Ryan Campbell Talks His Music, Touring with Limp Bizkit, and More
Tue, 14 May 2013 09:53:10
You never know who's going to be in your local bar.
One night, Ryan Campbell was playing the Irish Pub he performs at every Wednesday, and Limp Bizkit main man Fred Durst was sitting in the front row unbeknownst to him. Campbell went about his set, which sees the Jacksonville musician transpose everything from Drake to Sublime into a divine one-man set carried by a loop pedal, electric guitar, and his soaring voice. It's downright fascinating. Durst was equally intrigued and impressed, inviting Campbell to open up Limp Bizkit's current U.S. tour.
Given how downright cool his story is, not to mention how unbelievably talented he is, ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino spoke to Ryan Campbell about touring with Limp Bizkit and so much more.
When did you first get the idea to perform all of these songs solo?
I play in Split Tone too, and we started playing in the bars when I was 21- or 22-years-old doing cover songs. I've been playing some of those songs for years. As far as doing them solo, I saw one of my buddies do all of that loop stuff. You loop the guitar, bass, and the beat. I thought, "Wow, that looks like a lot of fun! Maybe I can get some solo gigs and do that?" I took some of the songs I did with the band and tried to make them my own as far as using that loop pedal. I try to keep parts of the song everybody knows so it's still familiar to them. I also try to make them my own as well.
It's important for people to hear you in the songs.
I try to accent what I do well. I make sure certain riffs are there or whatever it is everybody knows that song for. I might change a word here or there. If they mention a city, I might say the city I'm from. I try to make it my own so you can hear my voice and take on that song. In my band when we do a cover, we try to take the song and put it on steroids. We might play a little faster or harder. We may add a solo. Basically, we put it on steroids and make it bigger than the recording.
How do you change the set list?
On the Limp Bizkit tour, I try to fit into certain genres. I've played different songs on different dates. I tend to stick to reggae stuff and maybe some hip-hop like Dr. Dre and Drake. Then, I might throw in some OutKast. I've done "ATLiens" and "Rosa Parks" once or twice. I try to switch it up, but not too much. I want to keep the crowd interested. I think about what Limp Bizkit fans might listen to. Sublime has been going over really well. I do some Sublime songs. I got the whole crowd to sing "Santeria" two nights ago. I didn't even have to sing. They sang the whole thing for me.
What was your first meeting with Fred Durst like?
I play at this little Irish pub by the beach in Jacksonville. He was in town, hanging with some buddies. Someone invited him down. I play every Wednesday from 10:30 to 1:30. He came up there, and I started playing. He sat at the table in front of the stage. It's funny because I thought he looked familiar. I wasn't expecting him to be me watching me play! I went on my first set break, and a mutual friend came up to me and said, "Hey man, come meet Fred!" I didn't think it was Fred Durst though. I got five feet away and thought, "Oh shit! This is Fred Durst from Limp Bizkit!" I was trying to be cool, but I was freaking out inside like, "Dude, I love your music. I'm a huge fan!" He stayed for about an hour and a half and watched a good portion of my set. He took a picture with me before he left. A month and a half later, I got a call from him saying, "I enjoyed your set. Do you want to come on tour?" I was like, "Absolutely!" I know tons of songs so I can read the crowd. I'll even ask them what they want to hear.
Did you grow up listening to Limp Bizkit?
So much pride comes with being able to say Limp Bizkit is from Jacksonville. Everybody knows Lynyrd Skynyrd is from Jacksonville. As far as putting the city on the worldwide map, Limp Bizkit did it, straight up. Everybody has to admit it. It's undeniable. When I was 13-years-old, Significant Other came out. Then, I remember rocking "My Way" and all of those songs. I used to bump "Rollin'"(Urban Assault Vehicle) with Method Man, Redman, and DMX in my 1990 Jeep Cherokee. They speakers would just bang. I never would've thought I'd meet Fred Durst let alone have him ask me to go on tour with Limp Bizkit. It's awesome being on this tour because when I get done, I get the chance to watch Limp Bizkit for an hour and a half every night. It's a dream.
How different is Split Tone from your solo sets?
We have seven people in the band, first off. I have a full horn section with trombone and saxophone. We've got keys, bass, guitars, and drums. The guys are world-class musicians. They played with Fantasia from American Idol. I can only do so much with that loop pedal. The band material is just like mine. It's party music. We've got roots reggae tunes and a little pop rock. We've got quite an array, which is why we're called Split Tone. We hit different genres.
Have you had a favorite moment from the tour?
The other night, I got to do "Killing in the Name of" with Limp Bizkit. I'll never forget that. I couldn't believe Fred invited me up to do it with them.