iNTERViEWS MiKE TYRANSKi OF JANUS
HEAR iT, YOU KNOW!
GUiTARiST MiKE TYRANSKi OF JANUS
TALKS TO ROCKWiRED ABOUT
LATEST CD 'RED RiGHT RETURN'
CHEMiSTRY THAT HOLDS iT ALL TOGETHER
AN EMOTiONAL CONNECTiON
BY BRiAN LUSH
I talk to bands and solo
artists and when it comes to the topic of 'music industry', almost
every single one of them cries revolution and rightfully so. Just
turn on any rock radio station (more than likely owned by CLEAR
CHANNEL) these days and what you hear is not the brashness or the
rebelliousness that has often come to signify rock n roll, but
consensus - a consensus reached by a bunch of fellas in white shirts
and black ties sitting at a conference table. Every indie artist is
right to call for a shake up in the way things are done but the
Chicago-based JANUS are taking a stand as bold as the constructivist
artwork that adorns their latest release 'RED RIGHT RETURN'. "It's
almost got a revolutionary kind of feel to it." says JANUS
guitarist MIKE TYRANSKI "The meaning behind it is about
revolting against opinions of the music industry in what they feel
that people want to hear. We're all about shutting things like that
out and forging ahead. We're going to be in charge of our
spoke with MIKE TYRANSKI over the
phone. Here is how it went.
Just yesterday In interviewed
an artist named XIREN and the title of his album emphasizes three R's
Yes it is. His album TRIP-R
stands for ROCK N ROLL REVENGE and your's is RED RIGHT RETURN.
Explain the title?
'Red Right Return' is actually a
nautical term. Ships use it when they are navigating back to port.
There these bouys that serve as markers out in the ocean and they use
red ones on the right side of the boat when returning back to the
port. We use that as a metaphor for returning to what we as a band do
and not what the industry might want us to do. We are really focused
on making good songs and making the music that we enjoy and if that
goes well, then hopefully it will be widely accepted. So the title is
What's different this time around from your
So many things. The writing is different
this time around. We've learned so much more about how to create and
write songs and use different techniques for layers and really open
up the box to not feel limited to bass guitar, drums and vocals but
to add electronics to it and see where we could push it. We came up
with different ways to structure songs. Stylistically, the first
record we had was pretty raw and pretty rough and we had a lot of
really good experiments with melody in there and on this album we
took it a step further and really focused on having a lot of really
strong melodies and keeping the verses as interesting as the
choruses. There were also some line up changes from the first record
to this record. The bass player and the drummer are different and
that added a whole new element to things.
Now that the
album is out there for everyone to hear, what are your thoughts on
the finished piece?
I'm extremely happy and extremely
satisfied with the final package. It came out as I expected it to.
Are there things I would change? Probably but I could probably do
that until the end of time. Sometimes, you've got to just let it go
and this album was ready to be let go and we released it. I'm
extremely happy with it and I'm extremely happy with how well it has
been received by not only our friends but by people that we don't
And it is a great CD, by the way!
What drew you to music in the beginning?
think what drew me to music and what still draws me to music is the
emotion that you can invoke when listening to it and creating it. In
listening to and creating music, it evokes really powerful emotions
and when you mix that with lyrical elements and you've got a whole
other set of emotions as well. It just kind of adds on to it. It's
very powerful and it's like a drug. You want it all the time and it
takes you to some amazing places.
Why the guitar?
funny because I had actually played bass in all of my other bands
throughout high school and beyond. I played a lot of bass and when I
first joined this band, our singer DAVID played and sang. He was the
only guitar player at the time and he suggested that I come and play
guitar because he was thinking about just singing. I was like 'Oh,
cool! I can do that! That would
be fun!' That was
how it started. JANUS is the first time that I've ever played guitar
in a band and I love it. It's such a versatile instrument and there
is a lot of room to explore different sounds and techniques. I love
electronics to and I love experimenting with different pedals and
effects and finding things that make my ear perk up. It feels right
to me to play that instrument!
