As most of you know, we covered the Beaumont, TX date of the “Life In Your Own Hands” tour. Before the show began, I had a chance to sit down with Ryan Ray (vocalist of Adakain) and pick his brain a bit. We talked about the album, what the tour has been like so far for them and much more! Below is the resulting interview. Thanks to Ryan for doing this, once again!
BearlySinister: So, the first question I have for you is where did the name Adakain come from?
Ryan Ray: So, originally when we were gonna go out on this tour, I was jokin’ to the guys that I was just gonna lie every time I got that question. Like, make up a different… y’know, like every time? ‘Cause a good friend of ours, Chad Lovell, he’s the sound guy at Curtain Club in Dallas, he was in a band called Course of Empire that was on the same label as Tool in the early days and that label wanted all the bands to hang out together. So, he hung out with Maynard a lot and Maynard told him “I’ve got this idea… I’m gonna lie about everything the media asks me” and he did, y’know, there’s all these crazy, different rumors about Tool… it’s genius! Anyway, it’s long winding road for me just to say the band name “Adakain…” there was, y’know how bands go through phases to get where they are. So, a long time ago, the first incarnation of this was a different name and the guitar player at the time came up with the name Adakain ’cause it was a name that a bunch of other bands had and so they were like “we gotta change it.” So, it’s supposed to mean that the music is addictive or… it could be some sort of thing that we could remarket to the pharmaceutical industry ’cause it kind of sounds like a medication.
BS: So, the new album Never Coming Home is the first to feature you on vocals but you’ve been in the band awhile, I believe, since 2012? What can we expect from the album, in terms of your vocal style?
RR: Well, I mean we’ve been workin’ on this thing for awhile. As far as my vocal style, I like to… I have a big voice because I sing from my diaphragm but I like to, y’know, obviously screaming’s a lot of fun but I want people to be able to hear what I’m saying and hear the melody and have it be infectious. There’s parts where it’s really emotional and you can feel that and then there’s parts where it’s just big, open choruses and singin’ y’know, just put your fist in the air and just enjoy. Then, there’s some fight in there. It’s kinda got a little somethin’ for everybody, as far as what you enjoy vocally from rock and metal music.
BS: There have been 2 singles released from the album, “We Crawl” and “Hey Girl.”
RR: Well, “Hey Girl” has been out on the radio for about 4 weeks now. The video for that just got finished so, it’s not out yet we’re really excited for everyone to see it… Oh my god, I’m so happy with it! “Hey Girl” is on the radio in 40 cities right now and it keeps gettin’ added more so it’s been out about 3 or 4 weeks. It’s doin’ well, it’s already moved up to #30 on the UTR chart and it’s at 40 on the BDS Indicator charts. We’ve debuted @ #5 on Slacker Radio’s “New Rock First” and AOL Radio’s “New Rock First, which was huge! Loudwire added us to the voting for their November “Most Anticipated Release” poll which has new releases from Kurt Cobain and Danzig and all that. We’re 2nd in the voting right now behind this band called Phantasma. Our fans are really pullin’ through on that! We have a great street team in Dallas and they really help drive that.
BS: What’s the story behind each of the singles?
RR: Well, let’s just go with one for now, ’cause… for time’s sake. “Hey Girl” is basically a song.. a lot of bands out there glorify, y’know, gettin’ drunk and bein’ slutty. They kinda glorify that part of Rock N Roll, which is fine… y’know, girls bein’ slutty and that kinda thing and hey! Sex is not a bad thing, it’s great, it’s one of the primary things that makes us human, alright? The song is kind of a slap against that because you don’t have to act like a whore or get drunk, just to get attention, y’know? I think that’s an insecurity thing and I think that it’s something that a lot of people don’t tackle because it’s not the norm to tackle that. Everybody in Rock N Roll, you wanna be just like “Yeah, man! Let’s go bang a bunch of girls” and they should be sluts and it’s like, of course guys wanna do what they wanna do but, the song kinda has an underhanded positive message to women, even though it’s presented in like a satirical, kind of fun way kind of poking fun at those girls that do act like that but the end message is that you don’t have to be a drunk whore at the bar to get the kind of attention that you feel that you need.
