Interviews – Paul Ryan (Super 8) interviewed by the ‘queen of power-pop’ Lisa Mychols

LisaSuper8WP

From the Janglepop Editor: Please note this interview is stolen (with Lisa’s permission, I hasten to add) directly from the Lisa Mycholls Facebook page…I just thought it was a lovely chat between two artists, who are busy collaborating with each other and have plainly, such is the power of music, struck up a friendship.

I hope you enjoy Lisa interviewing Subjangle legend, Super 8 (AKA Paul Ryan)

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Ever wonder about the folks I play around in the studio with?

So do I!!!

This week, I’m heading back in to the studio with Paul Ryan AKA Trip, of Super 8!

As I was reviewing lyrics and songs, I thought…”but who really IS, this musical guy Paul Ryan?”

I’m so glad I asked, because It inspired me to interview him, while he waited for my parts back.

Anyway….here ’tis!

LISA MYCHOLS INTERVIEWS PAUL RYAN OF SUPER 8

😸 Who/what is SUPER 8?

🎧 SUPER 8 is predominantly me, myself & I these days – a home studio-based ‘one man band’ would be one way to put it. I write, perform & produce all the music and my talented wife helps bring the songs to life with her wonderful artwork & animated videos. Now and then I like to collaborate on the odd cover version with friends but this forthcoming EP of ours (namely: SUPER 8 & LISA MYCHOLS) is the first time in years that I have actually worked on a batch of home-grown original songs with a fellow recording artist. I’m rather excited about this project of ours it has to be said!

😸 Who are your greatest influences?

🎧 Hmm … where to start? From an early age: The Beach Boys; The Beatles; The Monkees; T-Rex; Stones; Burt Bacharach; Astrud Gilberto; Simon & Garfunkel; Neil Young; Neil Diamond … this list goes on! Into my teens (& beyond!): The Smiths; The La’s; The Stone Roses; The Charlatans; Shack; Teenage Fanclub; The Beta Band; Elliott Smith; Mac DeMarco …

😸 What was the last great album you bought?

🎧 ‘Sugar’ by Lisa Mychols!

😸 What is the weirdest, most strangest album you own?

🎧 As much as I love it, I have to admit I still find ‘SMiLE’ by The Beach Boys quite odd. I guess Brian Wilson did too!

😸 What is your favorite way to record music?

🎧 Quickly! I love ‘that moment’ of inspiration where an idea comes to you and you have to scrabble to capture it and get it down. In the past it wasn’t so easy. I can remember many a time, on a bus ride say, humming a melody under my breath all the way home desperately trying not to forget it! Fortunately nowadays you can yodel ideas into your phone although I have had some funny looks it must be said attempting this in public on occasion … especially when you’ve not formulated the proper lyrics yet and you’re just ‘la, la, la’ing’ a load of gubbins in a queue somewhere! In fact I’m surprised I’ve not been locked up to be honest! One never knows where next the inspiration will strike … WATCH OUT!

😸 What is your favorite part about being a musician?

🎧 I guess these ‘moments of inspiration’ I speak of. The ideas that come out of nowhere and the whole process of trying to capture then articulate them in order to get them down into some shape or form by which, from there, I’ll be able to express them more fully and make some kind of sense of them!

😸 How long have you been a musician?

🎧 All my life pretty much I guess! I can’t really remember a time when I didn’t feel musical. All my earliest memories revolve around music. As I documented in a recent song on the ‘Head Sounds EP’, this music-making thing appears to be ‘in my bones’!

😸 Are there any other bands and/or projects you have been a part of?

🎧 I had a hand in a number of bands growing up. A few bites of that music biz cherry along the way but nothing of note really, more just a social rite of passage than anything else. That said I was Manchester’s ‘bass player for hire’ for a good spell back there plus I did get to audition in London for Giles Martin (son of George!) once but, sadly, he had to turn me down when he got offered the on-going job to re-master The Beatles’ back catalogue. I suppose if you’re gonna get bumped then there’s no shame in getting bumped by The Beatles!

😸 What are all the instruments you play? Are you self taught or professionally taught in any of them?

🎧 I have a weird relationship with musical instruments. I guess my main instruments are guitar and bass but, over the years, I’ve picked up all kinds of things along the way. I play by ear. I’ve never had any formal training or lessons.

To be honest I just make it up as I go along here! If I hear ‘a sound’ in my head I try to determine what it is and then find that sound. As such I’ve managed to build up quite a collection of weird & wonderful ‘musical tools’ let’s call them down through the years. Double Bass; Cello; Washboard; Glockenspiel; Xylophone; Jaw Harp; Harmonicas; Percussion; Banjo you name it!

For example: I’m currently working up a cover version of the Steely Dan classic ‘Peg’ (for a compilation album that comes out in the Summer). With covers I always try to put a SUPER 8 spin on them rather than just do a straight copy. You know that signature trumpet motif in the song (yes, the one De La Soul sampled for ‘Eye Know’)? Well I was hearing it played on a different instrument but, although I was hearing ‘the sound’ in my head for it, I wasn’t sure what that instrument was then, about a fortnight down the line it struck me … a Melodica!

