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Denton, Texas, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2005 | SELF

Denton, Texas, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2005
Band Rock Soul




"35 Denton Day 3 Recap, Part II: RTB2 Unofficial 35D Keynote, Rap in the Rain, and Best Coast"

...I make the decision to camp at Dan’s because capacity limits have created one-in, one-out situations at every 35 Denton venue, a reality of the conference’s growth that organizers will no doubt have to wrestle with next year. I choose Dan’s Silverleaf because that is where RTB2 is scheduled to play at 11:30. From the time the schedule was released, I considered it the keynote performance: the best band at the best venue in front of a hometown crowd.

RTB2 absolutely dominate their set, finishing with a cover of Rolling Stones’ “Street Fighting Man,” a request that one patron scribbled on a five-dollar bill and handed to Ryan. Except for that, and fan favorite “When Hammer Hits Stone,” the set consisted of material from their unreleased, Stuart Sikes’ produced album. I’ll leave my description there, because, in articles past, I’ve already applied every superlative I can imagine to RTB2. Their flawless set at 35 Denton 2012 is just another exhibit for my case.
--Dick Sullivan - D Magazine

"Album Review: After Five Years, RTB2 Has A Second Album. Was It Worth The Wait?"

Ryan Thomas Becker is a man spread very thin. On top of his full-time job as a librarian, he is active in half a dozen regularly performing music projects. And though those groups share common personnel, Becker flexes different creative muscles in each. “The roots of all the projects don’t overlap,” Becker insists. The Last Joke fulfills Becker’s boyish, rock and roll dream. Hares on the Mountain play antique folk born in or inspired by theBritish Isles. Satans of Soft Rock represents Tony Ferraro’s tireless quest to write flawless pop songs (he succeeds often). And “Ryan Thomas Becker” is Ryan’s ultimate creative license, the name he uses when he feels like giving his own songs a good punch in the face or covering Big Freedia’s “Ass Everywhere.”

But RTB2 has always been the flagship act for Becker and drummer Grady Don Sandlin. Of all their pursuits, RTB2 is the most commanding. It is the best launch pad for Becker’s irrepressible enthusiasm for crystalline rock and roll, his stunningly organic guitar work and his uncaged voice. On stage, he and Grady are a two-man, rock rolling, blues-riffing Gatling gun. And after five years, the band is finally releasing their second full-length album, 2. (Yes, it’s called “two,” a verbal tripping point that provides Becker and Sandlin with Andy-Kaufman-like entertainment.)

For 2, the band secured the services of Grammy-winning sound engineer and producer Stuart Sikes. Becker admits to being, initially, a little nervous about working with Sikes. “I had heard he’s a task master,” Becker admits, which he thought might clash with RTB2’s habit of working loose and quick. As it happened, Sikes brought out the best in RTB2. “[Stuart] will work you until you get the take that you need, but he was extremely laid back,” says Becker. “We’d love to do it again.”

The new album is distinguished from RTB2’s 2007 debut, The Both of It, by both production and range. Whereas the latter was tracked live, with a naked, gritty sound, 2 is more instrumentally adventurous, with overdubs of Doors-esque organs and splatters of piano. The band has never exactly shunned that kind of recording booth tinkering, which you can hear on the band’s 2009 EP, In the Fleshed, and Becker’s solo album from the same year, Neighborhoof. Still, on 2, the rawness of guitar-drums-vocal takes the foreground. What really marks this new release is its stylistic kaleidoscope of songs.

The majority of 2 is comprised of compositions typical of Becker: songs of endearing wit that find their equilibrium in the taproots of rock and roll, where beat and melody come straight from the gut. But a few of these songs are bound to strike RTB2 fans sideways. Songs like “Cool in the Dark” and “32” jerk forward at cranky gaits, while “Brownstar” is hulkish and fueled by vented frustration. The whole album, which lasts all of 27 minutes, shows Becker stretching as a songwriter. “I feel like it’s the first RTB2 record,” Becker says. “It’s all the songs that represent the way I write and the way we play.” That is an ambitious statement considering how mature The Both of It sounded as the band’s debut, but 2 does show Becker’s willingness to test songwriting boundaries. Sandlin calls the new album “the perfect next step” for RTB2.

The release of this album is also the first time RTB2 will make use of a promotional firm, hoping to get their sounds heard by a wider audience. It is a point of contention among local arts watchdogs, what Becker and Sandlin ought to be doing with their obviously talented band. They have had no shortage of advice, from playing less frequently to getting out on the road. While they remain open to the possibility of the latter, Becker says the band has no plans to tour. That frustrates some, who believe RTB2 could be dropped on any stage of any size and win over any audience, but lately I have considered the strategic benefits of what RTB2 has been doing, by way of a Malcolm Gladwell theory. In Gladwell’s Outliers, which examines the origins of success, he has this to point out about The Beatles’ time in Hamburg prior to their popularity:

“All told, they performed for 270 nights in just over a year and a half. By the time they had their first burst of success in 1964, in fact, they had performed live an estimated twelve hundred times.”

