I recently found myself enjoying some live metal at my new local hang The Stanhope House in northwest New Jersey, a cool little rock club/pub that hosts a variety of bands. However on this occasion, I felt more like I was at Rock on the Range. Not all bands can afford lighting, scrims, and visual elements; and even fewer that possess these accouterments have the stage presence and songs not to make them the focus. I definitely got a charge watching American Grim pour every ounce of themselves into a powerful and polished performance. So after exchanging a few pleasantries and watching this power-trio meticulously breakdown and load out a trailer’s worth of gear, I sat down with Ryan (vocals) and his brother Brendan (drums) for a couple cold ones to dig a little deeper as to how this all came together.
So you guys just killed it at the Stanhope House tonight, I heard the songs and thought they were tight first but live it was just a whole other level, So give me the low down, how long have you been a band? You’re from Hillsborough (NJ) right?
Ryan: Yup, we’re from Hillsborough, NJ and we’ve been a band for a little bit now, you know the drummer’s my brother so unfortunately I’ve known him my whole life. When it comes to the live show we grew up playing in hardcore bands so when. . .
What are some of your favorite Jersey hardcore bands?
Ryan: Oh man, I would just say Ensign for one, I grew up going to a lot of The Banner’s shows.
So the new album is called Freakshow?
Ryan: The new album is Freakshow. It took us a little bit to write, about a year and a half but it’s finally out on Entertainment One.
Great label, how did you guys hook up with them?
Ryan: One of the A&R guys, basically our management’s connected to them, They heard us and basically the deal was we’ll manage you and get you a deal with eOne and we weren’t gonna pass that up.
Like I said the live show was so great tonight, I gotta talk to this guy (Brendan). Are you a big Vinnie Paul fan? I got a little reminiscent of him watching you play.
Brendan: I am actually. I think he’s one of the most solid drummers around. Absolutely, I grew up listening to a lot of older drummers of now like Vinnie Colaiuta, Dennis Chambers who played with Santana. Ever since I was a young kid I just became obsessed with all these drummers who are today the legends.
I love the hard hitting drummers, that’s what gets me, and you’re beating that kit like it owes you money.
Brendan: I appreciate that man.
So you guys got a little bit of hate online I saw for sounding too “nu metal-ish”, my point is what’s the problem with nu metal? Not that I loved every nu metal band, but there’s a reason so many bands tried to sound that way. So do you take that with a grain of salt, how does that factor in?
Ryan: For me man, I like hip hop, I like rock, I like all music; And you know you’re gonna get some bashing, if I’m gonna paint myself green and go up there, there’s no way some online idiot isn’t gonna say some shit. You gotta get used to it in this business but at the end of the day I’m gonna deliver the message and be what I wanna be, I wouldn’t be up here if I cared too much about what everybody thinks you know? So that’s what it’s all about.
What are your main influences?
Ryan: Obviously I like a lot of different stuff but I would say Daryl from Glassjaw’s one of them, I love Glassjaw. I love Hatebreed. There’s a jazz/pop vocalist named Jamie Cullum, you should check him out. I like a little bit of everything, everyday i listen to a different type of style and I feel it reflects on our record where we’re kind of bouncing over all different genres. So going back to the online hate I enjoy it because I wanna see what people have to say.
Yeah, it just brings more attention. I don’t know how you feel about the whole Suicide Silence record, they got so much hate, there was even a petition not to release the record can you imagine that?
Ryan: If you’re gonna bash somebody for maybe singing or going in a different direction its like ‘why do they have to make a record that sounds exactly like the past one?’ It’s just close-minded people and I don’t really care enough to give them that much thought.
Nobody’s forcing you to buy it or go to the show.
Ryan: You gotta do you. And for the kids that just wanna listen to the same breakdown, the same thing over and over again we’re obviously not the band for that and I’m not the guy to do it. When people wanna relate the band to nu metal and stuff I guess you can but at the same time we really feel like it’s pure and it’s us so take it for what it is.
Nu metal has become a dirty word, but some of it is like classic rock at this point, people respond to it, people enjoy it.
Ryan: People just don’t want to admit it. And people don’t want to admit when they hear something they like that’s not cool or whatever.
I noticed your bass guitar was on a laptop, do you need a bass guitar player cause I play bass?
Ryan: Hey man, come out on the road let’s go!
(Laughing) See that’s the problem, I just had a kid last year so, did you have a bass player at one point?
Ryan: Yeah one of our really good friends, sounds just like your situation, got married, and we just decided that we were gonna do it without a bass player. I’m a bass player myself so if we do get a bass player I wanna get someone that’s really solid and can just really commit you know. Bass players are hard to come by.
I think the hardest thing is singer, number 2: drummer and you guys are fucking brothers!
Ryan: We’re brothers so we lucked out and I agree with that statement. For all the bands out there you need a vocalist and you need a drummer you can get away with a . . . as much as I love to play bass I mean (laughs).
I was thinking, cause you were jumping all over his kick drums . . .
Ryan: (Laughs) brotherly love man!
Normal drummers might get mad, have you ever broken any of his equipment, I even saw you hit the cymbal with the mic.
Brendan: Honestly man, when we get up there and start playing I’m down to let loose, throw shit around, I’m down for everything.
I saw a couple glances though that looked like “Alright bro! Off the kick drum!”
Brendan: Those might just be natural glances (laughs)
Ryan: Well it’s like when we decided we were gonna bring this um, it’s like a D drum kit, I asked him before he got it can I jump off this kit, I don’t want him to have this $5,000 drum set that I’m like kicking a hole in, I’d rather have a beat up kit and just trash the shit out of it on stage you know.
American Grim’s debut album Freakshow is available now on Entertainment One Records. Check out the entire interview at the following link: