Spy For Hire just completed the first leg of a US tour supporting their first full-length album on the Architek One imprint. This run saw the band perform three times at SXSW in Austin, TX and was punctuated with a couple of nights opening for As Tall As Lions in the Southeast.
Looking at the current pop/rock landscape, the evidence would seem to suggest that it’s no longer possible for rock to be inventive, smart and appealing to a broad audience. Spy For Hire fly in the face of that rather exhausted conventional wisdom. Their debut album, Speak In Numbers, is filled to the brim with songs that display a striking skill, intelligence and pop appeal. In listening, one can’t help but feel the possibilities of melodic rock being revitalized for a new era.
Based in the Atlanta/Columbus GA area, Spy For Hire are comprised of Ryan Rulon on vocals and guitar, Andy Rich on lead guitar, James Salter on bass and Jared Meharg on drums. Formed in 2004, the band has a bond that goes back to Ryan and Andy’s high school days. Ryan explains, “Andy and I bonded over a lot of the D.C. hardcore/Discord Records music, things like Fugazi and Shudder To Think. We were the only two guys in Columbus who listened to that. We also listened to a lot of the British shoe gaze music as well; My Bloody Valentine and Swervedriver. But we’ve always had a love of pop as well, things like Hall & Oates, Madonna and Tears For Fears.” He adds, “We love a lot of music, but we’re aiming to be far more than the sum of our influences.”
The band quickly built a following in the Columbus area, but it wasn’t until they started gigging regularly in Atlanta that they, as Andy says, “started to see stuff happen.” Architek One, a management firm based in Atlanta, so loved what they saw and heard in the band that they signed Spy For Hire to their boutique record label. And between releasing seven songs to iTunes in 2007 and doing their first east coast tour, the band wrote and recorded the songs that comprise their debut album, Speak In Numbers, produced by James Salter and mixed by Russ Fowler at Southern Tracks Studio in Atlanta (Rage Against The Machine, Stone Temple Pilots, John Mayer).
From the opening notes of “Luck,” the band’s music is reminiscent of everything great about rock, while planting itself firmly in the present. It’s poppy, infectious and smart - by design. As Ryan says, “The common thread in our music is that pop doesn’t have to be bone-headed or dumbed down.” And in between Ryan’s shimmering vocals, Andy’s chiming guitar, and the propulsive rhythm section of James and Jared, they strike a blow for music being able to be both popular and profound.
James Salter’s production walks a fine line between the band’s pop instincts, and the more edgy elements of their influences. Ryan notes, “On a song like ‘As Good As New,’ we really found a way to emphasize some of our more subversive tendencies. But at the same time, there’s a lot of rhythmic and mute guitar tones that is more like 80’s pop. I think we found a way to mesh our influences at an almost sub-conscious level.”
Songs like “Things That Used To Be Good” and “The Moontower” have already received radio play in Columbus, where WVRK-FM has touted them as "One of the best up-and-coming acts in the south." And Free Magazine has raved, “When the first track “Luck” opens up you know this is not another hipster, moody band. This is straight ahead rock and roll and it’s been missed. This is not to say that Spy for Hire sounds like some retro band; just the opposite. Their tunes embody a freshness that is new because it sounds honest.”
Spy For Hire are a band for people who have felt left out of the pop music world – and who want back in, on their own terms. Ryan declares, “There are a lot of people who aren’t getting what they want from new music – they’re not getting the types of bands that changed my life. We want to be that band for somebody. That’s the ultimate reward.” He continues, “We’re not a band with a fall back position. We’re uncompromising and we’re going to keep pushing and pushing – you don’t fail until you quit trying. It’s simple, really: Find what you love and do it.” On Speak In Numbers, Spy For Hire have produced an album played and sung with the kind of love that drives itself into the heart of the listener, not to be forgotten, and in doing so, have established themselves as one of the acts to look out for in 2009.
Ryan Rulon-Guitar and Vocals
Speak In Numbers
Spy For Hire
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Spy For Hire hails from Columbus, SC and brings with them a sound that stands in stunning con...
Spy For Hire hails from Columbus, SC and brings with them
a sound that stands in stunning contrast to the overproduced
radio ready singles that currently dominate the airwaves. Ryan
Rulon and guitarist Andy Rich were the two charter members
who started the band on a prayer and borrowed instruments. They
were soon joined by Jared Meharg on drums and Ty Izumi on bass.
Together these guys produce high-powered, guitar-charged tunes
that not only differ from anything else being heard today
but even differ from song to song. “Motorcycle” from their EP
Speak in Numbers elevates into a powerful chant like, a tribal
anthem. “Things Used To Be Good” is a short melodic tune that is
both sweet and melancholy. When asked about their songwriting
and inspiration, lead singer Ryan Rulon goes on to say, “I hear the
songs in melodies and then the appropriate words find their home
into the song.” Find this band and listen to these songs and soon
they’ll be filling up your home
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When the first track “Luck” opens up you know this is not another hipster, moody band. This is strai...When the first track “Luck” opens up you know this is not another hipster, moody band. This is straight ahead rock and roll and it’s been missed... Their tunes embody a freshness that is new because it sounds honest. When you listen to the plaintive chorus on “Things Used to be Good” the melody is infectious and binds the listener to the tune as one of the standouts... Spy for Hire is one to watch.
Speak In Numbers- Album Review
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Speak in Numbers is the debut album of Georgia based band Spy For Hire. Georgia seems to grow good a...Speak in Numbers is the debut album of Georgia based band Spy For Hire. Georgia seems to grow good alternative rock bands, almost as well as they grow peaches, and Spy For Hire is one of those bands. In 11 tracks they show the listener that they can rock out, chill out and keep the listener interested the whole way through.
The opening single is Luck and that’s a good choice, because its one of the strongest songs on the album. Its all the things that good power pop is about; guitars and a catchy lyric that wraps around the listeners brain and checks in to stay for awhile. This is the song that is going to make people stand up and take notice of Spy For Hire, and it will make them listen to the rest.
When it comes to the slow songs like The Line and The Moontower, Ryan uses his voice to melt just about any female heart that will listen. Both songs are stunning reminders of what happens when you combine good songwriting and singing.
As Good As New has a little bit of an 80s alternative vibe to it. A little dark, a little bit Echo and the Bunnymen. We Both Well Know carries on with that 80s vibe, but it drifts more towards 80s pop rather than new wave. Friends and Neighbors is one of the rockers that works, mostly due to the guitar work and great percussion.
They do best when they go the power pop route. The heavier sounding songs like Motorcycle just don’t suit Ryan Rulon’s voice well, in fact when his voice dips into the lowest ranges on Motorcycle its hard to believe it’s the same guy that sings on the rest of the album. It’s a good thing that song appears at the end of the album, because its very out of place among the other more jangly pop type songs that make up most of the album.
Its hard to believe that Spy For Hire is a band, the vocalist sounds distinctly British. However that works to their advantage, because they can’t be lumped into a category with other bands from the area, because they certainly don’t sound southern in any way.
The band’s versatility keeps them from getting too categorized too. In 11 tracks they are a rock band, a pop band with a sprinkle of alternative for good measure. The fact that they can sing a soft gentle ballad and then rock out hard speaks well for them as musicians. I’m sure these guys rock the house live.
Spy For Hire is definitely a band to watch. If Speak In Numbers is any indication, we should have plenty more years of good music from these guys.
UC Radio Podshow
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Really like this band, unique in a couple of different ways, yet really comfortable and easy to gras...Really like this band, unique in a couple of different ways, yet really comfortable and easy to grasp right out of the gate. There's a retro feel, but a fresh edge. Each track has it's own groove and pull. Definitely a band to recommend.
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