Q&A with Julien-K’s Ryan Shuck

By: @brentXmendoza

Saturday, Jan 21 future rock outfit Julien-K return to The Roxy Theatre to preview material from their forthcoming sophomore effort “We’re Here With You.”

While the band looks ahead to their upcoming European tour, an online feud rages here at home—a he said, he said, war of web words, over a possible reunion with original musical incarnation Orgy.

Before their highly anticipated Roxy CD release party, JK frontman Ryan Shuck brings us the latest blow by cyber blow action he calls, “a real life rock and roll feud on display for the public.”

What can we expect from the new album? Also, are you nervous about the infamous “sophomore slump?”

I am fucking pumped regarding the “sophomore slump!” We created one of our best works to date, and other bands will be trying to copy what we did on this record for a long time. This record is really good!

We brought guitars back in a really relevant and important way. Most people wouldn’t even know how to replicate what we did with the guitars on this record. My vocals are amazing, and the programming is really, really cool!

It’s not the run of the mill garbage that you hear so often; this new work that we created will make you have to justify to yourself why you ever lowered your standards, and let other bands into your life. This record has attitude, and it’s honest and authentic. It will take a few listens to understand what we are doing. I would recommend watching our new video on YouTube “Breakfast In Berlin.” You will get it then.

You’ve both been in the biz for a number of years, and experienced the record industry at its height, and now in its sort of post collapse phase… Personally would you say it’s harder or easier now, having to be more self reliant, as opposed to being part of a big machine? What’s the best advice you have for artists trying to actually make a living as musicians?

It’s never “easier.” Orgy and Dead By Sunrise benefited from the major label marketing machine, and that is a beautiful thing when it works. The fucked thing is, it seldom does…

Majors do not “get it” anymore, nor do they give a fuck. They just don’t. They fucked up “major” when they went after Napster. They have no fucking idea what they are doing now. They lost control of their monopoly of the distribution channel. They are now the most boring companies on the planet.

Starting a band and doing what we’re doing, on our own, is not easy! It’s very difficult, and honestly very expensive. We front all the money, and then run it like any small business (I own three successful restaurants, and Julien-K is not much different). It’s hard! Don’t let anyone tell you different. The truth is: no one gives a fuck about you, none of these companies, none! So you know what? We don’t give a fuck either! We have the fire, not them—fuck them!

This job is never easy.

So what’s the latest with this Orgy feud? Is this all just a massive PR stunt? What would it take to get all the players in the same room for a discussion?

Well… I do think that I should be hired on as Orgy’s new PR person, as I have gotten the band more attention in the last few months than “the band” has managed to create on its own over the last eight years.

That being said, no, it isn’t a PR stunt, it’s a real life rock and roll feud on display for the public. It’s kind of fucking awesome! And I’m glad to see that KROQ picked up on it, and many web outlets jumped into the fray. Good stuff!

It all originated when Jay (Gordan) proclaimed that he was going to, “do the Orgy thing again,” and that the band (I’m paraphrasing) was “too busy” to participate, so he was going to go out with a new band. Well, that simply was not true. We have tried to get back together with Jay for years, but to no avail. Every time we tried, Jay would deflect the advance and not really give us an answer. So we just kept working on other projects, until we hoped Jay would want to play with us again.

Needless to say, when Jay made that announcement, my inbox on Facebook was filled with messages from hundreds of fans that were pissed that Amir and I, “didn’t want to do Orgy.” So I had no choice, but to correct this false information so that: (A) our fans wouldn’t be wrongfully pissed off at me, and (B) so our fans would not be defrauded into buying tickets for an Orgy show assuming it was actually the original band.

When Jay responded with more subtly incorrect information, of course I had to hit back, and there you have it! A righteous real life band feud! It’s gotten really great now—I see posters for the new Orgy tour, and it’s a picture of the entire old band! So obviously that’s not ok.

It’s like, I can’t fucking leave it alone! They keep doing silly shit that I have to deal with. Jay should have simply said, “Hey fans, I want to play as Orgy, but with a new band. I hope you guys are cool with it. I don’t want to play with the original band.” And I would have had nothing to say about it, and of course… they would need to shoot new pictures, and advertise themselves as who they are, and provide those pictures to the promoters that are booking the shows, so fans aren’t mislead into thinking it’s the original band. I think that’s the cool and honest thing to do.

What would it take to get the guys in a room together..?

Actually, we may meet with Jay next Friday, regarding Paige (bassist Paige Hamilton) and Bobby (drummer Bobby Hewitt)…

I think Bobby is done. I think Paige still has the fire, but he and Jay are not on the greatest terms… which I think is fucking gay, because they have been friends for like 25 years; totally lame! I actually love all the guys. I’m just not a pussy, I’m going to speak up when false information is spread regarding a band that I helped create, and that I still love deeply.

Two of the new tracks, “Breakfast In Berlin” and “Palm Springs Reset” sound like they both have interesting stories behind them. Care to share?

Yes, I would love to share (surprise)! BIB was the very first song I wrote “on the spot,” in sort of one vocal take. Amir forced me to just go for it, and what came out was a story about our traveling life, and what we love about touring. It was very pure, it was honest, and it told the story in a really cool way. Amir’s guitars inspired the story and the song. We collaborated with our good friend Sharooz (DJ/producer) on this track. He laid down an amazing beat and bass line, and we went off with that.

I wrote PSR in the most pure way: I was sitting by the pool at the Viceroy in Palm Springs, with a beautiful girl (my girlfriend), and as she smiled in the sun (she has an amazing smile). I was blessed by God with the most amazing song idea…

I quickly excused myself from the pool area, ran around the corner, and sang the entire song into my iPhone. I came back after the idea was recorded (30 seconds max) and said, “Thank you! You inspired an amazing song, and many people will thank you for it.”
People will love it because we all know that feeling of love and forgiveness; innocence when you know neither of you are pure… but you are there together in that moment in time, and that is all that matters—that is beautiful.

What’s your craziest/wildest/strangest/most f*cked up story from a night out on The Sunset Strip?

Let’s just say that I am reasonably sure that the “girl” I ended up with at the end of said “f*cked up” night was not really a girl… blame Amir!


Julien-K takes the stage on January 21 for the “We’re Here With You” Record Release show with Battle Tapes & I Will Never Be The Same. Each advance ticket purchase comes with a copy of the new album!

For tickets & information on the show click here.