Ryan Muddiman
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Ryan Muddiman

Cincinnati, Ohio, United States | SELF

Cincinnati, Ohio, United States | SELF
Band Rock Singer/Songwriter

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This band has not uploaded any videos

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"Terra-Fied"

note-the following interview was conducted with Ryan Muddiman's former bandmates, Jason Palm & Dave Kruse. All music Terravada performed was and is the creation of Ryan Muddiman. All copyrights reside therein.

Local trio Terravada strive to build its reputation with cathartic Rock music

Interview By Ezra Waller

All songwriters have places that they draw inspiration from, whether it be internal or external. It can be a memory, a special chair, poetry, a muse, a lover, history or the nightly news. Whatever it is, it helps to form the emotional core from which their most personal journeys depart. For Terravada singer/guitarist Ryan Muddiman, his rhythm section fills this need.

"We like to berate him at rehearsal and keep him depressed so he'll keep writing that good, tortured music," says drummer Jason Palm. He's joking, of course, but whatever method the trio is using to conjure their soulful tunes, they should stick to it.

Terravada's sound is inexorably linked to Muddiman's evocative playing, a mixture of soulful strumming punctuated with stream-of-consciousness rhythmic shifts. His vocals seem to affect him in waves, switching from a whisper to a howl without warning. Almost reminiscent of Jeff Buckley's power and range only with more grit, it's a style that rewards repeated listening.

"It doesn't rely on formulas and hooks, so it takes a few times hearing it," explains Muddiman. When the band played the "Rock for the Red" Hurricane Katrina relief benefit show at the University of Cincinnati recently, the more straightforward Pop acts had a few people dancing. When Terravada began playing, the crowd swelled in size but ceased to move. "They were just standing and listening, which I took as a compliment."

The sonic serpentining would buck a lot of players, but Palm and bassist Dave Kruse have the experience to hang on and elevate the music. Palm's strength is in Rock fundamentals, which he has kept honed since his days in local band Stain. Kruse is something of a journeyman whose largest success to date was in the band Arms of the Sun in Tempe, Ariz. Back in Cincinnati for four years, he's been through a number of gigs, including Jam Rock act Element. If nothing else, both musicians should be glad to be in a band with an uncommon name.

"Yeah, it got confusing," agrees Kruse. "There was Element, Element I, Element H -- people mixed us up constantly."

Terravada is an intentional misspelling of Theravada, a form of Buddhism. Muddiman points out that there are multiple meanings in the misspelling. For instance, Vada is Sanskrit for "a way of debate," and, of course, Terra means "earth" in Latin.

"At least we won't be confused with 'Terravada I,' " cracks Palm.

Despite all the syncopation and gut-wrenching wordsmithing, the band's genesis is rather unorthodox. Muddiman's focus was not always on songcraft. "I used to be a big guitar hero type, then one day I woke up and realized it was all masturbation. So I just put it down and started working on songwriting." Following this transformation, he put some material together and starting cutting his teeth at Allyn's Café's songwriter night two years ago.

Palm and Kruse were added in succession, but both had only Muddiman's solo acoustic demos to build on. As a result, their parts are dense and boisterous. Since coalescing as a trio about a year ago, the three-way theatrics and interplay have morphed into part of the band's charm.

Once Kruse came on board, he began booking aggressively, giving the band exposure and access to a wide network of other groups. They put this to good use with their latest project, the Indie Media Fest, a benefit show to draw attention to non-beholden news outlets. This show will include exhibits and information from Democracy Now!, Media Bridges, WAIF and others, and the proceeds will go to various indie media providers. The band feels that access to these kinds of resources is crucial, particularly in a time of increased partisanship and domination of corporate-sponsored "newsertainment."

Muddiman sums it up: "They're fed. We'd like this to become a regular thing, maybe an annual event." - CityBeat Magazine


"20 Question's with Patty the Pusher part 1"

1.At what age did you realize you wanted to be a performer?

I've been singing since I could talk. I used to sing harmonies with my Dad and brother when I was just a wee lad...4 or 5 but as far the idea of my being a "performer, I'd probably have to say I was around 13.

