Interview: Bleeding Through – Ryan Wombacher

In recent years one of the most commanding and powerful bands to strike a chord between hardcore, metalcore, death and black metal elements has been Bleeding Through. Releasing ground breaking albums which has seen the band tour worldwide and the Orange Country based six-piece returned earlier this year with their self-titled sixth studio album which set a whole new chapter in the bands career.

Having parted ways with Trustkill Records and now on Rise Records in the US and Roadrunner in the UK, the new era for Bleeding Through saw them releasing their strongest album to date.

Recently at the Glasgow date on the Never Say Die tour which featured bands such as Parkway Drive, Comeback Kid, Emmure and more, I had the chance to sit down with bassist Ryan Wombacher to talk to him about the music industry, touring and their future plans.

Ryan Wombacher (c) IShootShowsMichael: How has the tour been going so far?

Ryan: Yeah it has been going well, it’s just getting the motivation for touring as we’ve been off for a little bit; still a little jet lagged.

Michael: Is it pretty tough starting in Europe then bouncing over to the UK from the US?

Ryan: No it’s really coming just from the US over to Europe. You get way more jet lag than when you go home from Europe to America, it’s just totally different, I don’t know why.

Michael: How has the reception been to Bleeding Through on this tour compared to UK/European performances?

Ryan: Crowds have been awesome every night so far. We just did the Machine Head tour over here a little bit go, about six months ago and I mean the crowds are comparable to that and that was a really big metal tour. We knew this tour was going to be good but it’s just been really good. All the bands are really cool, we have known a lot of them for a long time and the stage is really cool.

Michael: Was there any band on the tour that you were looking forward to seeing perform or perform alongside?

Ryan: Well we have been friends with Comeback Kid for a long time and we haven’t done shows with them in a long time so it’s good to see those guys again. We did Australia with Emmure and Parkway Drive we’ve known for a while; we did a headlining tour in Australia years and years ago and Parkway Drive actually opened for us in their home country. Now that’s impossible, it’s pretty funny.

Michael: What is it like coming from a US crowd to those here in the UK and Europe, is there a big difference or change in the atmosphere?

Ryan: Yeah I think the age difference is a big thing. In the States, once you hit your middle to late twenties you’re considered an older person at a show but when you come over to mainland Europe and the UK, I think that metal and hardcore lasts a little bit longer in people’s lives which I think is pretty cool. I wish it happened in the States, I don’t know why but it’s very noticeable if you come over here especially if you have never been here and you play a show, you realise the crowd is a lot older.

Michael: One of the topics that you have spoken of a few times is the difference between the modern metal/hardcore scene and that of the late nineties. With the US being much more of a younger audience, do you think it’s maybe seen as a lot more mainstream now?

Ryan: Other than hardcore and metal getting the chance to be a little more mainstream five or six years ago, seven to eight years is when it started becoming more popular in the mainstream and I don’t think that is what changed it. I don’t even really know how to answer that. It’s just that Europe and the UK, you’ll have people in their thirties and forties, which is not old but for metal and hardcore it’s considered old and they still love it. They kind of live it every day and in the States if you’re thirty and still going to shows, it’s pretty crazy, like that’s awesome but it’s very rare. I don’t know if there is just a reason for it, it’s really odd.

Michael: Even when you compare the charts, the US always strikes it well with rock, metal, hardcore and such but here in the UK we are overrun with pop.

Ryan: Oh yeah but still somehow metal is huge, especially when you have festivals which have 50,000 people, it’s weird.

Michael: I have seen a few complaints from fans in the US about this tour and how they wish this line-up was also going overseas. Although the US does get all the big name tours, you don’t really see any festivals.

Ryan: Oh yeah all the festivals, I wish that shit could happen in the States but it would never happen. You know we have Ozzfest but it’s suffering every year, horribly. I wish it would just go back to like it used to but I mean we did 2004 and it was still pretty good and then we did 2006 but it wasn’t as good as 2004. People we knew did 2007, 2008 and 2009 and they said it sucked.

