Ryan McMahon
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Ryan McMahon

Ladysmith, British Columbia, Canada | SELF

Ladysmith, British Columbia, Canada | SELF
Band Folk Acoustic

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This CD sounds more like the product of a band ("Liar," "Dirt For Sale"). It rocks harder and has dynamics where a songwriter might have an arrangement ("Girl on Top"). An observant lyrical style puts McMahon a notch above most singer/songwriters in this city.
- Tom Harrison / The Province, Vancouver, B.C.


Wednesday night at the Queens Hotel may be a dodgy proposition, but Ryan McMahon & the Dirty 5 had the joint hopping this past January 26 when they rolled though town by way of Vancouver.

McMahon, a Ladysmith boy recently transplanted to Vancouver, welcomed friends and fans alike with his unique brand of rock & roll. It was a good sized turnout for a Wednesday night, made up of mostly college kids and plaid-adorned folk.

McMahon's set was largely based around new songs, but a few old favorites ("Girl on Top") drew appreciated hoots of recognition from fans. As small town crowds can be fickle, McMahon tossed in choice cover songs by Blind Melon, Sam Roberts, and others to appease the crowd even further.

Not having seen McMahon play as a full band before, I'm impressed at how tight they are without self-consciously stealing glances at one another to keep time and parts straight.

3 of the 5 sport full beards, in an attempt to reach for years beyond their own. They look a little like Sam Roberts' band - where have all the good barbers gone? Is this a trend of beard-envy?

McMahon himself is very accomplished as a live performer, and comfortable as any on the mic. He expresses concern over a very drunk girl dancing in front of the stage, as she flails about...

McMahon introduces "Bitch List," with "This is what it would be like if Ani diFranco inhabited me for three and a half minutes." One of the new tracks, "Going, Going, Gone" really delivers on this night. The final song, "Scratch," brought the house down, and further supplanted McMahon as someone in the British Columbia music scene to really watch for.

He's got a great website, www.ryanmcmahon.com, and his new music can be heard at www.myspace.com/mcmahonryan.


- Alexandria Stuart / Harbour City Star Nanaimo, B.C. LIVE REVIEW


Ladysmith native Ryan McMahon looks forward to the end of a long journey

Derek Spalding

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The rock-and-roll lifestyle has changed for Ryan McMahon, now that he and his bandmates have children waiting for them back home.
Touring simply becomes a call to duty.
You do it because you love the music; it's not about the drinking and the parties anymore, explained McMahon the morning after a show in Saskatoon this week.
The Ladysmith native said the lustre of the current road trip started to wear off after the fourth week.
He looks forward to wrapping up on Vancouver Island with some energetic shows, playing for long-term fans and friends from his old stomping grounds.
He plays Victoria, then the Queen's Hotel in Nanaimo on Aug. 25 before heading to Duncan.
Then he heads home to his wife Kathleen and her two children. He's travelling with three other musician fathers, which inspired the tour name Double Life.
The band kicked off the six-week tour at Wild Bill's Saloon in Banff, Alta. Aug. 21, a familiar spot for McMahon who played the area years ago when he first started touring outside B.C.
The tour then took the bandmates all the way to Toronto with plenty of stops in between. With 30 shows in 21 cities, the band will continue to be busy until wrapping up three shows on the Island.
McMahon looks forward to those performances because they symbolize the end of long journey.
"I can't wait to get home. I am tired of every kind of burger. I want my fridge. I want to make my own late night snacks," he said.
"We got our sights set on those last three shows. There's a certain feeling you get when you drive off a BC Ferry. It's like a big exhale. I can imagine those three shows will be an awful lot of fun."
They may sound tired, but there's no mistake that McMahon and his band still enjoy touring.
They simply do it for different reasons. They love performing and they want to use that forum to broadcast their sound to as many people as possible. The tough life on the road allows McMahon to avoid signing that big label contract. Earning his own fan base allows him to keep total artistic freedom.
His hard work is paying off. Reviews of his latest album Weeks, Months Years have been far better than the mixed reviews he got for the 2006 release of the first album, Better Days Gone By. The new CD has also received far more play on community radio stations across the country.
The band has a home-coming show in Vancouver when they leave the Island, but McMahon looks forward to playing the Queen's Hotel once again.
"I grew up at the Queen's," he said. "I learned to play in front of people at that club. It was great getting my chops busted by musicians who had been there before me."
McMahon was just invited to play the Western Canadian Music Awards on Oct. 18, one day before his 30th birthday.
- The Nanaimo Daily News


