Friday, August 28, 2009

An Interview with Ryan Rulon of Spy for Hire

This week on The Great Unknowns Podcast, the artist spotlight is a indie rock band from Columbus, GA.

The band formed while they were in high school in 2004, but they didn't leave their mark outside of Columbus until 2007, when they released their first songs on iTunes and did their first East Coast tour. Those first seven tracks can be heard in their recently released 2009 full length EP, Speak in Numbers.

Spy for Hire was chosen as artist of the year for their explosive songs. Every track will have you bobbing your head with the volume turned up on your headset or stereo. These songs are just plain fun and you'll definitely want to turn it up.

I spoke with lead singer and guitarist, Ryan Rulon and I was able to ask him some compelling questions.

The Spy for Hire is a very creative name, but I'm sure this question is probably on the minds of all your fans. What is the meaning behind the name of your band? I've used the name with many different lineups in different periods of my life since I was a 15 year old kid. Having continued to use this name, to me, makes a statement of continuity and persistence. Using the name of my old high school "bedroom" band represents and reminds me of something constant about my life; everything about a person, more or less, changes with age and experience, and for me that has been true with the exception of this one thing; my unwavering knowledge that THIS, music, is what I've always done and will always do. As far as literal interpretations of the words; I can think of a few...but...maybe you can to :)

2009 was a productive year with the release of your debut album, Speak in Numbers. Did you have the fan reaction you were hoping for? Well, the record is still reaching new ears everyday and we're always happy when new people discover and enjoy it. As far as our preexisting fan base, many of them had heard these songs over two or three years of touring and playing them live, so there was never really that moment of dropping a bunch of new music on everyone at once and getting that big group reaction.I think with the next record that will be more the case- the record and THEN the shows where we play that record. Our release show at Hard Rock Live in Atlanta did sell out, so that was a great feeling.

What do you think is the missing piece of the puzzle to a huge success? When I was younger, I used to think that if you just kept hustling and trying to get it out there, that one day, you know.....the gods of rock or whoever will suddenly open the gates and say "Test passed: It is time!" or something. Ha ha! But what I've learned is that, at least in most cases, it isn't so much about the "big break" but rather, a series of little breaks achieved through much persistence and dedication. Also, you have to constantly maintain belief that what you are doing is art that the world actually wants. I think the ones who get the breaks are usually the ones who aren't doing it totally to get a "break" so much as an intrinsic necessity to express something, which will ultimately drive them to their own subjective measure of success. Or, maybe we just need some cooler haircuts :)

Do you guys have a line-up of tours coming up to attract more fans? As of now we are planning a tour of the southeastern US in late October/November and an east coast tour, most likely, at the beginning of next year. Hopefully 2010 will see us reaching our farthest tour stops yet. We hope to do some over-seas stuff as well. Besides, that I currently play 4-5 solo shows a week around the southeast.

Your band has such an awesome sound, but it's as if you haven't been found out about yet. I absolutely love your songs, especially "Friends & Neighbors", "There's your mistake", and "The Line". You have an appealing creative melody in most of your songs unlike anything I have heard before.

I must sound not like a journalist, but more like a crazed fan to you. I guess you can say I’m both. When I found you on Ariel PR, I became an instant fan from the very first song sample.

Do you often get these kinds of compliments? Thank you! Glad you mentioned "There's your Mistake". It seems to be one of the more under-mentioned songs on the record, though it's one of my favorites. Ya know, I think when you write music there are two approaches: Write songs with others' reactions in mind as you're writing or write songs for yourself and then hope that they find their way to others who relate and hear what you heard. When you're being honest with writing, maybe not always to the benefit of marketability, it certainly feels great to have someone else tell you that they really "get" it, too. We've had our share of that. We've also played to rooms of kids who couldn't seem to understand why we we're singing so falsetto and weren't trying to be heavier. We just dig what we dig. And we dig people who dig it too, ya dig?

Are there other artists that you look up too that motivate your music? Anything I've ever heard will manifest itself in a subconscious way somehow, sometime whether it's an old pop tune or an advertising jingle! These days I seem to only listen to R&B/Soul format radio. I don't find much that inspires me or that I relate to in rock music, really, lately. There's a line in an old Fugazi song, one of the greatest post-punk guitar rock bands ever, that says "I realized that I hate the sound of guitars". I always think of that line. I have no interest in being some white-boy guitar rock band or anything in particular for that matter. I want to make whatever music I feel like making at any time and then make something else. Take Prince for example. You have to just say "What would Prince do?" Ha ha He just does Prince... and that can be a lot of things. Really though, I don't have any desire to contribute anything to music but what is at the core of my own soul and to do that as honestly as possible. There isn't a musician alive or dead I'd rather be or sound like than me.

I was absolutely hooked, not only by your bands sense of individuality, by your lyrics, and especially by your bands balance of rhythm. In no way is your music dull, nor is it typical. In conjunction with Ryan Rulon’s false bravado in all the right places, truly adds that final piece that most music artists can only hope to inherit.
Who’s the writer of the group? I write the core songs and Andy also "laces" them up with some hot, sexy Andy licks here and there ;) On the next record we plan on experimenting with some different approaches; some more democratic and jammed out and some where I really go even further off the deep end with my own individual creative indulgence.

Are you working on another LP? We are currently writing and hashing out ideas for the next record. I have a lot of things I am working on privately that explore areas we haven't touched on Speak In Numbers or as a band, in general. I kinda have this nervous feeling of "What are Spy For Hire fans gonna think of THIS?" "What is my OWN BAND gonna think of this?" Which is how I know I'm doing it right! Me and Andy are also working on some things that he has brought to the table that, all in, I think gives us a vast span of different music to draw from to comprise the next record. I think that Speak In Numbers has a lot of range and I am very proud of that record. That said, I want the next one to smash that as far as going wherever we can imagine/feel like at the time, artistically. We plan on starting pre-production for that record in a couple of months...... OK. I'll be a bit more short-winded on these answers, now.

Is there any possibility of a video for any of your songs? Yes.

What is the future of Spy for Hire? Men in a van :)

If you want more information about Spy for Hire, go to their Myspace

Their music is available to purchase at and iTunes

Interview by Michael J

Spy for Hire is an Ariel PR represented band

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