I managed to find one ‘going for a song’ (see what I did there?) in the local ads and, after a quick crash course in Melodica playing, I managed to get the part down in the way in which I was hearing it. I’ll probably go through a ‘Melodica phase’ now and end up using it on a number of forthcoming SUPER 8 originals! This is kind of how it works for me. I’m what you’d call a ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’!

As with most of my collected musical instruments, don’t expect to hear any virtuoso performances! For starters, I never practise! I tend to just use instruments as musical tools in order to get the job done. I keep threatening to myself that I’ll ‘go on the course’. One day I’ll learn to play (insert instrument here!) properly but, for now at least, I’m just too busy writing new songs in order to take the time out to try and make music ‘properly’ – LOL!

😸 When you are not creating music, what are you doing? What brings you JOY when you are not creating/writing/recording music?

🎧 I have been very ‘locked in’ to making music for the last couple of years and, most of the time, it brings me great pleasure. It’s my long-standing passion in life. That said, when I’m not composing (decomposing?!) I like perusing thrift stores with my good lady wife searching for weird & wonderful hidden musical treasure!

For example, on our last jaunt, in the corner of a store (at the bottom of a dusty ‘box of junk’) I happened upon a lovely old set of castanets! These can now be heard all over the recently released SUPER 8: ‘In Session’ EP.

I’m such a magpie at times! I grew up in the North West of England, in fact, if you look back at my answer here to your musical influences question, you’ll see that a lot of the bands I mentioned there actually hailed from the North West of England so, yeah, thinking about it I guess the place where I grew up had quite an influence on me & very much forged the musical tastes I’ve carried through into my adult life.

These days I live in Scotland (lots of great music here too!) You’re never that far away from both the open countryside and the coast. I love going for walks here. I find it a very beautiful & inspiring part of the world!

😸 What is your favorite song of yours?

🎧 Oh, difficult question Lisa! I have to admit, I don’t really listen to my own music that much! When I finish a song I just tend to move on to the next. With me it’s always ‘that next song’!

Occasionally I’ll hear one from my back catalogue on the radio and laugh because it takes me a while to figure out who it is! (As in: “Hmm … that sounds ‘a bit’ familiar! Hang on, it’s me – LOL!”).

Obviously, as a writer, there’s some songs that are break through pieces or landmark songs that seem to just stand out from the rest but I’m struggling to think of any right now … I guess ‘To Morocco’ off the first album (“T-T-T-Technicolour Melodies!”) holds a special place in that respect.

This was the very first song I wrote when I moved north of the border to Scotland plus the first song I wrote that I sang on! Another? Hmm … I think ‘Turn Around Or’ (from the second SUPER 8 album of the same title) is a pretty strong song all said, plus a lot of people seem to like the ‘Love Like Ours’ single (the one with the accompanying ‘plasticine dinosaurs in love’ video!) I’m quite pleased with how that one turned out but like my dear old Grandad used to say: “It’s not the pint in your hand, it’s where the next one’s coming from!”

I’m far more excited about the current SUPER 8 works in progress than anything that has gone before. (In particular our forthcoming ‘SUPER 8 & LISA MYCHOLS’ EP which is shaping up to be GREAT though I do say so myself!)

😸 Can you give NEW FANS a quick introduction of your musical catalog?

🎧 Good question! Well, I love melody and I love harmony! I’m not that great when it comes to describing my own music to be honest but, yeah, I’m all about the melody and the harmony! I like songs (and I like to write songs) that the Postman can whistle! I guess the best introduction would be to have a dip into my music page here and decide for yourself. I do hope you like what you hear! https://trip8.bandcamp.com/

😸 What is your favorite thing to watch in nature?

🎧 To be honest, regrettably I don’t seem to get to see that many sunrises these days but you really can’t beat a good sunset … or a nice rainbow! (To date though, I’ve yet to find any pots of gold.)

😸 Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter?

🎧 ‘Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall, all you’ve got to do is call!’

Err, best season? I love ‘em all really. I love that re-awakening feeling of new life that floats on the air in Spring. I love ‘the warmth of the sun’ in Summer. I love the colours of Autumn and I love the freshly fallen snow of Winter. (I’m not so keen on the rain though, we get way too much of it over here for my liking!)

😸 What is the next project you are working on?

🎧 Well, as you’re aware Lisa, we’re smack bang in the middle of putting together this EP of ours which I feel is shaping up to be a real musical highlight for 2020! Alongside that, as per, I’m tinkering away on tracks for the next SUPER 8 album. (Working title: ‘HEAD SOUNDS’.) So, yeah, busy, busy bee me!

😸 What are your favorite topics to write songs about?

🎧 I don’t really set out to write ‘specifically’ (unless it’s a commission). I tend to just write ‘in the moment’. Nothing I tend to do is predetermined. It’s pretty much all about ‘feel’ and where I’m at at any given time. One week I could be writing a very autobiographical song (like, for example, ‘Angels & Neil Diamond’ off the third SUPER album ‘HI LO’) the next, a bizarre song contemplating a world where cats had hands (‘If Cats Had Hands’). Like I say, there’s really no formula to this!