Michael: There isn’t even anything else apart from Crüe Fest which is reported to be becoming the new filler for Ozzfest.

Ryan: Yeah there isn’t really any full on metal festivals going on like they have over here in the UK and Europe. I hate that, it’s not the same, it’s not like its two different worlds, I mean there are different lifestyles from the UK and the States but I don’t know why that would affect the music.

Bleeding Through

Michael: With the way that you and Brandan have both spoke about the late nineties and comparing the industry from then to now, do you not think it is slightly two different worlds when you look at the industry then compared to now and when you also look at the US and UK side by side?

Ryan: I think when we talk about the nineties we talk a lot more about the music industry itself than the likes of touring. I mean touring was totally different too but I think there are way more people with their hands in your pockets now and way more bands touring now there used to be also. Record sales are down and you don’t make as much money off your records now so you have to stay on tour to make money. You kind of have to whore yourself to make money and I think that’s how we talk about how the late nineties were better for that. You know we still tour in vans in the States and we do a bus tour here and there but it really hasn’t changed too much, it’s more to do with the industry.

Michael: You mentioned record sales being down there but if that is becoming an issue in the US, it must be extremely hard to ever feel like you’re breaking the UK or European market.

Ryan: Oh yeah man, you know we’re from the US so it’s kind of our home town, it’s our own back yard so kids see us all the time or we tour and they see us and we continue to sell records and then we only come over here every six months or so and do one tour. If Bleeding Through isn’t in the States then kids just assume we’re not touring, they don’t really take the time to look at the website and say ‘oh yeah they are on tour but they’re just in a different country’, so with the economy and the industry the way it is, I think it will always be harder to sell records in countries that you’re not from.

Michael: You also mentioned people being more in your pockets now, is this something that you face or since you moved to Rise Records and with Roadrunner here in the UK, is it a lot easier now to avoid this situation?

Ryan: Yeah it is a lot easier with them. I think the whole hands in your pockets thing is now when bands get signed, the younger bands, as they have no choice but to sign a 360° deal were labels have their hands in their pockets even deeper because they take ten or fifteen per cent of everything, including what you make on tour. Bleeding Through will never and has never signed a 360° deal and we won’t, you can’t pull that shit with a band who has been around as long as us. This band has been touring for twelve years, the members in the band, some of them, have been touring for fifteen years so we will never sign to a 360° deal. I think that is the way that it has changed for record labels. They don’t make money off the records anymore, or not as much as they used to, so now they have to find ways to make money somewhere else. These bands who are new and want to get signed, if that’s the only option for them and they don’t know if it’s good or bad just kind of get suckered into it. Well they don’t get suckered into because it’s the only choice they have, it’s unfortunate.

Michael: For younger bands who do want to get into the industry but maybe skip the downfalls of such a deal and I suppose for bands even like Bleeding Through here, do you think the internet is sort of helping to make it easier and also cheaper for things such as promotion, advertising and also the sales of music?

Ryan: I think that’s my favourite question people ask because it’s such a double edged; it’s the sharpest double edged sword that is out there for music right now. The internet has done amazing amazing things for advertising, networking and getting your name out there. I mean all you have to do is sit at your desk, you can be in your pyjamas eating a banana and you can post something on the internet and someone around the world in Africa will see it in seconds as opposed to the nineties. In the nineties when hardcore was getting started, fanzines, the only way you knew a tour was coming through is if it came in a fanzine. You could show up at that show and you didn’t know that the tour got cancelled a month ago but it said in the fanzine that it was booked and if the club didn’t send out a notice saying something was cancelled, you wouldn’t know. I think on the opposite side of the internet, I think it has also killed music as opposed to helping it grow because of how simple it is. A lot of people take things for granted and people have things at their fingertips at all times. I think because they take it for granted, that’s kind of killed the whole magical side of it, so it’s definitely a double edged sword.

