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The Origin Of Death Metal: An Exclusive Interview With PAUL RYAN Of ORIGIN

By Brian Davis, Contributor
Thursday, August 24, 2017 @ 10:24 AM


"ORIGIN’s philosophy has always been: Every Van, Every City, Every State, Every Country, Every Time."

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Band Photo Credit - Rodrigo Fredes

The odds of a Death Metal band establishing a successful career over nearly 2 decades are only slightly higher than a porn star winning an Emmy for acting. It takes relentless passion, dedication and stubborn persistence not only in your music but in facing the harsh realities of the industry, life on the road and life itself; you don’t do it for money or fame, you do it because your Metal muse is a ruthless bitch who is only pacified when you’re creating & performing. As you’re about to read, ORIGIN’s creator and lead guitarist Paul Ryan has a particularly obsessive relationship with his musical mistress that has driven his band to the upper eschelon of the Death Metal pantheon and compels him with stubborn tenacity through challenges that would demoralize most people.

KNAC.COM: Alright, we’re here with Paul Ryan from ORIGIN.

RYAN: Hellooo!

KNAC.COM: It’s an honor. This is my fourth interview with the band and a fitting return. I just came out of an 8 year hiatus where I dealt with some serious chronic medical issues, prescription dependency and just a lot of bullshit so I’m back in headfirst and just in time to catch the new album and tour.

RYAN: Onwards and upwards, brother!

KNAC.COM: Damn straight! Well it’s great to see you back out here again and that nothing has changed as far as the intensity you bring in a live setting.

RYAN: Always bringing it, that’s the only way I know how to do it. That’s the way I did it when I was little before anyone knew who we were.

KNAC.COM: Coming out of Kansas was there a chip on your shoulder or maybe something a little extra to prove?

RYAN: A little bit; you know, we’ve got that “No-Coast” mentality (laughs) and there were a lot of bands I grew up admiring that never got national recognition. And my band never recorded – we always thought that if we recorded it someone would copy our style, which kinda happened anyway but later…so yeah, there was a chip on our shoulder. There’s also the mentality of “You gotta do something different or you won’t get recognized”, so when we finally recorded. I think we came out of the gates and surprised a lot of people. Now the Kansas Metal scene is getting noticed, it’s still smaller but it’s not small and there’s a lot of good bands – there’s UNMERCIFUL, TROGLODYTE, TORN THE FUCK APART, MARASMUS, BLEED THE VICTIM, DEMONIC PLAGUE – there’s all kinds of good stuff, there’s a good scene there and strong support locally because of that chip on the shoulder, you know? And all those bands – the Death Metal bands – they’ll bring it, that’s the way ORIGIN did it.

KNAC.COM: It’s the blueprint.

RYAN: Yeah, you know you learn to be professional – I mean all those guys are, I respect them and I wish all the best for them, and I don’t know why in the grand scheme of things these bands don’t get scooped up, I think they have the right mentality and the right music.

KNAC.COM: That’s how I kinda see the Metal scene in general – it’s been the stigma for decades. That’s part of the appeal but also it’s an unfortunate aspect. I was just telling my friend – I don’t know if you still work there but I remember from our interview 10 years ago I was just floored watching this guy with all this incredible technical playing capability working at a Guitar Center.

RYAN: Yeah I still work there, I work there four days a week. I always tell my boss, “It’s more fun to play ‘em than to sell ‘em” (laughs) You know, it’s the only place…I’m in too deep one way or another so I work four days a week to get my health insurance, which is a big deal in the world we live in today. I was almost gonna leave – I work at a bar, the DNA Lounge [in San Francisco] and they have Metal shows and all that, it’s great money, I like the work and I get to work great Bay Area festivals there – but that was when I almost left and then…

**At this point a pleasantly buzzed fan approaches Paul with earnest appreciation & praise then begins his own line of inquiry oblivious to the fact we were mid-interview. I’ve included the dialogue here because it not only shows how passionate Metal fans are about the music/musicians that inspire them, but also demonstrates the humble kindness & approachability of Paul Ryan and nearly every other Metal musician grinding it out on the road.**

AL K. HAUL: Man – I just wanna say you killed it!

RYAN: Thank you, thank you very much!

AL K. HAUL: Was that a 7-string or an 8-string?

RYAN: 6-string

AL K. HAUL: 6-string?? No goddamn way!

RYAN: Yeah old school. You know – standing harp, I can do Harp-Core 32-string (pantomimes, laughs)

AL K. HAUL: I was talking to Sammy [Duet] from GOATWHORE, I kinda grew up with him a little bit…

RYAN: I love him, he’s a good dude.