2.What's the weirdest thing that ever happened while you were performing?

Well...this is a bit of technical craziness but it was definitely the weirdest; my tubes (in my amp) needed biased and the intonation on my guitar was whacked AND I was experiencing a bit of inner ear pressure..the effect was that when I played certain dissonant chords I nearly lost consciousness. It was kind of like when you get off one of those REALLY spinny rides at an amusement park or, better yet, when you've drank WAY too much wine and the room spins when you lay down. It happened about 6 separate times...I was doing ALOT of shows at the time. So yeah, thinking I was going to lose consciousness...pretty weird.

3.Besides singing and writing, do you have any other talents?

I make a good shoulder to lean on. Or so I'm told. I actually wanted to be a psychologist, at one point, and realized that I get WAY too wrapped up in other people to effectively do that job. It's all so personal and I don't have an off-switch...if I care about someone deeply, and I usually do, I can't disconnect; can't make it an impersonal thing. Kudos to those who can, though...much less weighty world for them .So, I'm the guy that loves to be here for people. I don't know if you'd call that a talent but that's what I've got.

4.What was your first real job?

I worked at a local Cincinnati chili haberdashery called Skyline Chili. I was 14.

5.How many siblings do you have?

I have one brother living 50, named Brian and one that would be 53 right now who was named Doug(ie). He was hit by a car and killed when he was 6.

6.If there was one person you could collaborate on a song with, who would it be?

Ok. This is a toughy. Dead is a tie:John Lennon and Jeff Buckley. Living, too, is a tie: Chris Cornell & PJ Harvey. Or no..wait..maybe Fiona Apple. Or maybe Regina Spektor. Damn; now I've screwed the whole question up.

7.What do you want people to"get" from your music?

I want people to lose themselves. And, I guess, find themselves...I want people to feel a connection; that it's alright...we're all going through this human experience...just embrace life and feel it and live it for what it is...I guess I want people to walk away feeling uplifted in some way. I suppose it's alot to ask.

8. Is there anything that you want to do in life, that you just haven’t gotten around to yet?

Sundance. It's a BIG commitment. One that I don't know if I'll ever have the privilege to experience.

9.If asked you to play any cover song, what song would you choose and why?

Right now, I'd have to say "Sin City" by Gram Parsons. Simply because it's going to be on the upcoming album and people who have heard the original before would be surprised to know that I'm covering it. Especially when they hear it. I've never been a country fan, to say the least, and it's definitely a country song. Well, at least the original is.

10. What song do absolutely hate?

Ooohh...I'd have to say anything by The Offspring. MAN, that guy’s voice goes right through me!! (a thousand apologies to those who love 'em)

- Backwards Apple Publishing


"20 Question's with Patty the Pusher part 2"

11. What’s your favorite mixed drink?

Absinthe, drank traditionally. Absinthe in the glass and ice-cold water dripped slowly over a sugar cube. MMmmm, mmm, mmm!!

12. What/who is your motivation/inspiration to keep writing music?

It’s like air. It’s like water to me. If I go without creating for any extended period of time, whether life gets to busy to allow or my muse has temporarily taken flight, or whatever reason, I become unbearable to be around. Ask anyone who knows me…I can be a real pain in the ass! So, I guess you could say I’m bound to it (music). Not like a slave but like a lovers side that you feel you could never stray from for fear of your spirit withering.

13.What is your top 5 favorite albums of all time?

Another tough one. I don’t know if I can fairly give you five but these particular ones have had a profound impact on who I am as a musician.