I am not sure how close RTB2 might be to that 1,200 show mark, but they are definitely honing musicianship and performance while other aspiring acts are honing public relations. The latter might be a shorter route to a 200 word insert in a national magazine, but a path like RTB2’s is better suited to longevity. Becker is undecided on the degree to which his multi-band juggling act and current unwillingness to tour compromise his chances at success, but he does not waiver on RTB2 being, for him, a serious pursuit. When pressed on the issue, he speaks with uncharacteristic forcefulness. “RTB2 has always been the most important thing for Grady and me,” Becker - D Magazine

"How John Wesley Coleman Looked to Old Friends to Save His Set at 35 Denton"

In a last-minute booking snafu, John Wesley Coleman's management accidentally booked flights for members of his garage-pop band out of the DFW airport and on their way to Chicago, where they have a show later tonight. Coleman was also booked on a flight to the Windy City, but there was just one problem--he was slotted as a headliner at 35 Denton Thursday night. Instead of changing four plane tickets at the last minute, which would have been too expensive, Coleman decided to let the guys go, and plans to catch up with them later tonight.
Not wanting to follow up RTB2's set at Andy's Bar last night with a mere solo set (and I don't blame him), he hit up some old friends to help him get out of a pinch: Drummer Grady Sandlin of RTB2, who Coleman has apparently known for years, Tony Ferraro of last night's incredible opening band Satans of Soft Rock and Ryan Thomas Becker. He messaged the guys, asking if they could put together a last-minute backing band to help him out. When they all happily obliged for Coleman, who used to live in Denton several years ago and now spends his days in Austin, he e-mailed the guys .mp3s of his songs. At 5:30 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, after Ryan got off work, Grady, Ryan and Tony gathered at Grady's house to quickly learn and run through Coleman's songs -- a mere six to seven hours before they went onstage to play them in front of everyone at 35 Denton.

"I'm probably more excited to play Wesley's stuff than RTB2's. There's more at stake," Grady said, taking a sip of his beer, right before the show. "Ryan and Tony have it worse than I do. For me, it's all about enters and exits. If we can all start a song together and end it together, we'll be in good shape."

Tony Ferraro added that he wasn't nervous because he was familiar with the shape of Coleman's songs, after seeing him play twice before, and then running through his set a couple of times earlier that day.

"It's good, simple, stoner garage rock. There's a loose, natural feel to his songs, so I'm not gonna be upset if I make a boo-boo," Ferraro said.

It was pretty obvious, by about three songs in, that the boys had it in the bag. It was so loose--just as Ferraro said it would be--that Coleman bounced around stage, torturing the poor microphone stand, dancing, and even making up songs on the spot, just for fun, with lyrics like "I-35 can suck my dick" and "I love, love, love, love, love, love, love my friends."

"These montherfuckers--they're my sons," Coleman said from stage, as he stumbled around, pumping up the crowd, and as a girl in the front row handed him his second shot of tequila. Justin Collins, the drummer for Tony Ferraro's opening band Satan's of Soft Rock hopped onstage with a tambourine, and played with the guys for most of Coleman's poppy, uptempo set. Next to Grady's drum set, at eye-level, there was a posted-up sheet of paper with hand-written music notes and scribbles of song titles all over it.

"Hey you," Coleman said to the girl who kept handing him shots. "Get up here."

"What's happening?" she yelled back.

"Dance party," said Coleman.

The girl made her way to the stage and the two danced, while the band improvised, playing and picking something akin to Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody." When the dance was over, the band fired up again, and Coleman launched into a song on his guitar, although he handed it over to Dim Locator and Dove Hunter's excellent blues man Will Kapinos, who actually knew Coleman's song and played the rest of it entirely, while standing in the audience, on the floor in front of the stage.

By the end of the night, the crowd at Andy's Bar was knee-deep in a full-on dance party, and two things were never more apparent: 1) Ryan Becker played three full sets at Andy's Bar that night (Satans, RTB2, Coleman), which should afford him some pretty high fucking praise; and 2) It was clearly all about the love...all about the love.

"I had an extraordinary, fabulous, ridiculous, super fragilistic expialidocious helluva motherfucking time," Coleman said afterwards. "If I would have played with my actual band, it wouldn't have been as wild."

"I'm glad that, finally, my opportunity to play music with Wes, is with these guys too," Grady said, gesturing toward Tony and Ryan. "The love is there."
-Rachel Watts - Dallas Observer

"The Both of It - Album Review"

What a mighty, quirky noise comes from the Denton duo of Ryan Thomas Becker and Grady Don Sandlin! They run the gamut musically from rock to blues to twangy almost-country to odd pop and beyond. In fact, their myspace description says "soul/experimental/folk rock", and those tags apply equally as well. Yeah, RTB2 is weird, but nothing that you can't wrap your head around... metaphorically, think of RTB2 like an ugly puppy -- it's scraggly, disproportioned, and half its ear is missing, but you can't help but love it. As for lyrical content, I suggest you get the CD, some whiskey and a joint, get comfy, and listen to it through headphones so your brain can truly appreciate this two-headed creature called RTB2.

