BLACK ROCKERS UNITED MEDIA

ACHE #BRUTALK: RYAN BLAND

"New York Hardcore Legend"

______

This is #BRU's first video interview:

with lead vocalist Ryan Bland!

Ache is a NYC hardcore group that grew from Bushmon,

Home 33 and  Dead Serious, "Mattakins" Gelsomino

(Abject), bassist Rey Brutal (Bomb Scare) and

Ryan Seit (also Dead Serious).

We are thrilled to share! 

INTRO | COVID-19 AND COMMUNITY | NEW YORK HARDCORE | ACHE INFLUENCES & ORIGIN | 'MOVEMENT OF FEAR' AGAINST RACISM

      


INTRO

Ryan Bland: Hello!

N. Kali: Hi, Ryan! How are you doing? This is our special guest Ryan Bland. They are the lead vocalist for Ache. Ache is a New York hardcore supergroup that came from Bushmon, right?

Ryan: Yes.

NK: Home 33, United Nations and Dead Serious. And some of your fellow bandmates also were in those bands with you too, right?

Ryan: Yes. Wow, you've done your homework. [Laughs]

NK: I have, yeah! [Laughs] How are you today, Ryan? What's up in your world?

Ryan: I'm doing okay, you know, just trying to stay positive. I mean, there's so much negative stuff going on.

NK: Yes.

Ryan: Just trying to have like, one positive thought a day, to kind of get me through all of this. That's how I'm getting through all of this anyway.

NK: Right on. Positive punk, right?

Ryan: I mean, hey, you know, sometimes!

COVID-19 AND, NOT VS. COMMUNITY

NK: So if you don't mind me asking on that note, COVID obviously has affected how all of us nagivate the world. How has it affected your sense of community and playing out live?

Ryan: Well, the last show that we played was in February. It was really cool, it was a hip-hop/hardcore mix. And we played with Kool Keith. Yeah, haha!

NK: Get out.

Ryan: Kool Keith was AWESOME. And he actually knows a lot about punk rock, believe it or not. Him and I talked about this movie Green Room. You seen it?

NK: I haven't, tell me about it, Ryan.

Ryan: It's on Netflix, a movie about these punks that end up like, touring and then they get caught in this green room with these racists. You should watch it.

But that was the last show that we played. We had all this stuff scheduled, you know? We were gonna play this hardcore matinee with McRad.

And that's Chuck Treece's band, he was in Bad Brains and all those other kinda bands, matinee with those guys at A7.

And then like, I was so excited for it. It was the week, the weekend that everything just kinda shut down.

NK: Ooh, wow. So it just—

Ryan: Yeah. And we were gonna go into the studio and record an album, too. And everything is just like, nonexistent.

NK: Yeah. The shift has really forced all of us to be even more creative. How have all of your bandmates and you come into that synergy regardless of COVID-19?

Ryan: Well, we made the video for 'Movement of Fear'. That was one thing that we did during the pandemic.

NK: Incredible video.

Ryan: I wrote that song a long time ago. And I always had the idea for the video. And then when everything happened with George Floyd, my drummer was like 'We have to write a song NOW for what happened'. I'm like 'We wrote a song'! [Laughs]

NK: Exactly. There you go.

Ryan: We wrote a song about Sandra Bland. 'I had this idea, I brought it up at rehearsal once. I don't know if you guys remembered.'

They're like 'Ryan, that's a brilliant idea. Let's do it', you know? And we just got to work. So we made that video. We've been sending music back and forth to each other. And we're just gonna try to finish this record while we have this down time.

NEW YORK HARDCORE, HIP-HOP AND BAD BRAINS

NK: Beautiful. Beautiful to hear! So what was your foray into heavy styles like hardcore punk and metal? We'd love to know!

Ryan: Oh, wow. I have such a deep history with hardcore in New York. I moved to New York in the late '80's. And when I was growin' up, I was a huge Prince fan—I'm still a huge Prince fan.

NK: Yas!

Ryan: So I went to a Prince concert and I was camping out for Prince concert tickets? There was a bunch of punk rockers in line, camping out for Prince. Believe it or not! And one of the people who was campin' out was Israel, who later sang for Bad Brains on the Rise album.

NK: Yeah!

