>> I use art to counter the things that would otherwise destroy me…
Ryan Shuck, born on April 11, 1973 in the small town Taft, near Bakersfield (California), is definitely not a stranger to Southern California’s music scene, and in the meantime even rose to popularity around the globe.
Until today, he could not only make a name for himself as the guitarist for synth-rock band Orgy and as the singer and guitarist of Julien-K; Ryan is also a successful entrepreneur and also has an own home studio that already served as a creative refuge for several bands and that also gives him the opportunity to quickly realize own ideas.
From his earliest years he had been an artist. As a child he painted with his grandmother, and then sold his paintings at local art shows where people bought the painting thinking they had been painted by an experienced adult artist. At an age of 16, Ryan discovered the guitar for himself and started playing in local bands. Back then, his first influences were popular heavy metal bands such as Metallica and Slayer, but also acts like The Cure, Kraftwerk, Run DMC, and Depeche Mode. These odd combinations of music would influence Ryan for years to come. He always thought they went together beautifully and didn’t understand why there were so many lines dividing styles of music. Ryan left his hometown Taft at an age of 18 in order to move to Bakersfield and enroll at a Cosmetology school to become a hairdresser.
It was this passion for heavy, emotional music that made Ryan meet a singer named Jonathan Davis who was two years older than him. Both had somehow realized that they had several mutual interests – for example this striking attraction to music that finally lead to the formation of the band SexArt. Apart from Ryan, members from nowadays popular bands such as KoRn, Adema, and Videodrone also started their career as members of that band. At that time, though, nobody could foresee that this band would eventually have a great impact on the development of the genre nowadays known as “nu metal” or “alternative metal,” and that it would lay the foundation for successful musical careers. Therefore one might assume that Ryan already had the right sense for a successful musical endeavor in that early stage of his career.
During his first steps as a musician, Ryan also slowly started approaching completely different musical styles. For example he reports about a pivotal experience at the age of 14 or 15, when he had the chance to visit a dance club in San Obispo for the first time in his life. He had never been to such a club, as his small home town simply did not offer these kinds of amusements. In this club, he got to see some music videos from the new wave and electro genre on a big screen – amongst others, the video for New Order’s song “True Faith.” According to his own statements, this video changed his life. He had never seen something as cool in music, and even today he still remembers this key moment that made him turn his view from the depths of heavy metal straight to more electronic music. Until now, he tries to blend these two life-changing musical genres (amongst others), in order to create passionate, heavy, and deep music with an electronic feel – coming straight from his heart and offering deep insights into his soul.
Speaking of deep insights into the abyss of heart and soul – yes, Ryan can definitely tell you a thing or two about that. Already in his childhood he had to struggle with several bad experiences and shocking moments that often had to do with his father, who eventually left the family. All these experiences from the past that made him come off track in his youth had a great extent on his personality and his music – until now. Not for nothing, Ryan “thanked” his dad in the credits of the Orgy DVD Trans-Global Spectacle that he would probably never make such good music if it hadn’t been for him and his disrespectful behavior.
After the break-up of SexArt due to all members following different directions, Ryan continued to pursue his musical ambitions and also attended a Beauty College after high-school, in order to become a hairdresser and cosmetician. This rather extraordinary career plan (that he, by the way, still practiced when he was already successful with his music) reflected Ryan’s leaning towards 80ies new wave that was generelly characterized by the musicians’ strong appearance and aesthetics. This tendency should soon lead to the formation of his most successful musical endeavor to date – the band Orgy, which always shined with their strong leaning towards 80ies synthie rock and new wave.
Ryan formed Orgy together with Jay Gordon and soon found three worthy bandmates (Amir Derakh on guitar, Paige Haley on bass, and Bobby Hewitt on drums) that shared the band’s vision. As a part of this collective, Ryan developed into a whole new direction and achieved huge successes – for example platinum awards, several other awards, and performances at a lot of TV or radio stations or in front of millions of people. Besides, he received songwriting credits for no less a band than KoRn because the guitar intro of their hit song “Blind“ dates back to Jonathan Davis’ commitment to SexArt and was therefore co-written by Ryan.
At the peak of Orgy‘s career, Ryan also started to live out his creativity in other fields and formed his own clothing line Replicant Rock Clothing, whose pieces he himself designed – with the help of fellow musicians such as Chester Bennington (Linkin Park), Stephen Carpenter (Deftones), and Brian “Head“ Welch (KoRn).
In the wake of the release of Punk Statik Paranoia (2003) and following a longer “rockstar” phase of Orgy at the beginning of the new century, which found the members to be psychically and physically exhausted after a lot of strains, excesses, and escapades, the chemistry within the band was simply not right anymore. Thus, Ryan and his band mate Amir slowly started to realize a new vision in terms of electronic music. The project Julien-K was born and grew more and more into a real band.
Apart from the work with Julien-K, Ryan also became interested in aspects of politics and economy and made a first attempt as an entrepreneur. To date, he owns three sucessful restaurants in his home area Orange County, and he was also involved in the business side of Julien-K from the very start of the band. If that was not enough, he was also a driving force for Chester Bennington’s clothing line Ve’cel, having turned into Chester’s best friend in the meantime.
This close friendship with Chester also resulted in becoming involved in Chester’s solo endeavor Dead By Sunrise that dates back to the year 2005, but could not come fully into effect until 2009. Chester often states that Dead By Sunrise would not have turned into what it is today if it hadn’t been for Ryan. Most likely, many songs would have never seen the light of day.
… and that is just another example for the huge impact that Ryan still has on all the activities that he is pursuing with passion. He is definitely a man of action and a strong character with a very open-minded and straight-forward personality, turning him into a versatile creative force that – apparently – never stops working.
Thus, one can be very anxious what the self-proclaimed “Supreme Commander“ will throw out into the faces and ears of all of his loyal followers in the future, with projects ranging from Julien-K over Dead By Sunrise to his numerous other activities…