--Colleen Morgan
Metro ANE Mag - Voted America's #1 Adult Weekly - Metro ANE Magazine

"In the Fleshed - Album Review"

Just as Mount Righteous (Grapevine, TX) frequently receives erroneous associations to fellow Dallas big band Polyphonic Spree based almost solely on the number of members it has, I'm sure Denton's own RTB2 gets its fair share of fallacious White Stripes comparisons. Sure there are two of them and like the Stripes RTB2 are talented enough to make you forget all about bass instruments, but that's where the similarities end.

For one thing, judging from their raucous live performances, drummer Grady Don Sandlin could drum circles around Meg White --probably with one arm and leg tied behind his back. And while mastermind Ryan Thomas Becker is no Jack White, I would say that's a good thing. Instead he comes off as a much more sincere artist with a set of pipes so deceptively soulful that it makes you shiver, or at the very least crawls into your ears and doesn't leave for hours after you stop listening.

Their newest EP, "In The Fleshed" is a bit of a departure, however from what loyal RTB2 fans might expect. These 4 songs are much bigger and more ambitious than the bands past efforts, shying away from that 'live in-studio' sound, instead opting for more audacious arrangements, including overdubs of piano, glockenspiel, banjo among others. The standout track "When Hammer Hits Stone" best encapsulates the bands live sound, simultaneously displaying their raw energy while highlighting their instrumental dexterity. Possibly the most impressive thing is they manage to cram all this in under 5 minutes, which may not sound like a big deal until one considers that the live version rarely comes in under the double digit mark.
-Cory Graves, healthryder.blogspot.com - Subservient Experiment Blog

"The Both of It - Album Review"

It's a rough world out there for two-piece bands. Take too much out of the standard rock-n-roll power trio or four-piece lineup and people will say your sound isn't full enough; get a little too good at doing more with less and they'll accuse you of ripping off The White Stripes. Yet in the face of such daunting prospects, Denton, TX-based RTB2 (electric guitarist and vocalist Ryan Thomas Becker and drummer/percussionist Grady Don Sandlin) press on and emerge with a refreshing, highly unique mixture of blues, Americana, and even a slight hint of 70s-style sleaze boogie.

Recorded live in-studio, the group's debut full-length, The Both of It, finds Becker and Sandlin pushing what's best described as the minimalist power duo format to its sonic limit. Becker's vocals – think Matthew Sweet drowning in reverb – sound as though they're about to burst, giving an almost mournful quality to each of Both's fourteen tracks. Which is not to say the album is a necessarily melancholy one; save for the reflective "Bottle of Bees" or harmonica-punctuated dirge of "My Butterfly Collection," most of The Both of It borders on raucous, sharing more with the roadhouse blues of John Lee Hooker or fellow Texan Stevie Ray Vaughn than with the downtrodden misery typically associated with anything remotely bluesy. This differentiation becomes especially important as the album unfolds and RTB2 show that while they are probably technically not a blues band, they are still a band that employs techniques common to blues music either thematically or structurally.

Whether in pursuit of absolute minimalism or out of simple necessity, RTB2 make the interesting decision to add neither overdubs nor instrumental augmentation in the form of bass, keys, or any of the other studio trappings many similarly staffed acts opt for. While Sandlin more than holds his own behind the kit (and with the tambourine and cowbell flourishes), Becker emerges as the star of the album. Through either remarkably precise skills on the guitar or merely employing a very good compressor, Becker's playing moves seamlessly from distortion-soaked swamp rock to flawlessly clean arpeggiations and back again. Nowhere are these skills more prominently on display than the album closer, "Yer Fool's Suite (Part II)." Sandlin guides both band and listener alike through the starts and stops while Becker switches between violent strumming and gentle melody. The track, much like the album and the band, shows a forward-thinking duo taking some very old ideas and accelerating them into slightly strange but absolutely compelling directions.

Recommended Tracks: Becker and Sandlin let the chops fly for the full-out rocking of "Your Name Stays in My Throat" to great success; "The Spilling Blood Child" shows the duo have pop sensibilities to match their ideas on genre fusion.

- Andrew Reilly - MadeLoud.com

"In the Fleshed - Album Review"

RTB2 played it remarkably straight on its 2007 debut The Both of It, with guitarist/vocalist Ryan Thomas Becker and drummer Grady Sandlin eschewing overdubs and extraneous instrumentation for the bare-bones simplicity of thumping drums and raw electric guitar. "When Hammer Hits Stone," the first track on the band's new EP, In the Fleshed, sticks to this same formula, even if the song's structure shows a massive growth in ambition. A sprawling, Led Zeppelin-esque stomp, "Hammer" lets Sandlin unleash his inner John Bonham as Becker drives its insistent, Eastern-tinged melody into your brain, pausing intermittently to throw off squealing, pyrotechnic leads between verses of quiet, mounting tension.

