Interview: Ryan Van Poederooyen of DTP

Ryan drummer for the Devin Townsend Project was kind enough to sit and answer a few questions we had for him. Topics discussed were other projects he is working on,  personal influences, touring life and of course  we would be silly not to ask a couple questions about the new Devin Townsend double album, the highly anticipated z2!
I had e-mailed questions about a week ago and he was gracious enough to respond within a couple of days time. Since I wasn’t able to sit with him, I tried to make the interview flow as much as possible, which can prove challenging when you don’t know how one will respond to the questions so please forgive us if theres some choppiness 🙂 But seriously RVP took time out of his ever busy schedule so please enjoy. . . We did this for the fans more than anything!

Damnation: You have been playing drums for quite a while now, what got you into them early on, was someone in your family a musician that peaked your interest? or did you fall into it more by chance?

IMG_3199RVP – My father was a keyboard player in a cover band. I always went to his sound checks and watched the band. I was always attracted to the drums and would bang around on them whenever they finished sound check. My father took notice that I had some rhythm and enjoyed playing the drums. From there he asked if I would be interested in learning…. the rest is history as they say! 
 

Who would you consider as your influences growing up? Are they still your primary influences today or have they changed as you’ve grown as a drummer? What was the first song you learned to play on drums? 

 My main influence growing up was Neil Peart from Rush. He influenced me into the progressive side of drumming and being creative with my beats and drum fills. Neil is still an influence to this day but I’d have to say my biggest inspiration on the drums at the moment is Gavin Harrison from Porcupine Tree. The guy is absolutely amazing on the drums. Great feel, great chops, amazing groove and he always plays unique beats and fills that really stand out to me. The first song I learned to play on drums was ‘Who Can it Be Now’ from the band Men At Work. I remember it well!

 

Your back catalogue is pretty impressive a lot of the bands have caught my interest in just checking out the few songs to get an idea of style. . . How did projects like God Awakens Petrified and Ten Ways (From Sunday) come about? And then if you could fill us in on the the transition from those two bands to bands like Terror Syndrome, Non-Human Level, and of course DTB/DTP? 

 All these projects came together at different times in my musical career. God Awakens Petrified was an experimental Metal band I started back in 1996 with my best friend. It went on to be a pretty successful local act in Vancouver, getting lots of opening slots for label acts as they came thru town, like Megadeth, God Flesh and so on…  Ten Ways is a progressive rock band formed by Dave Young (DTP/ ex-DTB) and his brother Mike Young (ex-DTB). I joined the band in 2008 and recorded drums on the album ‘The Solution’ in 2009 which is available on iTunes. We’re still together but get no time to do anything due to the schedule of the DTP. Terror Syndrome is a metal band I started in 2006 with a bunch of well known ‘metal’ special guests who appear on the album. I wrote all the music, wrote lyrics and produced it. I recorded the debut album in 2007 and independently released it, digitally, in 2008. I’m very proud of Terror Syndrome and plan on doing more when the DTP schedule slows down. Non-Human Level was a metal side project that Christofer Malmstrom, the guitar player from the band Darkane started. He wanted me to be the drummer on it along with Gustaf Hielm (ex-Meshuggah on Bass) and Peter Wildoer (Darkane Drummer) on Lead Vocals. It’s a pretty heavy, thrashy album with some cool twists and turns. I laid down my fastest drumming to date on that record. 

How did you get into the DTB, were there tryouts? I know the scene is pretty expansive, had you played with Devin Townsend before, or open up for SYL?  

RVP – I tried out in an audition. Dev was auditioning drummers. I got the tryout because my name got recommended to Dev many times. We jammed and he dug my playing and that was it.
 

It seems like you have a LOT on your plate with the new Devin Townsend Project/Ziltoid double album about to release (we’ll get to that soon), and what looks like some extensive touring, I see you are also in the process of writing a new Terror Syndrome album!! How do you find the time to juggle all your work? Are you constantly writing material while touring? Where do the ideas spark from? and lastly is there anything you can tell us about the new TS album as far as when it might release and what we might expect from it?

IMG_3270RVP – I basically write when I feel inspired to do so. I’m not constantly writing. Most of the time I’m learning new DTP songs for upcoming tours or whatever album we happen to be recording at the time! Haha. I’m kept extremely busy with the DTP. Lots of the time I’m relearning songs or learning new ones for upcoming tours or I’m learning new music for a new album. It’s always one of those two things. We [the band] know a ton of Dev’s music ranging from Ocean Machine all the way up to the newest DTP stuff…. that’s A LOT of music! So, I don’t really get much time to do my own thing. When I do get time, I’ve been writing new Terror Syndrome material. As for the style of the new Terror Syndrome record, it’s similar to the last record in ways, but I’m working with different tunings and being a little more experimental on the newer music. Still heavy as shit with killer grooves and catchy/heavy vocals.

That sounds epic, can’t wait to hear it!

