Interview with Ryan Shuck
Disclaimer: This interview may not be reproduced in part or in entirety without the written consent of LPLive.net.
NOW what!? An interview with Ryan Shuck you say? Yep, we were able to score an interview with Ryan Shuck from Julien-K (who we cover on this site) and Orgy. We caught him right as Death To Analog, the debut Julien-K album that has been worked on for over 5 years, was about to come out. To do this interview, we got fans from both LPLive and the Julien-K forums to submit questions to us. After that, we got the staff (and Astat) to come up with a separate set of questions. After we compiled both lists, we had over 50 things to ask Ryan...but we whittled the list down and things fell into place as we were able to get everything answered right before the album came out. Two months later, we're excited to present the interview to you as Ryan discusses the new album, future plans for the band, and his work with Chester. Check it out! Thanks to Ryan for doing the interview of course, to Gary for being the middle man in the process (getting our questions to Ryan), to Felipe for handling all of the coordination it takes to get these interviews done, and the fans and staff members that submitted questions for this interview.
Fan Submitted Questions
> Q: This electronic music and punk rock mixture sounds really good, but not every band gets to be so good at mixing styles, but you guys do it perfectly. Where did the idea of making this kind of music come from.... what are your main influences?
When I was in my early teens, I listened to a lot of heavy music - everything from Metallica to Slayer. When I was about 14 or 15, I went to a dance club in San Luis Obispo (there were no dance clubs in my very small home town, so this was a really big deal for me). At this club they had big projection screens playing the videos (and music) of all sorts of new wave/early electro bands. I heard New Order’s “True Faith” - and it changed my life. I had no idea there could be music that cool – I remember the feeling to this day. I still feel it. When I started playing music, it was natural for me to make passionate, heavy, electro rock. It was in my musical DNA.
> Q: What are some of the bands you're listening to and enjoying right now?
The Presets (my favorite right now), The Delta Fiasco (a band that we are producing), Prodigy, Seal, HIM, Depeche Mode. Pretty much all over the place.
> Q: Do you guys intend to release anything after Death To Analog and Dead By Sunrise, maybe a live CD or DVD, or may we expect a new Orgy album?
Definitely. As far as a new Orgy record – Jay and I have been spending time together lately, so..... You never know!
> Q: What is the writing process like for you guys? Do you just go in and write a song in one day, or do you throw down demos that grow over a long period of time?
We definitely “grow” demos. In the beginning, we have a rough idea, and it usually is a work in progress for a few months. We usually have a couple going at the same time. When a song gets “there”, we will then zero in on it, and focus and finish it.
> Q: Do the meaning of the songs you write come from personal experience?
All of them are from personal experience – or my opinions about life and/or ideology.
From: Elementary Warrior
> Q: Is a concept record something you would like to explore as musicians someday?
We did a lot of that in Orgy, so yes, we enjoy that sort of thing. As far as doing it in Julien-K, I'm not sure. We really wanted Julien-K to be rooted in honesty – I wanted the lyrics to be passionate and real.
I wouldn’t rule it out though. We are artists, and you just never know!
> Q: In the best way you can describe it, what does it feel like to stand on stage in front of an audience that knows the songs you created, and sings them with you?
It’s simply the best feeling EVER. I can’t do better than that. I just love it.
> Q: How did you start working with Jeffrey Sebelia? Is he still making all of the clothes you wear on stage?
We met through a stylist friend of mine that we hired for a photoshoot. He does make most of our clothes, although we do tend to mix it up with some other pieces.
> Q: Any plans to tour in support of the album overseas (Europe, Australia, etc)? From the reviews, it seems like you guys lit up Mexico.... do you have anything planned for the international fans?
YES. Definitely. We think JK will be popular outside the US. We are working on international deals right now.
From: Ana Flora
> Q: What was it like after so much time to play Blue Monday with Jay Gordon at the November show (getting back an "Orgy" member)?
It was awesome! It felt like we never stopped playing in Orgy. We just immediately went right into our old roles. It was so much fun.
General Interview Questions (from the LPLlive staff)
> Q: How long ago did the creation of songs and recording start for Death To Analog? What were the first and last songs to be completed?
We started somewhere around 03 – 04. The first song was a song called “Everyone Knows”- unfortunately it’s not on the record – maybe later. The last song was “Futura”.
> Q: What tracks off of Death To Analog are your favorite? Is there a certain song that you are just really excited for the fans to hear at this point?
