Ryan Dolliver (fka Double Dragon)
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Ryan Dolliver (fka Double Dragon)


Band Rock Gospel


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"Double Dragon party: Ryan Dolliver's Deep Fried Indie Soul"

Ryan Dolliver isn't satisfied just making hyphy crunk-rock with his band Double Dragon. Nor is he satisfied with his ambient duo. Nor his guitar/turntable project. Nor his improvised jazz trio, quartet, quintet, or sextet.

Dolliver has the sort of musical restlessness that seems to only be satiated by participating in about 10 musical projects at once. Not on the same stage of course, he's just got a creative mind that fires on all cylinders and needs several engines running at the same time. Dolliver has a B.S. in music (jazz guitar as his major instrument) from Portland State, but when he brings those skills into the pop genre, things get quite interesting.

Dolliver on his music background: "We would play duets on adjacent pianos and wrap up the session with a game of catch in the back yard. At the age of 11, I left classical piano for the guitar, because I didn't believe that rock bands had pianos… Blast-beats, shred-metal were the soundtrack to my high school blur, but in college, I joined the big band and discovered bebop. I quickly deciphered which parts of 'the jazz' worked for me, and which worked against me. Kenny G and distortion pedals were out, while fried chicken and heroin were definitely in. I finished college a couple of years ago and, since then, I've just been trying to re-discover my love for music."

Double Dragon is Dolliver's one-man recording project, which has turned into a big, suped-up, soulful live rock band. And not the sort of embarrassing Michael Bolton soulful, but an actual band of hot-as-balls musicians who can play their freaking instruments, while Dolliver sings his pseudo-psychedelic glitch pop over their musical craftsmanship. Double Dragon as a studio project seems more interested in the laptop side of things and even has a badass remix of your favorite Britney Spears song ("Toxic") up on his MySpace page. The music sounds fresh and creative, drawing on a hugely diverse set of influences.

Among his favorite artists we find Justin Timberlake, Steve Swallow & Gary Burton, Clipse, Deerhoof, Beck, Brian Eno, Prince and the Revolution, Paul Motian, Jay-Z, and Kurt Weill. Not a bad starting point for DD's musical heritage, and any artist who count both "Big Pimpin" and "Mack the Knife" as worthwhile songs is always deserving of a good listen.

The live Double Dragon band is a sort of supergroup of young, fresh jazz talents from the Portland area (Andreus Gornekulis on guitar, Jed Wilson on piano/organ, Kevin VanGeem or Drew Shoals on drums, Aaron Wagner on bass) who turn the Dragon's studio whiz-bangery into so many wonderful notes on stage.

Dolliver said of the band, "Most of us met in professional jazz performance situations and developed some kind of mutual attraction for each other's musicality. We all come from a fairly similar musical background. Also, since the lineup is constantly changing, I notate all of the instrumental parts. This necessitates literacy amongst the musicians in the group in addition to the occasional 'more like Ramsey Lewis!' comment that they all need to understand. Jazzers are just the most logical choice."

And, thank the gods, Double Dragon is making a record.

"On July 24th we will be at Jackpot! [Recording Studios] all day and night working hard to bring the lovely harmonies, catchy melodies, and summertime vibes to your little ears." The yet-to-be-titled full-length album will be released in October on Visceral Impulse. As for the sound we might expect of the album, Dolliver cites the recent discovery of "a lot of great soul and rock artists from the '70s" in the evolution of Double Dragon's sound.

"To pay the bills," Dolliver said, "I do a lot of freelance jazz guitar stuff. I've been getting tons of wedding gigs recently, which are nice, but I'm really looking forward to calls for funerals. They're very much like weddings, except that the mother isn't yelling at me."

Despite all the musical experience, Dolliver claims his most satisfying musical experience was his recent stint singing with Neverland, the Michael Jackson cover band that was started by the guys from Crosstide. "They could seriously be Jacko's backup band. The crowd was going crazy."

