The night started out simply enough. I had a rough week and a friend asked me to hit a bar with her over in Phoenixville (PA). So off I went to Destiny Brewing, with the full intention and a promise to myself that I wouldn’t work – no scouting bands; just a drink and good company. My friend wanted to leave early, but I convinced her to stay a little longer so I could check out Ryan Tigro.(My cousin grew up as close friends with their drummer’s brother, and I’d followed the same kid’s band, Dr. Fever, back in high school… so my curiosity was piqued I guess.) In spite of the venue, the boys put on a decent set. Actually, they rocked. I tossed the “no work” policy aside, contacted the guys shortly after, and they were kind enough to participate in an interview. Here’s what they had to say:
AX: What’s the story behind Ryan Tigro? How did you guys get together, and when?
Mike: Dave (drums) and I have been playing music together off and on for almost 10 years. When I moved from Salt Lake City back to PA in 2002, we took the opportunity to drive across the country. We ran into an old acquaintance in Phoenix who had a bunch of instruments set up in his living room. Dave and I started playing some songs that I had written recently and that was the beginning of Ryan Tigro. Dave and I worked with Phil over that following summer and Adam was going to college with my girlfriend, so it all kind of came together that fall.
Phil: In 2001 I met Dave at a YMCA summer camp that we both worked at. We quickly became friends and started to jam on occasion. Dave’s best friend Mike, who was in a band with Dave in high school, came home from college to join our jam sessions. The three of us played as kind of a joke, with Dave singing and Mike on drums. There came a time when we decided to be a “real” band. Dave moved back to drums and Mike to vocals and guitar. Finding a Bassist proved to be pretty difficult until Mike’s girlfriend (now wife) introduced us to Adam, a college friend. We all became very close friends and started to gel as musicians. The rest, as they say, is history.
Adam: I joined the band in the Fall ’02. I met Mike through (his then-girlfriend-now-wife) Nadelle. At the time, Ryan Tigro didn’t have a bass player, Dave was singing, and Mike was playing drums. I didn’t even own a bass at that point because I was playing guitar in other bands. Within a few weeks, I sold some guitar equipment and bought a bass. Meanwhile Dave went to drums and Mike went to Guitar/Vocals, and Ryan Tigro took the shape that it has today.
AX: If you had 10 seconds to describe your music to someone, what would you say?
Adam: I never know what to tell people when they ask me this question. I would let them listen for 3 seconds, punch them in the face, then hand them a tissue to wipe their nose and talk about how I was sorry for the remaining 5 seconds or so. (I wasn’t serious about the whole face thing. It was more of a metaphor)
AX: Where do you pull influences from collectively? Independently?
Adam: Some member of the band or one of our immediate friends always has some new band they are obsessing about. None of our influences are really direct. No one ever says “you guys sound exactly like…” and that’s a good thing. Writing music is much like playing darts in that every song I write is trying to get closer to that one song that sums it all up. My search for influences is much the same. No single band will ever get it perfect, but most records have something on them that helps me get a little closer to writing that one song I’ve been looking for.
Collectively: I think that Mike pulls a lot of influence from life experiences when he writes his lyrics. I would say that musically, we pull a lot of influence from bands such as Fugazi, At the Drive-In, Bear Vs. Shark, Alkaline Trio, Jawbox, Dutchland Diesel to name a few.
Independently: I pull influences from many different places, but they usually aren’t bass influences. For example, I’ll take something that I’ve learned while playing baritone saxophone in a jazz band, and translate that over to playing bass in Ryan Tigro. I also tend to concentrate strictly on writing and playing music that I would use in the context of Ryan Tigro. I might only know a handful of songs on the bass that aren’t Ryan Tigro songs. I feel like doing this allows me to be more original when I’m playing. Some bassists that I think I have been influenced by would be Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath), and Dan Andriano (Alkaline Trio)
AX: Why did each of you get into music in the first place? Do you have that same interest or passion for your work now, or have your attitudes or ambitions changed over the years? (More of a passion for it now or less? Higher goals now, or a more relaxed attitude? etc.)
Adam: I first started playing piano around age 5 and mostly because my mom made me do it. It was one of those things where I hated it as a kid and was always told I would “appreciate it when I was older.” Now I look back and wish I would have applied myself even more to it. Once I got into Jr. High, I began to appreciate music a lot more and started playing guitar. I never took any formal guitar lessons, but could still apply what I already knew about playing music. I really loved playing the guitar and it sparked a new passion in me for music in general. So now I guess you can say that my attitude has changed greatly over the years and I have a much stronger passion for music today than I ever did.