Reflection

By Melissa Fryer - Nanaimo News Bulletin

Published: September 15, 2008 3:00 PM
Ryan McMahon looks out the van window to a flat expanse of prairie land.
The batteries in the laptop and the iPod are long dead and cell phone service has been nonexistent for hours.
“There’s nothing left to do ... you think,” McMahon said, the morning after a concert in Toronto at the legendary Horseshoe Tavern. “The prairie is a really good place to do that.”
McMahon and band mates Mike Rogerson, Dustin Young and Jesse Smith are crossing the country in support of their latest album Weeks, Months, Years.
“Just the four of us taking turns driving and sleeping in the van,” McMahon said.
The album, like the 10-hour drives between gigs, is a reflection for McMahon and a change in values as responsibility and adulthood weigh heavier. All four band members are fathers and take life more seriously now that they care for people other than themselves. “When you have people counting on you, you look at things differently,” McMahon said.
The album is a 10-year journey for the independent artist from Ladysmith, who began writing songs in high school. His first full-length album, Better Days Gone By, came out in 2006, with the follow up, Weeks, Months, Years earlier this year.
The 30-date tour will take the band from Ontario to Vancouver Island in an Astro van.
Prior to leaving for the tour, McMahon had a burst of creativity and wrote half a dozen songs for a new album, which he’ll record in the winter at the Farm Studios in Vancouver with producer Garth Richardson.
Richardson produced albums for Rage Against the Machine and Rise Against.
“I’ve got about half a record written so far,” McMahon said.
The new songs already made it onto a few set lists this tour. A set list – the songs the band plans to play during the performance – is usually never finalized by McMahon until about an hour before the show. After gauging the mood of the crowd, he’ll know when and how many quieter songs to play.
“You gotta choose your moments for those songs,” McMahon said.
McMahon and his band play the Queen’s Sept. 25, with guest Heather Blush. Tickets $8 at the door and show begins at 10 p.m.
For more information, please visit www.ryanmcmahon.com.
arts@nanaimobulletin.com
- Nanaimo News Bulletin


McMahon shares his coming of age

Stephanie Classen
The StarPhoenix

Thursday, September 11, 2008
http://www.canada.com/saskatoonstarphoenix/news/arts/story.html?id=178d884e-e5cf-4eef-bdc4-7b24800a5ed8
Musician Ryan McMahon likes to take it slow, but learning about 10 years of his life takes just 40 minutes and a listen to his latest album.
The B.C.-born artist's time-warping CD Weeks, Months, Years, released in April, manages to cram a decade's worth of songwriting onto just one disc.
"Some of the tunes go back all the way to 1996 when I was writing my first songs and some are as recent as the month before we decided the final tracks for the record," McMahon, 28, said during a coffee-infused restaurant break. "It's a CD about time. It's a CD about growing into being a man and finding out what kind of fella I want to be."
Though McMahon's music style is consistent on the album, his second, the weightier content belongs to the more recently penned songs.
The unhurried approach is one McMahon takes to heart. It has taken several years for the musician -- whose sound fuses rock and alternative with folk and country -- to build a fan base, release albums and embark on tours. He said he is grateful for the slow progression from aspiring to professional musician.
"I wouldn't have it any other way. I've learned stuff on the road and I've learned stuff playing in front of crowds -- some that liked me, some that hated me -- that I never would have learned sitting at a desk. I've got a pretty good hold on who I am because of this."
McMahon said a quick rise to fame, as experienced by some of his acquaintances, isn't his style.
"We're all family men and we're not the bottle of whiskey and the random girl at the end of the night kind of guys," he said. "We're not in it for that and that kind of stuff comes with quicker success."
The dichotomy between the life of a travelling musician and responsible dad is what inspired McMahon, along with bandmates Mike Rogerson, Dustin Young and Jesse Smith, to name their cross-Canada outing the Double Life tour.
The tour wraps up on Sept. 27 in Vancouver. Only a month in, it has already had its share of highs and lows. The group had to cancel a three-night stand in Swift Current over a contract misunderstanding. That HICCUP cost McMahon and his bandmates $2,000. But there was still plenty to look forward to, McMahon said, in particular a gig at the famous Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto during the Toronto International Film Festival.
"Legends have played there, everybody from Stompin' Tom to the Rolling Stones," McMahon said.
The band is also looking forward to returning to Lydia's, a familiar gig spot, on Monday. Their live show, said McMahon, is a "hell of a lot of fun" and includes material from Weeks, Months, Years as well as his indie release Better Days Gone By. They also dabble in covers as diverse as The Clash to Blind Melon.
"I am influenced by music all the way back to simple, little Buddy Holly songs when I was growing up to Led Zeppelin to Pearl Jam. But I'm also really into the folk thing like Bright Eyes and Bob Dylan and intelligent lyricists, people with something to say," McMahon said.
While McMahon said he strives to have a message in his songs, he also measures in a healthy dose of fun.
"We talk about certain social things but we keep it pretty light and upbeat at the same time. We're all having a really good time up there, doing what we're doing," he said.
- The Saskatoon StarPhoenix


