Interview at the CD Release Show at the Roxy 1/21/12
New Release: “We’re Here with You”
Ryan Shuck – lead vocals/guitar
Amir Derakh – Guitar/vocals (Circuit Freq Records)
Fu (Anthony Valcic) – Keyboards
Elias Rodriguez – Drums
DOOM!: Jan Nowinski: Well I am excited about your new album. What would you like to say about your new album before I launch into my own questions? Favorite track?
Ryan Shuck: I don’t have a favorite track. The album, what’s special about it is we brought guitars back in a very, very cool way. We made such an electronic album, that I think people are really expecting this full, total dance-electro album. And I think what we ended up with was the most incredible hybrid of electro and real rock, almost classic rock. The guitar tones are modeled after like The Clash or old U2… really, really cool guitar playing without a lot of effects, just pure vintage tones with vintage amps. We own all the classic original gear so people can’t just get into an emulator and do what we’re doing. You literally have to have the equipment. And then, on the other hand, we work with a lot of DJs, and we have a very electronic streak as well, with Circuit Freq and Fu and Amir and we worked with a lot of DJs and did co-writes with them. So a lot of these songs started out as full electronic dance songs, and then we came in and started feeling these really clean, heavy, searing classic guitar tones and classic style guitar rock playing. It’s really, really cool…
DOOM!: Jan Nowinski: Love the guitars… can’t get rid of the guitar!
Ryan Shuck: You can’t get rid of the guitar… but then you have a clash with, on the record, of all the songs that start from me. And I’m more of a classic singer-songwriter, with an acoustic guitar, except that these guys took them, and they made them into these total electro songs. I think the electronic and dance music is the biggest in the world right now, and I think that we’re the first band to do something truly cool with dance and rock. It really is dark, cool dancerock. And it’s not just appealing to goths and it’s not industrial. It’s not anything like that. It’s modern, cool electronic music with modern, cool guitars. You know, so I think this is something that we created and there will be a lot of bands trying to copy what we did. It’s going to be influential.
DOOM!: Jan Nowinski: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I’m actually awaiting my SDS (Systeme De Street) Vinyl. What kind of sounds am I going to hear on that one?
Ryan Shuck: You’re going to hear the live sounds that we sort of created in Europe, developing the songs, jamming on the songs, testing them, changing them, adding to them – which we all did live, and we thought it turned out so good on our last European tour, we decided to record four tracks live with fans in the studio. We just recorded a few takes each, and we picked which take we liked the best. And it’s really cool –
DOOM!: Jan Nowinski: This is live studio play?
Ryan Shuck: This is live, with fans in the studio. They’re standing right next to me, like three feet away from me. So it’s really cool, because that’s really how we sound live. That’s not us on a record. That’s us with mics set up in front of our stuff and playing and singing.
DOOM!: Jan Nowinski: That’s the way I always heard you. Now, with all the European living and touring, are you still a Long Beach boy?
Ryan Shuck: Yeah. I like Long Beach. It’s near Orange County, where I have a couple of restaurants, the Lola Gaspar and the Gypsy Den.
DOOM!: Jan Nowinski: Oh, I know. I’ve eaten at the Lola… Amazing! Okay, so how was it being Dead by Sunrise with Chester Bennington?
Ryan Shuck: We are still Dead by Sunrise and it’s great! The chance to play with one of my best friends in the whole world, Chester, and someone who, in my opinion, is one of the greatest singers of our time, is a huge honor. It’s something that I’ll never get over, just because I know him so well. I think he’s just amazing!
DOOM!: Jan Nowinski: It’s like an automatic chemistry for you guys then.
Ryan Shuck: Totally, and it’s like getting to be in a band with Bono, someone of that caliber, that happens to be your age and someone you’ve played with for a long time and you’ve known for ten years and… you know, I was best man at his wedding, I introduced him to his wife.
DOOM!: Jan Nowinski: So you’re very close.
Ryan Shuck: Very, very close. He’s lived with me. He and his wife lived with me for a while. We recorded the record at my house, at my studio, and we’re super close. It’s great… and he’s going to be here tonight! We’re going to play a few songs together.
DOOM!: Jan Nowinski: One of my favorite videos ever is Maestro, performed here at the Roxy a few years back, when he joined you for Maestro and also for the finale. It was an amazing show!
Ryan Shuck: Thank you.
DOOM!: Jan Nowinski: One show in the US? Are you coming back soon?
Ryan Shuck: Yeah, there will be more. We’re just looking for the right opportunity. LA is a power base for us. I think the people in Los Angeles… they’re tastemakers and cool people and they also happen to be our friends. So this is a chance for us to give our CD to every person that comes to this show, and we thought that was a really, really important thing to do.
DOOM!: Jan Nowinski: Now that’s the way to have a CD release party!