Mike: My appreciation for the art of playing music increases every day. Punk rock amazed me at 14 when I found out that you didn’t need help from record labels, managers, big corporations, or even parents. You could start your own band, play whatever you want, set up your own shows, start a label, start a ‘zine and some kid somewhere would relate to it. I really hope that our music inspires kids to start their own bands and take control of the people they become. Too many kids are happy doing exactly what they’re ‘supposed’ to do. Music is the antidote.
Phil: I’ve always loved the sounds of a guitar. When I would hear a guitar solo, Hendrix for example, I would be amazed at the sounds coming out of the speakers and I wanted to make those sounds. I won an acoustic guitar when I was 13 at a local record store and I started taking lessons. I quit lessons after a year but continued to play regularly. My attitude and ambition towards music have definitely changed over the years. When I was young I just wanted to learn other peoples songs, now I’m interested in learning about music and creating something unique.
AX: When someone listens to you, whether it be for the first time or a loyal fan, what do you hope they’re able to take from your music? What about when they check out a live show?
Adam: I think in both cases I hope that people can take home an honest and positive message. I think there is a certain honesty and integrity in our music as a whole that people can walk away with and feel like they were not cheated by clichés. I think as far as a positive message, that there is a positive energy in our music. So while it’s not like all of the lyrics in our songs are bright and bubbly, the music that is coming with it still exudes a positive energy in the end.
Mike: I just hope that people watch us play and know that we mean what we say and love what we do. This isn’t a hobby.
AX: Success in the music industry is pretty subjective. What would you consider to be a successful run with Ryan Tigro?
Adam: Because success in the music industry is subjective, the idea of success is constantly changing also. When I first joined the band, success (for me) was playing a show together and becoming a real band. Ultimately though, I think I would consider success for Ryan Tigro to be leaving an impression on people. If that is because we sold a lot of records and people know us everywhere, that is great. If it’s because someone saw us at a show and remembered us, that’s cool too.
Phil: I believe success is progressive. When we first started success was to write some songs and play a show. Then it was to record an EP. Now it’s to write a really good LP and go on tour. You create these milestones and as you grow your definition of success evolves. For me Ryan Tigro will always be a success because the bottom line is that we have created something unique and interesting.
Mike: There are only two things that are important to me with Ryan Tigro. 1) Knowing that I am writing the most progressive yet heartfelt music that I could possibly write and 2) knowing that the people I think would relate to our music actually get the opportunity to hear us. If both those criteria have been met I think we’re a success.
AX: If fate, luck, and hard work are all on your side, where would you like to see the band 5 years from now? Putting those goals aside, where do you think the band will realistically be at that point in time?
Adam: If the planets aligned and we got exactly where we wanted to be, I would want to be able to play with Ryan Tigro as a full time job, touring and recording for a living. Realistically, I don’t think that is a huge stretch.
Mike: In 5 years we should have relatively accessible releases that I feel reflect our band’s true goals while maintaining complete creative and business control over our affairs. I think that is a pretty realistic goal.
AX: Why would I want to check out your show or CD over someone else’s? What makes Ryan Tigro so damn special? Give me your sales pitch.
Adam: I mentioned before that there is a certain honesty that is in our music that is hard to find. I think that we are very hard to lump into a category of music, or to list bands that we sound like because we try to avoid things that are overdone or things that are a fad. It’s music that is accessible and you can relate to without feeling like you heard it a million times before.
AX: When do you expect to release your new CD? What can you tell us about it? How has the band evolved in its creation?
Adam: We will be releasing our second EP entitled, All Our Friends Are Here, sometime in May hopefully. We built our own professional studio in Mike’s basement, and recorded there on our own. During the summer ’05 we really developed the core of this album. Through constant practice and writing, a definite style began to develop and has evolved into what will be our EP. After that is released, we are going to play shows and start writing more new material for a full-length release.
Mike: The record we are about to release in June has been in the works for literally years. We wanted to make sure there was nothing in the way of our creative success so we built our own studio and are trying to release the record on our own. The record reflects everywhere we’ve been in the past 3 years and everywhere we hope to go in the next 3.
AX: Do you have any music/merch for sale, and how can people get it? Where can people find you on the Web?
RT: www.ryantigro.com We will have music/merch for sale at shows in May.
AX: Share the spotlight a little bit. Give our readers at least three other local / indie acts worth checking out.
Adam: We’re big fans of Super Hi-Five, Alison Ranger, Bear vs. Shark, and Form of Rocket, but unfortunately they all broke up. Snakes and Music are from Brooklyn / Hoboken / Philly and have a new record coming out this summer. Dutchland Diesel (Lancaster) rules. And make sure to check out The Twilight Collective from Philly.
Mike: Dutchland Diesel (Lancaster, PA), Sadaharu (Lancaster, PA), The Sheckies (Cape May, NJ), Snakes and Music (Philly/Hoboken/Brooklyn).