riffologist and all-around American guitar hero Jimmy Ryan was
the guiding light behind the underrated and overlooked American instrumental
progressive / hard rock band The Flyin Ryan Brothers. Sadly,
the band has been dormant, yet six years later, Jimmy returned in
late 2017 with his new solo album called 21st Century Riffology.
With 21 tracks clocking in around 50 minutes, the sonic bursts
of electric guitar are short but sweet and totally hot. Jimmy could
always be counted on for a solid riff and a melody to take it skywards
in the Flyin' Ryan Brothers band and 21st Century Riffology
is a stellar showcase for Jimmy Ryans patented electric guitar
prowess, all the while accentuating the FRBs patented instrumental
hard rock and heavy metal guitar sound. 21st Century Riffology
is even more on fire than the 2011 Flyin Ryan Brothers CD, Under
The Influence, which is hard rock heavy metal but loaded with
a kind of implied Progmetal rock style influence. As FRB fans will
note, the sheer amount of styles and riffs on 21st Century Riffology
is stunningly mind blowing. Whats even more incredible is
that Jimmy has done the whole album on his own, with the drums handled
by Dan Van Schindel. FRB fans may miss the interlocking band
style and greatness of Under The Influence, yet its great
to have Jimmy back on the recording scene again, especially with a
new, sizzling sounding, self-produced solo album. The Hendrix influenced
track Stardust is essential guitar 101. Highlighting 21
tracks with Ryan-esque titles like Speedloader, Nailgun,
Funkalicious and Zenology, 21st Century
Riffology will clear your cobwebs and clean your clocks. Play
loud for maximum impact. www.ryanetics.com
21st Century Riffology:
an interview with
Why did it take so long to get a new solo album from you?
Jimmy Ryan: Well, it wasnt intended... ironically, I
hadnt really considered another solo album because of the work
I was planning on doing with my brother once I retired from my day
gig. I thought it was going to be a golden age for The
Flyin Ryan Brothers and I really felt we had a few albums left
in us. It wasnt meant to be, so I had to get over it and get
on with my own thing. As fate would have it, an opportunity presented
itself in writing music for use in TV & film and that ended up
being the body of work that we drew the tracks for 21st Century
mwe3: Where does 21st Century Riffology begin after
the Flyin' Ryan Brothers legacy?
Jimmy Ryan: Its sort of an unbroken chain
always been driven to create, whether on my own or with others; my
mother was like that and Im definitely following in her footsteps
in that regard. As she always said, You gotta have art.
mwe3: What made you want to call it a day with the Flyin
Ryan Brothers and what about the other members doing now?
Jimmy Ryan: That wasnt intended, either
from my standpoint. My brother Johnny no longer wanted to write or
record. He had been there done that so to speak
and wanted to focus his energies on playing live. I was devastated,
but it is what it is. So be it. He now plays in a cover band called
Vertical Jam. Theyre excellent. Bass player Bill Kopecky lives
in France and is heavily involved in the progressive music scene over
there. I work with drummer Dan Van Schindel on the TV & film work
I do; he also plays drums with my brother in their band.
mwe3: What period of the Flyin' Ryan Brothers do you feel was
Jimmy Ryan: For me, the last 3 albums
Totality and Under The Influence really represent us hitting
our stride. Im sorry we werent able to do more.
mwe3: How many albums did you make with the Flyin' Ryan Brothers
and how many solo albums have you done?
Jimmy Ryan: 7 with my brother - Sibling Revelry, Colorama,
The Chaos Sampler, Legacy, Blue Marble, Totality and Under
The Influence and 3 on my own - Finally, Truth Squad/Superkiller
and 21st Century Riffology.
mwe3: How did you hook up with Grooveyard Records?
Jimmy Ryan: Theyre an independent label dedicated to
outstanding, top-shelf Total Guitar music from around
the world and the work they do keeping the rock alive with
the riffage that matters is incredible. I first met Joe
Groovedawg Romagnola, the president and high priest of
the Grooveyard, in 2003 when he contacted me about his interest in
picking up my Truth Squad release. We hit it off in a big way and
have been deep musical brothers and dear friends ever since. I love
him and his wife Sami to death. The Grooveyard catalog is absolutely
mind-boggling in depth and breadth, and its an honor and a privilege
to work with them.
How did you work together with drum Dan Van Schindel on the 21st
Century Riffology CD.
Jimmy Ryan: We recorded everything at Dans home studio.
Weve partnered up for the TV tracks I do, and its a match
made in heaven. He engineers everything and hes got that down
cold, which frees me up to be able to create and not worry about that
part of it. Its a blessing. Weve been doing it for over
2 years now and have over 100 tracks under license. Its joyful
work, and we have a lot of fun doing it.
mwe3: Didn't Dan join the Flyin Ryan Brother when drummer
Johnny Mrozek passed away?
