So Maura and I were driving around teaching Punk Rock Aerobics classes in a fucking Jaguar. And then sometime around 2000 we had this amazing gig where we opened for Le Tigre – we were going to get up and do Punk Rock Aerobics onstage with bands. So we had these completely handmade gym shorts and T-shirts, our spray-painted bricks, and we pull up in . . . a Jaguar. And I remember when we pulled up at Spontaneous Celebrations, the place in JP where the Le Tigre show was happening, there were all these kids standing outside waiting in line, and people were like, “Who the fuck is this?”
Fast forward ten years: My friend Kaethe Hostetter, who, plays in Debo Band, pulled up to my house: she lives in a loft where there’s no heat and they illegally plunged the toilet, and she’s traveling around in a Jaguar. And I’m like: “No way!” She’s like: “Billy Ruane!” I was so glad that the torch was being passed to younger, crazy artists in Boston.
MARK KATES | FENWAY RECORDINGS, GEFFEN RECORDS, GRAND ROYAL: Despite being lucky enough to have witnessed his interpretive dancing to bands like Mission of Burma, Human Sexual Response and Killing Joke at venues like The Channel, Bradford Ballroom and The Rat, at this point my fondest memory of Billy is the most recent, in late September when Teenage Fanclub played Royale. I guess it is my favorite because it is so recent. Billy was in fine form and when I arrived I was behind Billy in the guest list line. He was with a seemingly much younger woman, who turned out to be Mary Lou Lord, and it was just a really special night and a fantastic gig. I was lucky enough to work with TFC back in the day and they hadn't played Boston in a long time. Billy was in fine form, enthusiastic about the gig and speaking passionately about the artists that he was currently most excited about. It reminded me of one of his carefully written emails strongly encouraging you to attend the gigs of consequence at that time. Afterwards everyone went to the Middle East (of course!) and it was another great night of rock in our town, one of so many made more exciting and dynamic by Billy's presence and indeed implied endorsement. He will always watch over us, especially on nights like that.
CHRIS BROKAW | COME, CODEINE, TOO MANY MORE TO MENTION: The one lyric that Billy loved and referred back to again and again in the years I knew him was that Lou Reed lyric, “Between thought and expression lies a lifetime.” I think that Billy spent his whole life trying to express everything he was thinking and feeling. He couldn't edit or skip over any nuance – it was all important, and it all took a great deal of time. Conversely, he loved and championed artists who could achieve different forms of expression, however expansive or terse – he found value in the smallest and greatest of gestures. But I think he found the constriction of expression to be the greatest affront to humanity, and he fought that constriction without compromise. He often paid dearly for that stance; but he took his place in the world unblinkingly and without apology. That said (and despite his refusal to utter the L word), he loved and was loved as fiercely as anyone I've ever known.