😸 Do you happen to know if people in England eat toast with hot tea?

🎧 Ha! As in ‘raise a glass’? “CHEERS!” Not that I’m aware of although, now you mention it, I definitely think people should from here on in! The ‘Toasting with Tea’ tradition – it began here Folks! That said, here In Scotland they do have what I find to be a rather strange meal tradition known as: ‘High Tea’.

This is a set meal that’s taken mid-afternoon comprising of 3 courses consisting of: 1. Toast for starters (!) then 2. A set main meal followed by 3. Tea with cake! Sort of: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner & Dessert all rolled into one! Kind of weird don’t you think? Or maybe it’s just me!

😸 Was there anything else you aspired to be when you were a kid?

🎧 No, not really! I did go through a very brief spell (which lasted for about an afternoon) where I seriously believed a career as a ‘Deep Sea Diver’ might have been on the cards for me but, no, in all seriousness here, I’ve pretty much always thought of myself as a ‘Songwriter’ – it’s just what I do or, to put it another way, it’s what I feel I was put here to do! Now all I need do is figure out how to eke some kind of living from this career choice of mine! Hmm … I’m still working on that bit. Leave it with me …

😸 If you weren’t a musician, what do you think you would be, creatively speaking?

🎧 A ‘Deep Sea Diver’ I guess … or perhaps a ‘Landscape Painter’? (I’d have to learn how to paint first mind!)

😸 What is your favorite book and why?

🎧 This is going to sound quite sad but, when it comes to reading, I mainly like to read biographies. (I’ve read SO many musical biogs!) As a work of fiction I still love Orwell’s ‘1984’ (although, reading it nowadays, it feels more like a prophecy than a work of fiction!)

😸 What is your favorite food?

🎧 My wife cooks a mean curry! I also appear to be on a bit of a Nachos trip at the moment – I LOVE Nachos!

😸 What is your favorite drink?

🎧 There’s a really nice (and fairly cheap!) Sauvignon they’re selling at our local supermarket of late. In fact I’m beginning to think they’re stocking it just for me! That said, you can’t drink fine wine all day every day (or can you?) so, when I’m not drinking cheap supermarket wine, I pretty much exist on Alta Rica coffee!

😸 If I were to come visit, where would you take me!!!?

🎧 That’s an easy one! Over there in America you’re often referred to as ‘The Queen Of Power Pop’, right? Well then you and your King Tom must pack your best royal rags! Scotland is known for its castles so what better than the King & Queen of Power Pop arrange an official state visit where we can sample ‘High Tea’ at a castle (and, while we’re there, we’ll stab us a haggis for supper too!) We can toast the success of our EP too (with cups of tea of course … although, given the choice, I’d probably opt for an Americano coffee to be honest!)

😸 Where do you really hope music will take you?

🎧 I’m quite happy where I am with it. I just wish I could find some way to make it pay the bills. I don’t wish for fame but a bit of fortune now and again certainly wouldn’t go a miss!

😸😸 BONUS QUESTION: Not really a question but here you must share either… 😸😸

😸 A recipe

A recording secret

…or something else you think is valuable to our readers!

🎧 Well I’m certainly not famed for my cooking prowess so I’ll spare you any SUPER 8 tips on the cooking front (I don’t have any!) but what I will share regarding recording is something that took me a LONG time to realise!

Okay, here goes … my 2 cents (for what it’s worth!): Yes, shiny, brand new expensive music equipment is lovely but you DON’T need great gear to be able to make great music! Don’t go down the rabbit hole (like I did for a good spell back there!) trying to find ‘your sound’ auditioning all kinds of the latest fad-gadget gear! Once you realise this you’ll discover that ‘your sound’ actually comes from ‘within you’ regardless of what gear you’re using.

Sometimes ‘your sound’ need only be your voice accompanied by a single shaken maraca (and one that only cost a couple of quid at that!) Yes, shiny, expensive gear is great but, like I say, you don’t HAVE to have it to be able to make great music. Most of the music I’ve made (and that I actually seem to prefer!) has been made not in a £500-a-day professional commercial recording studio but rather on a next-to-nothing shoestring budget put down on a clapped out old portastudio.

Don’t pay to be watching the clock. If you really want to be true to your skool music-wise you have to listen to your heart in matters such as this. Speaking very much from experience here, that’s probably THE best advice I have to give to any aspiring songwriters out there.

Your best ideas don’t magically appear when you’re watching that clock in an expensive studio – too much pressure. Your best ideas come when you’re just getting on with life. You just have to be receptive to them and allow them in (even if it sometimes means yodelling ‘nonsense’ into a dictaphone at the back of the bus!) I wish someone had told me this years ago when I was starting out! I hope it helps you. Stay focussed and don’t take your eye off the goal! (Also be careful what you wish for … it may come true!)

🎧 Are we done here? Thanks for taking the time to put this together Lisa. You certainly got me thinking here. Great questions my friend! Here’s to the EP – “WOO!”

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