BS: What was the writing process like for Never Coming Home?
RR: Corey and I wrote 50 guitar riffs and then I added some vocal ideas and melodies. We put ’em all down and sent them over to Sahaj Ticotin, who’s the singer from Ra and he’s our producer, engineer, he mixed it and he was fantastic. After we sent it to him, we flew to LA, worked on the songs in studio with Sahaj,, whittled them down to the 10 main tracks. The 11th track on the album is a bonus track. We recorded ’em there and that’s how it was done. It was a very easy thing to do because when you have guys that are good songwriters, the process goes more smoothly and we already had some of the stuff planned out. It was a very good process, a very fun process.
BS: What’s the story behind the album title?
RR: “Never Coming Home” could mean a lot of things. It could be a soldier never coming home from battle, ’cause you know the song “Fight Back” was actually written for the US Military, we’ve already shot the video for that. It’s gonna be a live video with some other stuff in it but it won’t come out for awhile. It could be about a soldier never coming home, it could be us never coming home from tour because we know that it’s gonna take us constantly being on tour for us to make this thing successful, which we’re fine with. It runs the gamut of things that it could mean to different people. It could be the aliens that created us, modified our DNA, never coming back to reclaim their creation. It could be that, ya never know! *both laugh* Yeah, you didn’t expect that shit, did ya?
BS: So, back in 2012, when you were appointed as vocalist… how did the band go about choosing you? Was there some sort of audition process or did they know right away that you would be the man for the job?
RR: Yeah, man! I actually lived with Ryan Carroll and Jason, the bass player who originally created the band, for a couple years and I’ve actually been friends with ’em since I was a teenager. At the time the band that I was in stopped playing. Adakain were lookin’… they had wanted me to be in the band for awhile, a couple years and funny enough, I actually filled in on guitar for a couple weeks on a tour 2 and a half years prior to that and they wanted me to be in the band then but I didn’t have enough confidence in the singer at the time. He’s a good friend, after I replaced him in the band he invited us all to his wedding , we’re all still friends. A lot of people have this miss-perceived thing that every time somebody leaves a band that the guys have to hate each other or something like that and that’s just not the case or it DOESN’T HAVE to be the case. If you’re a caring person and you can step back from your own personal feelings and realize that, hey, this isn’t what this person thought it was gonna be and this is not what they want to do with their life anymore, that’s fine! There’s nothin’ wrong with that, you should do whatever you want with your life, y’know, and you should go after that passionately. That’s what I believe and he wanted to get married, have kids and have a family. More power to him. So, when I got appointed as the singer, they didn’t really try anybody else out. It was just like, hey, they already knew what I was about and the guys have known me so well, so they know my abilities and everything. Pretty much what Jason said to me was “look, it’s your gig to lose! If you want it, you’ve got it” there was no try-out, I just started jammin’ with ’em.
BS: Given that you’ve just had the official CD Pre-release show, which was in Dallas, have you added a lot of new material to the setlist?
