10 Years Interview with Guitarists Brian and Tater

brian-tater-guitar-players-10-years10 Years Interview–Gear-Vault exclusive – 10 Years’ guitarists sit down with us for a full on interview. You can listen to the 10 Years interview live or read the transcript below. Guitarists Brian Vodinh is endorsed by Taylor Guitars and plays his Taylor Standards in stock form. While Ryan Johnson (aka Tater), on the other hand, plays Gibson Les Pauls with some interesting modifications… he pulls the neck pickup to give the guitar more sustain and crunch. His humbucker pickups are custom made and hand-wound.

Another interesting fact about 10 Years is both aforementioned guitar players and their bass player, Lewis Cosby (aka Big Lew), grew up together in Tennessee. In fact, the bassist was in a band with Brian when they were in high school.

Let us kick this off.

[audio:https://gear-vault.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/10years-interview.mp3|titles=10 Years Interview]


GV – You guys have been on the road touring with Shinedown, Puddle of Mudd, Chevelle, and Sevendust for the Carnival of Madness tour for about 3 weeks now, how would you describe the touring experience?

Brian – Great! I mean, all the bands on here [on the Carnival of Madness tour] are seasoned veterans and we’ve been in this game for a while now, but really, we’re still learning something new every day, and also we’re friends with all these bands. So, its you know… I am so hungover right now; it’s Sevendust’s fault, that’s all I’m gonna say [laughs].

Tater – Hangovers! [Laughing]

Brian – It’s a series of hangovers in different cities [laughing]. No, we just have fun. Especially when there’s this many bands on the bill. It’s just, you know like backstage partying, and then you go out and watch the bands from front… it’s just like a summer camp.

GV – ‘Feeding the Wolves’ – How did you guys decide on the album name?

Brian – It was a lyric on our fist single ‘Shoot It Out‘, and, I mean, that song really is just about, I mean, you could say basically it’s a metaphor for, you know, like the wolves being the industry; it’s the whole machine, the way this business operates like it’s interesting to find out the inter-workings of it when you go from playing music as a hobby to all of sudden doing it to pay your mortgage. It’s like wow, everybody has a hand in your pocket, everybody’s breathing down your neck, there’s pressure coming from places you never imagined, so ‘Feeding the Wolves’ is like kinda just talking about, you know, to do this at the level that we’re all trying to exist in, you have to really play the game a little bit, and have to understand how it works and sometimes you feel like the industry is a bunch of, like, wolves preying on you, you know. You have to walk the line on how to play their game.

GV – It’s been said that ‘Feeding The Wolves’ is your most aggressive album in a decade, what influenced the edgier, darker side of 10 Years?

Tater – Energy. I mean like we all get up there and play these songs live it’s like we want to be able to rock people’s faces off and, I mean… the band, I love all the records that we’ve done, but you know, me I kinda grew up playing punk rock and like the more aggressive stuff, so I’d rather be up there just tearing it up and freaking out and screaming and yelling… and getting people movin’; mosh pits and stage diving. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, almost like kids, you know, like when you’re a kid you go to your first show…

Brian – Wig out!

GV – Adrenaline!

Tater- Yeah absolutely adrenaline, absolutely.

Brian – And also we all have such, you know, varying musical tastes and interests. But the common ground we all stand on musically is our passion for like heavy, you know, just aggressive emotional music, and I think, you know, we’ve touched on a lot of musical territories with our prior records, but this one we had such a clear vision on ‘we absolutely want to make this kind of record’, and we all looked at each other and was like ‘wow, this actually feels nice to be so on the same page’, and it made making the album so much easier too, I mean, we recorded the whole thing in 12 days with vocals only taking another week after that, its was the quickest process we’ve ever had; easiest, it’s just, you know, it was very clear and concise goal from the beginning.

GV – Everybody meshed really well on this? That great!

GV – In general, how would you describe your own personal characteristics?

Tater – Um… Drunk! [Laughs] ah no, I mean, we’re all like, you know, very very different individuals and like very much different music, but come together because we love this more than anything else in the world I think, and, I mean we all love to ROCK, I mean that’s the thing that’s like, you look at the full history of the band like 10 Years originally had a different singer and was as heavy as the heaviest bands out there right now and we found Jesse and kinda lightened it up a little bit and built the band around him and his vocals and stuff, and now we’re going back to like aggression again. I guess it’s probably being in this business for 5, 6 – 7 years makes you go… alright.

