Interview: Bryan Scary of Bryan Scary and the Shredding Tears

by Jack Diablo
Fresh off the release of their new EP, Mad Valentines, Bryan Scary and the Shredding Tears have hit the road, taking their high-energy, multimedia show with them. Touching down in Jacksonville on November 14th, EU caught up with Bryan Scary himself to talk about his music.
EU: Who are Bryan Scary and the Shredding Tears?
Bryan Scary: Who are they? Well, it’s a group of gentlemen who strum guitars among other things. And write songs among other things. And also, dance.

EU: Tell us a little about the Mad Valentines EP.
BS: It’s six songs and five of them were recorded a little over a year ago in L.A. The sixth one was done this previous summer in Brooklyn. They’re mostly songs that were written during the sessions of our previous full-length album and are sort of the lighter side of Bryan Scary and the Shredding Tears, if you want to call it that. But, it’s up to your own discretion.

EU: Originally, you were recording all the instruments yourself and touring with the Shredding Tears. Has that changed, or do you still record it all yourself?
BS: No, we’ve done two full-length albums and then this EP. The first album was all me and that was even before I’d met the rest of the band. As soon as the whole band got together, from then on we’ve just been just recording as a band. It was never really the intention of mine to be a one-man band, it was just mainly because I didn’t have a band at that point. I was forced to do that.

EU: Do you share any song-writing duties now and how has that affected or changed the band’s sound?
BS: Not song-writing, I definitely still write the songs. But especially live arrangement-wise, everyone is a voice as for how the arrangement’s going to go. That bleeds over into the records a little bit but mostly on the record, it’s still my songs and a lot of my arrangements. The sound has changed because there’s so much more that can be done with confident people on all the instruments. More than competent, but you know…

EU: So, how then did you hook up with the Shredding Tears?
BS: After the first record was done, I kinda used it to get people on board essentially and just through various ways. We recently had our first personnel change. We just changed our drummer. But our first drummer I had known from high school and I met a couple of the guys just through auditions.

EU: So they weren’t a band before-hand, they just came together?
BS: No, we created them to be Bryan Scary’s the Shredding Tears band.

EU: Your shows are known for their energy and flamboyance. What can one expect to see this time around?
BS: Well certainly energy and flamboyance. We have a new drummer so the band is sounding as good as ever, not better. We like to have a lot of fun. Surprise people.

EU: So I hear you have a thing for comic books, anything in particular?
BS: I don’t know if it’s me, I know our other keyboard player is a big comic fan. I’m personally not that familiar with comics actually. Where’d you hear that from?

EU: I was reading something on Daytrotter about a Dr. Strange quote you made.
BS: I think that was just Sean from Daytrotter’s personal critique of the band. There’s definitely science fiction elements and children’s’ myth elements certainly on that record that they were promoting on Daytrotter, the previous full-length. I think it’s more that we share an affinity with certain comic book ideas than an actual direct comic book influence. Because I’m not necessarily a comic book guy. I wish I could have said I was.

EU: That would have been awesome.
BS: Yeah, that would have been a better answer for the question.

EU: Oh well. So are your album always conceptual then?
BS: Yeah, well the new EP isn’t particularly conceptual because it was more just songs that didn’t fit with the concept. The last record we made was very conceptual. It was kind of centered around flight and innocence to cynicism like children’s’ stories and outer space things. It was definitely a concept album in the traditional sense. We tend to be pretty conceptual. Personally, if I’m creating a group of songs I think that now more than ever it makes sense that they should be together on a record. They should have a reason to be together on a record. That’s my feeling towards albums in general.

EU: With the albums being conceptual, does that carry over into the live show? And if you have say, two completely separate concept albums, how do you balance that during the performance?
BS: Well, we use a lot of props and little costumes and things. We’ll do theatrical things on stage. We’ve sort of scaled back on that recently just because the EP is not as conceptual and I also just kind of want to tour without any sort of overriding concept hanging over our set. Most of the songs are narratives and just through performance and that kind of thing, you can change the mood and change the story that you’re telling as you go from song to song.

EU: You have a full-length you are working on with an interesting concept, tell us a little about it.
BS: Well, we haven’t actually started recording it yet but it’s all written and demoed and everything. It’s mainly concerned with con artists and bandits and most of the songs are based around the Industrial Revolution in like the 19th – 20th century shift. So it’s kind of a Western, in a sense.

EU: Where do these ideas come from when you’re thinking about an album? Is it just like whatever you happen to be reading at the time? Where does the inspiration come from?
BS: I think of it almost is if I were thinking of a film or something with a record because it helps me to have almost a genre chosen that I can group imagery around and sonically too with what instruments you’re going to use, what ideas you’re going to use. If there’s a film genre that’s something you can work off of, it’s how I like to create a world for the record in a way. I think that definitely the things that I’m reading or watching or listening to – well, less listening to and more reading or watching come into play for sure when I’m writing stuff.