RR: We’ve been playin’ these songs for just a couple months. We’re playing songs off the album that’s the only new material for now. It’s gonna be new to everyone, if that makes sense? We’re playin’ a 7 song set tonight, we get 30 minutes on this tour, which I thought was great ’cause typically it’s gonna be 20 or 25 or whatever, 30 minutes is great! Our rehearsals are very structured, our shows are structured so we put 7 songs in a 30 minute set so it’s bam bam bam with enough time for me to talk to the crowd and do everything. When you’re an opening band on these tours, with a band like Trapt, that’s been around for years and is established and has radio hits… one cool thing about Trapt, by the way, is that not only do they have radio hits but their songs get used in film and TV and stuff, which is really great… in Rock these days, you’ve gotta get that goin’ on if you can. Trapt was lucky enough to have begun in an era before record sales died. I think their first album was Platinum, if I’m not mistaken so, like, that’s bad ass! I don’t think we’re gonna see that anymore for Rock. I don’t think we’re gonna see that anymore at all ’cause if you look right now, your biggest selling artists like your Five Finger Death Punch’s and bands like that are your big, heavy hitters that are selling units, right? They’ve only got like 200,000 in sales which is fantastic at this point. If you can then get your stuff in file and TV, it helps make up a bit for those lower sales. So, a 30 minute set on a tour like this, we truly appreciated. Trapt has been super cool, y’know, they didn’t make us sell our shirts for some outrageous price. They didn’t do any of that, they have been great to work with. I called Chris, who’s actually the tour manager & the singer to discuss merch sales and he’s like “Nah, man, we’re not gonna do all that, just 25 bucks for your shirts and let’s have a good tour!” That’s awesome so, we’re gonna come out and do a 7 song set & punch you in the face for 30 minutes. That’s what you should do as an opening band, on a national tour. Give people the most blazing-ness you’ve got and then when you get bigger and you can do a headlining set, then you can have time to have that lull. Your set can have more of an ebb-and-flow. For these kinds of things, you need to come drop the fuckin’ drop the hammer the whole time.
BS: So, this is the 3rd night of the “Life In Your Own Hands” tour… how’s it been so far?
RR: San Antonio was really good and then Houston was great. Great crowd, I mean, both the crowds were insane but the crowd in San Antonio… they were live, they were ready. The two local openers, they were fuckin’ killin’ it for them and so we’re the first band on the tour package and they were just… they were screamin’ when we brought our scrims up. Y’know what I mean? So it was great and then First Decree killed it and then Trapt killed it. Then, in Houston last night, it was the same way. That’s good to see, #1, that the crowds for Trapt are still like that. After 12 years? That’s great!
BS: The last time that Trapt played, which was back in 2012 w/Angel Siren, it was packed from wall to wall by the time Trapt took the stage.
RR: Yeah, and you know what’s crazy, it was the first 2 shows so far were packed, front to back, the whole time, like, for the openers too so that’s cool.
BS: Who are your biggest influences as a vocalist?
RR: Layne Staley (Alice in Chains), big time. Phil Anselmo (Pantera) and James Hetfield. There’s probably more… I looove Sahaj, I know he’s our producer, so it’s not like I’m just blowin’ smoke at him him because he’s our producer. I think he’s one of the most underrated vocalists in Rock, ever. The guy is fucking amazing. Layne Staley of Alice In Chains… that’s just my favorite. I just love the evil in his voice. I like the new guy too, William DuVall? I have both of the new albums too. So, I guess Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell can be put 1a and 1b, y’know what I mean, ’cause they’re together. James Hetfield was a big influence for sure because I love Metallica. Metallica kind of changed the direction of where I was going with music when I heard them at 12, they just kinda blew my head up and then Phil, I mean because who doesn’t love Pantera. A lot of my screams and stuff are from that. So let’s just go with those 3 to keep it simple.
BS: What was the influence, lyrically, when writing the album?
RR: Some of it was drawn from personal stuff, some of it was drawn from experiences that I’ve seen other people go through that I think a lot of people can relate to. Obviously, I was mentioning “Fight Back” is a military, type of related song so there’s not a lot of frills or funny business to that. I mean it’s straight forward, fuckin’ fight back, y’know, standing together, that type of thing. Obviously, I told you what “Hey Girl” was about. Strangely enough, I don’t like to… I don’t wanna be an Eddie Vedder here, ’cause Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam… he won’t tell anybody what his songs are about, which I think is cool. I really do think it’s cool because it’s like to have the self-control to not tell people what your songs are about is tough because, as a vocalist, it’s really hard not to be able to… especially because, if you can’t tell, I’m a talker. I really like people because I think we’re a unity consciousness, y’know, we’re all supposed to be one and take care of each other so I love to talk and tell people what I was writing about so that they can be a part of my brain pattern when I was thinkin’ about it but I do think it’s so cool it’s so… something I don’t think I could ever do to have enough self-control to not tell somebody what a song is about. I don’t wanna give away too much, I guess, but “Once Is Enough” is believe it or not, a song about people who get abused, like in relationships or maybe not even in relationships just physical abuse or domestic abuse. If you go through the liner now, now with you knowing that, go read the lyrics again, you’ll get it ’cause it’s “once is enough for me, no, I won’t let it go. I won’t bury everything” just kinda like don’t let that happen to you, say something or do something about it. So, most of my message is pretty simple, y’know? Do what you want with your life and go after what you want, don’t be afraid to do that and don’t be swayed by what other people want for you because then it wouldn’t be your life, it would be their life being lived through you and that’s not fair! It’s your life and do what’s right, you know what’s right in your heart and you know what’s wrong. So, that’s my message, kinda just… we need to be kind to one another and we need to be forgiving and understanding of one another and then the world can be a better place. I know that sounds real “preachy” but it’s not and I fucking hate the fact that feeling like that and speaking your mind is like “Oh, fag” or y’know “pussy” or something it’s like, “No, that’s what this life should be about.” If we all would have a little bit more of that, the world would… our situation would be a lot better. That’s what I’m about and that’s what this band is about. We’re positive people, we’re positive guys and we’re willing to work hard and we’re willing to help people. All the time. Anytime. So that’s what it’s about.