Jimmy Ryan: Yes, he did step into that void after Johnny died,
although Dan was a Flyin Ryan Brother going all the way back
to the mid-1970s in the very first iteration of TFRB. Hes actually
got the best of both worlds: he works with me in the studio and he
plays drums in my brothers band. Hes the only person who
actually plays with TFRB now
just not at the same time.
mwe3: And why was the new album mastered in Greece by Stavros?
Jimmy Ryan: Joe at the Grooveyard recommended him, and after
hearing some of the work hes done, particularly his Universal
Hippies release, also on Grooveyard Records, I was all in with
his mastering mojo!
mwe3: What do you make of all this time gone by? So many artists
are dying so it's amazing that some are still able to get a record
Jimmy Ryan: So many artists are dying so it's amazing that
some are still able to get a record out. It is amazing. One thing
I believe is that nothing happens by accident, so we have to make
things happen. Were still here, so we better make the most of
the time weve got left. Thats all Im trying to do.
Keep on moving. On to the next thing
mwe3: What do you miss most compared with say 10 or even 25
Jimmy Ryan: Some random thoughts on now vs. then: tech has
turned us all into addicts. Everything is all style and no substance.
Art is now commerce, and everything is based on its utility. Its
profits before people or planet. We confuse things that are popular
with things that are really good. Innovation is great only if it makes
money. I could go on and on. That said, the only thing permanent is
change, so we better roll with it or get rolled over by it. The past
is gone. Embrace what works and discard the rest.
You wrote a pretty scathing indictment of the music business in the
liner notes. I guess the internet is the new music business.
Jimmy Ryan: I guess the internet is the new music business.
It most certainly has turned out that way; I dont like it, but
its way bigger than me.
mwe3: How long before the smart phone eliminates the hi-fi
Jimmy Ryan: In a certain sense it already has. Just look around
got their nose buried in their iPhone at all times. Music? Streaming
through earbuds is just the way it is today. Like everything else,
music has been commodified. Its just a sign of the times. I
do love the ability to find stuff out instantly on the web, but I
hate other aspects of tech. I dont text. Im not on Facebook
or Twitter or Instagram or any of that shit. You can email me, but
Id rather you call me. You can call me, but Id rather
see you in person. I need the human touch. Im a dinosaur, man.
mwe3: Why do you call the album 21st Century Riffology and
do you consider yourself to be a master riffologist?
Jimmy Ryan: Well, the title was Joes idea
got a way with words and really digs in deep to every project he releases.
Within the context of the release, I think the title 21st Century
Riffology is the perfect metaphor for the paradigm shift represented
by the content: 21 songs in about 50 minutes. A master riffologist?
if anything, Ive developed a process that
works for me and honed a skill set that enables me to continually
get it all out in an organized and consistent fashion. Im pretty
good on the fly and a lot of what I do with Dan is on the fly.
mwe3: Which are the newer tracks on the CD?
Jimmy Ryan: All of them started out as submissions for the
TV work I do. I submitted all the tracks I had to Joe and he chose
the ones he felt were the right fit. He had me extend the solo sections
on a few of those tracks - "Stompbox", "Untamed",
"Superchunk", "Injector" and asked me to write
4 new songs to complete his vision for the release: the opener &
closer "Event Horizon" and Zenology", "X Factor"
mwe3: Is "Stardust" a modern day Hendrix tribute?
Jimmy Ryan: I guess you could look at it that way. To say Jimi
was an influence is an understatement. It does have a very ethereal
Hendrixian vibe and the reverse solo at the end is very reminiscent
of something he mightve done. The main solo section leans a
bit more toward the Gilmouresque but resonates the overall direction
What do you think Jimi Hendrix would make of the world in 2017?
Jimmy Ryan: I think hed be outraged and disillusioned
at the state of the world today. My favorite quote by him is When
the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know
peace. He was so right. We have a long way to go.
mwe3: Tell us some bit about the guitars you used on 21st
Century Riffology and what bass did you use?
Jimmy Ryan: I relied on a bunch of instruments. On the rhythm
tracks, for the standard tuning and drop D stuff I used a Fano RB-6,
a Peavey Wolfgang, my 74 Strat and a Birdsong 4 string bass.
I used an ESP 7 string and a vintage 70s Alembic 5 string for
the low B stuff. On the leads I used several old Strats, a 70s
BC Rich Bich, an 82 Epiphone Spirit with a Bill Harden pickup
and a Nik Huber Krautster, depending on the track. I used a Fractal
Audio Axe-FX Ultra direct for most of the tracks along with some pedals
through the front end to grease it up a bit where it was needed.
mwe3: Any big news in the guitar world for you?
