Recycled Percussion

Think back to your six-year-old self and what you wanted to be when you grew up. Some of us dreamed of being actors or actresses’ dressing up and walking the red carpet; some of us played doctor while pretending to give medicine to our stuffed animals; and some of us used silverware to bang on pots and pans imagining the life of rock stars.

For a lot of us those dreams have long been forgotten, but for 24-year-old Ryan Vezina, banging on pots and pans when he was a child made him who he is today. Now having upgraded to performing on kitchen sinks, 12-foot stepladders, and metal trashcans, Vezina has made a name for himself by never giving up his dream.

Most known for being a finalist on America’s Got Talent in 2009, and headlining shows in Las Vegas, Ryan Vezina and his three band mates, Justin Spencer, Matt Bowman, and DJ Pharaoh, make up the band Recycled Percussion.

As you can tell by the band name Recycled Percussion is everything but ordinary.

“We don’t limit ourselves to anything… but I think the sets that we design  are even more intriguing than the instruments we perform on. In the Vegas  show, we open up by performing on a vertical wall that falls from the ceiling and we close with a 15 passenger van that splits into three pieces, 40 feet in the air,” said Vezina.

The amount of hard work and unity this band radiates can only be explained by understanding the men who make up the band. The spin master, keyboardist and vocalist for the band Todd, aka, DJ Pharaoh, is the oldest and serves as the voice of wisdom and education to Ryan. Respectable and well versed, he helps ground the band when it gets out of control.

Bandleader and founder, Justin Spencer is the percussionist and drummer that leads the band and makes sure they are pumped up and ready to go. Ryan Vezina the percussionist and drummer is the heart of the band. He makes the videos and produces the media that contributes a lot to the live shows, and appearances’ you see of them. New guitar player, Matt Bowman, has replaced the bands late guitar player, Jimmy Magoon, bringing new ambitious excitement to the stage.

The undeniable talent and unstoppable energy embodied by these four men have led Recycled Percussion on a journey most people could only dream of. A typical day for Ryan and the guys is unimaginable to the average Joe, but to Ryan it’s his life.

“One day I’ll wake up in Shanghai China, other days I find myself eating pancakes with Jerry Springer at 1 in the morning, or stumbling my way out of bed on a mini houseboat in Europe… it’s never the same.”

The most consistent they get are performing six nights a week at the Tropicana in Las Vegas.

You would think anyone living, touring, and basically breathing the Las Vegas lifestyle, would be affected by the rock and roll stereotypes that are synonymous with Sin City, but this group isn’t.

Before the all-night touring and international fame, Ryan grew up in the small town of Boscawen, New Hampshire alongside band mate and cousin Justin Spencer.

“Our dads grew up playing drums together just like we did, and we both came from parents affected by drugs and alcohol so we’ve stayed away from those influences and always made music the epicenter of our universe” said Vezina.

Inspired by a New York street performer banging on a five-gallon bucket, Justin Spencer elaborated on the idea for his high school talent show in 1994 which led to the beginning of Recycled Percussion’s undiscovered destiny.

Being younger than Spencer at the time, Ryan was inspired from the time he saw his older cousin perform and he knew it would grow on to be something bigger.

“They are the group of people and the creative idea that sparked a very special kind of motivation in me when I was young. The band is about 15 years old now and I first saw them performing at my elementary school. That day paved the way to a completely different path than I would have led, had I not seen that performance,” said Vezina.

After deciding college wasn’t the path for him, Ryan dedicated his life to the band performing at a number of colleges all over the United States playing about 275 shows a year.

Coincidentally during a rare window of time that Ryan and the band weren’t on tour, a phone call from a talent scout encouraged them to audition for NBC’s hit show America’s Got Talent.

The audition started in Boston and they were told they were only able to use acoustic instruments, which eliminated DJ Pharaoh and their guitar player out of the mix. Nervous that the audition wouldn’t give a good representation of the band, Ryan and Justin performed on two ten-foot stepladders, and gave the producers a short promotional video of live shows they have played to show what else they had to offer.

After leaving an obvious impression, they were called back weeks later with the news that they were advancing to the New York auditions, which would be in front celebrity judges Piers Morgan, Sharon Osbourne, and Howie Mandel.

“When you are moments away from performing live on the biggest television show in the nation and you each carry each other’s fate in your hands…. you can’t help but develop a very special bond with one another. At the end of the day… if even one of us fails to pour our heart and soul into every last second on stage … then we are weak as a whole… And that commitment is what keeps us strong.”

As Ryan and the band took the stage they knew this would be the only shot they had to prove to the judges they had what they were looking for.

“Now imagine that you’ve been spending every waking minute of your life since you were born… practicing, learning, waiting, praying, fighting for this exact moment…and this moment will happen in seconds, but only last a few minutes… and it may never happen again” said Venzina

The few minutes of auditioning were over, and so was the dream for Recycled Percussion. They were told it was over, so they left the theater and started driving to South Carolina for a show scheduled for the next day.

After coming to terms with the fact it was over, they get another phone call from the producers explaining there was a ‘technical problem’ and they had to re-film.

“Although we were all thinking ‘why would we ever drive back to get kicked off the show AGAIN’… in the back of our heads we knew there was another reason they wanted us back. So we took a leap of faith and returned to the theater, and we performed again…the same exact routine… except this time, the judges voted us through” said Vezina.

The next destination they found themselves at was in an airport hanger in Las Vegas where the remaining acts were separated into groups. Thankfully their group was chosen to move onto a second Vegas elimination that left them in a room all alone with the judges and one other act, and they were then chosen and were on their way to performing live on TV in front of millions.

Taking the stage for the first time on live television Ryan and the band gave it all they had.

“When the performance was over and we had received a standing ovation from all three judges, I remember feeling something so powerful and overwhelming that I doubt I’ll ever feel that way ever again” said Ryan.

Placing third on the show and being one of America’s favorites Recycled Percussion proved they are worthy of making it in one of the hardest industries to break into, the music industry.

Signing a deal with one of the largest management companies in the world, the band now headlines shows in Vegas on a regular basis. Performing at the most prominent casinos such as Planet Hollywood, MGM Grand, and Tropicana.

Having been to 48 of the United States, as well as Canada, Mexico, the Netherlands, Egypt and China; as well as performing on the season finale of “China’s Got Talent” in the Fall of 2010, and opening for the 2010 Latin Grammy Awards, Recycled Percussion has made a name for themselves and have proved they are more than worthy of the stardom.


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