I love System De Sexe and Futura, because I like how dark and electro they turned out – they also really fun to sing. As far as what songs I would like for fans to hear? Probably “Killing Fields.”
> Q: Ryan on Projekt Revolution stated that you all wanted to get out and introduce the band to the fans by playing actual shows instead of having some "tired ass, boring radio station play our songs". How was that? I can recall at a show on the Evanescence tour after your set, fans would approach you guys and immediately ask when your record was coming out and that you put on a hell of a show live. Not many bands just pop out and go on tour like that - it was definitely creative - was that a good experience for you guys?
Well – it was really hard – and really rewarding. It’s tough to play in front of a fresh crowd every night that hasn't heard ANYTHING about you. You have to be on your game EVERY night. You can’t have a bad show. All in all, I think it was a good experience – I think people think of us as a “live” band, whereas I think if we would have just thrown the record out on the radio, I’m not sure if we would have been taken seriously.
> Q: Another band you are a major part of is Dead By Sunrise, which also includes your friend Chester (and of course Fu!). From the snippets we've heard, Dead By Sunrise seems to be more rock-oriented while Death To Analog encompasses many genres of music. How was the Dead By Sunrise writing process different than the Death To Analog process, if at all?
It is definitely more rock oriented – Chester comes up with the "kernel" that becomes the songs on his acoustic guitar – so they tend to turn out a bit more guitar rock. They are more riff/vocal focused.
> Q: Were you guys actually working on two albums at once at one point (DBS and Julien-K)?
Yes. We are masochists. We always over do it.
> Q: One thing that caught my eye over the years with you guys was turning on the TV in 2005 and after seeing the images of Hurricane Katrina, seeing Let Down being performed live. How did that go, coming up with the acoustic arrangement to play that?
That was how the song went originally – it really was an acoustic song. We sort of made it more rock in the recording process.
> Q: Over the course of the past few years, I believe that Chester has stated a few times that you all were done with the record, but then later said he wanted to either re-visit a few songs or write a few more. An example of this comes in 2007 when he said the record was done, but following the LP and Julien-K tours, he wanted to continue work on the album. Was the album actually complete at one point and then it was revisited?
Yes and no. it COULD have been finished if we wanted to call it finished. But we just thought it could go further, so we revisited the songs and really focused on what we could do to ensure that this was a GREAT record. Chester is an extremely hard worker – and he keeps us all on our toes, and really focuses on excellence. He is also a pretty prolific writer, and he did have more ideas that he wanted to explore.
> Q: The production and final song cuts on Death To Analog from what we've heard are top-notch. With all of the experience that each member brings to the table, are you guys ....in a sense...."perfectionists" when it comes to what the final version of a song will sound like?
> Q: There are three projects Ryan and Chester are involved in - Julien-K, Dead By Sunrise, and Bucket Of Weenies. Which one came first (Julien-K was obviously started first, but Chester wasn't initially involved I believe?) and how did it come to be a relationship that eventually spanned three different musical projects?
Julien-K definitely started first. Really, all of these projects stem from a really close friendship, over the course of 10 years. We just happen to be really good at creating music that people want to hear - that’s what we end up doing... ALL THE TIME! Ha ha.
> Q: What was it like to have Chester get a production credit on Death To Analog? Did it just come natural for you guys to pick him? I believe this is the first actual production credit he will have on an album.
It really was the only way to describe, legally, what he brought to our record. He was instrumental on so many fronts. I think “executive producer” covered it nicely.
> Q: Obviously Julien-K is talented at many things and one way we see this is in the remixes that you release for your music. Some bands put out remix CDs a year or two years after the original album release, but how do you like being able to immediately offer a remix CD (Death To Digital) right along with Death To Analog in a package together? In regards to the remixes on Death To Digital - did you guys pick some of your closest friends to remix the songs, or how did that work?
We thought it was a cool thing to do for our fans because it took SO long to get the CD out. Yes, we do pick a lot of our friends to remix stuff – but we also reach out to artists that we listen to. Amir is usually in charge of that aspect of JK.
> Q: Thank you very much for your time and we appreciate the band doing this interview. We'd like to close it with a final question:
Lastly, what are your thoughts on the entire Julien-K history up to this point? From This Machine & Waking Up to Kick The Bass to playing live for the first time to building a generously sized fanbase from the ground-up over the years - how does it feel to finally be releasing the album?
Two words: world domination.