing musicians I’ve ever met. I could tell during my first rehearsal with the band that they would challenge me no matter how good or bad I was. On top of that I enjoy the brotherhood that we’ve become.  All of us are in this for the same reasons, aiming for the same goal. Not one of us is unappreciative of the other and that lays a foundation of respect that fosters great musicianship. Also, since joining the band I’ve learned a great deal about the business side of things from our manager, Tom. I’m grateful for that.

Going from Vol. 1 & II to Goodbye To The Machine, there were two different drummers. You replaced Louie Sciancalepore in 2010 and had a hand in the writing of The Crux. How does your style of playing complement Hurt’s compositions on this next album?
Really tough question to answer.  When joining an already established band with an already established sound, it’s important to find your role in the family because that role has probably already been defined by the previous drummers.  Honestly, from the first rehearsals and first tour, I could tell that above all other things, the band needed a drummer who was open minded enough to try their ideas. My style of playing is one of open mindedness and collaboration. Two heads are better than one, three better than two, etc….   I think a lot of drummers get so caught up in the rhythms in their head that they forget that a song usually starts out as some words and a guitar riff.  It’s important not to get in the way of that.  I wanted to see how the band would react to having a kind of freedom where they can come up with beats for the songs they had written. When working on THE CRUX, the guys would show me a song and, like always, a million ideas would come into my head.  But I wanted to let them experiment with rhythms in their own heads before I laid down any foundation.  It was all very collaborative.  Also, the band really emphasized the fact that they were going big with this album. J. wanted this to be the best HURT record released to date, so I knew the drum sounds had to be huge but also diverse in sounds and dynamics.  I definitely believe we achieved that goal.
When you were younger you had a rare hip disease that almost prevented you from being able to play the drums. When everything was said and done, how did that affect your ability to play and the life you had as a child? I assume growing up with that condition must have been difficult and probably changed the way you looked at life.
It didnt just almost prevent me from playing drums. At the age of 7 or so they almost had to amputate my leg. As a result of the illness, when i was a child I had a few years that were somewhat difficult. Not being able to do physically active things. But I believe that knowing I could have lost my leg gave me a very strong appreciation for life and what I do now. Although, I think I may have still ended up a musician regardless. Who knows?
What kindled your interest in playing music?
When I was five years old my mom forced me into piano lessons. I pretty much instantly fell in love with music. I can confidently say that I would not be the person I am today had I not become a musician. For me, drums have become a method of expressing myself when I feel as though I cannot. I think the rest of the band sees music in the same way and thats why we work so well as an ensemble.  You can hear in J.’s voice he’s singing something real, EVERY SINGLE TIME. I like to believe he does that because sometimes just saying the words doesn’t communicate the point enough. I can relate to that.
Your boss gave you a week off to record the drum tracks. How easy is it to hold a job and pursue your passion?
Great question.  I wouldn’t know.  I don’t have a day job.
You will be continuing the acoustic tour until the end of February due to popular demand by fans. When stripping down the performance, what changes stylistically?
Very little changes stylistically. We could tell early on that most of the songs lended themselves to an acoustic setting naturally.  However, what does change is the voicing of the instruments. We have a cello player on tour with us, J. plays guitar, banjo, and violin, and Rek has a few basses. I play a lot of odd ended things in the acoustic show:  hand drums, chimes, singing bowls, tambourine, Latin blocks, etc…  And I also play my kit with a wide range of mallets, brushes, multi sticks, and drum sticks. From the beginning of rehearsals it was very challenging to hear how the drum parts would mold with acoustic instrumentation.  But as time went on, the show grew and became something really intimate and magical.  By the end of December, I felt very comfortable with the reconstructed drum parts. We also removed any sense of smoke and mirrors from the show. No big lights or smoke machines. Just four guys playing our hearts out in front of our fans. I can honestly say that some of my favorite shows I’ve ever performed have been from the acoustic tour.
Do you have any crazy stories from touring this last year?

Do you mean other than J. almost getting arrested, nearly dying on the highway, going three days without sleep, J. throwing his guitar on stage during a show, the power going out at another, playing backstage for fans, losing my phone, waking up in strange places…..next to strange people, and almost getting mugged next to the Mexican border? Yes………………..  No comment.

Check out one such crazy story at: http://banana1015.com/j-loren-of-hurt-talks-about-a-crazy-night-in-detroit/


Alright man, thanks a lot for your time. Any last words you want to say to your fans?

Of course.  To the fans I would like to say THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU, for doing what you do for this band.  It allows us to do what we do and that’s such an amazing thing. You are our family and friends. Also, be ready. We have HUGE things planned for 2012.

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