The name Julien-K may be unfamiliar to the casual music fan in the UK, but the band’s musical pedigree is something that many musicians can only dream of.
The band was formed in 2003 by guitarists Ryan Shuck and Amir Darakh who, at the time, were members of ‘death pop’ (their own description) outfit Orgy, which was signed to Korn’s record label Elementree Records. Finding that they needed an alternate outlet for their more electronic musical inclinations, Amir and Ryan formed a side project and called it Julien-K, adding a bass player and drummer to the line-up. Early demo versions of several songs appeared online, including the track Technical Difficulties which went on to feature in the 2007 film, Transformers, but the band’s first album, Death To Analog, was not released until 2009.
In the meantime, the band had worked with Chester Bennington of Linkin Park on several projects with by far the most prominent of these being their collaborative recordings under the name Dead By Sunrise whose album Out Of Ashes was released in 2009 and which also provided Bennington with the opportunity to explore his own musical ideas which didn’t fit within the Linkin Park sound.
With Julien-K’s live line-up now comprising Ryan, Amir, Anthony ‘Fu’ Valcic and Frank Zummo (covering percussive duties in the place of long-term drummer Elias Andra who is taking an extended break from touring), the band are playing a few dates in Europe to promote their new album, We’re Here With You (released January 2012), which has sold beyond all expectations given that the band has no record label and has had no radio play.
Dates in the UK on this tour are confined to London and Southampton, and this is the first visit to the maritime city for the members of the band. Kicking off the set with the title track of the new album, Ryan is full of infectious energy and it’s worth noting that whilst the band consider themselves virtually unknown in the UK, there are a good number of people in The Cellar who are obviously very familiar with their music.
Overall the set is a display of both outstanding musicianship and stagecraft from a bunch of guys whose camaraderie and mutual passion for what they are doing radiates from the stage. Whilst it’s clear that the various members of Julien-K have many musical influences ranging from early eighties electronica such as Depeche Mode, through to dance/rock sounds like The Prodigy, make no mistake – the sound of Julien-K is very much their own and they deserve a far bigger audience to hear it.
Words: Sharon Lockyer
Pics: Serena Burns