Interview: Steven Bradley and John Ganey of Iwrestledabearonce On Their New Album, 'Ruining It For Everybody'
Steven Bradley, guitarist and keyboardist for IWrestledABearOnce, is the first to say he and bandmate/guitarist John Ganey aren't the world's best guitarists.
“Neither one of us claim to be good at the guitar,” Bradley said. “He and I are weird and have guitar ideas, and always seem to complement whatever the other person is doing.”
The two are gearing up for the July 26 release of the band's new album, Ruining It For Everybody (Century Media), which already has made waves in the music scene, thanks to a little practical joke.
In the midst of the recording process a few months ago, Bradley issued a statement that said he and his bandmates — Ganey, drummer Mike Montgomery, vocalist Krysta Cameron and bassist Mike “Rickshaw” Martin — were tired of being lumped in a scene and decided to go full-on black metal, and even donned facepaint for the publicity photo.
“We had to change our image to match,” Bradley said. “Because, of course, that's just as important, if not more so, than the music.”
Fans understood, but the shenanigan pissed off dozens of black metalheads, Ganey said.
“We thought it was funny, but we made a lot of black metal fans angry,” he said. “There are a lot of those type of bands on Century Media, and the label reps thought it was a great joke.”
Joke or not, both Bradley and Ganey feel Ruining It for Everybody is the best IWrestledABearOnce album to date. Bradley and Ganey discussed the new album, guitars and their styles with Guitar World. Here's how it went.
GUITAR WORLD: You talked about not being very good at the guitar, but that's your choice of instrument. Why did you pick one up in the first place?
STEVEN BRADLEY: Out of all the art choices, the guitar seemed like the best one. I think it would be cool to draw something sometime, but what happens is the pictures end up being nothing but stick figures. I cheated on guitar to play drums for a while, only because it was fun as a teenager to beat things with sticks, but I quickly realized guitar was a much better choice.
JOHN GANEY: My step-father was in a band and he played guitar and sang through his college years. When I was younger, he got together with all those guys again and I got to see him do that. From that point on, I chose the guitar.
Were there any guitarists that you looked up to while you were honing your craft?
SB: Not especially. I've always looked at (playing guitar) as a passion-over-technicality sort of thing. So the first band I was super into was old Nirvana, and it's hard to look at Kurt (Cobain) as a real technical guitar inspiration, but the mentality behind his music was there. I also never cared about shredding, either, because everyone I saw shredding looked bored, or looked like it was a chore, rather than a creative outlet. I did get into some crazy stuff, like anything Mike Patton-related – Mr. Bungle, Faith No More - but I get more influence from music in general, rather than just guitarists. When I hear something in my head, I immediately try to figure out how to play it, rather than just sitting around for eight hours practicing arpeggios or something.
JG: It's funny. I grew up listening to Metallica and guys like that. They were impressive to me at that time, but I guess what really started my whole wanting to be in a band was Korn. Steven and I have been playing guitar together since middle school and high school. We were both into Korn. I remember buying Guitar World magazine and any other magazine I could get my hands on with them in it. I was so fascinated by that band's guitarists. The two of us also grew up listening to weird bands like Mr. Bungle and Tool, bands that experiment with different stuff.
Since you listened to the same bands growing up, did you develop a similar playing style, or are your respective approaches different?
SB: I think we're ridiculously similar, so it works out pretty well. We've been in a band together for 13 years. He does more of the riffage, and gives the song a good solid groove, and I'm the wierdo who goes on top of that and works with a synth pedal or flanger or some sort of octave pedal and do some sort of tapping noises.
JG: In previous bands, we did have similar styles. We tried to be technical and we tried to be sporadic and crazy. But now, we're similar in some ways, but have different styles. He does heavier stuff, and I fall into the groovier and chorusy stuff. Since I like doing that part, and he liked doing the other part, it seems to work, especially with our style of music.
SB: John and I know when the other is going to do something weird, and we understand each other.
Steven, when John left for a stint between 2008 and 2009 and (Krysta's younger sister) Mim Cameron replaced him, did the musical dynamic change when it came to your playing?
SB: Mim was awesome. She's a great musician and understands stuff. She was in for a short time and we never wrote anything together, but I couldn't imagine teaching songs to anyone. Not because it's super-shredder stuff, but there are a lot of changes and weird stuff, so I told her to play around the stuff I was playing, and she did great. She did two tours with us.
Steven, earlier you said you put emotion before technicality. What guitar or guitars do you use to find that musical emotion?
SB: I've got an LTD Deluxe MH-1000. It's a white guitar and it's beat to hell. I've taken it off and thrown it, but somehow it has survived everything. I took it on the Warped tour and was slinging it around my head and accidentally launched it 100 feet into the crowd and it landed, “Braveheart” style, point of the neck in the ground. I could have murdered someone. It's seen a lot of stuff, and it's held together by gas tape. I've another guitar that's the exact model, but it's just not the same. I also have guitars from ESP. They're nicer but not as good.
Lately, I've been messing around with LTD X tones. They make the semi-hollow bodies and have that big tremolo on it. It's not as insane for the dive-bombs and the weedly weeldies but it's good to get that surf tremolo sound on it.
John, what about you?
JG: I've had several guitars growing up, because I just wanted to get my hands on any guitar that I could. I finally found the guitar that feels perfect to me. It's an ESP MH 1000. I've played that same style guitar for the past six years. I've had Gibson Les Pauls, Jackson, Ibenez. You name it, I've tried them all, but I'll always refer to my MH 1000. It's nice and I love it.
How was making the new album Ruining It For Everybody?
JG: For me, it's different than what we've done in the past. There's a lot more singing on it than screaming. It's a little heavier, and it was a lot easier to finish this album than the last one (2009's It's All Happening.) It just seemed to come together really easy. We had the worst time writing our last full-length. We had a time limit and things had a hard time working out for us. This album will probably appeal to more people than before, because there is more to connect with as far as the arrangements go.
SB: I built a "live" room and control room in the basement of our house and used our budget to get some new gear. We could sit in the basement, take a shot of whiskey and track guitars at 3 a.m. and tweak things.
We pretty much went in with all the songs demoed out. We plugged the guitars straight into the system and then just jammed on stuff with everybody. You have to do music for the right reasons and not because you want to be a cool dude who's on tour. Selling out is the worst term ever, but there is still some commercial music out there that is really good, because you can tell it's from their heart. When something changes, you may as well just quit and go work at Barnes & Noble.
JG: Not to boast, but I feel like because we're kind of a different, weird band, we can get away with putting any kind of music into our songs and we have the best time doing it. We're not trying to impress anyone, but hopefully people like it.
Ruining It For Everybody by IWrestledABearOnce will be released July 26 via Century Media. IWrestledABearOnce are also featured in the "Introducing" section of the September issue of Guitar World magazine and at