GV – Feeding The Wolves…

Brian – Yeah exactly… oh, oh man! Yeah!

Tater – We’re getting older but for some reason, we’re more pissed off than when we were teenagers [laughs] you know, how does that work?

Brian – You know what’s funny though, as guitar players though I think it’s an interesting dichotomy because, he [Tater] on stage, likes to tap into, you know, this aggressive state…

Tater – Mania

Brian – Yeah, he likes to tap into anger and things like that a lot of times and for me…

Tater – The dark side

Brian – …People are always like, I literally watched you the whole time and I couldn’t find one second where you weren’t smiling. So it’s, you know, he’s [Tater] exerting one type of energy that’s an aggressive energy, and I’m exerting another type that’s an aggressive energy because you know we’re still running around being crazy, but we’re just in different worlds but we still come together because the songs still hit us in the same place.

GV – During the recording process of ‘Feeding The Wolves’ was there any special equipment you used or preferred over another?

Brian – Golly!

Tater – There was A LOT of stuff we used, but most of the main rhythm guitar tones on it were the Les Paul Studio Lite I got, and then I’ve got this other Les Paul Custom Lite; it’s got EMGs in it those were really like, well I guess there was that Uberschall [and] we have some cool little, like, really expensive boutique overdrive stuff that we were using, I mean they had so much stuff there; that really was the heart of it was just a couple of Les Pauls.

Brian – A couple of Les Pauls and that Marshall Major too

Tater – Yeah that Marshall Major [nodding with evil grin]

Brian – Which I had no experience with prior to this, they plugged it in, I mean they didn’t even turn a knob they literally just went pssh, plugged in the guitar and hit one chord and go ‘okay, that’s good!’.

Tater – That’s good!

GV – Obviously the music industry is a dog-eat-dog world (no pun intended guys), do you think the internet has helped boost your career?

Brian – The internet is a funny thing because your exposure is just ridiculous, of course, there are the bands that’s always going to talk about how people aren’t buying the records like they use to and stuff. But for us, it’s about getting people in the room when we play our shows. That’s how you build a career if you ask me. I don’t want to go tomorrow and sell 5 million records [snaps fingers] like that, you know, the quicker you rise, the quicker you’re gonna fall. So if the internet allows us to win over fans, even if they are not paying for our music necessarily, but if we’re just getting that kind of exposure out there and people are getting familiar with us, and then they come to the shows; they buy a T-shirt, that’s the stuff we care about, we’re a live band, we thrive on getting on that stage, and you know, the more people out there, the better. Bring it on, we want the crowds, we want to get crazy with them.

GV – As a band that is successful, have produced many great songs that climbed the charts, how do you personally measure success as a whole?

Tater – Um, I don’t know I guess just selling out, packing out whatever place you play and having those kids there losing their minds, I mean you could say the money, but you know, it’s just a piece of paper at this point, we don’t have it anyway so, you know.

Brian – Yeah, that’s a loaded question…

Tater – Yeah, it’s a good question though, because I really think though, like to me, the 30 minutes we play on this [show] an hour, hour and a half headlining set, I want people there, I want people, almost like church or something where people are losing it or something, there’s so much energy in that one room, it’s like you can’t even put a price tag on it.

Brian – You’re right, cause when we all get back up on the bus after an amazing show, and that’s better than anything. Even when like ‘Wasteland’, our first single ever, went to #1 on the rock charts, we’re all like, “wow, this is surreal and this is amazing”, but it’s still, I mean, that’s like a shadow compared in that feeling of coming off stage of a good show, that’s something, but yes, success can be measured in so many ways.

Tater – Yeah, to me, that’s the main thing.

GV – It’s probably like the excitement like you touched on like the big crowds and, you know, the energy you guys bring and everything.

