> Q: For the first years, Julien-K was only working and writing as a duo, so when you and Brandon joined, there was already a lot of song material. After joining, did you work on drum parts yourself? Will the working process on the 2nd album change now that you’re involved from the beginning?
When I came into the picture I would have to say 90% of the material was already done. My input came in as a live drummer at the time. I applied my strength as a rock drummer and make the electronic and organic elements work together. I did get to work on some of the songs that made DTA, though. As far as working on new material, I have been asked to be involved in the drumming aspect of things. I will probably also apply input in other ways as well. The band has been working together for a while now and I think we are all comfortable with any open suggestions musically.
> Q: Since Julien-K is a symbiosis of rock and electro we’d like to ask you what your favorite rock/metal band is and which electronic acts you like the most!
Well, my all-time favorite band will be NIN. I also love Orgy, Ministry, and Rammstein. Ryan introduced me to The Presets, and Justice is another favorite. Also, Lady Gaga is just an amazing artist who I have grown a huge interest for.
> Q: We would like to know how and when your musical career started. Does your family have a musical background in general or were you like the first in your family to pursue a professional musical career? When did you start drumming or playing in bands and who influenced you to pick up the drums?
I think my musical career started when I was a baby! At 7 months I was already banging on things. I see it in my son Jakeb as well! It’s so weird how at even 4 months he was baby-singing and tapping with his foot to an actual song, just like his father. I did not meet my biological father till I was 23. His name was also Elias and he was a guitar player and vocalist. I only got to see him play a few times and he was really good. He mainly played Santana and gospel music. I know I definitely got that from him. Music was always played in my house, so that was a huge influence. I picked up my first instrument at 6. I began on acoustic guitar, then bass, then trombone, and later switched to drums at age of 12. It was all downhill from there - hahaha. The person who influenced me to be a musician or want to be a rock star was Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe. Tommy Lee was the icing on the cake! I’m actually listening to “Shout at the Devil” as we speak! How coincidental that the song kicked in on my iPod Shuffle!!!
> Q: Before Julien-K, you used to be a vocalist in the metal band Psycho Plague. Have you always been both a drummer and a vocalist, or how did you get from drumming into singing? In general, what was the experience in that band like? And can we maybe expect to hear something from this band again in the future?
Psycho Plague was formed when my band Stoned Heavy broke up. I basically got fed up with depending on others to write music and decided I needed to take charge and compose my own music. I picked up the guitar one day and just started writing songs on a 4-track mini disc. I needed a singer and the idea I had at the time no one could pull off. So I decided to do it myself. It took a while, and although it was a challenge I think I pulled it together. I also had done some serious damage to my wrists from playing drums for many years that I needed a break. I loved singers like Richard Patrick from Filter and Jonathan Davis from KoRn. Later I really got into Chester from Linkin Park and Brett Scallions from Fuel. They had this cool raspy voice that I fell in love with. They could also scream in key which I thought was really cool. The Psycho Plague demos you can find online were just recorded in an honest approach and although I do admit, vocally they needed a bit of tuning. At the time I felt what is called pitch-tuning was cheating. Honestly I still think it is. But if it works, it works, you know?
The experience in the band was a very good one. I learned to be a performer and also learned to express my feelings in many ways. I mentally was going through a lot then and I expressed it in my music. I tried to never follow a writing style. I just went with my emotions. As a band and a member in general, I also learned that the more popular you get some heads tend to get bigger. The end of the band was when my grandmother died. I just didn’t feel the same anymore. I stopped writing and half of the band took a break and basically formed another band. As I understand it, we are still on break from back then (lol)! When I reformed the band later it just didn’t feel the same. I recently had an opportunity to play some of the songs with 2 of the original members. I think I may do some Psycho Plague again soon! With all the side bands these days –why not?!
> Q: In general, what are your thoughts on the current state of the music industry? Has it nowadays become harder to earn money as a professional musician? What do you think can be done to improve the situation for all parties involved?
I think music has grown so much that it’s hard to pinpoint anything these days. I truly enjoy all the new talent and versatility, though. As far as the music industry, that is truly such a hard question to answer. I’m a musician and the business side is so hard to deal with. I personally am not a business person. I do have to be forced to be one at times but it sucks when I have to deal with it. To make money you have to spend money, so these days being in this business is really hard. I’m just happy I can afford to feed my family by being a musician. As far as improving the situation, I would have to say it has to get worse before it can get better. I think releasing a 4-song EP every 4-6 months is a cool idea. Then repeat the cycle and keep it fresh. Most people only listen to half a record these days anyways!
> Q: Some while back you played a special Rock for X-Mas benefit show, and you have recently also performed at another benefit show in Phoenix (AZ). What exactly does it mean to you to play these kinds of shows? Why do you think it is of such a high importance for today’s musicians to not solely play and record music but also to become active by yourself and help out others by doing what you love the most?
Doing benefit shows have become fun for me to do. I really enjoy putting together a show for a good cause. I am a spokesperson for Children Without A Voice USA. This is a non-profit organization which basically has no funding. I did a benefit last year and we raised toys for Buckner Youth Shelter and donations for CWAV USA. What makes these shows special is the involvement of people working together. I am fortunate that I have built some sort of a name for myself that I can use it for a good cause. I think musicians or artists who lend a hand these days get involved because they want to see a better world. As an artist I’d like to contribute as much as I possibly can to the community.
> Q: You are now a proud husband and father of a little son. How did the foundation of your own family change your perception and your vision in life in general? And in what kind of way did this affect or even elevate your musical career?
Having a family definitely changes how you see life in general. I know I don’t put myself first anymore. I think personally this comes with maturity. I know I am still crazy in a fun way as a person, but when I do things now I do think about how it will affect my family as well as myself. Being married to a musician is probably the hardest thing anyone can do. Musicians travel and are gone from home quite often. For example my in-laws play a big part in keeping my family together with my wife. I mean I have a very stable home but having the outside help comes in handy big time. My closest friends also help keep that family stability together. No matter how busy I get, I always make sure my family is taken care of emotionally, physically, and financially. My wife also keeps me in shape sometimes when I throw the rockstar attitude! Hahaha! Just kidding! She is such a good mom and I feel secure when I’m gone. She is probably one of the only people I can trust to do both roles of mom and dad while I’m away, plus play therapist when I need her, too! Trust me, there are certain things that get to me on the road and she is a good listener! The bonus part is she is also studying to be a massage therapist!
Honestly, when you come home to your family, mentally you have to reprogram yourself. Having a family is a 24/7 job. I love having the job of being a family man. When I come home I try to turn the rockstar switch off and be a family man. I wish I could have them with me everywhere I go but unfortunately that is not the case at times. I never thought I would be a father but the day I found out was the happiest day of my life. It was also the scariest due to the fact that I knew I was going to have a very busy upcoming band schedule. I know that if I ever need anything I can also depend on my band members to be there for me. They have been a huge support. I mean that is what family and friends are for, right?