AL K. HAUL: …and he was like, “Why play an 8-string when I can tune my 6-string down so fuckin’ goddamn low?” I swear to God I thought I saw more strings on your guitar!

RYAN: Nope I’m a sixer, I play a 4-string bass and a 6-string guitar. And I blast with single foot (laughs) I’m old school. Anyway we’ll be back here November 14th.

AL K. HAUL: Really? With who?

RYAN: I can’t say, you can figure it out if-

AL K. HAUL: Come on!

RYAN: I can’t but you can look, there’s an announcement out there with three bands that have been announced but I can’t…

AL K. HAUL: It’s not ANIMALS AS LEADERS?

RYAN: No it’s going to be a Tech/Death Metal tour, six bands. You’ll figure it out, November 14th is the key there; it’s at this venue [Studio Seven – Seattle, WA]

AL K. HAUL: Yeah when I was driving up here we were talking…(slurs) Dark Terr…DARK TRANQUILLITY is coming up here, we’ve got KREATOR

RYAN: Ah I love KREATOR, that’s one of my OG’s, that’s one of my first bands. SLAYER, CELTIC FROST, MORBI-

AL K. HAUL: CELTIC FROST, Jesus Christ!!

RYAN: -D ANGEL, VOIVOD

AL K. HAUL: What is your – what is your favorite album from CELTIC FROST?

RYAN: Morbid Tales. We were watching Metal Shop and Dee Snider was hosting and he said, “Go see CELTIC FROST, first North American tour, Go Check These Guys Out!” So me & my friends drop our change from lawn mowing, ride our bikes 2.2 miles down to Music Land, throw down the change, buy Morbid Tales – cuz they showed a clip and I was like, “Oh my God!” – and then we rode our bikes 2.2 miles back, pushed play and we’re like, “…we’re gonna burn!” (laughs) I was like a little kid and we heard that shit we were like, “My God this is terrifying!”

KNAC.COM: Have you seen the H.R. Giger Documentary Dark Star? Tom Gabriel Fischer is all over it.

RYAN: Yeah, that’s good. [To Al]: Let me finish this interview then we can-

AL K. HAUL: Oh I’m sorry! [to me] I’m sorry!!

RYAN & KNAC.COM: No problem seriously/No worries!

AL K. HAUL: Man I’m so sorry!

RYAN: No! You don’t need to apologize!

AL K. HAUL: Ok I’ll look for you around the venue.

RYAN: I’ll be around, don’t worry. Ok, where were we?

KNAC.COM: Well speaking of guitars I saw you were playing a Jackson, do you know Chris Cannella from AUTUMN’S END? He’s the PR Rep for Jackson?

RYAN: I don’t know if he still is…

KNAC.COM: Really? Yeah like I said it’s been awhile (laughs)

RYAN: But yeah he did a lot for me back in the day. This one is an older model, it’s over 10 years old – that guitar right there is a Rad Jackson, I’ve done a lot of mods to it. I put in a kill switch and then a momentary wand so I can do tap tremolo. So at Guitar Center when the repair guy’s gone on his two days off I work on guitars – I work in the drum shop actually as well, I started out on drums, my mom was a drummer. When people come in there I treat ‘em like a champion because I remember how it was, and I get the joy of seeing kids grow up fulfilling their musical dreams – parents ask me all the time, “My kid’s really interested in being in the music industry, do you have any words of advice?” and I’m like, “Don’t.” This is more graphic but I was like, “If you wanna get fucked and get paid you go to porn, if you just wanna get fucked you go to the music industry.” (laughs) You know, it’s hard and I tell them, “Unless you’re playing music that makes you happy, the music you want to play…” - we’ve been successful – as successful as an extreme band can be for what we do – and in the grand scheme of things we’re still growing. Like this tour is an exposure tour – there are kids who don’t know who we are, we’ve been playing to 1,000 people a night and sometimes we get up there and nobody knows who the fuck we are, but we walk away and people are remembering. That’s why we’re doing a headlining tour after this, like full production for a Death Metal band, so that one’s important to me.

KNAC.COM: That’s great and that’s what I was hoping for – like you said, this [Summer Slaughter] tour is for exposure but with the short 25 minute set list and the low time slot we want to see a lot more.

RYAN: Yeah we’re gonna expand on the new album and throw in stuff from all the other albums. It’s the 20th anniversary of our band so we’re gonna play more of the new album and more classics, it’s gonna be good I’m excited for it.

KNAC.COM: So does ORIGIN fulfill your creativity or is there something else you’re working on?

