Interview with Jeffrey and Ron from Syrym
Calle: Syrym was established in 2007. How did you guys meet?
Jeffrey: Ron placed an ad looking for a singer, and I answered. It was simple, but it was also a stroke of luck, as things have really worked out well.
Calle: Who are your biggest influences?
Ron: Although I have played different instruments, I really started to get into Hard Rock in the late 70s...and that’s when I heard “Running with the Devil” for the first time...and there was no looking back. So I have to say Edward Van Halen , Randy Rhoads, George Lynch, all who ruled supreme during that era. Mixed in with that was the heavy influence of my Jazz guitar teacher, Bob Marshall.
Jeffrey: My influences are not where you might expect. I’m heavily influenced by artists such as Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Al Green, Jackie Wilson, Billy Joel, Elton John, and Stokley Williams of Mint Condition, none of them considered very “rock.” But I also love singers like Jeff Scott Soto, Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy, Jeff Keith of Tesla, and Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance.
Calle: What got you into music in the first place?
Ron: Well, I was born into a musical family. My Dad actually made a record in the early 60s, before I was born, but then the Beatles hit and it was over for most up-and-coming American artists. My uncle plays a mean set of drums, and my Nana has a voice like an angel to this day! And she’s over 80!! I played in school band and started with the trumpet in 4th grade. That’s when I learned to read music. Then I started fooling around with the bass, and then my parents bought me an acoustic guitar. My dad showed me a few things, and the rest is history...
Jeffrey: I wanted to play the drums, so my parents said I could do so if I studied piano first. I did that—and I’m glad that I did—but, to this day, I’ve yet to learn how to play the drums. I was hooked, though, sitting down at the piano and writing songs. I still write songs that way, most of the time.
Rich, Jamey, Ron and Jeffrey = Syrym
Calle: How do you write the songs? Does each of you come up with ideas or do you all write together?
Jeffrey: For a majority of our songs, Ron writes the music and I write the lyrics and melodies. Usually, Ron will have basic tracks recorded, and I will write the lyrics over that. Then the song gets fleshed out from there.
Calle: Where do you find the inspiration for the songs?
Jeffrey: Some of the inspiration comes from personal experience, some from the experiences of others and, sometimes, it’s just something I happen to hear or see that triggers an idea.
Calle: You released your first CD “Syrym” earlier this year. How has the response been from the critics and from the fans?
Jeffrey: So far, the response has been fantastic. We’re getting all sorts of online radio airplay, some great reviews, and fans have been e-mailing us and posting comments on Myspace about how much they’re enjoying the album. Two reviewers have included our album on their lists of the Top 20 Albums of 2008, which is really validating.
Calle: If you could name one song you wish you had written, what song would that be, and why?
Ron: “Imagine,” by John Lennon.
Jeffrey: “Secrets,” by Vain. The song is catchy as hell, with all sorts of attitude and a punky vibe. It’s a million miles-an-hour with great, energetic guitars, a driving rhythm section, that trademark Davy Vain melody and vocal. The whole album, “No Respect,” is one shot of adrenaline after another.
Calle: Ron - You and Jamey Pacheco were in the band Babylon A.D. back in the late 80s and 90s. The band had some success on radio and MTV. Why did the band break up?
Ron: We never really broke up. We still do dates here and there, but nothing to speak of...no touring or anything. Paralleling it to what happened to my Dad...for us it was Nirvana. When they hit, all the record companies wanted grunge, and we and many signed bands like us were over, done. Many have said if we came out four to five years earlier, we would have had greater success.
Calle: Babylon A.D. also had a song in the movie “Robocop 2.” If Syrym got the chance to write a title song for a big Hollywood movie, which movie would you like that to be?
Ron: Any...lol. Any exposure is good exposure. How about a smash hit bloody horror movie?
Jeffrey: Well, “Bring It On (Go Down Fighting)” was actually loosely based on the story behind the recent Vin Diesel movie, “Babylon A.D.” If I were going to write the title song to a movie that Syrym was going to record, it would have to be a blockbuster action flick or sci-fi adventure. Something along the lines of the next Batman movie, or the sequel to the Will Smith vehicle, “Independence Day.” A movie where, when you hear our song, it just pumps you up and energizes the mood of the movie.
Calle: You come from different backgrounds musically. With Syrym it seems like you are bringing back some of the music from the 80s and 90s. Do you miss those times?
Ron: Absolutely...big guitars, big drums...RIPPING LEADS!!! There are many bands out there that are doing just that, but are not hitting mainstream anymore. I am so sick of that EMO crap. It all sounds the same.
