Sunday 10 May 2020

TRACK BY TRACK : The Ryne Experience - Funky Town

Funkytown is the new album from The Ryne Experience released via US label Under The Counter Records. It's described as " a conceptual psychedelic alt-country record following the story of Paul Mashake, a man who has his name, lover, and identity stolen from him by Nameless Sam. As he forms new experiences as a blank slate, he begins to see the world with new eyes, and when he eventually reclaims his past life, he feels like an impostor in his own skin and disillusioned with modern societal life. As Nameless Sam returns to take the one thing that tethered him to his old identity, he snaps and descends into madness."  Ryne walks us through the album.

1. Paul Mashake

Paul Mashake started as a poem in the vein of Shel Silverstein. There were a few songs that started in the poem book that eventually found their way into the songwriting book. The song's lyrics describe a fight over Mashake’s identity with a Paul walking away in the end, but you don’t know which one that is. The actual poem includes the end results of a third verse that was never recorded.

The music of Paul Mashake I wanted to make atmospheric with built up verses of organ, oohs, a walking bass line, guitar licks, and vocal harmonies, only to drop back down into a catchy riff. I used two amps to make my rhythm guitar sound full with clean and distortion simultaneously and tracked with Patrick Kargl, my long time drummer who plays on the whole record with electric drums, per request of himself to have a consistent drum sound.

This was one of the first songs we tracked for the album in January of 2019 in my bedroom studio, “Upstairs, Man Studios” Prior to starting the recording sessions for “Funky Town”, I purchased a 1968 Conn Organ from a goodwill for $30 and dragged it upstairs with guitarist Jerry Wenger to implore on almost every song of the album, my ace in the hole. This song would later go on to be the base point for my loose story I placed behind the album upon completing the songs.

2. Canopy

Canopy was written about my trip I took to Black Mountain, NC a year ago. The lyrics depict myself waking up to my friend playing a sitar record in the morning, the breeze and ease of the mountains, beautiful trees and leaves, and of course when I got frisked down and searched by the cops on the way home for driving “inconsistently.”

The music came later with a nod to my friend Elroy Meltzer and The Velvet Underground. I remember being shy to share the song and finally did at a songwriters retreat at Jerry’s house and then the song was fully developed after. This is the track that almost didn’t make the record with Patrick going off to college in the fall, we tracked this in September of 2019 at Upstairs, Man. This features the classic line up of the band we had for a solid year of more with Myself, Patrick, Jerry, and Mitchell Evink (bass guitar, cello).

3. The Message

The Message was written about an encounter I had with a musician I had wanted to meet and as well as a relationship I had at the time with my girlfriend. Often two or more ideas would find their way into songs to make one piece.

The music came out as a folk song and ended up getting a good layer of instruments with my neighbor Matt Strubler playing a acoustic lead and chords, Patrick’s brother Jeremy Kargl playing an electric lead, Beach Boys-esque vocals, and three key machines, accordion, organ from the leslie speaker, and organ from the standard speaker all used in different spots of the song. Jerry Wenger was the mastermind behind creating the sound of the album while still using all the overdubs and tracks I sent him to get a balanced mix.

4. NFC

NFC stands for Nature, Feelings, and Cigarettes, but I had a friend guess what the acronym might stand for and they said, “No Fucking Clue”, I like this much better. I can’t argue with Neutral Floor Cleaner either. This was just a Bob Dylan-esque song about being in nature, being in love, and smoking.

This song is one of the two I started in North Carolina while on my trip in the sound lab at Warren Wilson College. This is where Jerry’s sister Corrina Wenger attends so she played bass on the track. Her boyfriend at the time, Alex Jones, played a vibraslap on the song. I took the guitar, harmonica, and bass parts back up to Michigan and finished the song in my room.

All the vocals for the Funky Town album were done in a small closet above my stairs that I used as an isolation booth, but for this track I tried just the opposite by recording the vocals on the stairs. I swore my sister was out of the house when I recorded the vocals at 3 in the morning, but alas she was not. I placed a mic in front of me as well as at the bottom of the stairs to capture a weird reverb spot I found on the stairs.

5. There is a Reason

There is a Reason was written in my ex girlfriend's apartment while she was at work and was written about her, sappy, I know.

Upon releasing my debut album Hokey in November of 2018, I hit the ground running with this song in December of 2018 at Kargl Studios. This was the main studio for Hokey at the Kargls house and was the only track off Funky Town to be recorded there.

I started the song with just vocals and guitar and brought it home to finish, moving my studio equipment with me. There’s usually a song on each record where I play most of the music myself, this is one of them. I added lead guitar, bass, synth, organ, organ drums, and electric kazoo. Mitchell added electric cello and normal cello, and Jeremy added acoustic guitar and sprinkles as percussion. You can hear him talking at the end of the track. This track was done in a matter of a few days with the song being completed by Christmas of 2018.

