Adema Confirm Julien-K’s Ryan Shuck as New Frontman [Exclusive Interview]
We had the opportunity to speak with Shuck recently to help the band break the news of their lineup change, their upcoming tour plans and their intent to record new music. Check out the chat below.
I hear we have some big news to announce today. What’s going on with you and Adema?
I’ll just cut to the chase. I’m going to assume the frontman / lead singer position with my very good friends in Adema this fall on a major tour and a couple more one-offs toward the end of the year. So basically I agreed to be their singer for the rest of this year and possibly more because we seem to be having a lot of fun doing it.
So what does this mean for Julien-K?
I’m not quitting Julien-K at all. In fact, we have a new album coming out called Harmonic Disruptor that is really, really exciting and really, really good, but we don’t have a tour in the fall so this all kind of lined up.
As soon as the announcement went up, there was speculation online of what happened with Marky Chavez. I know he’s been in and out in the past, and you have also known these guys for a while. How did this come about and can you speak to what happened with Marky and the lineup change?
Well, if you read the headlines, it says Chavez split with the band, again, but the reality of it is that he’s never really been deeply engaged with the band for at least ten years. As you know, there have been tours booked and the band has gone out as a three piece or four piece and [Tim] Fluckey ends up singing, but the reason for this is that Marky just doesn’t really seem to want to do Adema.
Recently I’d heard that Mike [Ransom] had been sober for seven or eight years and that was really great news because substance abuse has been a really big problem with some of the guys in this band. Dave DeRoo is a very old friend of mine. My first band, Sexart, was with Dave DeRoo and Jonathan Davis in Bakersfield, California, so we go back very, very far. But we’ve maintained our friendship, and Dave has also been sober for a year plus.
But he and Marky had rekindled their friendship and moved in together and I thought this was all very, very exciting. So they played a few shows, I went and watched them and I was so happy that I started jumping in and calling all the guys and finding out what their situation was. I asked if everyone had their substance issues under control, and it sounded like they were enjoying playing music again. I reached out to see if maybe they wanted to do a tour with Julien-K.
And in Julien-K, I kind of manage the band, but when I saw Adema play I got so excited I just started calling all of them and having deep conversations with the guys. I found out that Marky was on the straight and narrow and doing really well, and he seemed to be back into the music, which was really good because I know that he wasn’t for the longest time. But when I saw them play, I was so excited that I started working on putting the band back together. I literally started acting like a manager, and I really started to try to drill into why can’t you guys go out and tour? There are tour offers coming in all the time and people love this band.
So what did you find out?
At the end of the day, after some lengthy and very friendly conversations with Marky, I was simply told point blank by Mark that he does not want to play this music, period. So I gave up. I respect that. I was totally looking forward to going out and playing with them and I thought we had a chance to go out and not only make some money but bring this music to the better part of a million fans out there that really love the band. But Mark was just like, "I’m not really into singing these songs anymore.” I don’t want to convince someone to do something they don’t want to do. That’s not what I do.
Needless to say, the band was again in a state of devastation. The band was not happy and I honestly thought it was just over. But we continued talking and being friends and out of nowhere, a month and a half ago, Kris Kohls gave me a call and said, "Hey man, we got offered another big tour, and we really want to do this the right way. We don’t want to go out as a three-piece or have Fluckey have to do the whole set. We want to have a frontman." When I asked if they would be willing to be authentic with the full rest of the band, he said yeah, and then he asked me if I’d come sing for them.
I just kind of stopped for a second, but the instant feeling in my stomach was like, "Oh, that’d be fun." But because I’m such an originalist, I never really imagined singing for another band where I’m not the primary writer. But it was fun because I’ve been friends with these guys for 25 fucking years or more. So it didn’t really feel weird. It felt like my old friends or part of my old band asked me to come help them out.
In some ways I look at this like, “What would Chester [Bennington] have done?,” especially if it was a group of his 25-year friends who needed some help and needed someone incredible to go sing for them. I know multiple occasions where Chester had jumped right in and done it. He sang for me in Julien-K during Projekt Revolution when I had to fly home to be the best man at my brother’s wedding. He put on Julien-K clothes and went out and sang the entire set for me. That’s the friend and musician and singer that I want to be for my friends. That sits heavy with me, especially when you got some guys that reach out. I know the feeling of wanting to go do your music so badly, but you’re basically getting blocked because you’ve got a member of the band who doesn’t want to do it.
