ORYAN
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ORYAN

New Paltz, New York, United States

New Paltz, New York, United States
Band Rock Folk

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"Oryan’s Belt"

Superfluous guitar solos and shoddy production are things that any attentive music fans despises. As fans, we tend to magnify our roles in the whole listening experience to make it seem as if the artist owes us something. As a result, we become more aware and selective in regard to our qualitative standards. Studio albums are obtained for free nowadays with a single click, so this feeling of entitlement usually arises most during live performances. The New Paltz-based group Oryan is one of upstate New York’s most renowned recent acts for their understanding of this ideology. They recognize groups that opt for unnecessary ten-minute keyboard solos or instill production that sounds like “a soundtrack for a torture victim” as projects that take advantage of their attention-demanding status. A focus on the natural and raw seem to appeal to Oryan, but not because they have little resources or motivation. Instead, they view live performances at the most natural, spontaneous, and engaging outlet for listening to music. This also ends up attributing vastly to their sound.

Composed of three Ryans and one Adam, Oryan show some tremendous work on their debut EP, The Ride. Folk, country, and alternative are the main forces at play, with no specific one dominating; all remain consistently in the picture. Vocalist Ryan Megan has a gravelly howl that is one-part Craig Finn and other-part Elvis Costello, shown beautifully in the climatic self-titled track. A country twang is present in the guitars while a slowly evolving rhythm section invokes periodical alternative-rock, led by empowering vocals that could fit in either genre. How the piano, guitars, and rhythm section all eventually coincide toward the latter end of the track shows this four-piece’s strength in its best form. Megan croons his way to emotional heights, leaving no room for the type of filler that studio albums are often so guilty of. Unlike the ten-minute keyboard solos they hate with extraneous spite, this moment is entirely necessary and additive to the track’s flow and feel.

“Manuals” is particularly interesting for its brooding, string-tinged tone of halted and commenced emotive eruptions. Megan alternates from a whisper to a growl as vigorously bustling percussion builds under a coarse guitar tone. The tone established here is clearly of distraught and somber intentions, and how it remains consistent while keeping in mind the original structure and impressive performances makes it truly a remarkable effort. Check out the last two minutes or so when strings, acoustic guitars, and electric guitars combine for one last cry for help. Truly empowering. The same can be said for “Helvetica”, a more repressed effort that features twangy country-folk in a more subdued, loose on the cause of drunkenness sort of ordeal. The flexibility here is again fulfilling though, and it sits quite well between the intense “The Ride” and brooding “Manuals”, especially when it shifts to alt-rock territory during its conclusion. Oryan usually execute introductions that last one or two minutes on each one of their songs, but this again beckons back to their on-stage ideology. They prepare listeners for their works with delicate precision, in most cases being the ushering in of a certain tone or instrumental arrangement. It always works though, and The Ride comes out feeling like a genuinely fresh EP that certainly deserves a listen. - Obscure Sound


"Oryan's Melodic Structure Sets Band Apart"

When songwriter Ryan Megan and drummer Ryan Schoonmaker first started playing together a few years ago, they had had it with the local music scene in New Paltz.

"I think this goes for most college town music scenes -- you usually get one or the other, either lame, just the crappiest of hippy jam band stuff . . . or like hardcore," Megan said during a recent conference call with Schoonmaker and bassist Paul Moran, who together make up three-fourths of New Paltz rockers Oryan.

"We're all big fans of song structure and songs -- we all come from very different musical backgrounds, but we all like songs. It seemed like nobody was really paying attention to what a song should be."

Something Different

Megan and Schoonmaker started out jamming on some of Megan's songs that he brought with him from his native Iowa, and soon realized they had something quite different from other bands on the local music scene.

"We started playing music that we enjoy playing and listening to, and once we'd gotten a good response, it became readily apparent that we stick out like a sore thumb, in a mostly good way, in pretty much any scenario," Megan said.

"Even though to us it seems very basic and normal, it comes off different than anything else, at least locally."

Since that time, Oryan (pronounced "O-Ryan," after Schoonmaker and Megan) has played throughout the New Paltz area and in New York City, and last year released a five-song EP, titled, appropriately enough, "The EP." Now, the band is setting its sights on the Capital Region, with a show booked at The Dublin Underground on Friday night, along with local rockers and friends of Oryan, Erin Harkes Band.

Previously, the band, also featuring lead guitarist Adam Gosney, had performed at least once at Tess' Lark Tavern before the building was closed due to fire damage.

"We're trying to push hard in the area," Megan said. "We should be a pretty regular presence this summer; we have friends up in that area, and besides New Paltz, it's the next natural place to set as a secondary home for shows. We have a built-in crowd there."

With a live show featuring costumes, characters, props, gadgets and other effects, the band is confident that audiences coming to their shows will be entertained.

"Even if you hate the music, you'll be entertained by the show," he said. "We try to play to the audience. It's not for us. We try to make sure everyone's having a good time."

The now 33-year-old Megan first moved to New Paltz in his mid-20s to work for a post-production house for a TV cooking network. He met Schoonmaker there, and the two still work there together along with Moran.