Tater – Yeah, it’s like, I mean it is, it’s like, not to use [abuse] the drug reference, but it’s the best drug on the planet. I mean and granted, we’ve done just about all of them. [Laughs]

Brian – [Laughs out loud]

Tater – You know, it really is, when you come off stage and you’re just like, everybody is just ear-to-ear smiling and pounding ya [saying] “good show”, “good show”, “good show”, you know, it’s like that’s as good as it’s gonna get right there, and that‘s great. That’s what you sit around 23 hours twiddling your thumbs going “God! Come on!, can we get on stage already?”.

GV – It’s a high.

Brian – If you were to ask us about the success question when we were 18, the answer would have been getting a record deal. But then, we realized quickly the second you get a record deal, that’s when the real work begins. It’s like so many people think it’s about just getting to that point, but then, wow, now your competition is Metallica, Disturbed, Slipknot, you know, Shinedown, everybody on this bill. So, then that’s when you really have to go “oh okay, now it’s time to get serious”

GV – Like life in the fast lane, right.
How old were you guys when you started playing and what influenced you in guitar?

Brian – I started playing guitar around 11, well that’s when I started taking lessons, so I kinda would try to play on my own before that but didn’t know what I was doing. I really just grew up with music. My dad use to play first chair violin in a symphony orchestra, our whole family played classical music. I was the epitome of the little baby with the dad playing classical music for him all day and all night. So I grew up around that, and then my mom was like Elvis fanatic, so it’s like rock ‘n roll meets the classical thing, honestly, it did shape [me]. I can still tell to this day when I’m writing melodies and music I get some of the darkness from the classical stuff I liked, but then, the melodic sense from like the pop music and rock music that my mom listened to, so like both of those worlds colliding did a lot to shape me.

Tater – I started playing guitar, I wasn’t actually allowed to because I was really strict Southern Baptist, my mom was like “you’re not gonna play rock ‘n roll, you’re not gonna to do music, it’s not gonna happen”, I mean tell a kid that, especially one who loved it as much as I did – I knew that’s what I was gonna do, and then I saw my first show, ‘Rancid’ and ‘Offspring’ when I was 13 and was like “that’s what I’m gonna do, I don‘t know how I‘m gonna do it, but I’ll figure it out”. I never had lessons or anything, but I always find the most talented people and get around them and be like “what are you doing? how do you do that?” or whatever. And we both [Brian] played in different bands in high school, I’m a little older, and his band would open up for our band, but his band was awesome – they could play, like I mean, and they were babies and they could play circles around us…

Brian – And our bass player Lewis was in the band that I played in.

Tater – …so I would go to, there was this place called Mercury Theatre, which is like Knoxville’s CBGBs, I mean, it really was… like everybody came through there, and would go to their shows and be like “who the hell are these kids, man? And why are they writing these songs?”, that was… musically the singer wasn’t that good, but the band was like–shit man, these guys can wail and they were like babies, you know. And I couldn’t even play any of the stuff and was like “what is he doing?”, you know. And then we hadn’t seen each other in a couple of years, he got kicked out of school, and I graduated and then I got a job bagging groceries at Kroger and he worked next door at the pizza place and he walks in and was like “hey man, you still playing?”, and I hadn’t touched a guitar in a year and I was like “yeah!”, because I knew he was the most talented kid I have ever met in my life, I knew it even back then; not that I am a good guitar player, but I know talent when I see it, and I was like “yeah, yeah, yeah, sure!” and I showed up [to rehearsal] and was like couldn‘t even…“what?, [laughing] I don’t even know what this thing is, man”, but we had a lot of respect for each other . ‘cause really in the town there was only a handful of guitar players, let alone a handful of guitar players that liked the Deftones, or liked Korn, or like the bands we liked. It was more… just not that scene there [in his town], you know. So there were only a couple of us, for sure.

GV – Was Disturbed and Korn your influence?

Tater – No, I don’t think Disturbed was around yet. This was like 1998, wasn’t it?

Brian – Yeah, I mean, we grew up on Deftones, Korn, and Metallica was huge for me, you know I was the little kid with the Live Shit: Binge & Purge box set that had those VHS tapes literally. I think they blew up or something because I watched them so much, you know.

Tater – Yeah, I remember that cause he had like that heart shape box or thing and I was like ‘that’s so cool, man‘. I remember little weird things like that, but I was a little more on the punk rock side, you know… Rage, Tool, you know, all those bands that really…

GV – Good bands to be influenced by.