What perks your ear up? Was
there ever a sound that you wanted to emulate as a musician?
been a huge DEFTONES fan for a long time. Before that, I was really
into things like HELMET, QUICKSAND and bands like that. Hardcore
stuff. I do a listen to a lot of metal, lately. A lot of prog metal.
Usually, I go for heavier, chunkier riffs as far as tones go, but
there is a whole element song structure-wise that really perks up my
ear to. It isn't anything specific. When you hear it, you know and
that is how I go about writing. You write and write and write until
you hear something that catches your attention. You don't know why
it's great or why it sounds great to you but it just does and you've
got to capture those moments.
Explain how JANUS came
The initial version of JANUS came together when our
singer DAVID grew up in Maryland and he started the band with his
buddies in high school. Then they came out to Chicago because they
thought that LA and New York were saturated and they thought in
Chicago they might have a chance at breaking through some of the
noise. Over time, one of the guitar players left and they went on as
a three piece for a while and that was when DAVID called me and asked
if I wanted to play guitar. So I jumped in. He had done a lot of the
writing as far as the songs go and then I started writing all of
these parts and started putting songs together and a bunch of stuff
came out. That was when we started creating that first record.
Shortly after that, the bass player took off and headed back home to
Maryland and we picked up this guy AL who is really great. Sometime
after that, our old drummer RITCHIE left and we picked up JOHNNY who
was from a signed band RELATIVE ASH. They were signed to ISLAND/DEF
JAM. He was like sixteen years old and he was in bands actively in
the Chicago scene. I called him up and I was like 'Hey, we're
looking for a drummer, do you know anybody?' and he said he
interested and that he wanted to try out. He did and he nailed it. It
all worked out. This latest line up is really clicking. Everything is
really solid. We've found the right people to really make this
What's the story behind the name?
itself was literally taken from a dictionary. I think a lot of bands
do that. The meaning fits us perfectly. JANUS is the Roman god of
beginnings. It is depicted as a two faced entity with one face
looking forward to the future and the other looking back. I think
that is great for us because we are always learning from our past but
we're trying to move forward. We don't want to get stuck in the
past.. It fits perfectly with us.
Talk about each of the
members of the current band and what you think each of them brings to
the table not just creatively, but personality-wise?
were going through some line up changes, one of the most important
things to us, besides being able to play their instrument, was how
well we all get along with each other. And we do. We get along great
with each other. It is absolutely integral to have people that you
get along with if you are going to be spending this much time with
these people in a confined space. It doesn't mean that we don't get
on each others nerves sometimes, but we all have a similar sense of
humor. It is generally a great experience. It's super fun and
everyone likes to laugh and that makes the process much easier. As
far as what each person brings to the table, DAVID SCOTNEY has a great
artistic vision. Not just musically but visually as well. He did all
the art work for the record, the merchandise and the website. He is a
great lyricist and a phenomenal singer. He is always willing to learn
something and go that extra mile. AL QUITMAN will surprise you. He
multitude of different instruments. He is a tremendous bass player
and he will surprise you when you are working on stuff with him. He
is hilarious but you are not sure what he is thinking if you
don't know him that well. He might come off a little serious but he
is a hilarious character and it's great to have him in the band.
JOHNNY SALAZAR is a rock! There is nobody better behind the drums. He
phenomenal. He's got a great technical ability but also a definite
style in the way he plays and how he tunes his drums. He's got a
unique drum sound. He's also a great guy and he takes criticism very
well. There is nothing he wants more than to be in a band. As for
myself, I like to think of myself as less of a guitar player and more
of a songwriter. I think my biggest contribution is writing riffs and
writing changes and arrangements that fit together really well. It's
great to have this group of guys to work with. Sometimes I'll come up
with an entire song and be able to bring it to them and we'll tear it
apart and rework some things and chop it up and then we're able to
come to a final agreement.
