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- Posted on Mar 1st 2010 4:29PM by Stefanie Schwartz
Although Gordon Gano and the Ryan Brothers' debut album 'Under the Sun' was released in September of 2009, fans of alternative rock will be pleased to hear a familiar voice. Former Violent Femmes frontman Gano's acerbic, witty lyrics are layered over the music of former Bogmen Billy and Brendan Ryan. Spinner recently spoke with Gano about his new project, the band's influences, and their upcoming gigs at this year's SXSW.
Describe your sound in your own words.
Traditional rock 'n' roll, but somehow still interesting.
Can you explain how the band formed?
I met Billy and Brendan Ryan, two brothers in New York living in the same neighborhood that I do. We got a friendship going and talked about music. I'm not sure whose suggestion it was at first, but they were writing music for different film and TV projects -- instrumentals -- and at a certain point they asked me to hear some things and see if i could come up with some lyrics. That's really how it started, just handing off some music and listening. I got very inspired by it.
What are the major differences between the sound of this band and the Violent Femmes?
It's a lot more keyboard-driven. In the Violent Femmes, everybody could play some keyboards, but there wasn't a principal person, whereas Brendan Ryan's main instrument is keyboard, so ... a lot more keyboard.
Who are your influences?
I guess one approach could be to say the collaboration; all the music of the Violent Femmes, and the Ryans with their previous band the Bogmen. I guess that's part of the sound of how we all play; we are these other groups. So who are the influences? Ourselves! But just to throw somebody out there, let's say Neil Young.
How would you describe your sound?
I would describe it as a ham and pastrami on rye with two pickles on the side.
Why did you decide to use your names as the name of the band versus making a band name up?
I would have personally like to have picked a band name, but we found ourselves meeting to pick a band name then coming up with 1,000 and not being able to unanimously decide on one. So we just decided to include our names, and it kind of grew on me. I also think it had something to do with our record label; they wanted to keep the Gordon Gano name in the band name somewhere.
Who was your first celebrity crush?
Well, I have a crush on too many actresses and female musicians to name. But when I was younger I do remember being obsessed with Jimmy Page. As a kid, I had this jean jacket with 'Led Zeppelin' on the back of it, and I still have it. So, I guess if I were a girl, he would be my celebrity crush. I mean, he was my first guitar hero.
Beatles or Stones?
What's the craziest thing you guys have experienced on the road?
It's not that crazy, but one time on tour in Italy, we were at a truck stop. We were on our way to this festival and there were a bunch of other people going there too that -- for some reason, I don't know why -- were dressed up like Boy George. They all had the Culture Club thing going on, and they had broken down. They all needed to get there too, and they were hitching rides. So we were in Southern Italy and there's this Boy George Culture Club troupe hitching rides at a truck stop with all these Italian truck drivers. It was very interesting. It was very strange at the time. They were just hopping in all these trucks with all these truck drivers and away they went. Presumably it was a good time for everyone.
Do you have one thing that you can absolutely never tour without?
Government form of ID. You can't travel around much without that.
Is there anybody you're really into checking out at SXSW this year?
I don't know who's going to be there, and I hope i get the opportunity to see some other music. A lot of the time, the schedules make it so that it's tough to see other things, but I hope I can.
What do you guys do to survive a festival like that?
Often the key to surviving festivals -- the craziest ones -- is being focused, doing your own show and getting in and getting out ... which really goes against what I just said. I hope to be able to see and hear some other music; it just depends on our schedule.
Do you have a musical guilty pleasure?
No. No I don't. Anything musically that I like, I don't have any guilt about it.Additional reporting by Jordanne Cherise