The real revelation here comes on the other three songs, however, where RTB2 workshops its way through 40 years of classic rock experimentation, exploring the sonic possibilities of its home studio to re-record a couple old tunes and offer up the breezy, Thin Lizzy-ish "Letters to a Young Danny Kennedy." "Beta Crush (Fleshed)" is an aurally interesting revision of the Both of It tune (it's spooky vibe enhanced by slowly shaken maraca, droning organ and bells) but "Yer Fool's Suite II," another re-worked track, just might be the band's prettiest recording to date.
—Noah W. Bailey - Dallas Observer

"RTB2 On Their New Album: "Every Record Should Feel Like The First""

"We felt a certain level of exhaustion," drummer Grady Sandlin admits, discussing his band, RTB2, and their now-legendary rate of playing shows. "I've never been criticized to my face about playing too much, but I've heard others say that people criticized us for it," he says.

Weary from their workload and not wanting to wear out their welcome, Sandlin and guitarist Ryan Thomas Becker decided to devote more time to other bands, like bluegrass outfit Boxcar Bandits and folk rockers Hares On the Mountain. Then, they decided to start a whole new band, Last Joke, and all of these projects got busy recording and gigging. Oh, and RTB2 still found time to record two new albums.

"We had a busy year," says Becker. "Around March 2011, a lot of things happened. We recorded and mixed this record [2], then we did the 8-track record."

The latter was We Are A Strange Man, and yes, it was only released via 8-track. Intended as an experiment more than an official release, it contains many songs that ended up on their new album, 2, as well as some early Becker and RTB2 material. And, if you notice some blurred lines there, that could help explain the group's decision to back off a bit.

But the new album, which has been on the shelf for over a year, should help refocus their collaborative efforts, as well as fans' focus. 2 is an official statement from the band of where they are now as a result of having time to let loose elsewhere.

The band credits producer Stuart Sikes for helping them find the balance between the raw, live feel of their debut album, The Both of It, and their last EP, In the Fleshed.

"I'm very proud of it," Becker says. "There are some songs from my back catalog that I've always wanted to get this treatment. And then some brand new songs that get a little weird."

That shines through in tracks like "32," "Brownstar" and most notably, "Cool In the Dark." According to Becker, years of revisiting bands like Shudder To Think and Captain Beefheart have finally filtered into his songs. While the bluesy tinge of their early work is seemingly long gone, they haven't completely gone off the deep end. The rest of 2 is solid, from "God Will Be the One to Blame" to "Another Black Beauty" and the beautiful "Sarahs In Cars."

"This feels like a first record, even though we called it 2," Becker laughs. "But I think every record should feel like the first."
--Andy Odom - Dallas Observer

"One of the Most Important Albums of 2012"

RTB2 is the Texas-based duo comprised of Ryan Thomas Becker and Grady Don Sandlin. As the title suggests, this is the second full-length release from this unusual underground band. The best way to describe this album might be...underground pop meets math rock meets progressive rock meets progressive pop. Whatever these songs are or aren't...they do not sound like your average generic twenty-first century junk that's currently scattered around the planet. Becker's songs have a unique sound and his voice is strangely inviting (we love this guy's vocals). But instead of coming across overly artsy or weird, these songs have enough power pop punch to sound immediately cool and inviting. The songs are (thankfully) left relatively simple...without all the layering that ruins so many modern songs. This could easily end up being one of the most important albums of 2012. One thing is certain...this is one that will take multiple spins for the undercurrents to fully sink in. Kickass guitar-driven cuts include "Wire To The Walls," "Hands Where Words Cannot Go," "Brownstar," and "Sarahs In Cars." This one should appeal to Lou Barlow fans. TOP PICK. - babysue

"Local Music Awards and Nominations"

Winner "Best Group" in Dallas Observer Music Awards 2013: http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/dc9/2013/11/doma_2013_winners.php

Nominated for "Best Rock Act" in Dallas Observer Music Awards 2012:

Nominated for "Best Group Act", "Best Male Vocalist" (Ryan Thomas Becker), and "Best Instrumentalist" (Ryan Thomas Becker) in Dallas Observer Music Awards 2011:

Winner of "Best Group", "Best Blues Act", and "Best Instrumentalist" (Ryan Thomas Becker) in Dallas Observer Music Awards 2010:

Winner of "Big Thing" award in Quick DFW's Big Thing Music Awards 2009:

Nominated for "Best Group" and "Best Blues Act" in Dallas Observer Music Awards 2009:

Nominated for "Best New Act" in Dallas Observer Music Awards 2008:

Nominated for "Next Big Thing" in Quick DFW's Big Thing Music Awards 2008:
http://blog.quickdfw.com/archives/2008/04/textvote-for-quicks-big-thing.html - Dallas Observer // QuickDFW

"Album review: RTB2’s In People"

Let's take a quick look back at NX35 for a moment. No, not that one. I am talking about the 2009 edition of the four day music fest here in Denton. It was at Dan's Silver Leaf about one year ago that RTB2 recorded their newly released live album In People. Okay, so it was actually released at the beginning of this month, but it would be a shame not to revisit one of the best performances by one of Denton's best bands here on My Denton Music.

