For a band that consists solely of two members that play a nine string guitar and dual drum kits respectively, Seattle’s Pound make one hell of a sweet racket. Set to release their debut full length, Pound, in July via Silent Pendulum Records this duo will readily lay to rest any doubts of reading a descriptor such as “mathy grind over ridiculous grooves with a pinch of doom and a techy heart.” Yes, there is quite a a lot thrown together here but the seamless way guitarist Ryan Schutte and drummer David Stickney string it all together, cohesive and hypnotic are words that float right to the front of the brain. I’ve said before that an instrumental band absolutely has to give it all to keep attention spans and Pound do this in spades. We recently had the chance to sit down with Ryan armed with our set of Profile questions to find out what makes the band tick and he knocked it out of the park for an extremely interesting read. Check it out below and don’t forget to hit the links and grab a copy for yourself.
How did you first get into playing music, and have you achieved the level of success that you hoped for?
My folks forced me to take piano lessons when I was younger and I hated it. I remember not liking the sound of the instrument, the feel of the keys. My dad plays guitar and he always had a few around the house and I would pick one up and pluck around on it every now and then, but I didn’t get serious about playing an instrument until middle school. Up until that point I was very adamant about being a pilot in the air force. I wanted to fly fighter jets or stealth bombers. I wanted to go up to the edge of space. I was always into science and flight and I think the combination of watching Top Gun and SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron when I was a kid kind of solidified it for me. Then my dad took me to see Van Halen and after that I didn’t care about anything other than playing guitar. To me, EVH was the coolest thing on the planet. I started going into Morgenroth Music and the guy at the guitar counter, Marko Wagenmann, turned me onto Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and Paul Gilbert. After that it was game over. Guitar was all I cared about and that was what I was going to do.
As for success, I don’t know if I’ll ever reach a point where I’m happy with where I’m at on my instrument or with the band. There’s always something new to learn or something that can be improved.
What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, and praised? (If you don’t have a story, please tell us any funny/embarrassing story.)
We’ve never really done anything like that for band attention, so I’ll just tell you about the time my amp started shooting fire:
It was the first show we had played back in our home town, Missoula, MT, after moving to Seattle, WA. About halfway through the set, smoke started filling the room and then about a foot of fire shot out the middle speaker of this beefy 4×10, 1×15 I was using for my low end rig at the time. We stopped playing and I ran over to see what was going on because, well, my rig was on fire. I grabbed my buddy Pete (CZAR)’s beer and tossed it on the smoldering speaker and turned around to see the sound guy, my long time friend Joey Connell, standing there with a fire extinguisher, looking concerned. He looked at me, bummed out and feeling my pain and said “Yo, um………?” holding up the extinguisher, to which I replied, “Goddammit, just do it.” After he put out the flame, Pete went back to the bar and talked the bartender into a free beer while we limped through the last of our set with one rig.
That was a great night.
Joey passed away a year or so later. I’m really glad the last memory I have of him was a funny one.
What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?
Metal is such a diverse and powerful genre. I don’t think a lot of people realize just how much new music is coming out on a daily basis. I work for a metal radio show and part of my job is to find new music for airplay. I do the best that I can to sift through all the new music to find the gems, but there’s just so much of it I feel like I only scratch the surface. It’s like trying to drink from a firehose.
One of my favorite things in the world is finding a rippin’ new band that nobody seems to know about. I get off the charts stoked about that, especially when they start to pick up steam a year or two down the line. There are so many people from so many different walks of life that are fanatical about this genre of music or that one off the beaten path band that nobody has ever heard of that they’ve been championing for years. I’ve seen some amazing things from the heavy music community here in Seattle. I went to see a friend in the hospital who had had a life threatening heart issue. When I got there, there were 6 people in jean vests and leather sitting in the waiting room with a giant table of food and drinks and metal blasting through a cell phone speaker. When another friend was injured, someone put together a go fund me for them and it well surpassed their goal in just a day or so. It’s big things like that and all the little things that the people in heavy music do for each other that make it so special to me. We’re a family. We take care of each and help each other out. It’s a global family.
As for the negatives, elitism and a lack of diversity are major problems throughout the genre. People need to make it a point to get out of their comfort zones and check out new things. More mixed band/genre bills would go a long way in helping to make things better. The more people are exposed to new and different forms of art and music, the better and a great way to do that is to get the bands that they want to see to play with the bands that they would never think to check out. The noise rock bands need to play more shows with the black metal bands and the punk bands need to play more shows with the tech bands. The weirder the bills, the better. This all leads to people interacting with other people that they might not have met otherwise, which leads to new bands with more diverse influences.
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?
I got into heavy music in high school. Before that my music tastes were all over the map with an emphasis on rock, but at that time I got laser focused into metal. My gateway bands were Ozzy, Black Sabbath, Dio, Marilyn Manson, Mastodon, Soulfly, Gwar and Slipknot. From there I got into the Gothenburg stuff and a few other foreign bands. Early In Flames, Carcass, Meshuggah, Arch Enemy, Soilwork and Children of Bodom were in heavy rotation.
