I recently had an opportunity to talk to Ryan Shrout guitarist of the mega-popular modern rock band Kutless. Here’s what he had to say about faith music and their new album.
CCM: I was thinking about your name the other day and my assumption is that the name comes from the fact that after the crucifixion we are without cuts because Jesus took them for us. Is this accurate?
Ryan: that’s the meaning of the name. I’m glad you figured that out without having to be told because that’s how we’re trying to come across as blatant as possible. This is our name this is why we do what we do.
CCM: Have you been a Christian since you were young or did you find Christ later in life?
Ryan: I grew up in a Christian home. My dad is or was the pastor of a conservative church. I accepted the Lord at the age of 6 and 1/2 or so. I didn’t really accept it as my own faith. My parents had always brought me to church forced me to go when I had not really wanted. I never really started to go or adapt to a Christian life till I was about 18 or so. I didn’t go to parties or anything but I was so on the fence. I would swear around kids who thought that was cool and stuff. I wouldn’t be a blatant Christian out loud. Then I went to college at a Christian school and started going to church at our church called Athey Creek. I didn’t really start living an amazing like outlandish Christian lifestyle till like 19 or so. That’s when I owned up to my own faith and that’s kinda my upbringing I guess. I have loved the Lord ever since I was a little kid but didn’t know why till about 19. 18 or 19.
CCM: What factors led you to record “Strong Tower”?
Ryan: We started off as a worship band and we wanted to go back to our roots. This is how we started this is what God has given us. To share our music and to give something back to Him. We have always thought of our music as very worshipful. Although it’s worshipful people say it’s not quote on quote “worship music.” We thought it would be great to go back to worship music.
CCM: Was BEC at all weary about you guys recording a worship project rather than a straight Kutless original record?
Ryan: They were way excited when we came to them with the idea. We talked about maybe releasing it later in our career but right now we all felt it was really just God telling us to do it right now and when He calls you gotta do it.
CCM: I have listened to the record a couple of times and aside from “All of the Words” are there any other Kutless originals?
Ryan: Jon Micah wrote number four on the record called “Ready for You.” Phil Wickin in San Diego wrote “Jesus Lord of Heaven” about 3 years ago. it’s a really impacting song we all loved and thought we could share it with the nation. There’s so many excellent songwriters that don’t ever get recognized so we thought maybe that we could help expose those people. They are amazing songwriters. He’s from the west coast so probably a lot of people in the Midwest and east coast have never heard of him. :Strong Tower: was written by Mark Byrd. Some songs were written by people from our church some are very popular worship songs like “Draw Me Close”.
CCM: What albums are you listening to right now?
Ryan: I’m listening to a little band called Switchfoot. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of them. No um I’ve been a Switchfoot fan since 96. A band called For All the Drifters. They went to Greenville College and a friend of mine introduced them to me. They’re phenomenal a great great band. Harry Connick Jr. There’s a record called “Songs I’ve Heard”. it’s got some stuff from Willy Wonka stuff from o gosh just a bunch of old old songs from movies. Stuff from Sound of Music. I’m listening to Yellowcard a little bit. The new Anberlin. Demon Hunter I’ve been listening to them. Anything Aaron Sprinkle touches. He’s our producer and he produces a bunch of bands on Tooth and Nail. Copeland. I heard one of the songs from the upcoming album and I’m super stoked.
CCM: What’s your favorite song to play live?
Ryan: I think “Troubled Heart”. The backbeat and the verse is killer. Also the riff in the beginning it’s just got a huge feel.
CCM: The Christian rock scene in the Northwest has been blowing up. Along with you guys are incredible bands like Falling Up and Seven Places. Are there any other bands that we should be looking out for from the Northwest?
Ryan: Paul Wright he’s from the Northwest. Telecast they’re from the Northwest. There’s a new band they’re not from the Northwest but they’re new on BEC and they’re called Main Stay. They are great great friends of mine. Really really good melodic rock. Kinda more on the side of Incubus vocally but still modern rock guitar riffs. They are amazing. Great guys great music all in one.
CCM: You’re going to be going on the “Welcome to Diversity? tour with TobyMac Audio Adrenaline and Hawk Nelson. Do you plan on touring in the summer after that?
Ryan: This summer we’re doing all the festivals. You know flying from here to there to the next place and we might do some stuff in between but there’s usually like 50 festivals a summer and we’re gonna do most if not all of them. Anywhere from New York to San Diego to Washington I mean all over the place.
CCM: What is one band that you haven’t toured with yet that you’d be eager to tour with?
Ryan: I’d totally love to tour with Switchfoot but I don’t know if that’s ever possible. I’d say Switchfoot and Anberlin would be pretty fun to tour with. I just love their music and the guys and everything. O and Delirious? If we could do a European tour with them that’d be awesome.
CCM: In one sentence what is the goal of the Kutless ministry?
Ryan: To spread the Gospel to kids that haven’t heard it and encourage the kids who have heard it to stay strong in their faith. O and to show God’s love.
CCM: All right well I’d like to extend my thanks for taking the time out to talk with us. Any last words?
Ryan: Go buy our record it’s out now! To all of our friends (that’s everyone!) We love them and care for them and hope to see them at our shows!