So I talked to [Julien-K’s] Amir [Derakh] and Amir asked if I wanted to do it and told me he’d totally support me if I wanted to. And I was like, “Yeah, to me this is like Family Values all over again. This is the original gang of friends getting together and doing the right thing.” I just felt that I could get together with these guys onstage and do the music justice, and I can be consistent and give the band something they haven’t really had in a long time and that’s the COMPLETE band, with a great singer with dates that they can count on.
Stepping into the group, what are you looking for musically?
One thing I asked and this has been awesome. But I said, "Look, you guys used to have samples and there’s keyboards and stuff in your music on the album. I remember back in the Projekt Revolution days when you guys were blowing up, you guys had all that." They said, "Yeah, but we haven’t used that in a long time." And I said, "Well, we’ve gotta use all of it. If I’m going to do this with you guys, it’s going to be the Adema that everyone remembers. We’re gonna go back to the roots, back to the core, and we’re going to sound fucking amazing."
We’re going to use all the masters of all the sounds and we’re going to go back and make sure that this music sounds like the album. There’s nothing that’s going to be left out because these keyboard parts really take it to another level. It’s gotta be there. So they’re totally stoked and I can’t wait to get in there and do this.
We’ve had a couple of rehearsals and it turns out I can sing the songs great. I forget who said it, but it was like what if Dave Gahan and Trent Reznor fronted Adema? That’s perfect. This is cool. So we’ve been working and really having a great time together. Mike’s been having an awesome time sourcing all the original sounds that was just sitting in storage.
Was there any apprehension about jumping into this band?
I started to do a little research on the band when Kris reached out to me, so I immediately jumped on Spotify and I used all the digital outlets now that I use to determine if people give a shit about the music. They had 297,000 listeners on Spotify and they’ve done nothing for years. Orgy had 302,000 listeners on Spotify, so Adema has a few thousand less than a multi-platinum band like Orgy?
Then I went over to Apple Music, and there’s “The Way You Like It,” 9.5 million listens, “Giving In” – 6.1 million listens. “Immortal” – 3.7 million listens. These guys have done nothing. They weren’t even controlling their own Spotify or buying ads on Facebook or buying likes or listeners on YouTube or any of the stupid tricks that many modern bands do to make themselves look bigger than they really are. It was all real organic listeners.
That really caught my attention and let me know that people want to hear this fucking music and I’m happy to oblige. I think if Adema went out and did what they were supposed to do, which is be the original Adema, the band, with a great singer singing the stuff without trying to mimic Marky but done in a really great way, I think that people are in store for something really, really special.
Having been in Orgy, Julien-K and Dead By Sunrise, do you bring any of that vibe musically into this, or are you trying to fit more to reflect what Adema have been over the years? Or perhaps does this fall somewhere in between?
I went in there with no preconceptions. I just went into rehearsals with the guys and was like, "Let’s just find out if I sound good. Let’s see if the way that I sing can turn out alright over your music." I know I’m going to have to change a little bit and be more aggressive over this music, cause there are some ways I sing in Julien-K that aren’t going to work in Adema. But as we’re going along, the guys are jumping up and down going, "Yeah, dude, yeah!" So I thought, "Okay, I guess this is working." So I set up my iPhone and recorded it during another rehearsal and just listened back to it raw. There was no production, no effects and it sounded really good.
I just went into it thinking I’m not going to act like somebody different. I’m not going to try to mimic Marky because that’s silly, but I am going to sing the way that I sing and use the more aggressive side. It was great. I was stoked, and I wouldn’t do it if it didn’t sound good because I’m in the business of looking cool, right? (laughs) If we go and do this and it’s not incredible, then it’s not worth doing.
We are very, very focused on going back to the original material and really drilling deeply into it to find out what about it made fans love it in the first place. That’s a big process and a big thought. What did people really love about that and what feeling did it give them? What was it about those guitars and that vocal that made it so cool?
