Interviews

Cutting Steak: Ian Shelton (Regional Justice Center, Seattle’s New Gods, Self Defense Family)

Photo: Reid Haithcock

Who are you?

I am Ian Shelton

Where is your homebase?

I live in Los Angeles, CA.

Who are you currently playing with?

Currently I’m really only playing in Regional Justice Center, although I’m still associated and would play with the bands Seattle’s New Gods and Self Defense Family if the opportunities presented itself.

When did you first show an interest in drumming?

I think the first time I had an interest was in 9th grade when my friend Max and I wanted to start a power violence band. We would always do long weekend sleepovers because I lived in Enumclaw and he lived in Puyallup, so for my birthday I asked for a kit and the weekend after I got it we recorded a demo.

Photo: Farrah Skeiky

Did you ever take lessons?

No lessons. I think it stalled out at a certain level pretty early. Because all of my first drumming was blast beat oriented I got really fluid with 16th note fills so I just would do them all over the place for no reason. I had the essentials of punk down and didn’t really progress at all then a handful of years I started sitting down with my friend Aaron O’Neil (amazing drummer for bands like Shook Ones, Devotion, Lights Out), and he started teaching me more of the subtlety of the instrument. He taught me triplets and how to play in 3/4 and that is still a big influence now.

Who were some of your earliest influences?

Really early on Chris Moore was an influence. I loved Magrudergrind and he was one of the only modern drummers I figured out. I remember playing along to a lot of Iron Lung stuff from Cold Storage, but I didn’t know who the drummer was specifically. I didn’t really pay attention to drummers until years later really. I wish with all the Man is the Bastard I listened to at the time I was starting that I would have latched onto Joel Connell and learned his parts. I would be a way better drummer now, but I guess I was a dumbass.

Who are some of your favorite drummers to watch live?

Jensen Ward (Iron Lung) for absolute power and mechanical precision. Allen Trainer (Big Bite, Supercrush) for interesting groove and power. Abbas Muhammad (Rule Them All) for the best left handed drumming I’ve ever seen. Tommy Cantwell (Gouge Away) a total powerhouse who maintains awesome interesting grooves among chaos and abrasion. Aaron O’Neil (Shook Ones) the most well rounded drummer I’ve ever seen. I’ve watched him play with Ceremony, pop singers, blues bands, he played on a Macklemore single, there’s no one I can think of who embodies everything a drummer needs to be more than him. Justin Detore (Wound Man, Rival Mob, etc.) the ultimate hardcore drummer. Dan Fang (Turnstile, Angel Du$t) I’m still trying to figure out he does the fill towards the end of “Can’t Deny It."

Photo: Dan Rawe

Let's talk about the song writing process with RJC. Are you the type of vocalist that writes down ideas all the time, or do you think of vocal patterns, then write lyrics last? 

I generally write down some lines here or there and will have a lot of song titles or concepts written down. Usually we record songs then I come up with all the lyrics and vocals after but I’m trying to change that with this record we are just about to record. It takes too long getting rough mixes, listening then coming up with stuff.

Tell me about your current drum kit and set up. 

I currently (and always will) use a Ludwig American Classic Maple kit. 24” kick, 13” and 16” toms with a 14x6.5 Ludwig superphonic snare. I use new beat hi-hats that I’ve been trying to break forever because I want to get A Customs for a brighter sound, but I can’t justify the spending until my current one breaks. I also use a 20” A custom crash and a 23” Sweet Ride. I’ve been just rebuying the same cymbals for a lot of years now so maybe I’ll rethink it soon, but it seems to work for me for now.

Do you have a particular drumstick brand you always use, or do you just buy whatever?

I always go with Vic Firth 5bs but I don’t really have a reason to really. Seems to work so I don’t change it.

What is your favorite Amebix record, and why?

I honestly couldn’t tell you. When I got into Amebix it was the Limewire days and I would just download every song that I could by a band and make a CD and half the time it would be mislabeled stuff so half a CD would just be not even the band I thought it was. I straight up don’t think I’ve listened since my early high school years, I’ll have to jam them today so I can actually have an answer to this [laughs].

If you didn’t have to worry about money, what kind of drum set and cymbals would you use?

I think I already have it all [laughs]. I got an amazing deal on the American maple and drums are one of the things I’m cool with investing my money in, so I haven’t really cheaped out on any of it. I’m really feeling like I already got my dream set up.

When did your love of filmmaking start?

I think it was something laying dormant for a long time. I remember wanting to make music videos really early on because I would watch MTV and Fuse before going to school everyday (I still remember the morning I saw Slipknot’s “Wait and Bleed” video then thought about it all day at school). I wanted to write books growing up and then I realized I barely read books because I have a bad attention span. That’s when I thought “I’ll write movies” then started diving in to learning about actual filmmaking. I am still very far writing movies though.

You recently did a video for Angel Du$t. Do you have any other film projects coming up?

I shot a music video just before the Angel Du$t video that won’t come out till August or November or something? We are in pre-production for the next Angel Du$t video as well as some other videos right now. Since I’ve been filling this out I got hit up to write a treatment on a project actually. My goal is to create 3-4 music videos all within a week in a half once we get back from our east coast tour early April then I’ll hopefully be able to jump up in the filmmaking game.

Are you a musician first, then a filmmaker, or vice versa?

I’m definitely a musician first. Music fills every minute of my life even when I’m in the middle of filmmaking projects, I wouldn’t say that filmmaking works the same. I’m very open to things influencing me for either filmmaking or music at any given moment, the smallest thing could send me deep into my mind stewing on ideas but definitely it happens with music far more than film.

What needs to be invented that hasn't been invented yet?

More time!

Top five things that can "make your day"?

  1. Unexpected emails or DM’s
  2. Hearing a classic rock part I think could make a great hardcore part
  3. Ordering spicy food at a restaurant and it is actually spicy
  4. Seeing a celebrity around town
  5. Drafting a tweet so crazy and crude that I can’t stop laughing at it
Photo: Dan Rawe

What do you have coming up in the near future?

Split 7” with Wound Man will be out April 19th on Atomic Action! Records [pre-order it here]. We have an East Coast tour coming up starting April 3rd in Brooklyn. We are recording a new EP with our buddy Cruel Will when we are out there. It’s not really going to stop anytime soon.

Regional Justice Center tour dates:
04/03 - Brooklyn, NY @ Gold Sounds w/ Candy, Ekulu, Abuse Of Power
04/04 Philadelphia, PA @  Super Wimpy HQ
04/05 Richmond, VA @ United Blood
04/06 Easthampton, MA @ Flywheel w/ Torso, Corrode
04/07 Providence, RI @ News Cafe w/ Brother, Pummel
04/08 New Haven, CT @ Crunch House w/ Torso, Low Vision
04/09 Montreal, QC @ Brasserie Boubien w/ Vile Intent, Gazm
04/10 Toronto, OT @ Baby G w/ Show Me The Body, Gazm
04/11 New Brunswick, NJ @ E-Bloc w/ Struck Nerve, Shackled
04/12 Washington, DC @ Damaged City

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Tagged: cutting steak, regional justice center, seattles new gods

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