Ryan: And he was this crazy Rasta punk dude with Bad Brains spray-painted on the back of his jacket, Cro-Mags and all this stuff. I befriended him and so, about a week or so later he gave me the Bad Brains Roir on cassette.

He got me into hardcore punk, and Bad Brains, you know. So thank God that I went to that Prince concert!

NK: Yeah, everything happened for a reason and lined up so that one Black rocker could meet another.

Ryan: And from there I just went headfirst into the scene. I had to seek out any band that was remotely as aggressive and angry and wild as the Bad Brains was.

And then I just started to going to crazy shows at CB's. I did my first stage-dive at a Fishbone concert. [Laughs]

NK: Sick! Sick, so hardcore has really kind of burgeoned out of New York. What are the venues that you loved, that you started with, 'this is where it all came home for me'?


CBGB's, a punk nightclub that rose in 1973 and closed in 2006. Black rock history happened here countless times, from Bad Brains to Bushmon.

Ryan: There's so many that were around back then that are gone, and it's so sad. Sometimes I walk around New York and I stand in the spot where they used to be. [Laughs]

NK: Right?! You get that sense of displacement, but love too. Yeah...

Ryan: Exactly. So CB is #1 for me. I don't know if you can see behind me but there's a skateboard deck in a frame back there.

NK: Nice, Ryan!

Ryan: That's me stage-diving at the last CB show that I went to. And it ended up on a skateboard deck, Bad Brains.

NK: Beautiful.

Ryan: I had to frame it.

NK: There you go, you know what I'm saying? You gotta memorialize your history.

Ryan: Exactly.

NK: And punk history is one of those things that you gotta capture it or else it's gone, right?

Ryan: Exactly. But CB's was #1, then there was the Wetlands. I spent a lot of time at the Wetlands. There was a place that had hardcore shows called the Bond Street Cafe. There was so many, there was this place called the Gas Station. So like I said, I walk around still and think about what was.

NK: I love that. I love that you're kind of the living history, you know? So I went to Ache's Bandcamp and I was just blown away by your debut album, Fade Away released in 2016, kind of when everything kicked off.

Right? Became a little more, moving towards being radical and being proud of being radical.

Ryan: Yeah.

ACHE INFLUENCES & ORIGIN

NK: And what I love about that album is that it's kind of you growing into that but it's also a multi-genre blend of sound. It sounds very new to me. How did you define and achieve that sound of punk, progressive rock, metal?

Ryan: Well, I'm lucky that I found the musicians that I found first. I gotta give them their credit, you know?

NK: Yeah. It sounds like all of the genres that you all listen to. Kinda dark crust punk, you know, downbeat thrash metal. How did you achieve that sound?

Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I had the idea for Ache as a band long before Ache, because I really like dark, emotionally driven music.

NK: Yeah.

Ryan: And a band that felt like that back in the day was like, Black Flag. Bands like Siege and newer bands from the 2000's like Converge, and bands like that.

NK: Yeah, absolutely!

Ryan: So I always liked those themes and you know, I try to live a positive life but I like to express all that stuff from Ache hence the band name. 'Cause it just kinda expresses suffering, right?

NK: Mm-hmm!

Ryan: My bass player came from a thrash punk band. And my guitarist Mattakins, he came from Washington, D.C. So he's really influenced by all that D.C., you know, early D.C. hardcore.

My drummer, when he was growing up, he told me the only record that he had and he learned how to play drums to, was the Bad Brains Quickness album.

I immediately told him he was in the band just from saying that! And my other guitarist's really into the more death metal. So me, I came from Home 33 which was like, post-hardcore. Bushmon was a like, all-Black punk ska band.

NK: I love Bushmon by the way.

Ryan: Hehe, awesome! And so, the fact that everyone's open-minded when we write. And we're all digging what's coming out with everyone's ideas. It just kinda molded into what Ache is, you know? I'm loving this. it's the most fun I've had in a band.

NK: So proud to hear it.

Ryan: I've played with all my heroes. I've shared stages with so many of my heroes, and I was like 'This is so incredible.' You know? So I'm having so much fun. This pandemic is killing me.

NK: Yeah. It's made you reach out to community in a different way, but in a way that something's missing, right?

Ryan: Absolutely.

