RYAN SHUCK INTERVIEW
LOCATION: Staircase in backstage area of HMV Forum, London – February 2010.
Ryan Shuck, could quite possibly be one of the nicest guys we’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, he was friendly, fun and hunted down a suitable stairwell in the backstage area of the London HMV Forum before he went onstage with Dead By Sunrise this past March to have a chat.
Now, best known as guitarist/vocalist in Orgy, Julien-K and more recently Dead By Sunrise, with Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington, He started off as an artist, painting; design had his own clothing company and was a hair dresser. When he reached high school he started to love music, he began to understand its power, it was his friends that got him interested, not the big bands like Slayer or Metallica.
“They were playing a guitar and that I would see some friends play a guitar and be like “wow you can make that sound! That’s amazing!” and I just experimented with it and actually found out I could make my hands do the things you needed to do”
When Ryan first picked up a guitar at the age of 15-16, he wasn’t allowed to listen to heavy metal or any cool music; he had friends who would make mix tapes for him to sneak into his bedroom to listen to.
“ I never really thought ‘I wanna be a rockstar’ I never really understood that you could do that. I’m from a really small town, I didn’t even know anyone that was even in a band so it was just alien to me so the fact that I was kinda playing…I didn’t really know what I was doing.”
Ryan, originally from Bakersfield, California, was in a band called Sexart with Jonathan Davis before he joined Korn. The band then played a few of Ryan’s songs, they got big and he received a cheque and it dawned on him, and he decided to write more;
“I realised, Oh shit! You can do this for a living!” he says thinking back, “I mean I knew The Beatles were big and The Rolling Stones were big but I didn’t equate money with it at all.”
It was after this Korn introduced Ryan to his now band mates in Orgy, signed them to their label and Orgy went on to sell millions of records. He then met Chester Bennington;
“I met Chester, before he was Chester and we became friends and that’s how Dead By Sunrise was spawned.”
“The songs start with Chester usually on an acoustic guitar as a little vocal melody, but it’s really sparse. Occasionally they’re more complete songs, but a lot of times he has an idea and a really good melody and we just sort of record that and he’ll literally go work with Linkin Park then. And we’ll build the song and write it, do the parts and everything, he’ll come back and he’ll get excited and then he’ll sing more on it and then he’ll go back and work with Linkin Park.”
The band aren’t the type of band to sit in a room jamming, they create music like a hip-hop band using computers and all sorts of technology.
“We sit and write on an acoustic guitar and get the idea going and then we’ll go in and track it.”
When we first heard the album at Warner Bros Records in London we immediately noticed the industrial, early Nine Inch Nails vibe on the record, we asked Ryan about the ‘Pretty Hate Machine’ vibe they had going on. He passionately agreed;
“Well we draw from all of that, that’s like what we grew up on. I love the feelings from those albums,” He says before excitedly continuing, “Do you remember how you felt when you first heard thatI liked Nine Inch Nails the first time I heard it, I was like ‘that’s like fucking good’ – starts singing Head Like A Hole – you don’t get that?! If you don’t get that then Fuck you!
And thats what we wanted with these! ‘it’s too late to turn back now’ really? You get it…it’s beautiful, melodic and cool, we didn’t want to be afraid of that.
But we wanted to create something that was a little more like the music that we grew up on, Like a lot of the nineties alternative stuff.”
For those that haven’t seen Dead By Sunrise live, you’re missing out. The band was pushed to make the album more polished, ‘make it more shimmery’, so the live version of the album differs a little.
“It’s going to sound alot bigger. On the album, the guitars were definitely heavier – there was a bit more grip to the record before and I think the label, when they heard the songs, were like “this could be all over the radio” and they wanted us to polish it up and make it shimmery.”
And after seeing the album performed live at the HMV Forum in February, we can definitely concur, it definitely sounds bigger and that little extra oomph that Ryan predicted before the show.
To this point, we’d the album performed acoustically in Las Vegas, and the brief set at last year’s Sonisphere Festival. We touched on this for a moment to find out how it felt performing in the middle of the Linkin Park set, and Ryan explained that Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda had wanted it to happen that way.
“We knew we were gonna play cold in front of a bunch of people expecting Linkin Park. The point wasn’t go out there and launch a record and win a bunch of fans, the point was that people get very protective over Linkin Park…they get really protective over Orgy, Linkin Park’s just much bigger – Orgy sold a couple of million record, Linkin Park sold 50million…we wanted the fans to understand that the band endorsed what we were doing. Wanted to do that out of respect for the Linkin Park fans.
