Rays Berning talks beef about Rick Rubin

todaySeptember 17, 2023 32

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By Diego Gonzales

Music Journalist


Three members of the band Rays Berning are sitting on a couch in a living room performing a song together.
(From left to right) Jeffrey Berner (keys), Dylan Sullivan (lead vocalist), Connor Libera (drums) | Diego Gonzales

Dylan Sullivan, Jeffrey Berner, Ray Chenevey, Conner Libera and Raymond Cabrera are Rays Berning. The band is made up of all comedians (besides Libera) and is based in Austin, Texas.

They have released 20 projects since just May of 2022. Concepts and themes are very different for each album; album 20 was focused on Godzilla attacking a city while their 18th album was tackling the issues brought by “Big Nicotine.”

What can be found in each album is the band’s surrealist humor, and the unpolished “demo” quality. A few times you can catch Dylan Sullivan, the band’s lead vocalist, laughing at the absurdity of his lyrics, but it’s all kept in to add to the band’s off-kilter energy and charm. I interviewed the band to talk about their music, process and their feud with famous music producer, Rick Rubin.

NOTE: Chenevey had to leave by the time Dylan Sullivan and Jeffrey Berner arrived, so the rest of the interview was with Berner, Sullivan, and Libera. Raymond Cabrera was unable to make it to the session.


Gonzales: You guys did your first live show a few weeks ago at The Sunset Strip, how did that go?

Chenevey: It’s weird for me personally because I kind of learned how to perform comedy in front of people but performing music is a whole ‘nother thing. It’s almost nerve-wracking, you know, like I’m experiencing stage fright again. I could barely play last time. It’s just a good thing that we have so much margin for error with our music, otherwise, it would be bad, because I completely forgot a song last time.


Gonzales: Conner was telling me about the comedy aspect of Rays Berning.

Chenevery: Yeah that’s Rays Berning, that’s what this is all about. We’re just trying to be silly but if you ask anyone else this is very serious and we mean everything.


Gonzales: “Anyone else?”

Chenevey: To anyone in the real world this is our lives, this is very important, we’re rockstars.


Gonzales: How did you guys form Rays Berning?

Sullivan: I liked doing comedy music at open mics. Then one day we were at the Buzzmill open mic that Raymond Cabrera used to run, and I did one of my songs, and Jeffrey at some point in the night said “We should make a band.” The three of us (Jeffrey, Dylan, and Raymond) got together and started recording. A lot of our influence comes from a rebellion against Rick Rubin.


Gonzales: There are a lot of Anti-Rick Rubin messages in many of your albums, how did the beef start?

Sullivan: A lot of Rick Rubin’s sounds came directly from us. We’re such an unknown band as of now that it was easy for him to pull all the pieces he wanted and take credit.


Gonzales: Oh, so he started it?

Berner: Well, you know, if you break into a man’s house and kidnap his dog, you can say ‘he was just doing what he wanted’ but I would consider that ‘starting it.’


Gonzales: Rick Ruben did that?

Berner: It’s an analogy.

Sullivan: We’ve tried to reach out to Rick Rubin several times to make amends, but every time we think he’s about to make some groundway on the relationship, it goes south quickly. But that’s just what you get when you put two geniuses in the same room.


Gonzales: The group started with Raymond, Jeffrey and Dylan. When Did Ray Chenevey get added to the band?

Sullivan: Ray was a mistake.

Berner: He kind of snaked his way in. We didn’t really notice he was playing for a while, and then at some point, we were like ‘Oh crap this guy is in all our songs.’

Sullivan: Ray’s kind of like unwanted puberty, where at first you don’t notice and then all of a sudden, you’re thirty years old.

The band’s guitarist, Ray Chenevey, is playing guitar in a room with Conner Libera in the background watching a baseball game on an ipad.
Ray Chenevey, the band’s guitarist and Conner Libera, the drummer, behind him. | Diego Gonzales

Gonzales: Are you guys working on album 21 right now?

Sullivan: Yeah, album 21 is going to be one of our most innovative albums. It’s definitely going to be the album we’ve spent the most time on. Most of our albums are created and put out in the world in under two hours. So, this one is taking far more time than that. It’s going to be interesting to see how it goes.


Gonzales: How do you guys decide what the album is going to be about?

Sullivan: I guess the world kind of decides for us in a lot of ways. We’re just vehicles for what you already know.

Berner: Yeah, we’re just truth conduits that you can dance to.

Sullivan: Shamans of post-modern.


Gonzales: Do you guys have any shows coming up?

Sullivan: Rays Berning appears when you least expect it, so if your listeners least expect something expect us. Also we may or may not be at The Sunset Strip in about five to eight weeks.

After the interview, the three members of Rays Berning proceeded to play their most Rays Berning-est song, which was their song “Halfway to Berlin.”

Rays Berning’s music can be found here:

You can find them on Instagram @raysberning

Written by: Cayla Soriano

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