"We both bonded over Pink Floyd; we're both huge Pink Floyd fans," Megan said.

At this point, the folksier, rootsier material found on "The EP" has for the most part been replaced by new songs that feature a harder, more fully integrated full band sound. The band still performs different versions of EP songs "The Ride" and "Millbrook Needs a Taco Bell," which the band calls its "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

"When I was first playing I did the solo thing in Iowa," Megan said. "I came to the table with hundreds of songs, and Schoon kind of sifted through some of the demos and picked out a couple that he would like to work on, and that's what's on the EP. After we were done with the EP, I started to write songs for the band, having Schoon in my head so to speak, and it sounded very different -- a lot more raucous, rambunctious, less brooding."

The band's influences range from Megan's favorite songwriter, Roger Miller, to Tool (Schoonmaker's favorite), to '90s alternative bands such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam (Moran). All of these influences come together to create a sound rooted in songwriting traditions, but with elements of metal, classic rock and country, among others, thrown into the mix.

Other Directions

"I really think the varying tastes help push each other in new directions we wouldn't think to go before," Schoonmaker said. "This is who we are, but we write a song that sounds like this, a song after three or four crazy different influences are put in it. The differing opinions on music push us to new boundaries we wouldn't go to."

Megan's lyrics are often of the storytelling variety. One new song, "Varicose Alley," focuses on a man from the Beat era who travels back in time to the Middle Ages, gets sentenced to death, and requests the court to bury his remains where his favorite whorehouse will be built in the future. The band is hoping to have a full-length album recorded by next year.

"I have a very active, if not overactive imagination," Megan said. "I'm very much a little kid still, so it doesn't take much." - Schenectady Daily Gazette


"ORYAN. New Paltzers FTW!"

Oryan are a self-proclaimed four piece folk/rock band from upstate New York. As a “Ryan” myself, I thought it worth sharing this band with you, a band which is helmed by Ryan Megan and Ryan Schoonmaker (there is a third Ryan in the mix, Ryan McCann, which makes one feel almost sorry for Adam Gosney, the fourth and only non “Ryan” in the band).

The lead singer Ryan Megan has a lazy, three-beers type of baritone with just enough gravel in his voice to keep things interesting. As a guy from New York (unless I have this wrong), I wondered where this heavy drawl came from. He slurs his scenes between staccato drums and fuzzy guitars, and the hints of Tom Waits are undeniable. But the songs themselves (while at times benign and others down-right offensive) benefit from an interesting bar-room country meets traditional folk blend.

I caught some faint yet pleasant Mark Eitzel undertones in lead-off track “The Ride,” and liked the partly sunny tones of “Goodbye,” as much as I disliked the disturbing “If Milbrook Got a Taco Bell.” ”Helvetica,” is another nice track which starts out like something you might hear on any old decent country rock album but quickly evolves into something else once Ryan Megan’s vocals kick in.

There are some nice guitar and drum solos throughout, and you can see how the first two Ryan’s got their start just jamming together. Not sure I would put them in league with Deer Tick or Kings of Leon, but one could see where they may fit as the evil, outlandish step-brothers perhaps.

But with occasional, unforgivable lyrics such as: “If Millbrook got a Taco Bell / all the Arabs and Jews would make out / White folks would stop being scared of the blacks / And all the queers would feel free to come out,” I can’t help but wonder if there’s a joke here and I’m just missing it. - Liftingfaces


Discography

"Self Titled" EP (Sept. 2009)
"Make It Rain" single (Aug. 2010)
The Ride has played on 100.3 WKZE in NY

Photos

Bio

ORYAN was formed in 2008 when Ryan Megan and Ryan Schoonmaker began playing together in New Paltz, NY. Megan, an anti-folk singer and guitar player, and Schoonmaker, a drummer with a taste for progressive rhythms were sick of the local music scene. They despised self proclaimed “jam bands” who would gladly forfeit a tight, well written tune for another ten minute keyboard solo. Worse yet were the seemingly endless number of “hardcore” bands whose live sets sounded like a soundtrack for a torture victim, played with poorly tuned instruments. Where had all the solid, well crafted, kick ass rock music gone?

Fusing elements of folk, progressive and classic rock, and even hints of metal and country, the two musicians began crafting tracks of a truly unique nature. They quickly realized that their mutual love for varying, and what some might assume to be clashing, genres of music created a sound and style that is definitively their own.

Adam Gosney, the lead guitar player, joined them in the spring of 2009 and quickly fit right in with the duo. Rounding out the quartet is Paul Moran, the bands fifth and hopefully permanent bass player.

ORYAN recorded their first EP in the summer of 2009 at Millbrook Sound Studios. The EP is made up of 5 tracks that Megan and Schoonmaker wrote while living and rehearsing in a run-down farm house in Red Hook, NY. The sense of isolation, loss and over all bleak tone of the EP was most certainly shaped by their surroundings as well as their twisted sense of humor.

The band is currently writing tracks for a full length album which they plan to release early in 2011. They are headed in a new direction, one which is more raucous and upbeat, but still laced with their own brand of foreboding, post-apocalyptic tones.