Since that album was recorded at last year's North By, RTB2 has enjoyed a pretty substantial popularity boost. They have been on the cover of Quick Magazine and have been featured in a ton of other publications around the state. If you have ever seen them live then this should come as no surprise to you. Ryan Thomas Becker's stage presence and total command of his guitar is impressive to say the least. Combine that with the obvious chemistry between him and his drummer, long time friend Grady Don Sandlin, and you get one hell of a show.

I've lost count the amount of times I have seen this band in concert, but I still remember this show vividly. The energy and explosiveness these two brought to Dan's that night was one of the highlights of the entire weekend. Song after song of totally awe-inspiring rock/blues led me to proclaim at the end of the night that Ryan Thomas Becker is the best guitarist I have ever personally seen. I still stick by those words today. I cannot count on one hand the amount of times I said "wow" while watching Becker bounce around that stage, feeding off the energy of the packed house.

And that is what I love so much about this album. In People succeeds where every other RTB2 release has fallen just a little bit short. It captures the excitement of their live show, which is when this duo is at their absolute best. Not to say that their previous recorded work is bad -- in fact it's far from it. But capturing the same energy of a live show while recording in the studio is a trick most bands have trouble pulling off. However, In People was beautifully mastered and captures every bit of the feeling that existed in the room where it was recorded.

There is nothing but quality on this album. The brightest spot is without a doubt the finale, "When Hammer Hits Stone," a nine-minute odyssey through the mind of Ryan Thomas Becker. It is absolutely memorizing listening to the moans and groans he gets his Telecaster to produce. You really have to listen to it three or four times to appreciate every peak and valley in this song.

The third track on this album is my favorite. Less than two minutes long, and probably the catchiest song on the whole album is "Wire To The Walls." The opening drum sequence paves the way for the blitz that follows. It is absolutely one of the most iPod friendly tracks the band has ever produced.

-by Josh Hogan of My Denton Music - Pegasus News

"RTB2 at The Boiler Room"

...after The Phuss, the now-engaged audience moved even closer to the stage for the headlining band. Ahhh RTB2....let the gushing begin. There are so many things about this band that interest my ears and both sooth and agitate my mind that I don't even know where to begin. After sitting down and listening to their album 'In the Fleshed' and their live album 'In People', I felt like I had a pretty good handle on their repertoire. But when I saw them Saturday for the first time since listening to the albums, I realized that all of the songs I thought I knew were almost unrecognizable to me, but in a good way. RTB2 is one of the few groups I know that can take a fan favorite, turn it on its ear, and redefine what I already thought was the epitome of a well-written song.

The connection between singer/guitarist Ryan Thomas Becker and drummer Grady Don Sandlin is undeniable, whether it's expressed in the duo's charming verbal back-and-forth or their equally engaging musical repartee. While I can wax poetic about how much I love RTB2's sound, I have trouble describing them to others. They play rock, but it's darker and richer than your standard rock and roll fare. They play the blues, but not like you've heard it before. Adding folk, soul, rockabilly, and psychedelic undertones and what have you got? "They're like....uhhhhh...well you just have to see them!" is my usual awkward plug to someone who hasn't heard them play, but everyone I've ever brought to their shows has left shaking their heads, trying to digest the rare and intoxicating flavors that RTB2 is composed of.

Ryan Thomas Becker is the most entertaining and mysterious front man I know, his vocal lines fitting like a glove over Grady's steady hands. I felt like I was watching a heated tennis match, my eyes darting back and forth between the two incessantly. Hearing them play satiates a primal hunger that I didn't even know existed inside of me. Their music throws open the doors to the beautiful splendor that is RTB2's dark, fascinating universe. I find myself wanting to travel there again and again, because not only do I find new passageways and new connections within their world but also within mine. It's like a maiden voyage to the center of yourself, with RTB2 acting as humble spirit guides. I find it incredibly apropos that their name is the simple, self-titled RTB2, because I can't conceive of another word or phrase that would do these two brilliant souls justice as a moniker.

-by Laurel Johnston - My Denton Music

"Denton Bands Twist Traditional"

Denton bands don't exactly have an aversion to roots or regionalism.

That said, a bent blue note or shit-kicking shuffle is likely to raise eyebrows in these parts—if for no other reason than the very real fear that yet one more band is trying to put its own spin on "Texas Music." There are ways around this dilemma: for instance, South San Gabriel's ambient, stream-of-consciousness melancholy underwriting a plaintive pedal steel, or the garage-y intensity of The Drams' cowpunk, or The Heelers sounding a bit like Guy Clark on a Bob Mould kick.

But even country rock act Rodney Parker and 50 Peso Reward lets its rock literacy show with smart covers like Bruce Springsteen's "Atlantic City." Yeah, the 12-bar and the twang can be heard around Denton, but it's usually approached from unconventional angles.

