When an answer to a question is, “I’m pretty sure Jesus wouldn’t forgive me,” we must be talking with Detroit’s own Paul Ridley.

Saint Ridley is Paul Ridley (Vocals), Matt Dalton (Guitar), David Flynn (Guitar), Cody Denis (Bass), and Rich Schlager (Drums). They are on tour with Coal Chamber, Filter, Combichrist, and American Head Charge. As this interview is a bit longer and good all the way through, let the show begin.

NRR: Looking at the Facebook page and all that good stuff, I understand that Ridley is your last name. Is Saint something special, does it mean anything, or did it just sound good and you guys went with it?
Paul Ridley: Actually it is quite a few different things. It actually started as kind of a nickname. I’m kind of known for being real good to my friends and stuff like that. You know, never turning anyone away and helping friends in need when they needed me to, so it kind of stuck that way, but when I opened my own business, I owned a studio, and it was quite the opposite the reason why they called me that, because if I like you, I mess with you pretty much. That’s kind of how the name stuck. Also, I’m a long descendant from Saint Nicolas Ridley, who was burned at the stake in London, England in like the 1700s. I found out after and I thought that was kind of neat.
NRR: Okay, so that would explain the Joker [photo]?

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Paul Ridley: Yep, for sure. That and I’m also a comic book dork.
NRR: Alright, are we going Marvel, we going DC, we going something else, what’s your favorite?
Paul Ridley: Oh, DC a hundred percent.
NRR: Alright, the next question is one I have asked my teenage daughter and have fought over for years. Seriously, there can only be one person walking out of the superhero cage, who wins Batman or Superman?
Paul Ridley: Oh, man! Batman has won four times out of the seven times they’ve fought, so I’m going to say Batman. Mind over matter, you know?
NRR: So, even if Superman just goes apeshit bonkers and throws the boy scout mentality out, are you still going to go with Batman?
Paul Ridley: (Sigh) Well, you know, it’s neck in neck. Brains versus brawn. If he gets a hold of Batman, Batman’s done, but if he has time to plan Superman doesn’t have a chance, but I’m going to say Batman.
NRR: Fair enough. Now for business, do you guys have new material out right now or are you getting ready to come out with new material?
Paul Ridley: Well, we have an album that we put out through all the download sites, like iTunes and Amazon Instant Music and all that jazz, Fool or a King, that came out almost two years ago now and we’ve been touring on that for the last almost two years now, but we got about 80% of the new album done and we are kind of releasing songs here and there. Eventually, when the time is right, we’ll release a full album, but for this tour we’ll have a CD with four or five new songs on it that will only be available at the shows. We always have new stuff coming out, new EPs, things like that.
NRR: Cool! So tell me, how did the tour with Coal Chamber, Filter, Combichrist, and American Head Charge come about?

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Paul Ridley: Luck! (Laughs) Straight up dumb luck. Our manager knows people pretty well and just kind of pitched us and I guess they thought we were good to go, so we ended up on this tour. Super excited about it. We’re going to mesh well. This is going to be our first tour where we actually fit in, because we’ve been on quite a few tours where we were way by far the heaviest band on there and it’s really good to finally be on an upcoming tour where we’re actually going to be pretty damn close to what everyone else is doing too.
NRR: Okay, so that leads into a pretty good question. Describe Saint Ridley’s sound for me.
Paul Ridley: Ah, man. I guess the best way to describe it is really heavy rock with a lot of touch of metal with Great Severe Southern Trendkill/Pantera influence and a lot of like 90s grunge era influence like Alice in Chains kind of influence. I guess that’s kind of the best way to describe it, really.
NRR: So, just out of curiosity, how did Matt [Dalton] become part of the band?
Paul Ridley: I’ve know Matt for many, many years and when I did the Fool or a King album it was pretty much just me, and I decided I wanted to do the album with Matt and let him produce it because I really liked the way he and I worked on music together. Well, we went through a lot of lineup changes. A lot of people think their hearts are in it, they get on one tour and they just don’t want to do it anymore or they aren’t willing to make the sacrifices we all are, so they leave out right before a tour. Matt kind of saw we were having troubles keeping members and we needed another guitarist because I wanted to just sing and get off playing guitar so I could concentrate on my vocals sounding better. He already knew all the music. He helped me rearrange and restructure and produced all the music that is out on Fool or a King, so it just got to the point where he was like, “You know what, dude? I’ll do it.” He hadn’t been on tour in awhile. He wanted to do it. He’s an excellent musician and we’re really lucky to have him.
NRR: How long have you been doing music?
Paul Ridley: Well, I played my first show at Harpo’s in Detroit, I think when I was 19, and I’ve been playing guitar since I was 13. I didn’t start singing until about three, maybe four years ago, so altogether more than half my life, about 16-17 years.
NRR: Okay, so then you should have a fairly decent, unique viewpoint on this. When you first started, the social media sites weren’t that big yet. With the way they are now, is social media more important to you just from the standpoint that all of your perspective fans are on it, or would you still like to get that fan base from seeing you live, hearing the music live, coming to the shows?

