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Joey Ryan and the Inks

29 Jul

If you’re looking for an affable, wind-through-your-hair, off-to-see-America, summer-driving kind of record, look no further than Joey Ryan and the Inks‘ latest offering, Dennis Lane. Filled with catchy hooks, that sunny disposition from Beach Boy harmonizing and filled with oblique and sweet lyrics from tunes like “Jester In The Wind”, Dennis Lane also has an emotional core, courtesy of plaintive and simple tunes like “Who Shot The Arrow (That Broke My Heart)”. The band as a whole- Ryan, Tim Dickson, Matt Mitchell, Ryan Mach and Chris Mitchell- show off their collective chops and release the record properly tomorrow night at the Triple Rock Social Club, at a show featuring fellow 60’s-pop and Americana acts New Century Masters, Farewell Milwaukee and Wishbook. So before you head don for your sweet fix of crooning, late-night sunglasses wearing and early Dylan-posing, CakeIn15 caught up with Ryan to talk about the luxuries of home recording, the emotional inspiration behind heavier tunes and how friends can be both teachers and competitors.

C15: Talk to me about the title Dennis Lane– is this like Music from Big Pink? Do you live on Dennis Lane?

Joey Ryan: Yeah, I actually do live on Dennis Lane. We do all our own recording in my basement and some drum sessions elsewhere and whatnot, so it’s been a place where we can experiment with a lot of stuff and take our time and for me, really enjoy the recording process. We’ve just dubbed the basement “Dennis Lane Studios”, there’s nothing really legit about it. So yeah, we just thought it was a pretty appropriate title for the collection of songs but vague enough to not point it in any certain direction.

C15: In the credit line, all the writing is credited to you and the music to Joey Ryan and the Inks. What’s the band writing dynamic like?

JR: The part I really like about this new record is that the dynamic has really changed. The first record (2009’s Well, Here Are Then) was essentially a big collection of songs that I had in the works for the last couple years and the songs were pretty well demoed out and fleshed out in the full band sense and for the most part it was just re-recording and adding their own personal flavor to the songs. Probably about halfway through that record there were a couple songs that were more of the full band dynamic where it was taking a song from scratch and putting it together. This record, with the exception of a couple songs, represents a full collaboration. The songs themselves as far as writing were there from me, but as far as arrangements and parts and thinking about general direction of songs, it was a complete collaboration, which I think gives it a lot more depth in the record, and was a lot more enjoyable for me.

C15: What were the songs for Dennis Lane that were the exception to that band rule?

JR: “Blind Goat”, we’ve been playing that live for a couple years now and just hadn’t gotten around to recording it. Then, “Who Shot The Arrow (That Broke My Heart)” that one, it’s kind of lo-fi, it was written on the way back from the hospital after my grampa died and I just kind of went into the studio and recorded all parts of it myself. So that one didn’t really experience the collaboration side of things as much but that was written in the same general timeframe, it’s not like I was holding on to that one for a while.

C15: “Who Shot The Arrow (That Broke My Heart)” and “Steady Knot” both feature great pedal steel lines. What was the impetus to bring in that country-western sound into your sunnier pop harmonizing and arrangements?

JR: I personally love that instrument, as long as a person can play it to some extent there’s no way to make it sound bad, it’s just the warmest sounding, most beautiful sound. So from the get go, I wanted it, we knew this guy Mick White, who plays around town in a couple groups and had mentioned if we ever needed anything as far as pedal steel goes, to let him know, so I had it in the back of my mind. Those two songs I think kind of needed it, as the glue that holds it together. “Steady Knot” is a song that I was kind of worried about t some point, as far as production, but as soon as we got the pedal steel in there, it was exactly what it needed.

C15: Was “The Incredible Mr. Flowers” written about Paul Flowers of Flin Flon Bombers and New Century Masters?

JR: Yeah, that’s definitely a part of it [laughs]. I actually wrote that song when he was playing keyboards with Joey Ryan and the Inks, so the melody and the main part of the song were written while he was living in my house too, so he was a pretty big part of my life. Some people think it was kind of a break-up song or whatever, which there may be some of that, but in no way does it have bad connotations. It’s just a catchy title to a person that I latched on to and made a little loose story around.

C15: It’s a great name for a character in a song.

JR: And I did okay it with him first [laugh].

Joey Ryan & The Inks – “You Are All Friends of Mine” Take Away Show from Joey Ryan & The Inks on Vimeo.

C15: There’s been a sort of 60’s influenced pop scene going on here over the last 6-plus years with bands like The Exchange, Flin Flon Bombers, The Alarmists, New Century Masters and rotating cast of musicians including Mach, Flowers, Jorge Raasch and Tony Najm, amongst other. What have you learned from these bands and what sets Joey Ryan and the Inks apart?

JR: It’s huge and it’s a constant thing. I recently joined New Century Masters and I’ve always been a huge fan of Flowers’ stuff and I have been enjoying providing some bass under that. He writes songs in a much different way than I do and I really like it. I’ve learned so much from every one of those guys that it would be hard to pinpoint what any one thing might be. As far as setting Joey Ryan and the Inks apart, you know, I think it’s just generally the song structure. I don’t think that we should be set apart from the rest of those, I think it’s a really neat thing that we can all be in a way competing bands, but also really close and learning from eachother constantly.

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