Ryan Thomas Becker and Grady Don Sandlin find themselves and their duo, RTB2, squarely in this tradition. Last year's release, The Both of It, is by turns blues, indie, country and none of the above. As a guitar/drums duo, comparisons to The White Stripes and The Black Keys are inevitable, but both say the arrangement simply brings the best out in them.

"I don't care what other duos are doing," says Sandlin. "This is just what works for us." The two met 10 years ago while Sandlin was running sound at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studio's open mic night. Since then, the duo has found itself in and out of several bands and now somewhat in demand as sidemen as well, performing with George Neal's band The Slow Burners and contributing to Audrey Lapraik's upcoming record. Sandlin's affection for the rootsier side of rock started with a jam band fixation but quickly turned into a love of much older music. "I was always trying to go back," he says, "asking things like, who the hell was Gary Davis?" Behind Sandlin's Watts-like backbeat, Becker's angular guitar work is raw and throaty, rooted in blues and punk but with the slightly twisted sensibility of Captain Beefheart. In person, Becker is thoughtful and soft-spoken; onstage he has the controlled intensity of a man on the verge. "His onstage persona is kind of stepping out of who he is socially," says Sandlin. Becker cops to this: "It's gotten to where it's therapeutic," he says. "I start to believe what is going on with the song, I start shaking, and when it's over I wonder why we've stopped." It's a kind of therapy Becker hopes to keep up long into the future. "I think we are greater than the sum of the two of us," he says. "The dynamic of this project is unlike anything we've ever done."

By Dave Sims - Dallas Observer

"I'm Jumpin' On That Train"

Yep, I'm a little late on this one, but, it's better late than never, right? At the pre-party last week at the Granada while I was talking to Cory (and his sweet 'stache) from SubEx RTB2 were the band playing when I walked into the place. I was immediately enthralled by their crunchy take on rock. They have the raw energy of Deadboy and The Elephantmen that will punch you in the gut and enough energy to give The Black Keys a run for their money, and they have the loud-quiet-loud thing down to where Frank Black would put down his sandwich long enough to take notice.
-Lance Lester, bonafidedarling.blogspot.com - Bona Fide Darling Blog

"My Denton Music Spotlight: RTB2"

After only a few minutes with Ryan Thomas Becker and Grady Don Sandlin, or RTB2 as they are more commonly known, you get the sense that these guys absolutely love what they are doing. And in fact, they do love it, whole-heartedly. They are two of the most laid back and genuinely humble musicians you will ever come across, a trait that is in itself incredibly refreshing. However this particular characteristic does not exactly translate to their music. As two person bands go, it is normally a very hit or miss situation. You have that duo from Detroit, those masterfully marketed Ting Tings, and a few others such as The Black Keys holding down the sort, but the list of really good two person bands is somewhat short. There are plenty to choose from, but finding one worth your time is tough. Most are just low hanging fruit, easy to spot and to grab, but lacking the necessary substance once you take a bite.

Since the release of their debut album The Both Of It in 2007, RTB2 has been separating itself from those bands and has been steadily climbing to their rightful place near the top of the tree. Their music is feverishly addicting, with Becker's outstanding guitar playing ability as the driving force behind the madness. Like a fine wine, the genius of Becker's guitar playing exists in the subtleties. It is dirty, and powerful, and also like a fine wine, will fuck you up bad! Your jaw will drop while watching this artist at work, stampeding across stage and creating the raunchy yet beautiful sound that has become this bands signature. Sandlin, on the drums, holds the act together, but just barely. At times, while taking cues from one another on stage, this duo will play itself to near oblivion, taking the meter way into the red before bringing it back down again with some soothing and soulful blues licks, or perhaps even a sharp bookend note that simply brings the turmoil to a screeching halt.

In the time since The Both of It was released, RTB2 has refined their sound through a systematic "evolution on the go" technique. The band rarely sits down to have a formal rehearsal, but rather they fill their schedule with as many shows as they possibly can. As Sandlin puts it, "The ultimate goal is to not stay stagnant, to continue to progress". And through the constant barrage of live performances, the band is able to continue to refine their method, which has become much more busy and overstated in the past year.

If you listen to "The Both Of It" and catch a live performance today from RTB2, the difference between the two will be noticeable immediately. Becker and Sandlin have incredible chemistry onstage, and as they continue to explore the bounds of their talents, the more entertaining and exciting the band will become. They are explosive, they are soulful, they are incredibly talented, and most importantly they are passionate about their trade. What more could you ask for in a band? On the horizon for RTB2, aside from the myriad of live performances that are surly coming to a venue near you very soon, are two new albums! The first is a four track EP set to be released sometime in the summer months. The second, and perhaps one of the most anticipated releases of the summer, will be a live recorded album of RTB2's performance at Nx35. If you were there that night at Dan's then you understand exactly why this release should be so anticipated.

