AMP Magazine interview with Ryen Slegr - May 2003
By Paul Merriwether
Pasadena can proudly claim the Rose Bowl, a Roscoe's Chicken franchise and critical darlings OZMA as its own. Spending Time on the Borderline (Kung Fu Records) is a OZMA's newest release, a schizophrenic trip through the treacherous terrain of power pop that veers off into psychedelia, punk, New Wave and all points in between. Like the bastard sons of Weezer, the Turtles and Gary Numan they're forging a new sound from the random debris of the old. I spoke to singer Ryan Slegr about life on the road, the perils of ocular disintegration and foot fungus out in the great wide open.
Paul: What was the big event that destroyed, uplifted or confused everyone on this last tour: who quit, who got shot, what happened?
Ryan: Is this a hardcore magazine or something?
Paul: Not really, I'm just a hardcore person, I get bored easily.
Ryan: It's cool, I was dropped on my head as a child, so it's kinda hard to remember sometimes. Right before the Warped Tour our keyboard player (Star Wick) got in a car accident. She had to have eye surgery and it was pretty messy. She missed a lot of the tour, but we got the drummer from Alkaline Trio (Derek Grant) to take over. We're lucky it all worked out and she's OK. Maybe we'll get a couple of songs out of it.
Paul: The new record gets all over the map, with lots of different instruments and song styles. What is the studio process for you guys?
Ryan: In true rock star fashion, we've moved away from being finished with the songs before we start recording. With the first album, (Rock and Roll Part 3) we had it all doped out before we started. The second album (Double Donkey Disc) we added orchestration and sound effects like armies marching and stuff like that. This time around we had a bunch of older songs and a bunch of older songs and a bunch of new stuff, we went out on the Warped tour, looked at the material again and decided there was no way we were going to do an album that sounded the same way all the way through. We thought, "Let's just be who we are and not worry about making an album that sounds like everybody else." We thought our fans could use a change if they're tired of listening to the same kind of stuff.
Paul: Did you get a chance to record at all on the road?
Ryan: We tried to lay down some stuff on the John Lennon bus,(editors note-huh?) we recorded one song, but Daniel (Brummel-guitar/voc) broke the kick sound on the electronic drum and we bailed on it. Now Yoko won't know what to do with it when she gets back.
Paul: You guys have more pop touches on your record than a lot of bands currently out, and they come in a more unexpected way. Overall it seems like a pretty dressed up sound compared to a lot of emo/minimalist type punk bands that are out there now.
Ryan: It's kind of like keeping up the pop appearance. We never thought catchy melodies were a bad thing. There's more to writing a good song than just having catchy melodies, though. Some people focus more on arrangements and vocal melodies, other people are really focused on their lyrics. In our band I write some, Daniel writes some, we each sing and write. A lot of times the two of us write together and then show it to the group, or we ask for some opinions and then introduce the song into rehearsal later.
Paul: Talk about Warped Tour, is it as decadent as it should be? It seems pretty sanitized at this point.
Ryan: It's as decadent as you choose to make it. Its flying motorcycles and huge mosh pits...I don't know. Some dirty stuff happened but I don't know if it's appropriate.
Paul: It's always appropriate; did you get your toes sucked at all?
Ryan: I had a foot infection throughout the tour. It looked like I had some kind of flesh eating disease and it wouldn't go away. It made showers an interesting experience. Not much toe sucking going on though.