a trip down jazz-rock memory lane, Under The Influence signals
the 2011 return of The Flyin Ryan Brothersfeaturing guitarists
Jimmy Ryan, brother Johnny Ryan, bass ace William
Kopecky and the late, great drumming wizard Johnny Mrozek.
The memory of drum master Mrozek, who passed away in 2010, is brought
into focus with Johnnys Bonham-esque booming drum beats pushed
prominently in the mix. Sounding like wild horses galloping through
the sonic heavens, Mrozek lays down the optimum big beat for these
great guitarists to extrapolate uponboth compositionally and
improvisationally. William Kopecky, of course, is renowned in rock
fusion land for his various solo albums and rich collaborations, and
he absolutely shines on this release. Jimmy and Johnny Ryan must take
great pride in the outcomenot only in the big Mrozek beat held
here for posterity, but also for the incredibly solid instrumental
rock music that really takes center stage on this spectacular sounding
album. As great as the 2008 CD release of Totality was and
still is, Under The Influence will surely go down as the best
album of several from this lineup. The Ryan Brothers sound is solidly
Americana, yet amazingly diverse and quite progressive within the
instrumental rock genre. For an example, think of Steve Morse and
his unique guitar stylings or perhaps the original mentors of the
Ryan Brothersdual guitar rockers Wishbone Ash, who are still
rocking, led by guitar guru Andy Powell. There are way too many Under
The Influence highlights to mention in this review. The opening
track Ascension totally sets the mood, while the
closing track Adore weaves a dreamlike melodic
tapestry that soothes and soars. Track eleven, the spectacular surf-fusion
(think the Ventures on steroids) sounding Clockwork
is the only track here that doesnt feature Mrozek, instead featuring
the top notch drumming prowess of the newest FRB member, Dan Van
Schindel. The CD packaging for Under The Influence provides
yet another otherworldly experience indeed while the inside liner
notes include a number of key facts about the CD, while listing a
number of FRB influencesnames guitar watchers might have heard
about like Jeff Beck, Kings X, Rick Derringer, Gary Moore, Phil
Keaggy, Joe Satriani, Wishbone Ash and many more. Like a form of sonic
telepathy broadcasting from a far better place, Under The Influence
works its magic with a myriad of intense musical moves and moods
and, in the process, turns out to be the ultimate Flyin Ryan
Brothers album. www.ryanetics.com
mwe3.com presents and interview with
JOHNNY RYAN AND JIMMY RYAN OF
THE FLYIN RYAN BROTHERS
mwe3: Congratulations on the Under The Influence album.
How would you say the album sums up the career to date of The Flyin
Johnny: Thank you! We are very proud of this album. We feel its
our strongest material to date. We always push the envelope and try
to break new ground with each release, and we feel weve accomplished
that here. Most importantly, we always challenge each other to write
better songs, which in turn raises the bar on our expectations.
Jimmy: With such a diverse collection of influences to draw from as
well as our individual styles, there is never a shortage of ideas
between us, and we feel that on this release we really delivered the
goods. Its always been about the music with us and highlighting
our signature sounddual harmony guitar.
How would you compare Under The Influence sound-wise to the
Totality album? Was there a different approach taken this time
Jimmy: We wanted to ROCK more on this record! Its more in
your face and has a harder edge to it. The primary focus was
on groove. On Totality, the focus was more on the arrangements,
and because of that the overall vibe was a bit soundtrack-y and esoteric.
Thats not a bad thing
its just different.
Johnny: This time out, we decided to write songs with a lot of energy.
We also wanted more high-energy solo guitar leads and more dual guitar
leads, which is what we are all about.
mwe3: When the songs are written what was the process between writing
the new tracks and actually getting it into final stages for the recording
Johnny: At the beginning of every new project, Jimmy and I go up to
our place in Wisconsin and exchange ideas that weve catalogued
and start piecing everything together. Its a great environment
with no distractions, and very conducive to the creative process.
Jimmy: Once we have a solid idea and a basic framework, we record
it to a click track. Then after some listening, we tweak it out into
the final arrangement. Then we rehearse it up with the band, and were
ready to record the basic rhythm tracks. We always record our double
leads together in real time to bring that live feel to the finished
mwe3: What guitars are used to create that classic Flyin Ryan
Brothers sound on the new album?
Jimmy: I primarily used a Frank Verrilli custom S-style triple humbucker
for this recording. Its the most versatile instrument Ive
ever playedfrom hyper-clean chime to face-melting shred, it
does it all. I also used a Nik Huber Krautster for some of the more
aggressive, straight ahead stuff. Its a stripped-down rock machine
Johnny: My main guitar of choice is my Zion. It just has a great sound
and feel, and Ive been using it for many years. I also use an
Eric Johnson Signature Strat and 1992 Les Paul Junior. We also use
several other instruments depending on the particular sound and vibe
were looking for.
mwe3: How has the Flyin Ryan Brothers choice of guitars changed
over the years?