BS: What is your favorite song to play live and why?
RR: I hate that question ’cause there’s so many moments in several of the songs that are so much fun so it’s hard to pick, y’know? There’s just certain parts and certain breakdowns that I know are gonna be so much fun and just crush so it’s hard to pick a favorite. “Once Is Enough” is really fun to play live and the way we end it live, and it doesn’t end that way on the record, the way we end it live is just so awesome ’cause the crowd loves it. Even people that have never seen it’s always just awesome. “Don’t Try” is really fun, track 3, and it’s the only song on the album that’s in a major key so it’s kind of got a poppy feelin’ to it, even though it’s still jammin’. That song, more than any song, has a Metallica type feel to it because it’s got the traditional *mimics classic Metallica thrash riff* kind of thrashy sound. I’d say that song is probably the most fun to play live, just ’cause it’s bouncy and it’s in a major key so… you have a hard time not having fun with something that’s major, if that makes any sense.
BS: Who are some local bands in your area that are catching your eye?
RR: Secret of Boris is a band that I’ve been friends with for a long time. I’m a big fan of theirs. Serosia is a band that… I was in a band for a long time with the bass player, his name is Joseph Kuban. They’re really heavy but still really catchy. They’re kind of in the same vein as us, they’ve got a little bit more of a heavier flair to it? They’re actually working with Cristian from Ill Nino, they did their record with him. So, he says “Se-Rrr-o-see-a” because I think they’re… idk are they South American? I know it’s some sort of Latin background ’cause Lucas, the singer for Serosia, he’s, I think, Italian but he’s got some Hispanic features. So, for some reason, they have that flavor to ’em even though they’re not that way but it’s just heavy and bouncy and a lot of fun to play shows with those guys, a lot of fun to watch live. They fly around the stage, it’s good, so them. There’s some other bands in town that are really good, uh… I mean Dallas has a lot of talent. Y’know what I mean? It’s always produced really great bands. Those two, specifically. I’m probably gonna get yelled at for leaving out a lot, I mean, there’s a band called 5 Billion and Counting that’s really badass, there’s a band called The Orange that’s really good. There’s a new band called Stareview that… a good friend of mine, J.R. he was in a band called Overseen, that played here, they actually toured with my old band. They just started but they’re fu… they’re great. They played our CD pre-release show. There’s a band called No Weapon Formed that actually played our show, too, that’s really good. There’s a band called Caliber Theory that, myself, and our old bass player Jason Schauer, he actually has a recording studio in Dallas that we actually produce bands so… we did their album and they’re good. If I left anybody out, I don’t know who all is gonna read this interview, but I just hope that my Dallas friends don’t get mad at me ’cause I can’t sit here and list every band. I mean, there’s a lot of talent and a lot of good bands, I’d hate to leave anybody out. There is a band called Fantasma, spelled with an “F” that I like a lot and is really good. It’s just… there’s a lot. Messer is another band. So.. yeah, good stuff!
