Value Pac has been delivering fans quintessential punk-rock music for 5 years now, and they are still truckin. I recently got to sit down and interview guitarist Ryan Sheely at Sonshine Fest 2000.
Cathy: What's you name and position in the band?
Ryan: I'm Ryan Sheely, and I play guitar and sing.
Cathy: When and how was Value Pac formed?
Ryan: It was formed January of '95. Kind of a High School punk rock band-thing, and it just kinda grew from a joke to even a bigger joke!
Cathy: Tell us about your upcoming projects or touring plans.
Ryan: Well we just released our new record, "Incognito", off of Four Door
Cathy: How long have you been with them?
Ryan: We just signed with them a couple months ago. I'm sure we're going to put something else out there within the next year, but right now we're just touring on this record which just came out. Trying to support it. Cuz we're constantly writing songs...we have like, 50 songs ready to go but we, it's just a matter of what we want to do with them....if we want to put them out or not.
Cathy: What kind of venues will you be playing in?
Ryan: Uh, pretty mixed up. Churches, bars, clubs....just wherever. Whoever wants to hear our music.
Cathy: What are your favorite songs to play in concert?
Ryan: Any of the new songs. It's always nice to have something fresh to play. You know, touring and playing the same songs night after night can get old and when we play something new, it's really fun.
Cathy: Is there any particular song of yours or someone else's that has a special meaning to you?
Ryan: Um.....yeah, I guess. A lot of the songs on this new record are very heartfelt and honest, and of what we've gone through in the past 3 years...so a lot of these songs mean a lot to me and it's kind of embarrassing in a way, cuz, ya know, our heart's are on our sleeves on this record, so they do mean a lot to us. And we do take offense to it when people don't like it. Not, ya know, the type of music that's fine. But that's us putting everything out there, so it is kind of embarrassing.
Cathy: How do you compare "Incognito" to your previous albums?
Ryan: It's much more diverse....there's more acoustic guitar. A lot more backup vocals (oohs and aahs), a lot more lead guitar. But at the same time it still brings a balance between the previous records with like a new sound also. So it's not totally shying away from the punk rock roots, so to speak. We did it with Dennis Dannel, who unfortunately just recently past away. He was the guitar player for Social Distortion. It was great working with him and meeting him before his passing. The guy who did the record, he's worked with Sheryl Crow, Madonna, Natalie Imbruglia....so we got to work with a lot of, ya know, big people, and we got to do it for almost nothing just because of who we know, so it really worked out well.
Cathy: Who are some of your musical inspirations?
Ryan: Um, definitely the Beatles, they are probably my biggest, and anything pre-1980. Like The Who, The Eagles, Creedance, Zeppelin, um any of those old bands. . . Elvis Costello, The Cars, even though they're a little after 1980, but, I don't know. I don't really like a lot of new stuff that's out there right now....there's some decent stuff like Black Crows and the Counting Crows and Foo Fighters, of course, they're probably a big influence on us, also.
Cathy: Okay, last question. What are some of the pros and cons of the Christian Music Industry?
Ryan: Um, I think the pros are that it allows an outlet for kids who can't, or who aren't allowed to listen to bigger bands in the mainstream market. You know, you come to places like this (Sonshine Fest) and you get edified, and that's a good thing. Those are the pros. But, unfortunately, I think the cons do out weigh the pros because we shouldn't separate ourselves. I think we all need to be, not of the world, but we're in the world, you know the whole cliche. It's like, if we separate ourselves it just looks, I mean, it IS cheesy. That's why we try to play in as many different places as possible. People ask us, you know, "Are you a Christian band?" It's like, we don't believe anything to be a Christian that's not a person. You can't put a fish on a sticker or anything and all the sudden it's a Christian sticker. Like, we just got done playing with No Doubt and LIT a couple days ago, and that was just an amazing experience. It just opened our eyes to like, how NICE these people were. They were SO nice, and they paid us on time, and they just opened their arms to us, and they're not even Christians! And we go on the road, playing with our "Christian brothers" and we're getting' screwed! It's just really a twist of irony, ya know? And, well, when we play shows like that, it's like this is what it should be. This is how everyone should be, just playing shows. And, just, be a light to people. Not separate us. But the good thing is it does edify people, but, do we need to separate ourselves to edify people? I think people can be edified through lyrics and actions just the same. So that's my two cents on that.
Cathy: Well that's all I have. Thanks.