As for future plans, aside from the upcoming Double Dragon album, Dolliver plans to "hang out in Portland for a while, and keep my nose to the grindstone with the work I have. I want to meet as many people as I can, and share my music with them. My hope is that they can get as excited about what I do as I am." - The Daily Vanguard

"Head Out"

While the band's name suggests yet another bunch of dudes reinterpreting their favorite Nintendo themes on their guitars, local group Double Dragon is the farthest thing from juvenile wankery. Singer-bandleader Ryan Dolliver has culled an impressive group of musicians—including piano phenom Ben Darwish—to play funky jams centered on the electric organ, guitar and Dolliver's strong voice. It's surprisingly good and entirely original, though the combination of the name and playing at the arcade might suggest otherwise. JIM SANDBERG - Willamette Week

"Up & Coming"

When white boys try to do soul and R&B, usually one of two things happens: They turn it into a major joke, like someone ironically covering Lionel Richie at a karaoke night, or they're Jamie Lidell, and just absolutely kill it. Double Dragon, the vehicle for frontman Ryan Dolliver, falls somewhere in between. The music sounds a bit fun and nerdy, but it's clearly the love child of people who passionately adore what they're doing. The results, by the way, are pretty damn great. The bass lines are funky, the keyboards walk all over the place, and Dolliver has one hell of a voice. Expect to hear much more from this band in the near future. ROB SIMONSEN - Portland Mercury

"Release Show Preview 1"

For Ryan Dolliver's release show (which celebrates funky new disc Get Down to Get Up), his eight-man-deep band, Double Dragons, will share the evening's stage with Matt Sheehy, Alexis Gideon and DJ Honeydripper. Put guitar-folksy Sheehy at one end of the musical spectrum, kaleidoscopic-electro Gideon at the other, Jamiroquai-style Dolliver in the middle and old-school hip-hop Honeydripper on the decks, and everything gets very Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Which fits juuust right. - Willamette Week

"Release Show Preview 2"

Ryan Dolliver gets around—playing jazz shows, turntabling, acting as sideman for other musicians—but tonight the spotlight's on him and it's all about sticky, funky soul music. His new record, Get Down to Get Up, is a short, eight-song affair, with solid playing by some excellent local musicians, including drummer Drew Shoals and keyboardist Ben Darwish, and, apparently, it was recorded in a single day at Jackpot Studios. It sounds like it was meticulously crafted over a much longer period, though, with every beat confident and every note assured, heralding the arrival of the latest loverman in the 503. The show's free, or you can pay $5 and get a copy of the CD. - Portland Mercury

"Ryan Dolliver and the DBL DRGNZ @ Holocene 7/16/08"

I arrived at Holocene, flashed my I.D. and downed a bit of vodka in preparation for what would prove to be an unusual set. In this instance, "unusual" comes with a ridiculously positive connotation. It was on this night that I witnessed prowess, taste and utter sophistication rarely displayed on the local level. This was the rare occasion where a show was actually NOT a rehearsal. Dolliver (and the DBL DRGNZ) opened with "Sail", a funky little throwback featuring some syncopated clapping and a slick rhodes progression. Nothing brings on audience participation like hands hitting in succession (and what a way to start). As the set progressed the energy in the room exponentially increased. The melancholic pedal steel intermixed with jazz infused rhodes, complex yet effortless bass and minimalist guitar nearly floated atop the groove laced foundation set by Drew Shoals on drums. Completing this wondrous landscape was the cool and controlled vocal dexterity of Ryan Dolliver. Competent and refined, Dolliver's melodies brought the show home.

A universal sentiment of respect resonated in that space. The band managed to pay homage to old school funk, rock and soul while stepping out on their own to further prove that they are a relevant, talented and inspiring voice in this uneasy music scene. Get Down to Get Up, the latest release from Ryan Dolliver, is out now on Visceral Impulse. - livemusicpdx.com


Get Down to Get Up, due out July 15, 2008 on Visceral Impulse Media

HIV Wolves EP, self-released summer 2004



23-year-old Ryan Dolliver is a composer/arranger/singer/guitarist that has spent the last couple of years working on his ability to consume the best music of the 70s and spit it back out with a contemporary flair. With influences ranging from Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, and Prince to the Neptunes and RATATAT, his music is based on a foundation of solid bass lines and gospel piano that blossoms into a well balanced mix of pop sensibility and jazz harmony. Formerly known as Double Dragon (and subsequently threatened by the Canadian beat-making brothers of the same name), Dolliver and his band work to capture the ears and dancing shoes today's informed music listener with infectious grooves, catchy melodies, and solid live shows. Featuring some of Portland's best musicians, his debut full-length, "Get Down to Get Up," will be out July 15, 2008.