My family hated metal. We fought about it all the time and it got pretty bad. At its peak, my dad tore all the posters off my wall and took all my band shirts. I’m lucky he didn’t take my guitar because at the time, that was my lifeline. I stole a few new shirts that I liked from a few different stores and I’d stash them in my locker and wear them at school, then change before I went home. I washed them at the local laundromat when they got too funky to wear. At the time, music was all I cared about. Everything else was just white noise in the background. I used to skip class and hide out in the practice rooms of the music building and practice (I always brought my guitar to school) or I’d go to the record store a few blocks away and just listen to stacks of music. They had a “listen before you buy policy” and I abused the hell out of that and used my lunch money to buy an occasional CD, which I would keep in my locker.
Over time, it’s gotten light years better. I think once my dad realized that it wasn’t some passing phase, but a lifelong passion, he lighten up a lot. Over the years he’s done a lot more than the average parent would do to help their kid pursue their dreams and I’m forever in his debt for it. More recently, he’s started to get into heavy music. He’s come to a few shows with me and I’ve introduced him to some of my more intimidating looking heavy music friends. This last year he’s started getting into black metal and I’m beyond stoked about it. Music has made our relationship stronger. I don’t blame him for his actions when I was younger. He was just worried that I would go down the wrong path and did what he thought was right at the time. I think that’s what any good parent would do.
What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?
More about the music, less about the gossip. Giving a larger platform to the smaller bands and more of a push to support local scenes would go a long way.
What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Do you guys have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.
I just want to make music and art and I want to help others do the same. The older I get and the more I get into it, the more I realize that every good deed in this industry comes back tenfold. Bands and people that I’ve helped to do one thing or another have all stepped up to the plate to get my back and it’s inspiring and humbling. I want to continue to do that.
Outside of the band and when I’m not practicing, I work in radio on Metal Shop on KISW. It’s one of the longest running live metal radio shows in the world and it’s an honor to be a part of it. The two hosts of the show are like older brothers to me and the show is a blast to work on. I also do freelance audio work and have gotten to do some pretty cool things with that. I got to record Nick Menza of Megadeth while he played classic Megadeth songs, I got to be a fly on the wall to watch Bernie Worrell record keys, and I’ve been lucky enough to shadow a few of my audio idols.
I also have a podcast called Get Weird with Max and The Beard that I do with my buddy Max. He’s a really weird, eccentric dude and it’s blast to work with him on a project.
I also do a fair amount of tour booking and have recently begun working with The Collective Agency from Vancouver on a few things. There are a number of Canadian bands that I’d like to bring down here and I’m trying to take steps to make that happen.
When you’re not obsessing over your own material, what are some of your favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)
Oh dang, there’s so many. Here’s a short list of things I’ve been into lately:
Trocotombix – Psicopompos, Miroed – Gorech, Beaten to Death – Unplugged, Antigama – Depressant, Gride – Záškuby Chaosu, Dawn of Midi – Dysnomia, Eryn Non Dae – Abandon Of The Self, Moja Adrenalina – Nietoleruje-Bije, Car Bomb – Meta, Bohren Und Der Club of Gore – Sunset Mission, Black Tomb – Black Tomb, 7.5 Tonnes of Beard – Denied the Basics, Katalepsy – Autopsychosis, Infernal Revulsion – Infernally Revulsed, Shockwave – The Ultimate Doom, Madball – Hardcore Lives, AFRO – Tales from the Basement, Sleep – The Sciences, Blackalicious – The Craft, Thundercat – Drunk, Friendship – Hatred and Noxa – Propaganda.
What is the 12-month outlook for you or your band? Any specific events on the horizon that the masses should be aware of?
I’m not happy unless I’m working. I like to stay insanely busy. We’re getting ready to head back into the studio to record our second album and we’re working on booking a few tours. I’m hoping to jump on with something bigger, mostly just to make the booking process easier. David has been busting his ass on a really ambitious, longer, experimental song and that’s really starting to come together, so I think we’re going to try to put that out as its own thing. We’ve both had an itch to do something doomy and sludgy so I’ve been working on writing something along those lines. I have a few riffs and parts of three or four songs, but none of them are anywhere close to done and who knows how things will evolve once David gets his hands on them. Hopefully by the time the second album is out we’ll have time to head back in to track a doom/sludge EP and the other experimental song.
Aside from that, we’re planning on doing a fair amount of touring over the next year or so and I can’t wait to get back on the road.
Summarize your band in exactly one word. (Disclosure: If you include additional words, we will select our favorite for the final publication.)
Definition via wikipedia: The kind of feeling experienced by someone who believes that physical reality can never satisfy the demands of the mind.
Many thanks to Ryan and Pound for their time!