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Julien-KEXPAND
Julien-K
Paul Rivera of Paulifornia

Julien-K Leave the Orgy Behind

Julien-K’s story is a stereotypical “phoenix from the ashes” tale. Literally birthed from an Orgy (the L.A. industrial rock band that sold a ton of records in the ’90s), musicians Ryan Shuck, Amir Derakh and Bobby Hewitt were pretty much left out in the cold when Orgy frontman Jay Gordon lost interest in that band.

Later, Gordon revived Orgy with a whole new lineup, by which time Julien-K were in full swing. Still, Shuck says that he was all about a reunion of his old band for a while.

“We tried for years,” he says. “I talked about it on videos on YouTube and in interviews, I talked to Jay, I sent interviews, I had the entire band meet years ago and basically made Jay a flat-out financial offer. Like, let’s do this. Let’s get together the original group. Unfortunately, Jay said that it was the stupidest thing he’s ever heard. I didn’t know what to make of it at all. To me, the rad-est thing is having the O.G., real band. I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way. Unfortunately, he didn’t agree and then when he still didn’t do anything for a long time, we just decided to keep doing Julien-K. Out of nowhere, we got a letter saying, 'Hey, I’m going to go do Orgy without you guys.’”

There was an ugly public spat when Gordon said online that the other guys were busy with Julien-K, and it was they who weren’t interested in an Orgy revival. Shuck felt that he had to correct that, hence a bit of back-and-forth.

“Unfortunately, we’ve got to be sad and we miss our band,” Shuck says. “Fortunately, we’re doing some really big stuff with Julien-K. The fans are speaking very loudly.”

He’s right, too. Julien-K fans have been putting their money where their enthusiasm is. The band are currently working on a new album, and it will be the third that sees them employ Indiegogo, the crowdsourcing website, to finance the recordings.

“We did a very successful crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo — actually our fifth campaign that went No. 1 in the world — and this campaign set a new record for us,” Shuck says. “We did $20,000 in the first 24 hours. A 30-day campaign, so it was wildly successful, and that campaign is to raise money for our new album, Harmonic Disruptor, which is due out at the beginning of next year. We have about 15 songs in draft mode that are actually listenable.”

At the time of this writing, the campaign has raised $41,711, and it’s still rising. There’s clearly a rabid audience for their very ’90s (by design) style of gothic, electronic metal. The sound, Shuck says, has evolved — they have grown as musicians and songwriters. They’ve traveled the world, and seen themselves emerge from Orgy’s shadow as a bona fide, artistically relevant band rather than a spinoff project.

Death to Analog [the debut album] was us finding our way out of Orgy — out of the ashes of Orgy,” Shuck says. We were in this multiplatinum, huge band that isn’t showing up to do any work, isn’t talking to each other, we didn’t know where Jay was or what was going on. Amir and I just continued to make music. That ended up becoming Death to Analog. [Second album] We’re Here With You very much stemmed from touring around the world with Dead by Sunrise [the project featuring late Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington] and Julien-K. We were very influenced by the worldwide audience, and that’s why we called it that. Even Orgy at its peak never toured internationally, which is completely stupid but it didn’t. We did. And then we came back and very much dove into L.A., California, and came up with the concept of California Noir [released in two parts], which is very much the goth, the dark side. Now we’re coming back around full circle, and on Harmonic Disruptor, we’re going to make an incredibly heavy, very, very detuned, breaking out all the seven-strings and baritones that we used in Orgy, and we’re going to really go back to the ’90s. We’re going to go back and make a record that we think our fans will fucking love.”

Shuck says the lyrical themes on Harmonic Disruptor, the literal meaning behind the words, changed following the death of his good friend Bennington.

“The first songs that we’ve written are pretty dark,” he says. “It’s tough, and some of it is me exorcising the anger that goes with losing somebody like that and the way that it happened. I’m sure we’re going to go through some dark passages. It really does have a whole new meaning now, and it will be born out of that pain.”

The California Noir albums suggest that the members of Julien-K have a complicated relationship with their home state, and Shuck (who is a restaurant owner — the Gypsy Den and Lola Gaspar — with five locations, and also owns a recording studio) confirms as much.

“I think that L.A. is a really dynamic city,” he says. “There’s a lot of great stuff about it. Obviously, the weather is fantastic. All sorts of musicians, actors and creatives move there. But I also think that the business climate is absolutely terrible. California is leaving people like us behind. California is fucking terrible to small businesses. Fucking terrible and I fucking hate it. I hate the government, I hate the way that state is run. On the flip side, that’s where we’re from. I love the people. I love my friends. I love my family. I love our scene, and the little neighborhood we live in. The way our whole world works there. I love the mountains, and the way the mountains crash into the desert and the ocean. That’s the sort of stuff that inspires me.”

This week, Julien-K play a hometown show at the Whisky. Shuck is promising a full-on set, with songs off of all the albums other than the forthcoming new one.

“It’s gonna heavily rely on California Noir,” he says. “There’s not going to be any Harmonic Disruptor yet, because we want to keep that powderkeg dry, We have a rad live show that we bring with us. For a club, it’s going to be impressive and fun to see because we bring production. For a little indie band, it’s a cool thing. There’s a lot of electro songs, a lot of more rock-y songs. We’re really able to do whatever we want to do because it’s our show.”

Julien-K perform with Love Star, Stone Senate and Wily Savage at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 15, at the Whisky A Go-Go.

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