'MOVEMENT OF FEAR' AGAINST RACISM, SANDRA BLAND IS FAMILY

NK: Yeah, until we get to that place where we can all hang out and mosh again, it's gonna feel like something's missing, you know? I get it.

So I will give you some space to say next on this one since it's never really easy to open up about. But 'Movement of Fear' really uh, it hit me in a place, Ryan.

The lyrics, the drums, each note—it described the social climate but the feelings in your heart, too. 'Cause some things are easier to sing than to say, right?

Ryan: Absolutely. Yeah, that song...when I'm onstage, I definitely go through some sort of emotional breakdown. And I kind of just zone out when I'm singing it. And sometimes I'm the only person in the room, or if I see other Black people, I feel like we're the only people in the room when I'm singing that song.

How it came about was, I was so moved by and so pissed about what happened with Sandra Bland. And I got on the phone with my dad, and had a conversation with my dad about it. And then, to my surprise, he tells me that she's my distant cousin. I'm like 'What? WHAT?!'

He says 'Yeah, your grandfather had 32 grandkids.' 32 grandkids! 'And they all live in that area in Texas, so [it's like] you do the math'. Oh! ...I didn't know her but it hit like, close to home, home, home, HOME then. So I was listening to a Funkadelic record, 'Maggot Brain'. You love 'Maggot Brain'?

NK: I do!

Ryan: Awesome. Inside the liner notes of 'Maggot Brain', they talk about fear and how fear is the destruction of man. And I read that around the same time I had the conversation with my dad. So that's what inspired, you know, the lyrics for 'Movement of Fear'.

NK: I resonate with that. It's kind of like, to be stopped by your fear, is the destruction of being free. And um, you were kind of motivated by that conversation with your father. And that's real, man.

Ryan: I feel like that's what it is. I feel like all these years, you know, the fear of Black people is what's led to them killin' us all.

NK: And then it's like, that resistance in music is rockers like you, it's dat funk in Funkadelic, you know? It's taking that fear and subverting it in music and being like 'Nah', you know what I mean? 'We're rockin' with it, we're moving!' Movement AGAINST fear. And that's cool. I rock with that. I rock with that a lot.

Ryan: That's awesome.

CHALLENGING OURSELVES VS. PERFECTIONISM

NK: Yeah. Do you have, like a particularly challenging part of your set list that keeps you on your A-game, this one's a little [laughs] I gotta be on it?

Ryan: Yeah. There's this one song we have called 'Recidivist' and it's a newer song, it's gonna be on the new album. And I had such a hard time just coming up with phrasing for that song. I wrote five different sets of lyrics to that. After the fourth time or something like that, my band (Ache) was like 'Can we just hear it? Can we just hear it?'

NK: [Laughs] Right!

Ryan: And so I performed it for them. They were like 'That was great, Ryan! That's it!' I'm like 'Damn. Maybe I would've been okay three sets ago? I threw those out.'

They're [my bandmate's] like 'Don't you ever throw out lyrics. Don't you ever throw out lyrics again!'

Even though I now have the final fifth version [laughs] which is—I still get a little weary when I'm performing that song onstage for whatever reason. You know what I mean?

NK: Yeah, totally. Totally.


Saint Vitus Bar, Brooklyn, 1-13-19

Ryan: And the lyrics, I mean what the song's about is...I gotta tell you somethin', every Ache song has some personal—I go through all these emotions with every single song so.

NK: Oh, WOW. I didn't know that, I would never think that it's something you, you had this catharsis when you perform every song.

Ryan: It really is. It really is. I've had friends that told me, watched our shows. 'Did you even know the crowd was there?'

NK: For real?

Ryan: And I don't know if that's good or bad.

NK: You just kind of take it in stride, right, as you go.

Ryan: So when that part comes up in the set list, it's really deep every song. And this phrasing is tricky.

NK: Right? But you evolve from that and I'm really hype for this new album by the way, Ryan.

Ryan: Awesome, I can't wait!

BLACK PUNK UNITED

NK: I can't wait to hear how you've taken those challenges and you've just gone full force at it, you know? That's exciting to hear. So punk is usually political. I was drawn to Ache because this fact is more timely than ever. How do we uplift community as Black rockers and compassionate folks in this together?