Jeffrey: To a certain degree, yes. That was the era when I really cut my teeth, musically. The bands from that time inspired me to want to make a name for myself in rock ‘n’ roll.
Calle: Syrym are based in Oakland, California. How would you describe the music scene there, and in the US in general?
Jeffrey: Back in the 80s, the music scene in Oakland, and the San Francisco Bay Area in general, was at its apex. There were so many good bands, many of which went unnoticed outside of this region. There were great concerts going on almost every night of the week. Bands like The Persuaders (Babylon A.D.), Vain, Kamikaze, Death Angel, Mr. Hyde, Kidd Blue, Roulette, Castle Blak—never a dull moment. Now, I would be hard-pressed to name even one band in the rock genre that’s drawing any kind of attention in the Bay Area, outside of what we’re doing now.
Calle: As Syrym, what bands have you played with or been on tour with?
Jeffrey: As Syrym, we’ve yet to play out with anyone. We expect that to change in the near future, though.
Calle: What’s the most fun experience you have had at a concert?
Ron: My greatest and most memorable gig was an outdoor festival in Milwaukee in ‘92...simply awesome seeing that monster crowd and all the screaming fans. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
Jeffrey: Playing a concert, or seeing one? Every aspect of playing a concert is a blast. In terms of seeing concerts, the best one I ever saw was David Lee Roth at the Cow Palace, back in 1988. Incredible showman and, of course, he had Steve Vai handling the guitar duties–one of my all-time favorites.
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Calle: Do you have any plans of touring Europe in the near future?
Jeffrey: There’s nothing scheduled at the moment, but never say never.
Calle: What can the fans expect when they go see Syrym live?
Ron: I would expect they would see the latest and greatest version of Babylon A.D. We were always known for a great live show, and I would expect no different here.
Jeffrey: It’ll be a kick-ass rock show, featuring some of the best musicians I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing or playing with.
Calle: If you could put together your dream band, who would be in it?
Ron: Van Halen on guitar, Robert Plant on vocals, Terri Bozzio on drums, and Rudy Sarzo on bass.
Jeffrey: If we’re not counting Syrym, I’d have to say Scott Rockenfield of Queensryche on the drums, Steve Vai on lead guitar, Stevie Salas on rhythm guitar, Phillip Bynoe on bass, and Jeff Scott Soto on vocals. These aren’t all necessarily my favorite musicians on each instrument (although some are), but I think it would be an incredible collaboration.
Calle: How would you describe each member of the band in only three words?
James – Loud, Heavy, Pounding
Jeff – Versatile, Intelligent, Thoughtful
Rich – Versatile, tight, pro
Ron – kick-ass, devastating
Jamey – rock-solid, thundering
Rich – extraordinary, tight, positive
Jeffrey and Ron
Jamey and Rich
Calle: What’s the best advice you can give to up-coming bands?
Ron: Work hard, practice and gig a ton, and strive for originality. No record company is going to sign a band that sounds like a thousand others. Also, they have to be hard-skinned and mentally tough. This business is not for pussies.
Jeffrey: Keep striving to attain your dreams.
And now some questions outside music:
Calle: What was the first CD/LP you ever purchased?
Ron: Van Halen I
Jeffrey: Billy Joel – 52nd Street
Calle: What’s the latest CD you bought?
Ron: Black Label Society – Mafia
Jeffrey: Shinedown – The Sound of Madness
Calle: What do you do when you’re not playing music? What’s your other interest?
Ron: I am opening a new recording studio. Check it out at http://www.hatrixmedia.com/. All clients, all types of music welcome! I’m a big soccer player (way before I played guitar).
Jeffrey: I’m a graphic designer, so I’m taking on clients for logo design, branding, and web design.
Calle: What’s your favorite drink?
Ron: I don’t drink anymore, but it was beer.
Jeffrey: I’m a simple man in that regard—a beer suits me just fine. My favorite is Negra Modelo, but I’m not overly picky.
Calle: Do any of you have another education?
Ron: I have two degrees in Electronic Engineering.
Jeffrey: I have a degree in Music Composition from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Calle: What do you guys know about Denmark?
Ron: I stopped there once on my way to a Swedish soccer tournament I played in. I would love to come back to Scandinavia. I had the best times of my life there, aside from touring and the birth of my son.
Jeffrey: Honestly, not all that much. But I’m willing to learn!
Calle: Any last words for the fans?
Ron: I hope you enjoy our sound, and there’s more to come! Rock will never die...
Jeffrey: To all our fans, thank you so much for your support. And if you haven’t heard Syrym before, give the new album a listen. You won’t be disappointed.
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