It was Mike’s idea! We wanted people to know that Chester wasn’t leaving Linkin Park. So it was important that if Chester was going to be playing in another band, we didn’t want rumours going around saying “Chester doesn’t like the band” – you’d be surprised at how people get.”
Whilst on the subject, we made sure to cheekily as about the new Linkin Park record and Ryan was only too happy to indulge us and tells is the new album is definitely worth the wait,
“Yeah! I heard and I was like “Cool – this will be my favourite record!” It’s awesome. It’s like Christmas presents for me. It’s fucking awesome.”
Shortly after we met with Ryan, Julien-K’s album, “Death To Analogue” was released in Europe and Asia, and a European tour is in the planning stages, and they’re halfway through recording the new Julien K album. He’s definitely a busy man as they plan to get the next Julien-K album finished as soon as they’re done touring and promoting the Dead By Sunrise album, when Chester returns to Linkin Park on their upcoming album/tour proposed for later 2010, then plan another tour for Julien-K.
Although the band inevitably shares alot of existing fans from Linkin Park, Orgy and Julien K, they hope that they would also draw in a new type of fan by writing more of a pop record. But he insists they’re not trying to compete with the likes of Shakira or Lady Gaga, “All those artists are great, especially Lady Gaga – I love Lady Gaga”
When we told Ryan a little more about us and the stereotype’s we’ve been labelled with travelling to see the bands we love at festivals and tours on both sides of the Atlantic, he genuinely seemed surprised at the narrow minded judgements we’ve received, but he assures us Ryan explains that he loves them, especially the girls!
“To be honest with you I’ve always written music for girls, I like girls to identify with my music. I like my guy friends to be down with the music but the lyrics I don’t write for dudes, a lot of them identify with it but everything I write is about relationships and we want appeal to women. They rule! Women are awesome!”
Of course where there’s smoke there’s fire, and there are those few ‘fans’ who are an exception to our rule. Who’s goal is to sleep with the lead singer, the guitarist, drummer… even sometimes a bassist. Ryan has had his share of stalkers, but explains he doesn’t want to elaborate and encourage those individuals, he’d rather focus on the positive side of their fanbase, because they like girls – girls are cool!
“In every single city around the world we have female fans that we meet up with and hang out with that we’re not having sex with. We love girls. WE LOVE GIRLS!” He says.
“ In Julien K it’s a little different as they are more married people in this conglomerate [Dead by Sunrise]… we try to keep it more under control. But in Julien K or especially in Orgy we liked girls around period because they make things more fun and better…we just like girls around because we like girls – girls are cool!”
We left him to grab some dinner and prepare for the show, stepping outside for some air we spotted fans lining up around the block, the same fans that we heard chanting ‘DBS’ whilst we sat with Ryan. It brought a smile to our faces.
By the way Ryan, we think you’re cool too.
Click on the images below to visit the Dead By Sunrise gallery
Here’s our favourite bits:
Becoming a Rockstar:
I never really thought ‘I wanna be a rockstar’ I never really understood that you could do that. I was in band with Jon before he joined Korn, and they played a few of my songs, they got really big and I got a cheque and then I realised “Oh shit! You can do this for a living”.
I love Lady Gaga
Dead by Sunrise:
I think the nineties was one of the best times for music.
A lot of the music right now is still trying to get out of the nineties, but we wanted to go back in and revisit it. Sort of like we did in Orgy, we drew from the eighties, without ripping it off we took the cool elements we liked.
I liked Nine Inch Nails the first time I heard it, I was “that’s like fucking good” – ‘Head like a hole, black as your soul’ – you don’t get that?! You don’t get that?! If you don’t get that then Fuck you!
People get very protective over Linkin Park… we wanted people to know that Chester wasn’t leaving Linkin Park.
Linkin Park’s new album:
I heard it and I was like “Cool – this will be my favourite record!” It’s awesome. It’s like Christmas presents for me. It’s fucking awesome.
But in this band there are more wives and stuff involved and we try to keep it more under control. But in Julien-K or especially in Orgy we liked having girls around, period, because they make things more fun and better…we just like girls around because we like girls – girls are cool!