‘Don’t Follow Where They Lead’ is Ed Ryan’s 4th solo record since ‘Roadmap’ from 2016. Ed has an unmistakable sound of his own but puts the accents slightly differently on each record. This time you will also hear short instrumental songs and heavy rockers. Again, they are just accents, and the high quality of the songs, to which we have become so accustomed, is assured throughout. Ed still sings like Sting’s brother; his guitar solos are sharp and hard, his melodies are pure and straightforward, and his lyrics dig a little deeper.
I’m not kidding; I’m an Ed Ryan fan.
How did this record come together?
It took a while for Even Time to get released, so while I was waiting I accumulated a lot of new material. I started working on two albums simultaneously, one of rootsier, more jangly songs and one of harder pop/rock tunes. I decided to follow the rootsier direction and completed the album, but I just didn’t feel excited by it.
In the midst of this, I wrote and recorded what is now the title track of the new album “Don’t Follow Where They Lead”. It didn’t fit with my finished album, but it excited me. I decided to hold onto about half of the finished album and then just write without an agenda…and found myself with an album I’m happy about!
What was the moment you knew you were on to something?
It started with writing that title track but it was really when I started sequencing the songs. Everything tied together musically and thematically. The songs have contrast and variety but they feel like they’re part of a whole, not just a collection of disparate tunes. This truly feels like an album.
How great is the urge to stay creative? To keep writing songs and lyrics?
The urge to stay creative is like breathing for me, it’s a lifelong obsession. Music runs through my head constantly, if I didn’t love it so much it would drive me crazy! I always want to learn more and continue to improve, you can never learn enough. That’s why after years of being a working musician I went back to school to get my Masters in music composition.
I’ve written a lot of Instrumental music, a few small pieces of which appear on the new album. I generally have to toil over the lyrics because I’m very self-critical, but the music comes naturally.
What’s the gig you will always remember and why?
There are so many but I’ll have to go with the night my band The Rudies opened for Iggy Pop at Irving Plaza in NYC. This was ’80-’81 and Iggy was touring the Soldier album. We were a last-minute unannounced addition to the bill. We came out to a crowd expecting Iggy and instead got some local CBGB power pop band lol! They hated us, booed, and spat at us.
Luckily, we were a very loud, aggressive band, closer to Cheap Trick than the skinny tie brigade. We dug in, gave as good as we got, and by the third song they were ours! So I guess the why would be the old triumph over adversity adage. I was a huge Iggy fan and we got to hang with him in our dressing room later. All in all a very memorable gig.
When was the last time you thought “I just wrote a hit”?
I don’t know that I’ve ever thought that, but I always recognize when I’ve written something special, a cut above my average. Actually, I’m working on a new tune I started two weeks ago and it’s sounding really good to my ears … so I’ll go with that!