Ryan Ferguson
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Ryan Ferguson


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If you are a fan of indie rock�s recent past, then you�re familiar with the work of guitarist and singer songwriter Ryan Ferguson. While in the seminal Southern California band No Knife, Ferguson not only racked up critical accolades, but toured throughout the U.S., Canada and Japan. No Knife scored four San Diego Music Awards, and received scattered radio airplay while at the same time having music featured in TV shows such as �Dawson�s Creek�. The band�s jagged angular sound influenced many susseccful bands who followed. Then, seeming poised for a breakthrough, they simply dissolved.

Building on the past groups� promise, Ferguson has gone solo� showcasing his depth as a songwriter. Acoustic based, and losing none of his previous band�s intensity, Ferguson plays all the instruments on his most recent recordings - extending the practice to his live performances. �Right now I�m doing this iPod-backed live show. There�s a lot of stuff going on in the background that I wanted people to hear, so I just recorded all the backing tracks myself. This adds a little twist on the one man and his guitar set- up�. Expanding his sonic palette and pop sensibilities, his new work sounds like the culmination of a lifetime of influence.

A lifelong San Diegan, Ferguson grew up in the 80�s. He was a songwriter by the time he hit 7th grade, absorbing the music of the previous decades. �I was way into The Boss when I was a kid,� laughs Ferguson. He cites Danny Elfman and Teenage Fanclub amongst favorites, and one can hear a bit of Van Dyke Parks. �My uncle introduced me to the Beatles on a summer trip back East when I was 12,� he recalls. �He gave me Help! and A Hard Days Night and I didn't take them out of my tape player for months. I wrote down every word and attempted to figure out every chord on bass.� That childhood love of music soon led to forming a band.

�My first decent musical project was a garage band in high school,� he remembers. �We were called Building 14, named for the county morgue building in Kearny Mesa (SD). That was my first real band, my first live show, my first studio experience. It was a whole lot of fun, because up until then I was playing along to MTV.� Now known as a fiery guitarist, originally Ferguson was a drummer. �Then I got into Rocket From The Crypt,� says Ferguson, explaining the switch which soon saw him as an integral member of No Knife through four albums, numerous singles and many compilation album appearances. Inspired by guitarists such as John Reis and aMinature�s John Lee, Ferguson soon blazed a trail of manic post punk rock �n� roll beginning in 1995 that lasted almost a decade.

�My songs today are more acoustic based,� he remarks about differences in his music past and present. �Mainly because I can�t play loud where I currently live,� says Ferguson, �But I�ve always written �pop oriented rock n roll� kind of stuff more or less, so it�s not really that far off from what I�ve always done." While his analogy might ring true on an anthemic rocker like �Suddenly,� songs like the string and harmony laden ballad �Wait For Me There� show a real progression in songcraft, the tune just one long hook filled melody. �I�m always thinking about songs and how to put together a story. I always have a little digital recorder with me,� he confides. Would he call his music more introspective? �Well the majority of my music is about people and the things around me," adding, "I certainly don�t consider myself the best story teller� I really like to play with the way the words sound within the melodies� context.�

Having worked with a band before, Ferguson is clear that he considers his current project a solo effort in spirit only. �Before things got filtered through a variety of players. Now it�s just me writing the songs and playing all the parts... before, that sound got dispersed.� As the acoustic guitars and mellotrons of �On Elvira Street� wafts by in the background, Ferguson pauses. �This is the pure stuff."