Jeff Buckley-Grace When he was introduced to me it was like hearing what my soul had been trying to say for so long. Anyone who has heard it, knows what I’m talking about
Chris Cornell-Euphoria Morning I love his songwriting. Structure-wise, his songwriting and mine are similar at times, so there is an odd sort of kinship for me there.
Pearl Jam-Ten This album was hugely pivotal for me. I was really into guitar-wanking style writing; very much centered around the guitar and not so much the song as a whole. I saw the debut video for “Alive” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” aired the same night on 120 minutes on MTV and was just floored! Nirvana was cool but man, Alive just grabbed me by the collar and slapped me in the face as if to say “what the hell are you doing? You call that songwriting? Remember where you came from…write a damn song not a 4 minute musically-masterbatory guitar solo!! Here I was, playing a thousand notes a minute and here comes this guy playing in a pentatonic scale, just like Hendrix did, saying more with one note than I did in a whole song. So yeah, that album made me reexamine where I was going musically. Thank God!!
Pink Floyd-The Wall This was the first adult album that I ever owned. My brother bought it for me for my 9th or 10th birthday. This was one of the first albums I listened to that made me realize you can feel as if you’re removed entirely from this world through music. What a moving, powerful thing music can be.
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young-So Far This is THE album I cut my singing teeth on. I still remember, vividly, doing 3 part harmonies with my dad and brother. Those guys new what they were doing. I still love going back and singing with this album.

14 What is your favorite movie?

These “favorite” questions are oddly hard for me…Hmm…I guess I would have to say Fight Club carries a certain special weight for me. One of my old buds and I used to watch this on a regular basis and that particular friend has since died so this movie holds a little something extra for me.

15.If you could only choose one, which would you choose; health, wealth or love? And why?

Monetary wealth is just pennies in a well; you just cast it away, all the while wishing- hopelessly – that it will bring you that great reward but it never does. How can anyone be truly healthy without love? Love of another. Love for another. Love of life. Yeah…if I had to choose. Love.

16.One question you'd really like to know the answer to?

Who the hell do I have to get my music in the hands of to really make a difference? (laughs)
The answers to all the really important questions, I think, should be discovered on each individuals’ journey.

17.If you could go back in time and change something in your past, would you? If so what?

I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve learned from all the stupid things I’ve done or at least would like to think I’ve grown from them. Now, if I could go back a take away all the pain I may have caused others without affecting their growth, I’d do that in a second.

18.What is your favorite lyric or quote?

Lyric- “She’s the tear that hangs inside my soul forever”- Jeff Buckley
Quote- “The time is always right, to do what is right” – Martin Luther King

19. Name a band or artist who doesn’t get the recognition they deserve?

I think Chris Cornell tends to get lumped in with “frontmen”. He’s so much more. I mean, yeah, he’s a hell of a frontman but even more, for me, he’s this incredible singer/songwriter. I was going to say Buckley but I think the adoration he is showered with is appropriately placed. That’s to say, I think the people, the legions of fans of his music, know or at least have some idea of who and what he was (is). Whereas with Cornell, I think a lot of people miss that.


20. How many songs have you written to date?

Counting ones I’ve lost. Ones I’ve forgotten. Ones put on a shelf waiting for another day…in al, I’d have to say it’s somewhere between 200 and 300.

- Backwards Apple Publishing


"Singer/songwriter Ryan Muddiman's emotional voice holds ethereal power"

Interview By C.A. MacConnell

Years ago, at a house in Xenia, I was in the shower when my friend Bobby sneaked in, put a boom box on the counter and yelled, "Listen!"
High volume, a haunting male voice leaked, then poured out of the speakers. That was the first time I heard the late Jeff Buckley's album, Grace.

Buckley's lyrics mix temporary, sexy scenes with lasting, torturous love, using words so concrete and personal that it seems he might be in the room. Achingly soulful, his songs are smart, internal and external and the vocal range makes them utterly vibrant, similar to local singer/ songwriter Ryan Muddiman's work. Muddiman's songs hold the same ethereal feel -- a three-minute dream binge.

I'm writing this article on yellow paper by early morning candlelight. Power outage. It's a fitting scene in which to describe Muddiman's (vocals, guitars, organs) shadowy sound. Listen to his "Damn." It begins with, "Damn, you're beautiful." Echoing and intense, the song moves with a slow, passionate flow, making intelligent use of intoxicating highs and fiery drop zones.

Muddiman's voice holds a slick, irresistible depth. Artistic heart-hurters, these songs move beyond sensuality, touching on spirituality, tackling the pain vs. hope mix. Listen closely and hear a slight rustle or a sniffle in the background, sounds that leave a deliberate, rough Indie touch, a style used effectively by artists such as Cat Power on her early Moon Pix album.