"Ryan McMahon is one of the finest new artists to land on our desk in a long time."
- Rick Everett - 100.3 the Q! (Victoria)
- Rick Everett


"Remember the days when 'alternative' meant aspiring to more than being a flaccid clone of sad sacks like Limp Bizkit? Ryan McMahon does - alternately eruptive and discordantly droopy; he could be the best thing to come out of Ladysmith B.C. since… ever.”
"Jagged guitar rock w/ great lyrics that takes you back to a time when Dinosaur Jr. roamed the earth."
- The Georgia Straight's Mike Usinger
- Mike Usinger


RYAN McMAHON

by Barry Newman
Copyright 2002 - Cosmic Debris Musicians Magazine - #78 - June/02



A giant of a Canadian artist is fine-tuning his next recording project here on the West Coast this summer.

Over the past few years, Ryan McMahon has been writing in relative obscurity on a beach near Ladysmith, occasionally treating nearby Nanaimo to lounge acts or concerts with his acoustic duo or with his four-piece band with guitarist Brad Looyen, under the banner of 'Citizen Strange'.

Last year, after the release of Citizen Strange's formidable first CD 'Sleepness Night', the buzz gradually got bigger... and more doors got busted down. A larger, touristy-type township to the south - from where crucial cultural & economic decrees affect the fate of serfs from Sooke to Sointula - even got to hear this artist on a couple of occasions, thanks in large part to a cell of well-informed Al Caiola operatives at a clandestine radio station in Victoria.

At risk of being swarmed by a gaggle of civil servants, kabuki repair gangs and taser-brandishing customs occifers, 100.3 The Q's Rick Everett proclaimed 'Sleepless Nights' to be: "one of the finest first efforts the station's ever heard". And by getting Citizen Strange onto this year's ROCKTORIA project, Rick probably waived all subsequent WCB claims incurred by frenzied Furtado fans in the process.

Earlier this year, Georgia Straight called Citizen Strange one of the top 8 acts to see at NewMusicWest. Ryan McMahon doesn't quite fit the stereotype image of a rock star who has muscled-in on a million models... or a scarfaced poet who saw fire n' rain for 40 years and took to diet lysol & crack-ASA. Frank Zappa warned about the image thing, after music videos stampeded onto mainstage during the early 80's.

When it comes to outright rock, McMahon's vocal delivery matches all known rock gods... with the exception mayhaps, of the nastily-node-gnashed crooner from AC/DC.