Ryan: Well, I know just in general, over the years whenever I saw other Black people at shows or whenever there was a Black band that I liked, I always showed my support because we have to support each other. So I'm still just doing that now. My friends that are in bands, we sing on each other's records. We go to each other's shows. There's a band right now, uh, Maafa.

NK: I just reached out to them!

Ryan: Oh, you did? Excellent.

NK: Yeah, I did! Flora's really excited to talk to us.

Ryan: Yeah, Flora's one of my closest friends and she lives just a few blocks from here. So she comes over and we have movie nights and stuff like that.

NK: Beautiful.

Ryan: And so whenever there's a chance to shout her out, or support her, vice versa. And my friends and them above all. So I feel like we have to just uplift each other that way.

TIME FLIES

NK: Basically. Mmhmm! I respect that, Ryan. I like that answer. It's more like the personal is political. And we just go to each other's house, we watch movies, we support each other that way. But we also rock at the same time.

So we got into it a little earlier. You feel that you can be the freest when you perform live, right? What do you love about touring and performing, Ryan? Does it feel like six years since your demo?

Ryan: Well, yeah, it feels like a million years since the demo. I've loved it since I was a little kid. I've been performing since I was a little kid. I would get up in front of my family and perform, you know, while my friends were out playing sports. I was in the backyard like, singing to myself.

So it's something that I love and it's something that I don't think I will ever stop doing in some form or another. You know, even if it was just me standing up and speaking to people. You know, I would do it that way. Whatever I had to do to let out those thoughts and that energy in a creative way? Do it, you know? But I miss it so much. I wanna be onstage now.

I wish there was a show tonight. And I've been doing it for so long, it's a part of me now.

NK: I feel that. Though I haven't ever performed as prolifically as you have live, it's kind of like it's part of your identity now. So you've had to become a chameleon and change with the times even though that's a part of you. Do you perform virtually now?

Ryan: We have an idea for something. So maybe soon. That's what I'm hoping, I mean, what else can we do? So I just gotta talk one band member into it and I think it'll happen.

NK: Right on. Best of luck, Ryan. I look forward to it. I really do.

Ryan: Thank you so much.

SHINING IN YOUR OWN WAY

NK: So building off of that, nice spotlight in Alternative Press. You earned that one, Ache! You [Ryan] definitely built the '90's wave of hardcore in New York and how did it feel to be featured alongside Tetrarch and Trash Talk, Kaonashi? Straight Line Stitch?

Ryan: That was great because you know, just about a week or two weeks before that, you know, 'Movement of Fear', the video was just an idea! It was just a reaction because we felt like we had to say something to the way we were all feeling.

For it to get a shout-out just two weeks after, y'know, was incredible. And it made me, it solidified the fact that if you have an idea, just go for it. Just do it! You know what I mean? And put the work into it. And that's how things grow.

NK: 'Hear that, Ryan. So as we wrap up our interview, Ryan, what advice is there for the upcoming punk, rock, metal, overall youth that started out like you? How do we inspire them to join and stay positive through it all?

Ryan: Well, I would say to younger people who are getting into the scene or starting their bands. Just go for it, don't let anybody discourage you from doing it. You know what I mean? I went through a lot of stuff growing up, where people thought it was crazy that I was into metal and punk.

I just stuck to it because I knew that's what I felt! And now I can look back and feel like I left a mark. I would say to younger people, that they need to just go for it, no matter what it takes. You might end up getting kicked out of your house because of it, I don't know. But you need to go for it because your voice might end up being the voice that everyone needs to hear.

NK: Yes, it's that seed that needs to be planted and it could be you, yeah.

Ryan: Exactly.

NK: Beautiful, thank you for saying that, Ryan. This has been really something special. A diasporic rock talk between us friends, you in the hardcore scene since my birth year and then me as a millennial who took in these influences as a kid and grew from them as a Black rocker myself.

Thanks beyond words for spending time with BRU! Be safe, Ryan, we love you. Stay Black, rockin' and united as ever!

Ryan: Thank you guys. I'm so happy you guys asked me to do this.

NK: Likewise. Rock on, Ryan! You take care, okay?

Ryan: All right. Bye-bye.


Ache rocks on      and so find them there!

Ache @ 66th Congress, 2-8-20


      

Need to talk?