Tater – Yeah, the best if you ask me [laughs]

Brian – Absolutely!

GV – Can you guess give tips to struggling musicians or bands out there trying to make their mark in the music industry?

Tater – Go to school! [laughing]

Brian – [laughing]

Tater – [laughing] Stop right now, go get your education… and get a job working for yourself. No, umm, I don’t know… that’s a thing I was talking about the other day is like I don’t know how bands are gonna come up in this day and age where you can get everything for free on the internet, it’s like a different world… it’s like this ADD culture of just instant gratification. Nobody can listen to a 4 or 5-minute song. It’s got to be 2:20, or 2:30… It’s gotta be like ‘hook, hook, hook, done’, you know.

Brian – For me, I just tell everybody, no matter what’s going on in the industry, in the world and with, you know, wherever capitalism brings us, a good song is a good song forever. So, sit in your room and write a million songs, you know. Work on your songwriting… that’s the biggest thing, I mean, that’s what it really boils down to in the end.

GV – So here’s a good one for you guys… do you have any tips or ideas for guitarists who may be in the early stages of playing?

Tater – Yeah, just find the band that you like and try to emulate those guys, you know. Really, like to me, it was Nirvana that taught me how to play the guitar, and Metallica with him [Brian] and you can see it in his playing and you can see it in my playing, you know. It’s like find the band that you wanna be… like your hero’s, and sit there with your guitar, even if it takes you a year or whatever, you know. Just sit and play it over and over and over again, and take those bands and let it influence you, you know. Get out there and just play too, you know. Like, go jam with as many people as you can and you’ll learn something out of every experience. I play in another band, and shit if I had time, I’d probably play in another band cuz you learn a lot getting out there and playing with everybody. I learned a lot by him [Brian yells out “lot”] whole lot… I wouldn’t be the guitar player I am.

Brian – You are being such a nice guy [laughing]

Tater – I am not even trying to butter him up, I’m just being honest you know… because I was a very lazy guitar player; still am. And he’d write some stuff and I’d be like sitting there going hmmm? [Brian would say] “Dude!, come on man, you can do it, you can do it, you can do it”, then sure enough.

Brian – …and that’s also part of being in a band together. You have to find the right people to coexist with because, you know, if we have a song that we’re working on and we don’t beat each other up a little bit, it’s all for the good of the project. We’re just trying to better ourselves and our career and the entity as a whole…so you know, we always do that, we do razz each other a little bit.

But he’s dead-on when he said that, you know, my playing you can totally tell… especially my right hand, very James Hatfield-Esque sometimes, and I just picked all that up because I sat there and did nothing but try to learn Master Of Puppets at 13 and stuff like that, so you know, I’m 28 now and that is still such a part of my playing… and the same thing with him [Tater] you know, when you first start playing it’s kinda like you develop your little niche and you don’t even know it, and you know, it sticks with ya.

GV – What are the plans for after the Carnival of Madness tour?

Brian – Us and Sevendust drinking for another 5 months [laughing]

Tater- Lots and lots of hangovers [laughing]

Brian – No, I think we’re doing, it’s called, the Hard Drive Live tour. That’s going to be us and Sevendust and that goes through November I believe.

GV – Is that Halestorm and Stone Sour, am I thinking of the right tour?

Brian – No not this one.

Tater – That might be on a different one or something… we’re on it or something, I don’t know.

Brian – Yeah actually, I think they are out together right now. But, so we do that October and November and then, possibly, Europe I heard… after that. And then we’re trying to convince the Chevelle guys to go back out with us again soon. So that might be happening.

Tater – I talked with them the other day and was like “man, you gonna take us back out or what?” [laughing]

Brian – Our crowds are very similar to theirs and everyone always says “you guys should tour with Chevelle again”, and they even say our fans say “you should tour with 10 Years again”. so like… Hello! So with the album coming out August 31st… we’re just gonna be on the road, if everything goes well, the next couple years.

GV – I don’t have any more questions, is there anything you want to add?

Brian – We’re ready to rock man… it’s going to be a fun year

Tater – Definitely beats bagging groceries and making pizzas [laughing]

Brian – Happy to be talking to you!

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