Ryan's vocal range, inflection and balance of rasp & clarity, capture and project both the melodic and edge-driven sides of his mature writing style. His lyrics provide the listener with room to conjure & conject without wanting to eject from the riveting roller coaster... as evident in 'Dear Maria', from 'Sleepless Night': "I have driven down I-5 to find a guarantee and a sleepless night, to see california's coast recline... even eureka in disguise might be nice... i suspect that you'll make progress confused, or dumb, maybe embarassed, no counterpart by your breast through all the routine and through all the habit, DEAR MARIA... the rhythm of your listening ear scarred by hearing me for over a year benevolent and i'm sorry my dear as you read this, i drive and i steer... i'll watch Hollywood bend to it's knees and spread it's art to the other cities not that it's ill in controversy, but i'll place my vote in for placticity DEAR MARIA...it's hard to see you... it's hard to be here"

Ryan describes the lyrics, "about a gutless fella who's had enough of his current situation in life and decides to just up-and-leave one morning. His girl, Maria, will receive a letter when she arrives home from work in the afternoon. Only the song is based on a dream... the fella never actually leaves... only writes down the things that he'd be doing if he weren't stuck in nowheresville... kind of like myself sometimes... only I'd like to think I'd take a few more risks."

Musically, McMahon's material on 'Sleepless Night' wanders the vast soundscape between The Hip, The Cult and a health spa frequented by Jim Morrison. The diverse talents of guitarist Brad Looyen, bassist Ken Scardina and drummer Billy Hicks, combined with the mix, engineering & production wizardry of Rick Salt at Island Pacific Studios resulted in a ballsy, hard-driving rock record, embellished with spacey, harmony-filled bridges.

"Billy Hicks injected a phenomenal amount of input", added Ryan. This summer, McMahon is recording a 6 or 7 song EP at Baker Street Studio in Vancouver; with Paul Baker, Hamish Thomson, Tom Dowding, Mike Rogerson on lead guitar... and probably Doug Elliot & Pat Steward.

A notable aspect of Ryan's writing is that most of his material is geared for both rock & acoustic performances. Vocal harmonies are a big part of either presentation. "The new project will feature more acoustic instruments," says McMahon. As yet untitled, it will be released this winter. Some sample lyrics: "you don't want to kiss me you only want to frame me and mount me and stuff me and put me on your wall a conversation piece i'll be destined to be listening to the conversations of you all"

Ryan cites many influences. "I think a lot of Gordon Downie's lyrical work... he's someone in the biz whom I'd really like to meet. I'd like to carry myself with as much intelligence and integrity as he does... even if that sounds like a complete pipe dream. "Tom Waits is an incredibly-gifted storyteller... with many incredible stories to tell.

"Everyone from my generation digs Pearl Jam; it goes without saying. Eddie Vedder has stayed alive long enough to continue singing about what he loves, and with conviction. "I like anyone who performs with passion and means what they say. I think the audience and most of the record-buying public knows when an artist is bullshitting. Ryan added, "Seeing a BB King performance in '95 had a big impact on me. His rappore with the audience was amazing!"

Indeed, Ryan's own rappore & wit at a show can be quite captivating. While snapping photos at a recent Citizen Strange acoustic concert, I watched a lost soul who had obviously wandered into the wrong venue, requesting Johnny Cash tunes. Ryan's response to the gal was honest and polite, yet also subtly-amusing to both fans & staff... a fine balance of wit & wisdom which few young entertainers possess (Dave Gogo also has this gift).

Via a few last-minute emails, Ryan and I exchanged some extra "question & answer" things for this article:
BN: What would you say to Jim Morrison if you ran into him at some sleazy bar?
RM: If I met Jim Morrison in a bar, I would first say thanks for being a crazy brilliant dude, then follow up with "I'll buy you a drink if you make sure that John, Robbie & Ray never play with those fuckers from Creed again... they're pissing all over the legacy."
BN: Any advice for other readers who sing, on how to prepare for a concert ... meals, drinks, etc?
RM: Before most shows, I have water & a very light dinner. No caffeine, no beers, no whiskey... I sometimes just guage it on how I feel... but you can never go wrong with water.
BN: Any beefs about the Vancouver Island music scene?
RM: That's tough. It's been really good to me. I've had a lot of cool people nurture me along the way; ever since I was sixteen. More live venues. We need more venues for independent, original artists. Cover bands are great, but it's always nice to stumble into a packed club and discover some new pearl just waiting to be pryed from it's shell by some A&R dude.
BN: What's around the corner?
RM: Expect a new band to re-surface around September. In the meantime, the ROCKTORIA Concert Under The Stars at Centennial Square for 100.3 the Q on July 28.
BN: If you won a huge lottery?
RM: I guess I'd buy a house, fix up my own career, start a record company with some friends... we'd have some weird artists on that label.

