WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION OF YOUR BANDMATES WHEN YOU MET?
I met Eddy (Garcia, drums and Little King’s studio engineer since 2003) in about 1996. He and his brother Danny owned a little rock club in El Paso, TX called The Attic. He’s a few years older than me, but we were both pretty young back then. Ah, the folly of youth! Ed was also the drummer and founder in a new band (new at that time, anyway) called Pissing Razors. Anyone who knows me well understands that I’m not easily intimidated or impressed, but Ed was so cool and so talented that I was like, “Okay, dude has some things going on.”
We didn’t really know each other that well at the time, though. My best friend and bass player, Shannon Brady, was also good friends with Ed, so eventually we connected over music and touring stories. When I was ready to make my 3rd record, Virus Divine, Shannon was still in Little King and he thought it would be cool to record with Eddy and then mix up in Toronto with Terry Brown, who was Rush’s old producer. We did, and Eddy and I have been good friends and bandmates (at least in the studio) ever since. 5 albums with him as engineer and 4 on drums, still going strong.
Manny Tejeda is the bass player in Little King, and like Shannon and Ed, he is certainly one of my closest friends and confidants, even though we’ve only known each other for about 5 years. We met through some mutual friends in Delaware at a bar called The Pond. It is a former lesbian bar, but we spent a lot of time there anyway. Too much, really!
Manny is Dominican and a crazy good musician. He’s also crazy. So that worked just fine for me. As we became friends, he started to understand that I wasn’t totally full of shit about making records and trying to do something with them. He latched on, we started jamming, and the rest is history…Amuse De Q is our 7th album and Manny’s second with LK.
First impression? Both Ed and Manny could handle me. I was right!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY PLAYING SHOWS?
You know, it’s been too long. I haven’t really toured properly in a long time, as I am a single dad and have adult responsibilities and a career outside music as well. I guess I am sort of a professional juggler, when it comes right down to it. But the thing that has had to take a back seat is road life, for better or worse. We definitely plan to tour in support of Amuse De Q after it comes out September 3 IF the demand is there. Seems like it will happen, but who knows? Life intrudes.
I remember a tour back in 1999 in support of the album Time Extension. It was our first real tour outside of the Southwest, and we were wide-eyed and very green. We drove from Seattle to Colorado Springs to stay with our buddy Mike who had set up the first show of that leg at a place called The Garden. He also had a buddy named (Crazy) Jake at a station called The Eagle, and apparently, he really liked one of our songs called “Smoke Spin Free” which was about legalizing marijuana. In Colorado. Go Figure.
As we took the stage at this nice club, it was packed. Like, “Oh fuck, we better not suck” packed. People were singing along with the song and generally were really into it. I don’t think we played very well, though…that was tough to deal with. But it was a nice memory and one that motivates me to this day. “Work harder, play better, don’t suck.” Words to live by, right?
Little King filled out a quick Q&A for us!
WHAT ARTIST WOULD BE YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?
I dream of collaborating with Snoop. We’d get along great…same age, both from LA originally, very much into cannabinoid research, huge sports fans.
WHAT SONG ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF AND WHY?
I have written and recorded 50 songs as of today. I’m proud of most of them, although there are plenty that make me cringe a little bit. Particularly from the first couple records.
Having said that, there are a few from each album that I still love. They just WORK…and still work. But of all of them, 4 really still stand out: “Collateral Damage,” “Happy Home,” “The Skin That I’m In,” and the title song from the new album.
In fact, “Amuse De Q” is probably the one I would choose for my funeral. I don’t know…it all came together so well. The album is really a collection of my experiences in the Quarantine aka “The Q,” and this particular track is my reflection on being single for 8 years after 2 failed marriages. I guess it’s really a resignation letter to the women of the world…”I don’t make excuses/for a midnight flight/I don’t have a room for you, love/Goodnight.” The pandemic and resulting isolation were really hard on everyone, but it was uniquely hard on those of us who are alone.
David Hamilton and Christina Hernandez are my cello and violin collaborators (respectively), and Christina’s violin part on the closing stanza is chilling. Plaintive and lovely, and it connects the dots between the music and words so well. I also think the mix is fantastic on that one…I CAN NOT WAIT to share it. September 3, baby!
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR NON-MUSICAL INFLUENCES?
Huge fan of Civil Rights leaders in the USA…the late great John Lewis, in particular. He’s actually featured on our new song and in the video for “Keyboard Soldier.” The opening line says “You could be the good kind of trouble,” which is reference to his famous line about resisting. I hope people watch that video and get where I’m coming from.
Anyone who risks their lives and limbs for a cause greater than their own is cool in my book, particularly when that cause is advancing the rights and freedoms of a marginalized person or group of people. Could I do the same? I’d like to think I could, sans excuses, when called upon…but I don’t know.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
DON’T DO IT! Seriously, what the actual fuck is wrong with you, Ryan? Put away that guitar, just say no, she’s not the one, straighten that tie, and you don’t need another wife.
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE YEAR?
Ahhhh…future plans. “My best-laid plans drown in confusion, around the illusion of my Happy Home.” Or maybe, “My best-laid plans are selfish and changing, and I’m rearranging AGAIN my Happy Home.” I wrote that. Yeah.
We dropped our first video for the new album for the song “Keyboard Soldier” on July 6, and the next one for “Bombs Away” hits August 6. The album drops on September 3…and from there? Only the shadow knows. Will see you on a stage somewhere, I hope…