Ryan Shuck: Yeah, I mean we’re going to blow out 500 plus CDs in one night, before the record even comes out. So that’s a big deal. You know, I think that’s really important. We’ll do more US shows when we get a tour that’s right. We’re going to do this record for a year and a half, and we’re going to play a lot – we’re very serious about this record.
DOOM!: Jan Nowinski: Oh, absolutely. Put the music right in the hands of your fans who love it! That’s why I’m going to put this in the magazine and make big noises about it. Love Julien-K music! We saw you boys at Bar Sinister earlier this year too. Great show! The place was packed, sold-out I believe.Now is Elias still going on ‘paternity’ leave?
Ryan Shuck: Yes. It’s going to be a while. We’re going to have another guy in the band for a long time. He may be completely done – being a father is a serious thing.
DOOM!: Jan Nowinski: I very much appreciated your post about that, about putting family first and the bands support for that philosophy. It shows you all have your heads screwed on right.
Ryan Shuck: Thank you. I think we have a unique opportunity now that we didn’t have with Death by Sunrise or Orgy. Both bands got big so quickly, and Julian-K had some issues that made it start slower. But right now, we’re able to really be in contact with our fans in a very personal way and I want them to really know who we are and actually see how we treat our coworkers, our friends, our comrades, our partners, and how we are as people, so that we can actually grow in our relationship.
DOOM!: Jan Nowinski: You know, I wonder if that isn’t how music’s going to go – with a more intimate relationship between music makers and their listeners – sidestepping the big labels.
Ryan Shuck: I think it is. I know what it’s like to be in a multi-platinum band. I get it. I’ve done it for 15 years now. I think as a band gets bigger it gets harder to interact with people. So now, we have a special time. And right now, we’re going to use it. We’re going to interact with people and have a good time with it.
DOOM!: Jan Nowinski: Speaking about that, young bands just getting started are one of my favorite things. I’d rather see the kind of show where I’m ten feet away and can feel the music, feel the intensity, as well as hear it and really see the musicians performing up close and personal. Any advice for the young bands just getting started? It’s such a difficult time right now…
Ryan Shuck: It’s a hard time, and it’s also an exciting time. I would say don’t look for a major label to do anything for you. Don’t look for a publishing company to do anything for you. You actually have to get out there and do it yourself. But the thing is, the tools are there, and they’re inexpensive now. So it really is all about the music, again. It’s about touring. It’s about playing. So you’ve just got to not hesitate, you’ve got to start doing it yourself. You can’t just sit around and wait for someone to discover you. Creating a scene, I think a lot of bands don’t understand this. It’s about creating a group of friends – they become powerful and influential and cool and fun and they love the music, and you have to be able to lead them and inspire them. I can tell you – I think nearly half of that crowd out there tonight I know personally. Those are all my friends. And there’s a lot of fans too that I don’t know personally, but that’s kind of what it takes. So, I think it’s a brave new world. And it’s harder to get super duper big, but you can get big in your own universe and actually make money and make a living doing what you love by doing it yourself.
DOOM!: Jan Nowinski: I think you’re happier in the long run knowing all of it – it’s all yours and the band’s.
Ryan Shuck: I think owning your own music is very important, so people need to be very careful about getting rid of the rights to music.
DOOM!: Jan Nowinski: Okay, I’m keeping you too long so here’s the quickies.
Dogs or cats? I love both. I’ve had cats for years, and I had dogs before that. And now I have a dog again. So I just love them both. I love dogs and cats. I love cats. I’m allergic to cats, but I’ve still have three of them.
Oatmeal or fruit loops? Oatmeal.
Ikea or French Provincial? Ikea does inexpensive versions of a lot of furniture that I like the originals of… but no, I’m not a huge Ikea fan. Kartell, Eames, Poliform, Ligne Roset – those are all styles that I like.
Perrier or Absinthe? Perrier.
Abstract art or classical art? Abstract.
DOOM!: Jan Nowinski: …and the traditional final question for Doom Magazine interviews, how do you judge your readiness to meet the threat of the impending zombie apocalypse?
Ryan Shuck: Well, I watch the Walking Dead as much as possible, so I can pre-imagine what it’s going to be like and prepare mentally. I sleep with a .45 under my pillow anyways, so I’m sure it can kill zombies as well as normal humans. I practice at the shooting range. I stockpile food that will last for long periods of time, bury it in certain places in my garden, and I read World War Z. So, I know all the different ways a zombie apocalypse could happen, and I’m ready for it. I’m just going to try to figure out how to get all the zombies to actually work for me.
DOOM!: Jan Nowinski: Oh, there you go! Turn it around – make them your zombies…. thank you so much, it was a pleasure talking with you and I look forward to another amazing show in a few minutes! Can I take a picture of you before you go?
Ryan Shuck: Please. Take one with me or… ?
DOOM!: Jan Nowinski: Let’s let Daniel take one of all of us!