RYAN: ORIGIN is it – I mean I have music…I play music regardless, I play guitar all the time. I don’t know if you heard my sound check but I played “Troops Of Doom”, “Staring Through The Eyes Of The Dead”, I play BOLT THROWER, CENOTAPH, CARCASS – I’m always playing little bits and pieces but I don’t sit around and do covers. Some kid sent me a message and asked me why I don’t record & put videos on YouTube, and I said, “because I’m not a kid, I play live – if you want to see me play come to one of our shows”.

KNAC.COM: The old fashioned way.

RYAN: Yeah. I used to do Skype lessons and all that stuff but I just taught the things that I do; I don’t know, it enlightened me in the way it made me think about my music but I was like, “Man, I’m only playing old shit I gotta create!”

KNAC.COM: And do you feel – with the outlets you have, whether being around it at the bar or doing the Guitar Center thing – do you think that’s satisfying some part of your drive that if they were not there you might be pursuing other projects?

RYAN: Umm…I mean ORIGIN is the only one I do personally, and working at the bar getting to see other bands that I’ve toured with…I’ve done everything I had to do to make this band survive, it’s my life’s work – it’s the soundtrack of my Death Metal life, you know? I like to work, the reason I left Kansas and moved to the Bay area in the early 2000’s was because there was no more opportunity for me, I’d done everything I could do there; an opportunity presented itself and it worked, you know what I mean? And I’m grateful for that. It’s been difficult in some ways, but I like challenges. I like what I’m doing, I enjoy playing with ORIGIN – I mean I’ll sleep right there [points to driver’s seat of their van], I’ll skip drinking and I’ll teleport [the band] to the next venue (laughs), I don’t party every day. I’ll have a couple beers on Saturday but I don’t drink & drive, I’ve never crashed…

KNAC.COM: That’s fortunate, it happens a lot.

RYAN: Yeah we’re very fortunate. It’s a rental, its $145.00/day not including gas, and it’s all about safety. Safety is very important, I mean our drummer [John Longstreth] is a grandpa, he has a new granddaughter, and my bass player [Mike Flores] has a 10 year old & a 15 year old, my sound guy has an 11 year old.

KNAC.COM: Yeah safety has to be a priority at all times.

RYAN: Yeah a lot of people get hurt, I’ve known people who’ve died; so it’s very important, we’ve got families to take care of. So we only do it if it’s feasible, if it’s going to be a profitable venture for us. We’re selective – I mean I like to tour, I miss it if I don’t – but we do it for the right reasons.

KNAC.COM: Alright, I guess that’s about it. Again I’m glad to see you again and I’ll definitely be back here in November; I’m just glad to see you’re still at it.

RYAN: Yeah man, I’m in too deep! (laughs) This is what I want to do; I run into friends…like the guy I rode bicycles with to go get CELTIC FROST – I go to his house, he’s got a family and a beautiful house – I see friends like that and I’m like, “Wow you’ve got a beautiful house” but they’re like, “Dude – don’t give [the music] up, I wish I wish I Wish…!” (laughs) And they’re like, “You’re doing what you always wanted to do, I’m really proud of you”. I’ve done it all – I’ve done three shows in three different states in 24 hours, I’ve driven 16 hours and lost two time zones and still made it on time. On this tour we blew a leaf spring on the trailer in New York City three blocks away from the club. So in downtown Manhattan we load all of the gear out and down the street to the venue. Then they’re like, “Ok we’re gonna send a tow truck for the trailer, so you gotta get all the stuff out of the trailer.” So then we had our singer watch the merch booth, the merch guy was sitting on Third St with our stuff telling people, “Yeah I’m moving in here, I’m just waiting on my landlord. This is all my stuff I just need to take it in” (laughs) and we put out cones so nobody took the parking spot all day. So they found us a trailer 45 minutes away, but in New York City? Shit…(laughs) That took all day; so we drove to the place, put the trailer on – we’re supposed to play at 6:20pm, we left at 4:50pm and we get back Five Minutes before our set. So we pull up and throw all our shit back in the trailer then I’m running – I don’t know where the fuck I am because I haven’t been to the venue yet, I get there and I’m like, “Where’s my guitar, where’s my gear?”; our sound guy had set everything up, everything was ready to go. We played the show, we made it on time…some bands might not have done that. It was important to us, I know people paid good money; I’m proud of that, it’s what we do and if it can be done we’ll do it.

KNAC.COM: There’s a lot to be said for that; it’s not the money, you have to have the passion and the ethics and the drive to want to expose people to the Metal.

RYAN: ORIGIN’s philosophy has always been: Every Van, Every City, Every State, Every Country, Every Time.


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