Ed Ryan’s new album “Even Time” was recently released, and he kindly answered a few of our questions regarding his inspirations, past and present.
Ed, “Even Time” is your third album…how have you grown as an artist since 2016’s “Roadmap?”
I think I have grown the most in terms of technology, getting better sounds, understanding mixing and how to use the stereo field. I’ve been a multi-instrumentalist for years but my keyboard and bass playing abilities have definitely improved. As a songwriter I’ve been writing at the keys a little more than usual, and I’m just trying to be a little more concise. While I’ve ostensibly just put out my third album, my first release with a band came out in 1980. So I’d say as an artist I’ve been pretty fully formed for a while now. I always look to improve and learn new things. Renowned cellist Pablo Casals ( while he was in his 80’s) was asked why he still practiced daily and he replied “I feel like I’m making progress.” Words to live by!
You’ve had several recent collaborations with Orbis Max. including “Everyone Wonders,” “Other Plans,” and “Icarus.” Please tell us a little about working with other artists, particularly in this time of social distancing.
Back in the late 1980’s I was managed by Hilly Kristal , the owner of CBGB, and he was always loaning me out to other acts as a lead guitarist. He contended it would expand my horizons, and he wasn’t wrong. I never really collaborated as a songwriter until Craig Carlstrom from Orbis Max contacted me and asked if I would like to give it a shot. It was a great learning experience and a lot of fun. We had guys from all over the country and parts of Europe contributing parts..so it was a quick tutorial on file sharing and off we went. Everyone is all over this now due to the pandemic, but we’ve actually been doing this stuff for about four years at this point. I highly recommend musicians getting comfortable with this process considering the “new normal”, if there is such a thing.
11 of the 12 tracks are upbeat, featuring energetic tempos, with “Everywhere” as the only track that goes for a laid back slow burn…did you plan the album that way, or was it simply the way the songs unfolded as you wrote them?
Well, the original concept of this album was to record songs from my fairly vast back catalog. Since about fifty percent of the album was written by a much younger man, it’s pretty uptempo! The songs from my older bands The Rudies and Jupiter Jets, were live staples so they were pretty rocking. As is my wont to do, once I started recording I started writing new material. As I replaced some of the older songs, I picked new ones that fit the general vibe of what was already there. Actually, I Know Where You’re Going To is a bit slower as well. I felt my last album Furious Mind wasn’t quite upbeat enough so maybe I overcompensated lol! Really, I just try to pick the songs I feel make a unified statement.
“Everywhere” has a fantastic guitar solo that melts into light keyboards, then comes roaring back for the finale. Who would you say were your greatest influences when it came to composition and these kinds of dynamics?
Thanks for the solo kudos, I really dug deep for that one! As a songwriter/composer I have a lot of influences, but some loom larger than others. On the Brit side it’s Davies, Townshend, Partridge and Bowie. John Hiatt is my favorite American songwriter, Buffalo Springfield and Neil Young are hugely influential to me. As for arrangements and dynamics, I actually went back to school when I was in my 40’s and got a Master’s in music composition. I studied orchestration and recording, so that really opened up my mind to a lot of things. Being a grown man, I had already found my voice as a writer. Learning to use all the instruments compositionally was a great outlet. It’s like the old Motown dictum of making every part a hook. As a guitarist, my biggest influences are Jeff Beck and Mick Ronson. I’m really a blues based, emotional player. I do like to add in a melodic sensibility like Beck and Ronno.
How do you see the next year playing out as musicians try to rebound from Covid-19? How do we keep music vital and growing when gigs are still largely on hold?
I think we are going to see a lot of online shows and people really digging into recording. There are already drive-in shows starting up here in Delaware. As a guy who lived in New York for 50 years…I don’t know how they are going to deal with it! I think musicians just have to keep creating and learning new things. I can say my chops haven’t been this good in years lol! Woodshedding can be a wonderful thing. I have a lot of friends who are so disheartened that they barely play anymore, which is very sad. It’s had the opposite effect on me. You keep things vital by expanding your musical worldview, finding new outlets and putting yourself out there!
MANY THANKS to Ed for taking the time to share his thoughts with us…check out his new album at the link above and add it to your collection.