Ryan Yerdon of Puddle of Mudd
“Volume 4: Songs In The Key Of Love & Hate”, the new album from Puddle of Mudd, debuts on December 8th. With three successful albums under their belt Puddle of Mudd has made a career out of being the underdog. Constantly flying under the radar and consistently releasing gold and platinum selling albums it’s hard to understand why the band doesn’t create more of a stir among the media but the people that count still know their name and that’s the fans.
With their no frills, no cares approach to music the band leaves the pretense and the ego to those that lie in their wake and lets their music do the talking for them, a recipe that many could learn from.
In addition, the new album marks the return of two very important elements – guitarist Paul Phillips, who immediately fell comfortably right back into the swing of things, and producer John Kurzweg whom the band had worked with on their first two albums.
With the first single Spaceship currently taking off the band has just announced a North American tour with Shinedown and Skillet in support of their new album. Drummer Ryan Yerdon took some time to talk to us about the new album, the writing process and all things POM.
Interviewed by: Mary Ouellette | December 2009
So I want to start off with talking about the return of (guitarist) Paul, what impact do you think that had on this new album or where can that be felt the most?
He definitely is a great guy to have on your team for songwriting. He came back on board and immediately he and Wes started writing together. There’s a handful of songs on the record that are co-written by him. That was pretty awesome to have him back in the mix for that. There’s a good chemistry between him and Wes onstage that Wes had been used to for years I think. Different than Christian but very good, so we’re excited with the whole package of having Paul back – the writing and the live presence.
You mentioned the writing process for this new album. Is everyone in the band involved? What is your role?
Each song is kind of born in a different way but everyone is involved at some point whether it’s Wes starting a riff off and having somebody come in and offer a bridge or its just Wes coming into the room with a song that’s mostly done and the rest of us helping with the arrangement but everyone is involved in the whole process.
Various members of the band have consistently call the writing process of this album easy and smooth, do you still enjoy the overall process of putting an album together and how are you able to not let outside forces interfere with that?
Honestly I think that coming off the last record, and having Psycho be the song that kind of did the best out of everything and being that Wes that had written that song by himself, I think that gives you some leeway on the next album to be able to go into it smoothly without everybody trying to figure out what it needs to be and what it doesn’t need to be. Basically it was a smooth process because of the previous record. It’s always best to not have too many cooks in the kitchen.
On the last album there were some co-writes that after the fact may not have been the right fit for the band, were you able to steer clear of that this time around and make the record you wanted to make from start to finish?
I think so. One thing that was kind of cool and unique about this record was that we really worked on the songs that made the record. What I mean by that is that we didn’t work on thirty songs and then narrow them down to twelve. We basically only worked on the songs that made the album. There wasn’t a lot of time really put into it and I think that’s where the smooth comment comes from; it was a pretty painless process. The writers on this record were either in the band now or were previously in the band (meaning Christian) so there were no outside writers at all.
I know that there originally were over 20 songs in contention and 10 ended up on the release so are you saying of those 20 you focused all of your energy on the ten that made it?
Yes and a lot of the songs were ideas that came up really quick. A lot of the songs that you didn’t hear or that didn’t make the record were ideas that came together really quick and we just moved on from there, we didn’t flush them out to the end, we just moved on fast. I think every artist has ideas from the past that are always floating around but haven’t been brought to the surface so basically a lot of those songs were sitting around for awhile and really didn’t supercede the ten that you hear so we moved on fast. Some songs were left over from the last album as well, there were a lot of songs that were written for the last album that didn’t make the cut.
Are any of those songs worked enough where we may hear them in the future or are they gone forever?
That’s a good question, I would have to say maybe on that one. Who knows, sometimes you’ll hear about an artist’s new release where the songs were written five years ago and they just never got around to recording it or it never became special to them so they didn’t release them until this time.
Even with all of your success you’ve always been a band that flies somewhat under the radar. Wes has described the band as the underdog, do you agree with that and what’s your take?
It’s kind of true. It’s a hard question for us to answer to try to figure out why that is but we’re hoping we can put an end to that with this record and start getting out there more. I do agree with you I just don’t know exactly what the answer is to that question.
I guess to further that thought, do you even feel that it needs an answer? The band is still very successful and the music speaks for yourself, do you place an importance on others speaking up for the band and giving you those props?
It is important to me and I think it’s going to be different with this record. It’s gone smoothly, the video was done fast, all the ducks are in line so we’re hoping to change that.
So the first single Spaceship might not be the style that POM fans were expecting to hear from the first single off of the new album, did you want to give them something a little different? What was the methodology behind that?
The way it usually works with being on a major label is that everybody determines what they think should be the first single. When I say everybody I mean the band, the label, the management, friends – we have people listen to the songs and Spaceship was the pick of a lot of people so we just went with it. We weren’t going to put our foot down and scream and fight about it, we’re over that. We just felt that if everyone felt strongly about Spaceship let’s rock it and hopefully there are a lot more singles to come.
So let’s talk about the video for the song because it’s a fun one, it’s got everything from alien strippers to the guys from Nitro Circus. How did the concept fall into place, did you just play off of the song?
The video was Wes and Paul’s idea. They came up with the general concept and then Petro the director really liked where they were going with it and drew up a treatment. We were all excited with Petro’s input and where he thought it should be so it was born in Puddle of Mudd world and then it bled over into Petra’s hands and everyone did their part. We asked the guys from Nitro Circus to come down, we thought it might be fun to have Travis and the boys over and it turned out to be awesome. It was truly one of the most fun days that we’ve had and I hope that shows in the video. It was kind of crazy and fun.
Watch the video for Spaceship
I always like to through a few song titles out at artists and get their take on the song both musically, lyrically or maybe just a story about how the song came together…are you up for that?
Okay, let’s start with one of my favorites – “Out Of My Way”-
The first time I heard that song I was in Wes’ house and he played me the riff and I instantly thought to myself this is great. Sometimes when you hear things you think “yeah this is cool” or “I’m not really into that” but instantly when I heard Out of my Way I thought it was great and I just envisioned what it would sound like with a big drum beat and the verse and it just came together really fast and kind of wrote itself. I like that song a lot.
How about “You’re the Reason” –
That song was left over from Famous. It was suppose to be on Famous.
Was it changed much from the version that was going to be on the Famous release?
It wasn’t changed much. It was revisited and remixed but basically for the most part the tracking for that song was done a few years ago. I think that that’s a beautiful song that shows a different vulnerable side of Wes that I dig.
So this album saw the return of producer John Kurzweg who worked with the band Come Clean and Life on Display. I know both of those albums are before your time but can you tell us what John brought to the process for you?
First and foremost John is a great musician himself so it’s always comfortable from a bands perspective to go into the studio with someone who is so hands on and can tell us why something might not be working. He brings a certain level of comfort to the band because he’s so efficient on how he records and produces.
There’s a quote I read from Wes that I thought was great – “If I was happy all the time, these records would suck!” I think that we can look back in history and identify a lot of bands who got too happy….what do you think it is about the band that keeps you so grounded and your emotions so real and raw?
I think for Wes he’s just real all the time. If he doesn’t like something he speaks up, if he does like something he speaks up. You know exactly how he feels at all moments, he’s very open with what’s going through his mind. Maybe this ties into the underdog thing, there’s an anger that’s there because of that and because of whatever else that happens in his life and I know that keeps him waking up every morning and as he says “make the mic explode”.
Puddle of Mudd will be hitting the road with Shinedown and Skillet. Check out the dates here.