By taking an old fashioned approach to rock and roll, RTB2 has gained a certain reputation that fits them perfectly. No glitz and glamour. No fancy effects added to their music. No frills at all. It is just pure energy and hard rockin' music, plain and simple and just the way it should be.
-Josh Hogan - MyDentonMusic.com

"Cover Story - Interview / Bio / Review"

It's no wonder Ryan Thomas Becker and Grady Sandlin work well together. Although the roots-rocking Denton residents have only been playing as RTB2 since 2005, they've been hanging out and making music for more than a decade.

Drummer Sandlin credits their chemistry to singer-guitarist Becker's love of collaboration, and to a shared commitment to traditional musical forms.

"Anyone who wants to make music with Ryan, can," Sandlin says. "Country, blues, rock, soul – it's all traditional forms that we're working with, and I think that's why people can connect with it."

The connection is substantial: In the years since Becker and Sandlin started calling themselves RTB2, their rock-and-soul-heavy sound has garnered critical praise, awards and regular gigs.

They'll release a new EP, In the Fleshed, this weekend at three area shows. The EP features embellished versions of songs RTB2's fans are probably familiar with, most notably the anthemic local fave "When Hammer Hits Stone."

"This EP was us seeing what we could do, experimentation-wise," Becker says. "I hope we're scratching the surface with this kind of thing, because we definitely want to do more."

Here's a closer look at the dynamic Denton duo.

Ryan Thomas Becker
Age: 27

Hometown: He grew up and went to school in Highland Village.

Early musical memories: Becker started teaching himself to play guitar at age 13, messing around with an old beat-up classical left lying around by one of his brother's friends. "It started with me just hearing riffs in classic rock and wanting to duplicate them," he says. At the time, he had to overcome the challenge of a cast on his left arm.

Their first band: Sandlin asked Becker in 1998 to play guitar in a Brit-pop-influenced high-school band (which had different names, according to Becker). "I remember playing a battle of the bands show at Grady's school, and losing to a band that played Sister Hazel songs."

Sounds eclectic: People may be surprised by some of the arrangements and styles on In the Fleshed. "When you see us live, we have that blues-rock, garage-rock kind of feel," Becker says. "But there's other stuff, other layers to this onion."

On his performing style: "Sometimes it's all about the audience and being aware of your surroundings. But I haven't been lately, because I've been hurting myself. Head-butting a microphone is kind of like head-butting a cheese grater. I've been punching mics, too, not in a destructive way but almost accidentally."

Grady Sandlin
Age: 29

Hometown: He lived in Dallas suburbs and attended Highland Park High School.

Early musical memories: "I had some good friends at Highland Park High, but I was always sort of the weird guy who was in a band; I think I was 14 when I started playing live," Sandlin says. "My dad was a guitar player. ... My sister got a drum set when she was 10 and I was 6. The snare drum I still play to this day came from that drum set."

Their first band: Sandlin knew Becker's older brother, and asked Becker, then 15 years old, to join his band after meeting him at a party. He encouraged Becker to write songs. "His first crack at songwriting was already better than what we were doing," Sandlin says.

Sounds eclectic: Even though RTB2's full-length The Both of It had a stripped-down, live sound, Sandlin says he and Becker always wanted to do more in the studio, the way they've recorded the In the Fleshed tracks. "I don't think we should let the fact that there's only two of us limit what we put on a record."'Fleshed' out

Grady Sandlin's thoughts on each of the new EP's four songs:

"When Hammer Hits Stone" – "It has a blues-rock, psychedelic thing. We're both into Captain Beefheart, and I think the song is a bit of a nod to that. It has a groove that sounds familiar in listeners' heads. I think of it as the single."

"Beta Crush" – "A spooky, creepy song. So we wanted to do something a little more textural. All the drums and percussion elements are played individually. The melody is played on four or five different instruments. The only continuous track is the vocal. It's like building a mosaic, or something."

"Letters to a Young Danny Kennedy" – "I think we were going for a Faces-type sound. Late '60s, early '70s band. We're really into the looseness of them. Sort of a white-soul kind of thing. I should just say soul, but it's soul by white people."

"Yer Fool's Suite II" – "Ryan wrote the main part of it on a banjo. We wanted to do something that had several different parts. ... They were all parts added to make it more grandiose and huge."


CD-release show with Scott H. Biram and Grady, Friday at 8 p.m. at the Granada Theater, 3524 Greenville Ave.

$12 to $16. tickets.granada theater.com. (RTB2 plays the early set, at 8 p.m.).

•Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Cavern, 1914 Greenville Ave., as part of the Dallas Observer Music Awards showcase. $5.

•With Oso Closo and Penta - Quick DFW Magazine

"Song of the Day"

RTB2 is a rock duo from Denton, TX who have been receiving accolades in the North Texas area and beyond. Paste Magazine’s “Signs of Life 2008: Best Music Scene - Denton, Texas” article reads “Ryan Thomas Becker drives this duo with slashing, blues-inflected, post-punk guitar work, propelled by Grady Don Sandlin’s MG’s-redolent backbeat.”