BS: We’re almost to the end of 2015 and there has been a lot of great music released this year. What has been your favorite album of 2015 so far?
RR: Oh, man… Nothing More. That came out in 2015, right? Yeah, Nothing More and it’s probably not close. I listen to that album at least twice a week. I mean, for real, when I’m in the studio working on stuff, I put it on… it’s SO good!
BS: What album are you most looking forward to that has yet-to-be released?
RR: I know the Sevendust album just came out but I haven’t got to buy it yet, I’ve only heard the two songs ’cause I’ve been so wrapped up with getting ready for tour but I can’t wait to get that. They’re one of my favorite, favorite bands. I probably should have listed them on the vocal influence ’cause, y’know, Clint, Morgan and Lajon together. It’s one band, it’s 3 singers but I think they’ve definitely been influential in my writing so if you wanna add that to the other question. “Kill the Flaw” I think is the name of that record, I really want… I gotta get that. But yeah, that Nothing More album is… phew! Have you heard it? Man! It’s so good! Jonny is another singer that, obviously he wasn’t influential on me growing up because we’re not the same age range, y’know what I mean? The stuff he talks about, y’know his lyrical content, is stuff that I’m glad he’s tackling. Like “Jenny” and stuff like that, his lyrical content is… I feel he kinda thinks the same way I do on some stuff. At least if he doesn’t think about the same way, he writes about the same way, the same kinda thing so… I like that.
BS: So, I love to ask this question to anyone I interview because it’s interesting to see the responses that I get. What bands would make up your dream tour as a headliner and a spectator? Rules are: No genre restrictions and money is not an object, so you can choose whatever bands you want, regardless.
RR: That’s pretty easy, I mean, dead or alive?
BS: It can be dead or alive, yeah.
RR: Metallica, Alice in Chains, Nothing More, us.
BS: What advice would you give to up-and-coming bands that are trying to make it in today’s scene?
RR: Y’know, I’ve answered this question before, many times, and it’s an easy one for me to answer. Don’t ever give up, because perseverance is the #1 thing in my book. From what I’ve seen, in doing this for a long time, is just this: whenever you think it’s over, don’t just quit – keep going. This is kind of a thing you hear in life, y’know “it’s darkest before the dawn” and all those other colloquialisms and sayings, it’s true, right? Whenever it gets the hardest, if you just stick through it, that’s when it’s gonna get better. Don’t give up, don’t ever stop trying because your family members or friends tell you you should get a real job or whatever. I know that’s a canned answer but it’s really not. You have to stick with it, you have to stay after it. Don’t talk shit about bands in your town! If you just have to fuckin’ say somethin’ negative about ’em, don’t say it around people, don’t hate on ’em. Be happy for other people’s success, be happy when other people do well and encourage other people to do well. Support your local music scene because if there’s attention drawn to the scene, there’s a chance that attention is gonna be drawn to your band. Don’t be a fuckin’ hater. Y’know, don’t be that guy that goes to shows and complains and bad mouth’s bands… I’ve been that way before when I was a teenager because you’re jealous if another band is doing better than you. You want what they have but if you can change your mindset and be happy for them, it’s gonna be better for you as a person and your conscience and your soul. It’s gonna be better for them because the more other people do well where you come from and your music scene, the more attention you’re gonna have drawn to you because people will go “well, what else does this city have to offer?” That’s just a fact. So… those things: Be positive, just believe in yourself because if you don’t believe in yourself, nobody else will. You’ve gotta believe in yourself first, be proud of what you’re doing and don’t fuckin’ change your shit just because you think it’s what people wanna hear because fans will eventually smell your fake ass out.
BS: That’s about all I’ve got for you. Thank you so much for doing this, it’s been an honor and a pleasure. Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers, your fans and the general public?
RR: I think we covered it all! Good interview, I look forward to reading it. Let me know when this comes out and I can share it and we’re gonna hang out tonight so, keep that on the interview, too!
Ryan Ray – Vocals/Guitar
Corey Goodwin – Lead Guitar
Ryan Carroll – Drums
Anthony Morel – Bass