Muddiman delivers words gradually, moving into an emotional, incense-burning scene, giving a shout out to unrequited love. Key repetitive chords anchor rhythm, but the vocals stray, allowing emotion to consciously change the direction.

From Cincinnati, Muddiman is lively with brown hair and eyes; a set of brown beads is wrapped around his left wrist. He smiles quick and often. Energetic and not giving himself enough credit, he looks shocked when Jesse Rodgers (who plays bass with him) gives him a compliment.

"Ryan is uninhibited and honest," Rodgers says. "I can be myself and not worry about putting on some fucking image. I found a musical soul mate in Ryan. I'm his friend, but really I'm a fan. People enjoy it because it's important. He doesn't hold anything back."

At age 6, Muddiman got his first acoustic guitar.

"Back then, I was into guitar-hero stuff, like Eric Johnson and Hendrix," he says.

Self-taught, Muddiman says, "I play what I hear in my head. However it comes out, it comes out. Sometimes it's Rock & Roll, sometimes it's not."

Bassist Rodgers is warm, soft and easy-going. Beginning with guitar at 12, he says, "You get the fire and it doesn't go out."

Five years ago, Muddiman and Rodgers met at Bar Humbug, a Covington venue now called Clique. At the time, Rodgers played with Riverside Union (still a current side project) while Muddiman performed solo. In 2004, Muddiman did 60 to 70 local solo shows, later forming Terravada, a trio that split up in early 2006.

For years, the two ran into each other, but they didn't start playing together until recently. Presently, the duo's main focus is on recording their first album, which has been in the works for the past year.

With varying influences, Muddiman also looks to movies for inspiration. "Don't Forget to Feel" came to him after watching Garden State. "Novel," a sensual, vocally driven tune, shows amazing range. Switching into a more playful sound, Muddiman covers Blind Melon's "No Rain," and his version sounds like a sweet, jazzy raindrop.

From shouts to whispers, this self-reflective music is driven by heart. But is there a place for artistic, experimental songwriting in Cincinnati's scene?

"People have to take down preconceived notions of what they expect to hear in Cincy," Muddiman says. "There's so much good music here. If you have the opportunity, go see it and listen."

Muddiman wants listeners to feel a connection, to walk away with a new energy. Sparks.

"When people say it affects them in some deep way, I feel like I've done something worthwhile," he says. "People say it sounds dark, but for me it's uplifting, a liberation of spirit and mental stress. Introspection. Not in a self-absorbed kind of way, but introspection on a transcendental level."

- City Beat Magazine


Discography

Greetings/Farewell ~ 3 song demo 2004
"Glimpse of Resolve" ~ 5 song ep 2007
Currently working on the long awaited, full length ~ "Resolve"

Currently working on full length album titled "Resolve".

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Bio

Ryan Muddiman is a Cincinnati based musicican intent on delivering intelligent, soulful, and heartfelt rock music. Combining an array of influences and styles to successfully create music that is introspective yet observant. Lyrically, his music is personal without being self serving or oblivious to the outside world; thus creating songs that are accessible and honest.

Ryan honed his skills performing as a solo act that combined elements of folk, rock, blues, jazz, and soul. His style as a singer/songwriter embodies countless influences. Early on he was exposed to many great artists; everything from Nat King Cole, Jim Croce and the Beatles to Zeppelin, CSNY and the Doors; the variety was vast, to say the least. Later, he steeped himself in songwriters such as Prince, Chris Cornell, Jeff Buckley and PJ Harvey. Like a true artist though, he is not relegated to simply mimicking those that came before; he draws from these influences and channels them to create a style all his own.

Appreciation for his music has garnered worldwide accolades: from Sweden to New Zealand , people are beginning to take notice of the music and the voice that has been called "music for your soul" and that has drawn serious comparisons to prolific singer/songwriters of a rare breed.

At times he can be found with a full band line-up of friends and/or hired guns, appearing under the name ~wake~