When in the studio. . walk us through a day in RVP’s shoes. Where do drums come into play when recording an album, with any band you’ve played with, do you usually get done first, last or somewhere in the middle? How do you come up with the ideas for say your tracking? Are you brought riffs and then you create a beat to go along, or does it tend to go both ways? Do you have a book full of ideas for all your projects or does some of it just come to you naturally? And what helps you differentiate your styles between bands? 

RVP – To be honest, that’s a hard question to answer. So many bands do it different ways. One thing that is always the same is that I learn songs based off of demos first. Whether it is a studio session gig, playing for DTP, Terror Syndrome, Ten ways or any gig…. that’s how I learn songs. It varies from gig to gig on how my drum parts are written. For Terror Syndrome it’s obvious I wrote everything. For DTP it’s a combination of Dev giving me his ideas for drums or me presenting my ideas to him and us working it out together. I think we work really well together on coming up with the best drum parts for the DTP. I always play for the song! In the end, I always end up putting my spin on my drum part from drum fills to beats. As for styles between bands, that’s simple. Play for the song! Im not going to play a crazy double bass beat in a pop session! Haha! You have to play for the song and be well divorced in playing different styles of music. I taught myself how to play many different styles. This has helped me with the various bands and sessions I have done over the years.
 

Before getting into the new DTP albums I have one last set of questions. . What is the most difficult song you have ever Written? and what about the most difficult song you’ve ever played? On the opposite side of that what is the most fun song you have written? And what is the most fun song you have played? I ask those in two parts because in the Retinal Circus DVD you play a couple SYL songs, which you didn’t write so I am sure there are plenty others that you have under your belt that are both fun and difficult. And lastly if you could do a cover of any song what would it be and why?

RVP – Again, a very hard question to answer. There are many songs I found very hard to write and to play. I can’t give one solid answer to that question! I play for Devin Townsend!!!! Haha. He has countless hard songs to play. It seems a new one pops up every year and it was just as hard as the last one. To give a couple examples… ‘Planet of the Apes’ was very difficult at first, ‘Earth‘ and ‘Ziltoidian Empire’ were crazy to learn off of the new albums and learning all of the drum machine parts off of the first Ziltoid record was challenging as well. I think the most fun song I’ve written was the song ‘Stupidity for All’ off of the Terror Syndrome record. As for a the most fun song I’ve played ? That changes all the time. I’m always looking for a new challenge and fun song to play! If I could do a cover, I’d probably pick a Meshuggah song, maybe ‘New Millennium Cyanide Christ’. I already know some of it and jam some of the beats during sound check. It would be a great challenge and they are one of my all time favourite metal bands. Tomas Haake is a god on the drums man. He’s been another big influence on me! 
 

I’ll be listening for that at the next show ;).

Ok, now what everyone has been waiting for. . . Ziltoid 2 and the new DTP. I understand it took just a couple days for you to record the drum parts, thats pretty impressive!! I am sure you had most of it written beforehand, but were there any parts that you just made up on the fly? What was the hardest song to get down for the records?

Z2
RVP – Yes, these albums have taken years off of my life! Haha! We basically learned those two albums in 6 weeks. It was the most stressful time of my entire career. When it came time to record it in the studio, I had 3 days which turned into 2 days because we had studio gremlins the entire first day. I started tracking the first day at 10:30pm and kept none of it because I was burnt out from a day of nothing working. So I tracked all of Ziltoid – ‘Dark Matters’ on Day 2 and all of the DTP’s – ‘Sky Blue’ on the 3rd day. As for my parts, all of it I had rehearsed 6-8 hours a day, 6 days a week, for 6 weeks. So all my beats were worked out  for the most part but there was lots of improvisation on drum fills and some beats for this session. So there were some things definitely made up on the spot which turned out really great! Sometimes improvisation is the way to get the best material. The hardest song to record for me was ‘Earth’ off the Ziltoid record. It has blast beats and crazy time signatures throughout. Just an insane song overall. 
 

What can we expect from the DTP side of the double album? It seems to me like maybe a continuation from where you were as a band for Epicloud with maybe a mix of Addicted and Ki, is that a fair judgment?

As for the DTP side of the album…. it’s more like a continuation of Epicloud, kind of ? It has some rock songs, some pop songs and some darker tunes as well, more melancholy. Definitely more of a rock/pop album in my eyes.

 

Ziltoid is one of the most anticipated Metal albums of the year! Did this add any pressure to the writing of the album? Does this album pick up where the last Ziltoid album left off as far as Ziltoid still searching for his Ultimate cup of Coffee, or is there a new agenda for him? I hear there are some guests on the album as well, how did it come about getting Chris Jericho and Dominique from Stolen Babies to help out? and is it safe to assume that Anneke [Van Giersbergen] is a semi-permanent member of the band? it seems as though she has made it on the past 3 albums or so, and who can complain she has a beautiful voice that compliments Devin’s very well. Do you get to work with her much or is she just there to record and do some of the bigger shows? 