Jimmy Ryan: I think the boutique guitar and amp builder revolution
is really encouraging. People like Cliff & Patty Cultreri at Destroy
All Guitars represent the future of whats possible to me. I
wont go anywhere else for guitars or amplification. Theyre
incredible. If you can imagine it, they can procure it. Cliff is a
tone guru of the highest order.
mwe3: With the internet I guess the print world has also been
impacted by and large.
Jimmy Ryan: No doubt about it. Look at what happened with 20th
Century Guitar magazine and what youre doing now with mwe3.com!
Im doing this interview with you here now and I really appreciate
the opportunity. The web, through people like you, gives me a voice
that I otherwise wouldnt have. In todays world, you wont
find me or TFRB in the print mags. Why? Were not a name brand.
We may be good, but were not that popular. We dont sell
enough product. We dont have corporate endorsements or sponsorships.
We dont have an advertising budget. We dont pay
to play. In other words, we dont sell magazines, and publishers
need to sell magazines to survive. Again, everything is based on its
utility. I get it. I recently let all my guitar magazine subscriptions
lapse with the exception of Vintage Guitar, but not because of the
web. Theyve all turned into guitar-centric versions of Cosmopolitan...
pages and pages of ads and endorsements sprinkled with interviews
with the same people most of the time and dozens of we love
everything reviews. Gimme a break.
What was the recording process on 21st Century Riffology like?
Jimmy Ryan: Dan and I have it down to a science from our TV
work together. We have a standing session once a week. I record the
rhythm guitar & bass tracks to a click, generally 3 at a time.
Then he lays down the drums. Then the next week I track the melodies,
harmonies and leads. Thats the way we do it.
mwe3: So were the tracks done over a long period?
Jimmy Ryan: Actually, all the tracks for the album were culled
from the tracks weve done together over the last couple of years
for the TV work we do. Its a volume thing and we complete 6
tracks per month on average.
mwe3: Did you use a computer to make the tracks?
Jimmy Ryan: Yes
thats the way it is now. Everyone
welcome to the machine. Its so much easier,
if you know how to use them, and the platforms are universally accepted,
plus you dont need a lot of space to work in.
mwe3: Do you miss the days of the big studio with different
acoustics or is that all being programmed on your computer programs?
Jimmy Ryan: Yes and no... Im conflicted there a bit
Theres nothing like true analog warmth and Neumann mics and
Neve preamps and big rooms and the like. That said, ever try to tune
up a Studer 24 track machine, much less get parts for it? Theyre
still out there, but theyre few & far between and very costly
to maintain. Would I like use gear like that? Hell yeah
the facilities that still trip on high-end analog is way beyond my
pay grade. The computer-based platforms are cheaper, very efficient,
really robust and getting better all the time. Is it the same? No,
but close enough for rock & roll.
mwe3: What will become of the human race and better yet, what
are your plans for the ungodly year of 2018?
Ryan: When we live at a time in human history when a temper tantrum
and indeed might, precipitate World War III, the implications
for human survival are chilling. Social media platforms are ripping
apart our social fabric. Authoritarian tribalism, distilled and amplified
by these platforms, is now the new normal. The echo chambers created
by the algorithms used in social media exploit a vulnerability in
human cognition by creating dopamine-driven social-validation feedback
loops and they are destroying how society works. This is not hyperbole.
Human conflict is spreading planet-wide, and the platforms that dominate
global online discourse are fanning the flames. Economic inequality
in the US exceeds that of some third world countries. Its shameful.
Needless to say, as far as the future of human species goes, Im
For me personally, in 2018 and beyond Ill continue to create
the music that matters to me as long as I possibly can and devote
myself to being the best husband to my wife, the best father to my
children, the most nurturing papa to my grandkids, the best friend
to those I care about, to be kind to everyone I meet and to be content
with what I have. Thats the best I can ever hope to do and be
in this life.
mwe3: Are you continuing on or will it be another 5 years till
a new album?
Jimmy Ryan: I need to create and will continue to do so. I
hope it wont take another 5 years, but as I said before, the
economic realities that artists living and working in America face
are daunting at best. Dug Pinnick from Kings X said they cant
even make a living touring. If thats what a band of their stature
is facing today, what about guys like me? Ive always joked that
Ryanetics Music is a not-for-profit company; thats not the way
it was planned, but thats the way it turned out.
That said, the TV & film work I do keeps me busy, and incredible
people like you at mwe3.com and Joe at the Grooveyard give priceless
opportunities to artists like me to get their music out there. I know
I have a lot more music in me and Im going to keep cranking
it out as long as I can. One day at a time.