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Paul Ridley: You know, a lot of my band members would hate me for saying this, but this is my personal opinion, I think social media has completely ruined concerts. On social media, there can be a band that flat-out sucks, can’t even tune their own guitar, their singer sounds like a dying horse, the drummer can’t keep time, but since they have a lot of friends they’ve created a lot of buzz and all of a sudden they have 50,000 likes. You know what I mean? That’s no way to judge music, by a popularity contest. I think the way to judge music is to go out there and see it. We go out there and we get our fans the hard way. We toured four and a half months straight last summer and we plan on touring four and a half to five months straight this summer. I’d rather see everyone go out there and see if they can make it that way rather than just being some band that is just on the internet like a bunch of got-nothing-better-to-do people. Just go out there and see music and experience it. That’s how I think you should get fans. It’s killing every music scene, if you ask me.
NRR: I respect that a lot. There’s a lot of truth in that. So, since we’re talking about it like that, let me ask this. Would you rather be known for all original Saint Ridley music? Or, as it seems like it’s becoming a trend of hard rock/metal guys taking a pop song, you know maybe like a Taylor Swift song, and giving it dirty vocals along with the clean vocals and a new arrangement, and turn it into something that is a lot edgier. Do you think doing a cover to gain notoriety is okay, or would you still rather play all of your own stuff and at least if one of them catches fire and becomes viral you can say “It’s our music” and that makes it even better?
Paul Ridley: I completely disagree with the way people do that. I think that if you are serious about it, you work hard on your music, what you’re going to do if you do a cover like it is you are going to pigeonhole yourself to a cliquey crowd. I’d rather get noticed for my own music than taking some stupid pop song and making it a metal song. Yeah, it’s entertaining, it might be fun to do live, but to buy the rights to it, cover the thing and get it on the radio, all that to me is a band that is desperate to make some money. It’s just not my personal way I’d want to go about it, but if bands think they can make a career off that, more power to them. However they want to do is how they want to do, but the way I’m going to do is the way I want to so I can look myself in the mirror in the morning and know I did it in my way.
NRR: That’s cool. I dig the fact you’re able to put that out there. A lot of bands or people who don’t have that sense of self would be afraid to voice that opinion.
So, with you being in the music scene for so long, and you don’t have to answer this one, this is kind of a fun question than anything, has there been a moment, it might have been embarrassing when it happened but now you look back on it or you talk with the other guys about, “Hey, that one night…,” is there something that is almost your Spinal Tap moment that just makes you laugh now when you look back on it that you would be willing to share?
Paul Ridley: Oh my God! There are so many of them. Alright, I remember I was in, I think it was San Leon, TX and we were on tour with Framing Hanley, Starset, and Devour the Day and the place was packed. We lost our drummer because of an injury a few days before so we were going as three pieces, and our guitarist at the time jumped on the drums because he is an excellent drummer too, so it was just me playing guitar, our bassist, Cody, playing the bass, and our other guitarist, Dave, on drums. We were just killing it. People were feeding off us, jumping up and down, moving really good, and bringing us trays of drinks. Now, I totally do not remember this at all. I was not drunk. I wasn’t on anything. I was just caught in the moment and don’t remember seeing it but when I got off stage, my guitarist, Dave, who was drumming for us, brought to my attention that apparently I had told the crowd that they were the ugliest crowd I had seen the whole tour and I was like, “I didn’t say that.” We got the footage because we GoPro every show, I took a look at the footage and I sure as hell did and these people thought it was hilarious and ate it up. Like people’s mood had been increased that way by me dogging on them. I’ve never done anything like that since. I guess you had to be there. It was hilarious because I don’t remember calling the crowd ugly. I called them ugly and I looked like I was serious but the whole crowd was like, “YEAHHHHH!” They ate it up. They started bringing us trays of shots and stuff. It was crazy. (Laughs)