I want to approach Adema the way that I’m approaching Julien-K, revisit the first two albums, listen to them with the band and yes, touring with them is part of this process, so basically I want to live the music and let it seep into me and I’m going to start interpreting songs and understanding them in a deeper fashion. I already know all the songs, sure, but when you go out and sing and perform them and see what people respond to, what lyrics do they sing along to?
In Julien-K, we do a lot of that. We analyze what resounds with people. I want to do the same thing with Adema. I want to find what people love the most and use that as an influence for what you’re doing now. You don’t do the same thing over, but I think it’s cool when a lot of bands go back and say, “Hey fans, we didn’t forget you. We didn’t forget what you loved. We’re still this band. Here’s a whole bunch of new music and you’re going to feel that feeling you felt when you first heard us.” I think that is such a bitchin’ way for a band to think.
I know there was mention of music, and not knowing how far along you are, I was wondering if you might be planning to share some new music when you hit the road or are you saving the potential album for after?
I want to tour first, but I can already tell you that we’re already talking about recording something with Adema. It could be an Adema-Julien K kind of collab. We’ve found that that stuff works really good, so maybe Adema starts out with a song seed and then we all get together with me and Amir and sit down and work out a new song that’s really credible and unique and that can get people excited and break the ice a little bit.
As far as Adema continuing to write new music, these guys are writing machines so I think that once we get the tour under our belts and everyone sees that this can be something real, we will, or definitely they will, start writing music.
I also have an idea, but I don’t want to let the cat completely out of the bag. But I have an idea for them that if Marky isn’t going to be the singer, we basically have two great albums with Marky. They also have a couple of other albums with other singers, and now I’m going to be another singer. So we can create a body of work with me that as long as it’s good, that’s what matters – that it’s great music and that it’s true to Adema.
I think it also wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for these guys to collaborate with other big singers. I’m not going to drop any names right now. But the guys write excellent songs and I think that by me doing this with them and being the guy that executes for them live, and works with them and even writes some songs, I don’t know why Adema couldn’t do some tracks with some of our other friends that are very prominent singers. I think fans would be blown away if they heard an Adema track with, just pick a very awesome current heavy music singer. I mean, did anyone hate the Chester Bennington track that came out post-mortem?
You mean the one with Mark Morton?
Yeah, it was a very heavy song, but it’s fucking awesome. I heard it long ago, but I knew it was coming out. But I’m thinking in those terms that there’s a lot of great singers out there and Adema are known enough to be able to collaborate with more great singers.
Since this past week when you changed your socials, a lot of fans have commented and even speculated on your involvement. What has been your take on what you’ve seen and what do you expect from the band’s fan base when this gets announced?
Well, any negativity, we expect because this is a new thing. No one really knows what this is yet and of course everyone’s going to want the original entire band together. That’s what I wanted.
I did a lot of research before I agreed to do this and I discovered that Adema, Julien-K, Orgy, Korn and Dead By Sunrise share a massive amount of fans. So I reached out to some of the core fans that I would actually call my friends. They’re not just fans, but people I can talk to on the DL, but I took a temperature test and I asked them what they would think if I sang for Adema, and the response was exclamation points, a whole line of them.
I even had fans telling me they discovered Julien-K through Adema. One of the top Julien-K fans, his screen name is Ademafan. So, there are always going to be a section of people who are naysayers until they see it, and then bullshit walks. If we can produce and we’re as good as I think we are, people are going to like it and they’re not going to have a choice.
I think that fans have probably seen the band in multiple incarnations, they’ve bought tickets to shows that did or didn’t happen or planned on Marky being there and he’s not there. There’s all this stuff that’s gone on. But I think when they see what we’re going to be doing, they’re going to realize that the band is committed to going out and playing the music that the fans love and doing it the right way. I’m going to do it justice and it’s going to be really fun.
I want to know is there a song of theirs you wish you had written or can’t wait to put your own touch on onstage?
Oh god, yes, yes, yes. You can tell by my excitement, I’m actually a fan of Adema. I’ve really enjoyed singing “Giving In.” That feels like a song I would’ve written in one of my bands. I love doing “Immortal.” I love doing “Freaking Out.” It’s just a really fun song and I like all the electronic elements in there. And we’re going back and putting all the electronic elements back in. So for me, it’s really exciting. To me, it’s the way it should sound and I think fans will be excited about that.