They recently released a live album called In People and an EP, In the Fleshed. RTB2 will be playing with Leatherbag at The Ghost Room on Friday, August 13.

Today’s song of the day is “When Hammer Hits Stone” from RTB2’s latest EP In the Fleshed. - texasmusicmatters.kut.org

"Song of the Day"

RTB2 is a rock duo from Denton, TX who have been receiving accolades in the North Texas area and beyond. Paste Magazine’s “Signs of Life 2008: Best Music Scene - Denton, Texas” article reads “Ryan Thomas Becker drives this duo with slashing, blues-inflected, post-punk guitar work, propelled by Grady Don Sandlin’s MG’s-redolent backbeat.”

They recently released a live album called In People and an EP, In the Fleshed. RTB2 will be playing with Leatherbag at The Ghost Room on Friday, August 13.

Today’s song of the day is “When Hammer Hits Stone” from RTB2’s latest EP In the Fleshed. - texasmusicmatters.kut.org


2 (LP 2012) - Recorded by Stuart Sikes in Dallas, TX. Mastered by Carl Saff in Chicago, IL.

We Are A Strange Man (exclusive 8-track tape LP 2011) - Recorded by Nathan Brown (The Dead Media)

In People (Live LP 2010) - Recorded by Scott Hawthorne at Dan's Silver Leaf in Denton, TX. Mastered by Carl Saff in Chicago, IL.

In The Fleshed (EP 2009) - Recorded by RTB2 & mixed by Justin Collins in Denton, TX. Mastered by Carl Saff in Chicago, IL.

The Both Of It (LP 2007) - Recorded by Justin Collins in Denton, TX.

Wishy Waltz (EP 2006) - Recorded by RTB2 & Glen Farris in Denton, TX & by The Good Show in Fort Worth, TX .

Radio Airplay
From 2: "Goon," "Wire To The Walls," "Brownstar," "Cool In The Dark," "God Will Be The One To Blame"
From In The Fleshed: "Letters to a Young Danny Kennedy," "Beta Crush," "When Hammer Hits Stone"
From The Both Of It: "Your Name Stays In My Throat," "You Are Golden When You Walk"

All of the above songs have received airplay or are regularly played on KXT 91.7 (http://kxt.org), KTCK 1310 (http://www.theticket.com/category/the-local-ticket), KNTU 88.1 (http://kntu.com), WZBT 91.1 (Pennsylvania, http://www.wzbt.org), & SomaFM (San Francisco, http://somafm.com).

"When Hammer Hits Stone" - Texas Music Matters 'Song of the Day' (http://kut.org).



Maybe the most important lesson Ryan Thomas Becker learned from Captain Beefheart is that the best way to subvert a convention is to master it. The trick, when listening to Becker’s Denton, Texas duo, RTB2, is figuring out how many conventions he and drummer Grady Don Sandlin are mastering and subverting all at once. Displaying manic urgency borrowed from Detroit punk, rhythmic precision with Memphis roots, and sprawling art-rock aspirations that span prog, ambient and even math rock, RTB2’s love of and immersion in all of those traditions is surpassed only by their apparent determination to take a sledgehammer to every last one of them.

Becker has always given a nod to the artier side of blues rock, with the aforementioned Van Vliet as well as David Gilmore and The Band making their stylistic mark. But with RTB2’s new Stuart Sikes (The White Stripes, The Walkmen, Cat Power, Loretta Lynn) engineered effort, 2, Becker takes the straight lines of his rootsier influences and bends them into some hard angles, with odd-meter excursions and an exploded melodicism reminiscent of Polvo or Drive Like Jehu.

The duo’s chemistry catalyzes around Sandlin’s pocket drumming, with a sound as dry and soulful as classic Stax R&B; propulsion held in reserve and unleashed at key moments when Becker’s threatened and slightly desperate vocals edge ever closer to the breaking point. The indie-pop sensibilities that were on display for their debut record The Both of It are not forgotten: the second track, “God Will Be the One to Blame,” mixes fuzz, farfisa and a lurching backbeat with an infectious rock hook. “Another Black Beauty” is a standout shuffle with power pop sensibilities and Becker’s gift for arrangement and trademark guitar mastery on full display.

Sikes’ dry, articulate engineering of their self-produced second effort has effectively captured RTB2’s live chemistry -- no small feat considering Becker’s tendency to morph from his mild-mannered off-stage persona into a semi-possessed, Townshend-meets-Iggy rock dervish. Although he and Sandlin’s finest moments on-stage are usually improvisational in nature, 2 never lacks in energy or drive.

With 2, Becker and Sandlin show the musical virtuosity and genre-blending that has made their live shows near-legendary in North Texas over the last five years, while pushing their vocabulary into complex and challenging new territory.
--Dave Sims, a contributor for PASTE Magazine

RTB2 has released two EPs, two full-lengths, a live album, an exclusive 8-track tape, and have toured Texas, the Southeast, and the Midwest.


Band Members