RVP – Writing Z2 definitely had some pressure to it. The first Ziltoid was very successful for Devin, so I’m sure he wanted to make sure this album met expectations which equals lots of pressure for all of us in the band. I can’t speak for Devin but I’m sure he felt it too. Add learning Z2 in 6 weeks along with another album…. yeah, it was pretty damn stressful!!! The most pressure I’ve experienced recording an album ever! Unfortunately I can’t give out any details on the album yet as there are promotional videos being released to help explain it.

Ahh, yes Ztv. . The first episode just aired and cleared up a couple things I had been curious about. . check it out here. . .

Dev dealt with getting all the guests. I didn’t even know Chris Jericho was on the album until it was mixed. So I have no idea on how all those guests came about. Anneke has done many guest appearances on albums with us. I think she is an amazing person and musician. I don’t know if she is really a semi-permanent band member. She has appeared on 3 albums now with latests album being more of a backup singer. I think she just makes it to certain gigs if the timing works for her and us. She did an amazing job on every record and I think enhanced each record as a result. I have nothing but respect for her. I think Dev would answer that question better! Haha. She has a great solo career and is doing well, so having her show up once in a while with us live or on an album is a beneficial thing for us and for her all the same. There’s my two cents.
 

What can your fans expect out of the double album? Any personal favorites from the album(s)? Can you give us a rundown of the songs?

RVP – The fans can expect two totally different records. Ziltoid 2 is a fun story to listen to. Musically Z2 is progressive. There are some fun easy to understand songs and then there are some crazy technical songs that will need a few listens to get. The Z2 record is a journey, that’s for sure. 
The DTP – ‘Sky Blue’ record is like i mentioned before. It’s more of a melancholy Rock/Pop album. Very easy to understand yet it still takes you on a cool musical journey.

Through touring you have become a pretty big fan of the Norwegian band Shining, I think a collaboration with Jørgen Munkeby playing some jazz trumpet and mixing vocals with Dev would be pretty killer. . . Who are some musicians you personally would like to collaborate with? A RVP supergroup if you will 🙂 And I know bands don’t usually get to pick who they tour with, but what bands out there would you like to share the stage with, be it opening up or headlining the show?

RVP – My supergroup would be Mike Patton on vocals, Les Claypool on Bass, Marty Friedman on Guitar and me smiling away on drums ! As for bands I’d like to share the stage with, I’d love to play shows with Faith No More, Primus and doing a full tour with Meshuggah would be a blast. We’ve played a few shows with them but doing a full tour is one of my dream tours for sure. They’re awesome guys to hang out with!

 

Now that is one supergroup I would love to see happen!!

In continuation with touring, I know you have been to many countries while touring, whats been your best/worst turnout? Is there a certain place you love playing because of either the fans are always giving 150% or the food is amazing? ? Are there any places you haven’t played that you would like to play, be it certain US cities, countries around the world? Is there any place you would go back to after a tour to see more of it than just the concert venue and whatever place there is to eat right down the street?

RVP – Touring is such an interesting thing. We’ve had terrible turn outs in lots of countries and huge turn outs in lots of countries. Germany has always been a hard country for us to crack but we’ve been making head way there recently. In the past we’ve played to some smaller crowds for sure! England and Finland have always been amazing for us. Japan and Chile were amazing to us. A place like the USA has parts where we do amazing and other parts where it’s the opposite. So it can really fluctuate. All you can do is keep touring and building your fan base, which we do! I’d love to see Russia one day and tour more of South America as we have so many fans down there. I love New Zealand  and would love to go back there as we’ve only played there once.We’ve pretty much been every where else. As for places I’d like to go back to for a vacation….. I got a long list but here’s some that come to mind – New Zealand, Chile, Australia, Holland, Japan, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland and I thought Hungary was a really cool place among many others!
 

A lot of metal musicians I have spoken with, tend to not listen to too much metal on their down time though they try to keep up with whats out there. . . What are some of your favorite bands that are coming out today? What is currently playing on your iPod/Stereo/Record Player? 

RVP – I’m the same way. I don’t listen to a ton of metal. If i listen to metal right now it’s usually Meshuggah, Gojira, Shining (Norway), Pantera, stuff like that. It changes all the time. I love listening to bands like Faith No More. Bob Marley. Karnivool, Dave Matthews Band, Primus, Sigur Ros and my wife and I listen to classic Rock all the time. Currently on my iPod the last 3 things I’ve listened to were Meshuggah – ‘Koloss’, Bob Marley – ‘Legends’ and Primus  – ‘Sailing the Seas of Cheese’.

All great albums.

Thanks again for taking the time to do this interview with us, we really appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to do this. See you on the road!

 

RVP – Thanks for the interview and you will most definitely see me on the road very soon!

One Comment Add yours

  1. Lauren says:

    Reblogged this on That Strange Girl and commented:
    From my brother’s site. Ryan of Devin Townsend Project. Enjoy 🙂

    Like

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