Recycled Percussion: More than 'junk rock'

Andrew Kruse-Ross

andrew kruse-ross | recycled percussion | jan. 2018

Recycled Percussion visit the Ashwaubeon PAC on Feb. 2.Inspired by subway bucket percussionists like Larry Wright, Recycled Percussion was formed in 1995 to compete at a New Hampshire high school talent show. Since that time the band worked tirelessly, finally receiving a big break in 2009 with an appearance on “America's Got Talent," which broadcast their high-energy “junk rock" to millions of households across the globe.

Since 2010 they've been a hot-ticket item on the Las Vegas strip and currently call Planet Hollywood's Saxe Theater home.

Making use (and music) of just about anything they can get their hands on, they bring their distinctively high-energy show on the road in 2018 and will be making a stop at the Ashwaubenon Performing Arts Center on Feb. 2.

Taking a few moments away from delivering toys to charities in the days before Christmas, percussionist Ryan Vezina, Recycled Percussion's Mr. Blue, took some questions from Frankly via telephone.

This group was formed to enter a high school talent show and then in 2009, it's another talent show, this time on national television with 'America's Got Talent' ... how was the experience of that competition?

We'd been touring for many years before we got that call from 'America's Got Talent.' It was kind of random, actually. We'd just gotten done with a tour and we received a phone call from them. We decided to do it on a whim. They seemed to take some interest in us … it was actually just a really small fill we did that first time; we just took two ladders into a room, not knowing what we'd gotten ourselves into … they seemed to like it and brought us to the next audition in New York, which we performed in front of the judges. We ended up passing that one and the next thing we knew, we were live in front of millions of people.

It was something none of us expected, but it turned out really well.

Well, except for Justin (band founder), he was expecting it.

For a non-vocal group, you guys ended up doing really well on the show.

Yeah, a lot of the groups that go on to have success afterwards tend to be vocal groups, but we were an anomaly at the time. We were the first non-singing act to place that high (third) in the show's history.

As you were a member of the group, grinding it out in the year's prior to your appearance on 'American's Got Talent,' how much impact did the group's appearance on that show impact your future? Was there an immediate impact?

Yeah, that opened up a lot of new markets for us because that brought us to Vegas, so we had a chance to showcase the shows that we'd been imagining in our heads for decades prior. That was definitely a game-changer for us. We ended up having a show at the MGM less than a year after we finished 'America's Got Talent.'

You've been performing in Las Vegas ever since; can you tell me how similar or different is your Vegas show compared to the show you'll be touring with on the road?

We pull certain aspects from our Vegas show when we tour on the road. Obviously, we have some constrictions as far as what we can and can't do, because our Vegas stage is massive and everything is in one place—some of that stuff has taken us months and months and months to even get set up. But the road show has a lot of those staples that people really love about the Vegas show.

We've got the ladders and the power tools and the sparks. It's very interactive. It's very family-friendly and there's a lot of comedy. I think what a lot of people underestimate is the amount of comedy as compared to the amount of music; there's a lot of really fun comedy stuff going on throughout the show … There's so much personality up on stage and it's a show that's more than most people expect. A lot of people think it's just drumming on recycled objects, but it's so much more than that. You have to see it to understand it.

One of the things that I've seen you do that I didn't expect to see was the '80s music mash-up. Are you guys doing something similar on tour this time around?

Yeah, for sure! That's something that we've kept in our show—I think—since the very beginning. We have a lot of rock 'n' roll roots, all of us, and we like to incorporate rock 'n' roll in our show and pay homage to the artists that inspire us.

For more information, visit Ashwaubenon.PAC.org. Tickets are available at TicketStarOnline.com or by calling (920) 494-3401.

The Ashwaubenon PAC is located at 2391 S. Ridge Road, Ashwaubenon.

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