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NRR: When you guys are out on tour, what do you do in between shows when you have a rare night off where you can relax?
Paul Ridley: If we get a day off, we find somewhere to do our laundry and take a shower, first of all. After that, we try to get in a good meal and then we sit down with the acoustics and keep writing. By the time we do a new album we usually have 30 to 35 songs ready, so we can really pick out of them. We all love music with our souls. Just every second we pick up a guitar.
NRR: When you write a new song is it a group effort where everybody is in the same room jamming, or does one person write the lion’s share of the song and then everyone else fills in until a new song is born?
Paul Ridley: It used to be just me. I used to just write basic riff ideas and structure the song out musically, then I’d start writing lyrics to it and once I got it to the point where I could kind of play through it I would bring it to the band and they would put their input on things and we would mold it that way. As of lately, though, things have kind of changed. Our guitarist, Dave, who joined the band right before our first tour, he brings a lot of ideas to the table. Once Dave and I have those ideas together and get it worked out with the drummer and everything, we get it demoed out and when we bring it to the studio, usually that’s when Matt Dalton will put his producer’s touch on it, change things around, make it a little more catchy and a little more pleasing. He’ll flat-out be honest with me and be like, “The way you’re doing that vocal line sucks! You need to change it.” He’s brutally honest about it to the point that if I wasn’t so used to it already… I mean, anyone else would be straight-up offended. Lately, everyone just kind of picks it apart and we really encourage each other that if there is something you don’t like, speak up because you’re going to be playing it. You don’t want to be stuck playing a song that you hate for tours upon tours. We just make sure we’re all on the same page and we all get our ideas in.
NRR: If for whatever reason you hung up the microphone today, what would be the “real world” job that you would be doing?
Paul Ridley: Oh, man! I would be useless. I don’t know! (Laughs) That’s actually kind of a scary question. I can’t answer that. I guess I would try to be like a chef or prostitute, one or the other (laughs). That’s about all I’m good for.
NRR: If you weren’t already on tour with Coal Chamber and all the other bands, is there one band that you would drop everything to go out on tour with?
Paul Ridley: Oh wow! You know, there are quite a few bands I would drop everything to go on tour with, but if you’re asking in a perfect situation which band I would like to go out on tour with, I would love to go on tour with [System of a] Down. I mean, that would be a great match for us. I’ve been a Pantera/Down fan forever. If it wasn’t Down, we’d love to go out with Hellyeah or Volbeat. There are a lot of bands that I would seriously cut off my pinky toe to go on tour with.
NRR: So if Serj gets System of a Down back, you’ll be one happy camper.
Paul Ridley: Man, you don’t want to know what I would do to get on that tour (laughs). I’m pretty sure Jesus wouldn’t forgive me.

“The band also put their heart on their sleeves with an acoustic offering entitled “Stay Strong Sarah,” a song written for a friend who lost both her parents to tragedy in less than a year.” ~ cdbaby biography description

NRR: As an artist, do you find it more rewarding to hear about a fan who made it through a tough time because of your songs, or would you find it more rewarding to hear about one of your fans and actually be inspired by what they did, or maybe some of both?
Paul Ridley: That’s a great question. I love that question. On the album, there are quite a few songs that I had written when I was really going through dark times and I kept a positive twist on things and because of that I’ve actually had quite a few fans either shoot me a message or come up to me at a show and explain how it helped them out or how it got them through it without losing their minds. And that’s really the most amazing reward I’ve ever had in my life. If I never make a dime in this, at least I know I’ve done some good. There have been times that fans have had the complete wrong idea about what the song I wrote was about, but I don’t even tell them that because what they thought it was about helped them through what they needed to get through. It is inspiring. It gives me a breath of fresh air and helps me to know that I want to keep doing this.

Two upcoming shows are listed below. If you happen to see them out on this tour, let us know what you thought.

Apr 03, 2015 ~ Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ
Apr 08, 2015 ~ The Fillmore Charlotte in Charlotte, NC

Saint Ridley
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Starland Ballroom
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The Fillmore Charlotte
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About The Author

After getting the photo bug in the far, past days of black and white film, Erich continued to develop his eye for photography which lead to stops in the sporting, art, wedding, and eventually concert music worlds. Now, doing more writing for National Rock Review, he has entered into the journey of getting to know the artists and the industry, not just the faces on the other side of the lens.

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