Michael: Are you active with the social networking aspect of the band and interacting with fans all the time?

Ryan: Oh yeah definitely. All of us are on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and I’d say that eighty five per cent of the time it is us posting or answering questions. We try to stay in touch as much as possible with our fans as much as we possibly can. We always want to know what they’re thinking and we’ve had some kids tell us to play some old stuff, ‘we want to hear this and we want to hear that’, so when we get home, the first thing we’re doing is two shows back to back. One night all old stuff and one night all new stuff, so the kids that gave us shit for not playing old stuff better be at the first night [laughs].

Michael: How do you combat that when working out your set list if there is such a demand for older material?

Ryan: It’s hard. We’ve kind of got to the point were when a new record comes out, if it’s the first tour of the new record we will play one, maybe two songs off the new record and then we won’t waste our time because of course we know they want to hear the old stuff. I want to hear the old stuff off of other bands; I don’t want to see a whole new record being played. It takes us about two or three tours later to come back and do a lot of new stuff so by that time it’s not new anymore and the kids know the words but you’re always going to disappoint someone but then you’re always going to make someone extremely happy so you need to find the best medium in between.

Michael: Yeah so it’s always best to go for like a greatest hits with a few surprises thrown in.

Ryan: Exactly, plus what’s old to us is totally different in the eyes of some kids. I mean some kids think ‘The Truth’ record is our first record and we’ve had numerous records before that. There are some songs we hate playing, we don’t hate the song but we have just been playing it for so long we just don’t want to hear it anymore [laughs] but we can’t not play it because it is one of the songs that got you were you are.

Ryan Wombacher (c) Kez PhotographyMichael: Are there ever songs that you really want to play and you feel like not caring about the fans reaction to them?

Ryan: Oh yeah man [laughs]. There is always the handful of songs that are the bands favourites but they are just a little, they are a little too much. Like they’re not sing-a-long, they’re not moshing songs, they’re not even really head banging songs, they are just too fast with not enough crowd participation in it. There is the kids who would like it but overall it’s not going to be a crowd favourite. Like there are songs off ‘This Is Love, This Is Murderous’ that we did and we had never played live, ever. We probably don’t even remember any of them [laughs] but that’s the way it goes. Every band is going to do that, there are very few bands who are going to play every song off the record, that’s just the way it is.

Michael: Based on the latest album which was released back in April, how has the reception went down to the new material, not just live but from the feedback you’ve received from fans and such?

Ryan: You know, ever since ‘Declaration’, the last record, we go in the studio now and we do not give a shit about what anyone wants to hear. We know what we have to stay true to as a band, like okay, this is what Bleeding Through is, we can’t obviously go in and do an acoustic record and be like fuck everyone, that’s our fans, that’s a slap in the face. Bleeding Through has always thought about ‘okay, we have fans but we have to write a record for ourselves’ but we also have to keep in mind our solid fan base because we kind of consider them part of the band. Like when bands come out and do three records that are all kind of the same, they are all different but they all have the same aspects and they get this huge fan base and become huge they suddenly go ‘alright, we’re going to totally change our sound’, that’s like slapping everyone in the face. Yeah you need to keep yourself happy as a band and want to do things as a musician but when you get to that point, you do have to make everyone happy in a sense. So when we go into the studio we know what Bleeding Through is and we write what Bleeding Through is. Every time in the studio we do something just a little different, like kind of spice it up, put a little more into it; keeping what Bleeding Through is but adding more so we keep both sides happy.

Michael: The band has also progressed album after album so what was the spice in this album that made it stand out above the others?