- Barry Newman


Discography

LIGHTS OUT (Ep) (2003)
1. See to Believe
2. Split
3. On Your Shoulders
4. Girl on Top
5. Lost on Me

RYAN McMAHON & THE DIRTY FIVE (Ep) (2004)
1. Too Nice to Stay In
2. Hangnail
3. Number 5 Orange
4. Keep You Awake
5. Going Going Gone

BETTER DAYS GONE BY (full album) (2006)
1. Getting Different Done
2. Liar
3. Ruby Won’t Die
4. Girl On Top
5. Lights Out New Orleans
6. Place Your Bets
7. Song Says So
8. May Looks Homeless
9. Supposed to Be
10. We Can Make It
11. Number 5 Orange
12. Dirt For Sale

I TRIED TO RUN (Ep) (2007)
1. I Tried to Run
2. Weeks & Months & Years
3. Tag Along
4. Falling Out of Love

WEEKS, MONTHS, YEARS (full album, 13 songs) (2008)
1. I Tried to Run
2. Comeback
3. What Are We Waiting For?
4. Good Timing (or is it Bad Timing?)
5. Place Your Bets
6. Lights Out New Orleans
7. Weeks, Months, Years
8. Falling Out of Love
9. Girl on Top
10. Road Signs
11. Beyond the Fence
12. No Burden
13. Double Life

CBC supported and airplay from college radio stations across Canada.

"Comeback", "Good Timing", "What Are We Waiting For", "Road Signs", "Double Life" and "No Burden" have all received airplay along with the title track "Weeks, Months, Years".

"Roadsigns" was chosen for the Big Rock Brewery 2009 Juno Compilation and "Comeback" was included on Music BC 2009 Juno Compilation.

"I Tried To Run" was chosen for the Acoustic Rainbow Volume #34 and has proved to be a success in gaining radio play in Germany, Australia, The Netherlands, throughout the US and in Japan.

ALL GOOD STORIES (Solo Acoustic Release, 2011)
1. A Fortune I Forget
2. Wake Up (ft. Megan McNeil)
3. Youngstown Tune-Up
4. Speak of the Devil
5. 1985
6. My Friend
7. Everyday
8. All Good Stories
9. Buried Below
10. I Owe Everyone

Nominated for:

Vancouver Island Music Awards:
Album of the Year
Artist of the Year
Male Vocalist of the Year
Male Songwriter of the Year

PUT THE PAST IN A FLASK AND DRINK IT (2012)
1. Big Highs Big Lows
2. We Live Forever
3. One Way
4. Southpaw
5. Youngstown Tune-Up
6. 40-Foot Wave
7. Top of the Hill
8. I'll Be Damned
9. Say When
10. Whenever the Day Is

To be released 2012. The video for "One Way" has been nominated for the Vancouver Island Music Awards for Video of the Year - by Tash Baycroft.

Photos

Bio

It’s 2012.

My name is Ryan McMahon. What do you need to know about me other than what I sound like? How ’bout I’m 32 years old, a proud father and a peaceful man. I’m prone to displays of inappropriate humor following the consumption of alcohol and people who say “I can’t” drive me crazy.

Like Neil Young, I’m an epileptic who loves both the scream of distortion and the peace of the acoustic. Like Eddie Vedder, I wear all of my influences on my sleeves, where Tom Waits, Buddy Holly, Warren Zevon and Bruce Springsteen all reside.

Music is life and I’m just as happy playing to ten people in an intimate house concert as I am playing to 10,000 at a folk or country festival. Either way, a day above ground playing my songs and supporting my family doing so, is a great day.

If you like your music to come from an honest place, then you just might like hearing what I have to say.

Ryan McMahon