Johnny: Mine have not changed much over the years. You stick with
what works for you. We have made some new acquisitions through the
years, including a Parker Fly and matched Carvin California Singles.
My brother is a different story! He is the ultimate guitar geek.
Ive shifted to a number of boutique hand-built guitars over
the last few years. Overall, theres much more attention to detail
and the build quality far surpasses the name brands. I
do all the setups, mods, upgrades and tweaks to all of our instruments.
Like Johnny said, Im a real geek when it comes to that stuff,
and I love doing it!
mwe3: Can you say something about the late Johnny Mrozek and what
you feel he brought to The Flyin Ryan Brothers sound and how
did his drumming and passing affect or influence the sound and vision
of the Under The Influence album?
Jimmy: Johnny was like our blood brother, and we love him. His loss
leaves a big hole in our lives for sure. He completed all the drum
and percussion tracks shortly before he passed, and he absolutely
smoked. We have a picture of him in the studio, and his presence was
with us every step of the way. We wanted to honor his memory by giving
the absolute best performances we were capable of, and in that regard
we were completely under his influence during the recording.
Even in death, he kicked us in the ass!
Johnny: What can I say about Johnny? He was the greatest. Not only
was he one of the all-time great drummers, he was a close and very
dear friend. He was the ultimate groove machine, like a bullet train
with drumsticks. His intense style and sophisticated rhythms were
the foundation of our sound and to say he will be sorely missed is
mwe3: How about the addition of Dan Van Schindel to the Flyin
Ryan Brothers lineup? What does Dan bring to The Flyin Ryan
Johnny: Danny was the original drummer in the original Ryan Brothers
band. He is an amazing drummer and a dear friend as well. We used
to call him the professor before that name was used for
Jimmy: Danny is a human drum machine with insane chops, incredible
technique and great instincts but also knows how to groove deep and
play for the song. He will be a great asset to our band and sound
moving forward. The fact that hes a great friend as well is
the icing on the cake
you always have fun with your buds!
mwe3: How does William Kopecky and his sound fit into the Flyin
Ryan Brothers sound? How long has William been in the lineup? I hear
he lives in France now.
Billy is the greatest bass player we will ever know. His sense of
melody and complete musicality never ceases to amaze us. He takes
each of our songs and raises them to a higher level, for sure. Our
music would not be the same without him. End of story.
Jimmy: Billy is the third Ryan Brother, and is a complete
musician, consummate professional and spiritual brother. He brings
so much melodic content to our music, and working with him is an absolute
joy. Bill has played on our last four records since Legacy
in 2002, including my solo Truth Squad project. Billy did indeed
move across the pond to France, and, given his talent,
he is always involved in multiple projects and ever in demand for
his formidable skills.
mwe3: You mention a number of influences in the liner notes, from
The Allman Brothers to Jeff Beck, Hendrix, Wishbone Ash and even film
composer Bernard Hermann! Was that the music that shaped your musical
background growing up?
Jimmy: Absolutely! As children, we were exposed to many styles of
music through our parents. Our mother was an artist and an accomplished
pianist and our dad was a great vocalist. There was always music in
the house. My brother and I took piano lessons together when we were
younger, but once we heard The Beatles, Wishbone Ash and Hendrix,
among so many others, all bets were off. We knew what we wanted to
and were still doing it!
Johnny: If youve never heard of Bernard Hermann you need to.
He was a musical genius, and his movie soundtrack scores made a huge
imprint on us when we were young. That said, I think its so
important to not limit your influences to just guitar players. We
have always been inspired by different instruments and genres of music.
This has had a huge impact on us as players and musicians and can
be heard in our compositions, arrangements and overall sound.
mwe3: I also saw Cliff Cultreris name in the liner notes. Whats
Cliff doing these days? I used to see him and talk to him all the
time in Pantasia, my one-time favorite record store in NYC.
Jimmy: I got to know Cliff through www.destroyallguitars.com,
a collective of artisan luthiers and boutique amp builders which he
formed and represents. Thats where I got my Verrilli and Krautster
guitars, among others. He is a living legend and one of the nicest
human beings on the planet. I would have never found these exceptional
instruments if it werent for him and his collective. Hes
changed my musical life for the better. Im elated and Im
in his debt.
mwe3: What does the future hold for the music of The Flyin Ryan
We want to continue to create and grow as musicians. Being independent
artists will always give us the freedom to explore new ideas, think
outside of the box and take chances. The music resulting from that
process is its own reward, and we will always go wherever the music
takes us. We owe that much to ourselves.
Jimmy: Theres not much I can add to that. Over the years, Johnny
and I have honed in on what works and what doesnt in our collaborative
approach to what we do, so its actually getting easier to write
together. Privately, weve acknowledged to each other that well
never get all of the music out of us, so well do as much as
we can for as long as we can. Its been a great ride so far
to the future!
Thanks to Jimmy Ryan and Johnny Ryan and the
Flyin Ryan Brothers @ www.ryanetics.com