In some ways because I’m not in Orgy because the singer doesn’t want to do anything with the rest of the band, I feel like I get to go put this together and do it the right way.
Looking at the songs, I just love the intro to “Giving In” so much. I get super excited during rehearsal and the singing on it is something I can nail. It’s right up my alley.
There’s mention of a major tour package. I wanted to give you a chance to speak about the bands you’re going out with the relationships there.
It’s the Days of Disorder tour 2019, and we’re going out with our friends Powerman 5000, (hed) p.e. – I’ve known every incarnation of that band for 20-plus years. Those guys are old friends of mine. We’ve also got the Genitorturers, who we’ve known for many, many years dating back to the Orgy days. I think we’ve already got about 23 shows booked.
Given that you’re balancing two bands, what does the next six months to a year look like for you?
It looks like the life of a masochist. (laughs) But I love it. Basically Julien-K’s Harmonic Disruptor is halfway mixed and it is going to be shocking. We just shot a video. We’re going back to the first Orgy album and we’re breaking out some of the sounds and guitars and stuff we used for that just to have that influence and feel because we know people loved Candyass. We’re going back and listening to Nine Inch Nails’ Broken and Ministry and all this stuff that influenced us in the beginning. So we made a record with that mentality, but also dealing with the death of Chester, which was a really difficult thing for us. What we’ve got is this smashing, really disruptive album that we created. But that’s being mixed right now and we’ve got a video being edited right now.
We’re looking for a tour right now, but we’re just going to get this album out and finished and mixed and that’ll be in the next couple of weeks so we can start fulfilling our crowdfunding campaign and perks. We’re going to drop the single and video soon, and I think we’d like to do that while we’re getting the attention from Adema because it’ll be exciting for both bands. But we still have two months before the tour, so I could see a window for Julien-K and Adema to work together on a new song. If we could get that done and out before the tour, that’d be cool.
I’m not necessarily saying we’d be performing it because I want this tour to be about reclaiming the original fans and showing that we care. We care about the music that you love, so we’re not trying to go look how cool Ryan Shuck is with the song that he wrote. That’s not what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to go out there and say, “We’re back motherfucker. It’s awesome. Be happy. Tell your friends.”
Our thanks to Adema's Ryan Shuck for the interview. Look for the band on the "Days of Disorder" tour with Powerman 5000, (hed) p.e. and the Genitorturers this fall.And keep an eye out for Julien-K's 'Harmonic Disruptor' coming soon.
Adema With Powerman 5000 / (hed) p.e. / The Genitorturers 2019 Tour
Oct. 16 - Denver, Colo. @ Herman's Hideaway
Oct. 18 - LaCrosse, Wis. @ Cavalier Theatre
Oct. 19 - Kansasville, Wis. @ Club Electric 1175
Oct. 20 - Angola, Ind. @ Electric Room
Oct. 24 - Lexington, Ky. @ Manchester Music Hall
Oct. 25 - Cincinnati, Ohio @ Blue Note
Oct. 26 - Fredricksburg, Va. @ Hard Times
Oct. 27 - New Bedford, Mass. @ The Vault
Oct. 30 - Clifton, N.J. @ Dingbatz
Oct. 31 - Harrisburg, Pa. @ Club XL
Nov. 1 - Akron, Ohio @ Empire Concert Hall
Nov. 2 - Baltimore, Md. @ Fishhead Cantina
Nov. 3 - Lynchburg, Va. @ Glass House
Nov. 7 - Lombard, Ill. @ Brauer House
Nov. 8 - Mansfield, Ohio @ The Electric Company
Nov. 9 - Detroit, Mich. @ Harpo's
Nov. 10 - Indianapolis, Ind. @ The Citadel
Nov. 13 - Lincoln, Neb. @ Royale Grove
Nov. 14 - Colorado Springs, Colo. @ Sunshine Studios Outdoors
Nov. 15 - Salt Lake City, Utah @ Liquid Joe's
Nov. 16 - Las Vegas, Nev. @ TBA