Ryan: I think there is a lot more black metal involved in it; I think that is kind of the big thing on the newer record. We’ve kind of gone back to that way of being more pissed off as opposed to ‘The Truth’ record. It was still angry but it was a little more, I don’t want to use the words, radio friendly, but it’s the only words that I can really use to describe it. It still has a ton of singing parts in it which we have had since the demo so when people say ‘aw I don’t like Bleeding Through anymore, they sing too much’, we’re like ‘we always have’, but I think the difference with this new record is the contrast between the really fast parts and still doing some singing.

Michael: Bleeding Through has been a unit for so many years now and after touring around the world and releasing so many albums, what keeps you motivated and inspired to keep moving forward to that next album and tour?

Ryan: That’s a good question, a lot of bands do lose that

Michael: Yeah, you do see a lot of bands taking time out in order to fuel them

Ryan: Yeah, we just really really like playing music; we all really like doing this for a living. I mean we all have businesses at home and I personally own my own business, our singer owns his own business and then everyone has jobs but those are kind of like our part time things and the band is what we think about all the time. When we’re not touring, we’re writing and when we take breaks, while we’re on those breaks, we are always getting stuff ready for when we go back out. I think you just need to stay honest to yourself and stay true to what you want to do as a band. One thing I want to say, as long as the band enjoys it, because as soon as you’re doing it just for the money which is bullshit because there is no money in it, especially right now, you would be lying to yourself because I could go home and work at a grocery store and sell fruit on a corner and make more money than this shit. So that’s an honest reason, we do it for the fun. As long as you enjoy yourself and you only do things you want to do as a band, I think that is why we stay so happy. Everything we do as a band, we call the shots and I think that’s the key to staying happy and enjoying it.

Michael: So with that in mind, what are your plans in 2011?

Ryan: 2011 is going to have a new record.

Michael: So have you already started to push forward with the album?

Ryan: We’re going to start writing when we come home. We’re going to take a little bit of a break as soon as this tour is over so we can get our families back in order and spend some time with them, then start writing and then start working on the process of building tours. 2011 is going to be very strategic tour wise, there won’t be as many but the ones that are will be bigger, a bit more intense and more thought out. Like this is who we want on the tour and if they are not going to do the tour then we just won’t fill the spot. If we want five bands to do the tour and only three can do it then it’s going to be a three band tour. That’s what we want to do, it’s more strategic.

Michael: So if writing is planned when you get home, can we expect an end of 2011 release or maybe earlier?

Ryan: Maybe mid-year; safe to say towards the end but not at the end, maybe like eight months or something like that. Best thing about it is we’re going to do it whenever we want to do it. There is no deadline right now, we don’t have any dates set, we don’t have the studio, we’re going to do the record ourselves. So we will literally go in and record it and it will be probably be done before we sign a contract.

Michael: So you’re not still signed to Rise or Roadrunner for a future release?

Ryan: It is a possibility, we haven’t talked about that but we haven’t got that far. We will write the record, finish it, it will be done and then all we need to do is get a postage note and put a due date on it but it will be done. The only thing we will be waiting for is time for the press, time for the release date and time for advertising.

Michael: So have you found that the best way to do it now, record and then pitch?

Ryan: Yeah, I don’t think labels have a right, yeah they are putting money towards it and they might have comment but we’ve never had a label go ‘this is what you need to do on the record’ cause we’ll be like ‘well you’re going to be really bummed out cause we’re not doing that’. So yeah I don’t think that’s a labels place to say what they want. Bleeding Through have never signed to a label that called the shots and I don’t think we ever will cause that’s not who we are. We write our record the way we want it. You’re signing Bleeding Through because that’s what you want.

Michael: Thanks for taking some time to sit and answer some questions. I think the doors have or are just opening so better let you get ready.
Ryan: No thank you, hope to see you out there tonight.

Picture credits I Shoot Shows and Kez Photography.


About ??

Michael is the owner and creator of EspyRock. He is your general all round geek; sports fan; TV show fanatic. You can find him sharing his thoughts on his personal Twitter account. Contact Michael on Twitter or via Email.

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