Werewolf Congress at Programme Skate & Sound in Fullerton on Thursday night. From left to right: Dan Bieranowski, Bill Galvin, Jason Ruiz, and Travis Cheney. Photos by Brittany Woolsey.
Like the folkloric lycanthrope, Jason Ruiz is two things; by day, he’s the often-quiet, unassuming features writer and resident podcaster here at the Post. By night, he can be found on stage at small venues throughout the greater LA and OC area, fronting the aggressive, 90s-inspired melodic hardcore band Werewolf Congress.
Jason formed Werewolf Congress with some friends from the Orange County and Inland Empire music scene in 2012. Originally lending his talents as the self-taught bassist of the band, Jason stepped up to become the frontman after the former vocalist, Kevin Fifield, moved away earlier this year.
The band provides Jason with an outlet that he said he often doesn’t find elsewhere—but for him, being in the band mostly means hanging out with friends and having a good time.
“This is something that we’ve all been under the agreement that we weren’t trying to get big or signed,” he said. “It’s just not a practicality. We all have adult lives, so this is just an excuse for us to hang out, drink, write music, have fun and get away from the girlfriends.”
Balancing the band, work and life is time-consuming, Jason said—adding that he misses time for sleep and exercise the most—but the music often helps him with the other aspects of his life.
He’s a writer, so naturally he was dubbed the band’s lyricist from the start, but it took him a while to overcome his sense of vulnerability and write about things that really matter to him.
“I used to be really afraid of talking about things that could be really put on me, but with this band, this is the first time I was able to remove that curtain,” he said. “I was able to strip down and get down to what I am and who I was and who I’m trying to be. There are songs about a time in my life where I was really afraid that I was becoming an alcoholic. I wrote about my internal struggles with that because I knew it was something that I needed to address. I also wrote about my opinions on people being idiots when it comes to gay marriage. These are things that are less ambiguous and more about things that I believe in or went through. I used to always think it was weird that someone else was screaming my emotions, so I feel like it’s more genuine when I sing the lyrics because they’re things that I wrote about myself and my experiences in life.”
Being in the band has also helped Jason become a better journalist, he said, by helping him overcome his social anxiety.
“Being on stage has definitely helped me with being able to go up to strangers and ask them questions,” he said. “The transition from bassist to vocalist has been difficult because my voice, at least in a hardcore sense, is an instrument that I’ve never had to play before. I’ve been playing bass for a long time, and that’s something you can practice and not have to worry about how you sound the next morning. I have to worry about how I sound when I go to work. Am I going to be able to talk to people? […] Am I going to be able to interview people? I have to worry about that kind of stuff, especially with the podcast.”
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