Feeling a major lack of creative control from his former band, Noah Sebastian started to write his own music under the name MAN VS. SELF. This solo project allowed Sebastian the freedom to write whatever came to mind, and allows him to use his influences more freely. Near the end of 2013, Sebastian recruited his long-time friend and fellow musician Nick Ruffilo to help him master this project. Together, this duo has begun to break the mold on the Richmond metalcore scene, and they are currently in the process of writing and recording their debut EP, which is set to be released later this year. We got the chance to get inside the heads of Sebastian and Ruffilo to discuss their musical backgrounds and influences, how they keep the band going with just two members, and what is the true meaning of their “angry rock band”.

Tell me about yourselves and your backgrounds. How old are you? How long have you known each other?

Noah: Well, MAN VS. SELF is only a two-piece act at the moment, and consists of Nick Ruffilo [and myself]. I am 18-years-old, and I have been playing music since I was about 12. I’ve been in and out of different local bands since I was 13. I met Nick through one of the first bands I was in. So, I would say, we’ve known each other for about five years now.

Nick: I’m 21-years-old, and outside of playing music, I am a professional tattoo artist and work right here in Richmond at True Tattoo. I too was in a bunch of different bands throughout my teenage years, but I kind of pushed that to the side around age 18 when I got my apprenticeship at True Tattoo. That was the start of what I definitely consider to be my career at this point.

When did MAN VS. SELF come to be, and how?

Noah: MAN VS. SELF began as my solo project, about six months ago, due to musical frustration and lack of creative control in my previous band, LAKEVIEW. I played guitar in LAKEVIEW since I was 16. Don’t get me wrong though, because I loved LAKEVIEW and had the time of my life playing and traveling with them. But, between my ego, and a lot of stuff I have pent up inside me, I really needed an outlet for it all. Which is exactly what MAN VS. SELF is.

Who has what responsibilities as far as keeping MAN VS. SELF going and as a band?

Noah: Well, before I asked Nick to be a part of this, I wrote all of the music because, like I said, it was my solo project. Now, though, usually I write/map out/record a skeleton for an entire song and show it to Nick, get his opinion, and then together we will collaborate to add more really cool ideas. Two are always better than one. Right now, all we are focusing on is finishing up recording the rest of the EP, which we are doing next week. There isn’t a lot of responsibility at the moment as a band that never performs live and has yet to even have a full band practice (laughs).

Where did the name MAN VS. SELF come from?

Noah: I decided to call the band MAN VS. SELF because a lot of the lyrics I write are about my internal conflict with myself, and of my firm belief that a lot of everyone’s problems are found right inside their own heads. It seems like nobody ever wants to take responsibility for their actions, no matter how blatantly obvious it is that it’s no one’s fault but their own. So, the name is pretty self-explanatory, if you were wondering if it has any correlation with the subject matter discussed in the lyrics.

How would you describe your musical style/sound?

Noah: If I could describe the musical sound, I would say it is my best attempt at saying words without saying them. Sometimes when I write about an idea, or some lyrics, I have images in my mind and I try to turn those images into a sound. Sometimes they are pretty images, and sometimes they are ugly images. All of the songs for the EP are pretty much finished, and to be honest, they all sound very different from each other, in my opinion. I know a lot of bands and artists say that, but I really go out of my way to make sure each song has a fresh, new flavor to it. [We don’t want the listener to] get bored and give up on the EP two and a half songs into it.

What was the first original MAN VS. SELF song?

Noah: The first and only song we have released so far is called “Exit Wounds.” Originally, it was titled “Dickass,” because whenever I finished recording a song I give the project a ridiculous name.


On your Facebook page, you describe yourselves as an “angry rock band”. Can you go into detail about what this means? Is there something that specifically evokes anger and inspiration for your sound and lyrics?

Noah: I honestly just wanted to put something a little different in the bio than most bands do to make someone a little more curious [about] what exactly “angry rock” could mean. I didn’t want to put the usual, “metalcore band from Richmond, VA,” because I know I’ve seen a ton of those, and these days it is so hard to get someone to give your music or passion the time of day. So, the last thing I would want to do is put a short description that I’ve seen a thousand times.

What did you grow up listening to? What is your favorite music to listen to now? Who would you say are your biggest influences?

Noah: I had such a ridiculously confused iPod growing up. I’ve always loved so many different kinds of music, so probably everything you can think of. But, if I had to name my all-time favorites that I grew up listening to and still love listening to, I would say, FALL OUT BOY, PANIC! AT THE DISCO, LINKIN PARK, MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE, SLIPKNOT, KORN and DEFTONES. As far as influences for MAN VS. SELF, I would say SLIPKNOT, KORN, LIMP BIZKIT, and LINKIN PARK for sure.


Where and when was your first gig? What has been the most meaningful experience for MAN VS. SELF thus far?

Nick: We have never ever performed live (laughs). As far as a meaningful experience for MAN VS. SELF, I would say the first time Noah and I finished writing a song together for the EP. it felt pretty good because it’s a badass song, and we make a good team.

Is two the perfect number? Have you all ever thought of expanding your project to include more members?

Nick: As far as writing the music and making important decisions, I think two is a perfect number. And, it is still kind of Noah’s solo project, so I know he definitely doesn’t want a lot of help writing (laughs). But, if/when we ever perform live, we will definitely need a full band to play the songs.

What do you both do outside of MAN VS. SELF?

Noah: Write more songs. I love writing. That has always been one of my favorite parts about playing music.

Nick: Tattooing, painting, and hanging out with Noah or my girlfriend.

Do you have a favorite song to perform?

Noah: If/when the day comes we perform live, there is a song that I think will be the most fun to play. It’s a song Nick wrote a lot of and is currently on my computer under the name, “Premature Ejaculator Rough 1”.

What local bands do you think deserve a shout out?

Noah: MY ENEMIES & I, BROADSIDE, and my other band I play guitar in, IMMORALIST.


For more updates on MAN VS. SELF, be sure to “like” their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, and check out their music on Spotify, Bandcamp, and iTunes.

Marianna Campano

Marianna Campano

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