Is the songwriting process ever
Yes. It can get so frustrating that you don't
even want to do it anymore. At least for me. Sometimes you work on
something and it takes forever and you feel like you're not getting
anywhere. You have ten versions of a song until you you find the
right version and then some songs just come out really fast and
that's like a treat. Other times it's just a lot of hard work and
you've just got to keep at it. You get an inkling that there is
something there still and you don't want to throw it away and you
keep working at it. The end result, which is this record, was
completely worth it.
What songs off of 'RED RIGHT RETURN'
stand out for you at the moment and why?
My favorites right
now are definitely 'EYESORE'. That song is definitely unique. We
found a lot of ways to pull in a lot of different instrumentation and
sounds that we had never worked with before. It's got a lot of great
parts to it and a lot of originality yet it's very heavy at the same
time. Part of our sound is to have these really heavy songs that are
bordering on metal but also have these great melodies in there too
that are almost like a pop song. I think the combination of the two
is very powerful. Another one of my favorites is 'STRANGER'. That
song is one of the fastest songs on the record so I really like
playing that song live. The bridge of that song stands out for me.
It's got a lot of cool textures and a lot of vocal layers. Every
instrument sort of breaks off and starts doing a different thing. The
third favorite of mine is 'YOUR ARMS'. It's an older song but it's
got a great melody and great chord changes and it's got another great
bridge in it. I love how it deconstructs and builds back up again
before the last chorus. Very cool song! I think the bridges on all of
the songs on this album are very cool and very unique to the song but
also to the record but those are my top three right now.
war motif of the album art is very striking! You've already told me
who the artist was but how did the band decide on it. Were there
other ideas being considered as well?
It came up in
conversation and we started to do some research. It's like a
constructivist period of artwork. Russian constructivism. That period
was very striking and the more research we did , we just really fell
in love with the style and felt that it was very powerful and thought
we could tie that style to 'RED RIGHT RETURN' because of what the
meaning behind it was. It's almost got a revolutionary kind of feel
to it and the meaning behind it is about revolting against opinions
of the music industry in what they feel that people want to hear.
We're all about shutting things like that out and forging ahead.
We're going to be in charge of our destiny.
misinterpreted the artwork. And if so is it annoying?
think it's annoying. I've seen one review and I don't know if they
were kidding or just having fun writing their review but the artwork
was attributed to communism - like we were trying to be political and
we're not. Lyrically, there are no political statements behind these
songs. At least in the common sense of politics. We're not
communists. I can see how people would come to that conclusion but
it's just not the case. It's only happened once and we don't try to
defend something like that. We know the intention behind it. it makes
people want to ask you and it's fun to open up that dialog.
long did it take to record this album? You worked with MANNY SANCHEZ.
Describe what that was like.
MANNYis an old friend of ours. He
did some mix work on our first record and he has since put up his own
studio in Chicago so when we called him up we were like 'Hey,
wanna do some drum work and some guitar work for this next record at
your place!' He's got a great studio and a great two inch
machine and he's just a really talented individual. We knocked out
all of the things that we intended to do at his studio in just a few
days. And then he gave us some mixes and we took those back to our
studio and worked them and worked them and worked them. That was kind
of frustrating, trying to get to the point where you are happy with
the stuff. We started the recording process in November of 2007 and
we were actually done with it in a matter of months but it felt like
forever and you didn't know what to think anymore after listening to
so many different versions of the album. We finally brought he album
to where it needed to go. Wasn't sure we were ever going to get there
but we did.
What would you like a person to come away with
after they've heard this album?
I would love for someone to
feel the same connection that I feel when I listen to other records
that I really love and that was kind of the benchmark for us when we
were writing. We asked ourselves how it made us feel. I would like
people to come away with that same feeling. I'd also love for people
to come away with their own interpretation of the lyrics. If people
get what was intended by the writer than that's cool, but sometimes
you pick up on things that mean something different to every person
and I'd love for people to explore that whole range of emotion. I
hope anyone who listens to it gets some sense of that.