6. Inner Run

Inner Run was written about the bore and scare of growing up and leaving your childhood behind as well as the damage of what you do today effecting you tomorrow. This was another poem that transcended into a song.

The music for Inner Run I wanted to be tight knit as well as loose at the same time. I think the tightness was added with Jerry’s guitar work and the looseness achieved with my banjo part. This song implores the organ more as a main instrument. This track started with myself and the Kargls with Jeremy playing bass. I would say this track in particular was the hardest one to get the vocals right with five voices at the chorus.

7. Falling

Falling was written about a perspective of daily life with an outlook of a pit of depression in the background. You know, those hometown feels.

Falling was recorded two days after writing it and was the only song to be recorded at Jerry’s house, aka Clear Sky Tech. We did this track live with myself, Jerry, Mitchell, Patrick, and Corrina, who played keys on my synth. I brought the song home and added vocals and it was done. I think this track has a laid back vibe to it, creating images of the river. Our most Mac Demarco-esque track, not on purpose.

8. Ope

Ope was written the following day about a trip I took. I remember being in awe listening to Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys, looking past the roof and into the stars from a bunk bed view. I stood outside in the winter in the dead of night, everything was silent minus a dog Jeremy and I woke up in his neighborhood. Everything twinkled outside like being inside a snow globe.

Later on I read Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and found profound understanding in his poetry. The theme of acceptance of death matching up perfectly with the record Warm by Jeff Tweedy playing at the same time.

Ope was started in North Carolina in the sound lab at Warren Wilson. I added guitar, melodica, and vibraslap, Corrina played bass, and her friend Leo Guth added a spoon track to the song. I took this song home and finished it there, making it the most psychedelic song on the album. I recorded a lengthy 90 second organ intro to the song using the flute repeat to get an oscillation effect. I placed rain samples from the same day in the background. I recorded a full synth part for the song, but only used it at the chorus.

Organ was added to accompany the vocals during the verses. Then Jerry iced the cake with something around 12 lead guitar parts, most of them at the chorus, all exploding after one another. Our friend Justin has always been a positive influence on the band so we featured his great screeching abilities at the end of the song, sounding off like a teapot.

9. Moonrise

Moonrise was written about, well, the moon. This is the oldest song on the album, written before Hokey was recorded. I’m reminded particularly about writing this at a beach house in Surf City, NC on a keyboard with the ocean and light pollution in mind.

The track started off as a keyboard click, acoustic guitar, bass from my friend Ben Steer. This is the most Tweedy-esque track on the album with my cat Sheena crying in the beginning, keys, organ, cello from Mitchell, baritone uke, 3 vocals, and a wave sound that Jeremy and I made with a keyboard and wah pedal. A Yeti mug was used as a bell and some hand percussion was added from Ben.

10. Funky Town

Funky Town was written as a group, not necessarily the band but a group of friends. We had always had a joke about going to Jerry’s for band practice and we called that Funky Town. “Rip it on down to funky town”, we would say. This joke took a new meaning after a gig one day, drunk and stoned, myself, Patrick, Jerry, and Strubler were hanging out and I stumbled onto the four chords that are Funky Town. And thus it was born, all four of us singing Funky Town, fiddle around, come on down.

Over the next few days I wrote out some verses, added a break, and boom we had a song. The lyrics themselves were written in a satirical way with the song being sad and slow, they reflect on life and the disturbed state of the world today. This was the song that jump started the recording and ideas for this album. We started playing it live almost immediately and the song took even more life.

Originally Funky Town was only supposed to be a six-track EP, but with the addition of Canopy, Falling, NFC, and Ope it formed into a full album. I used Paul Mashake as a starting point and decided to try and make a story out of the songs, this gave me the track flow that you see on the album and inspired the film/music movie of the album that is soon to be out. The film explains parts of the story with the listener/watcher forced to fill in the rest with their imagination.

The music of Funky Town is rather simple, but potent. Two acoustic guitars, a few leads, organ, mandolin, bass, vocals, and drums shape the soundscape of the song. You can hear towards the beginning of the track where my friend Mitch Twickenham rips a vape for added effect.

11. Deedle Station #5

This song came as a last minute gag to throw at the end of the album, my co-worker had dissed on the Funky Town track saying it sounded like we all had slicked back hair and were playing the song in the 50s at a high school dance. That comment inspired the doo wop reprise you hear the end, really sending the point home. The skit in the beginning is sound samples from outside my window with myself, Jerry, and Mitchell acting like truckers inside Funky Town at a truck stop, on the lookout for the swan police. The title of the song itself was from Justin, our “ghostwriter” He constantly gives us song ideas through phrases he says or lyric lines he makes up, all part of the experience.

The Ryne Experience is on Facebook and Twitter.

The album is available on Bandcamp.

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