Members: Ryan Ferguson
Stream RYAN's brand new record on VIRB.COM
If you're a fan of indie rock's recent past, then you're familiar with the work of guitarist and singer/songwriter Ryan Ferguson. Ferguson has been a lynch-pin of the San Diego music community since his high school days. However, he first came to international attention with his band No Knife beginning in 1995. The seminal Southern California band toured throughout the world with prominent rock acts such as Jimmy Eat World, Cursive and Sunny Day Real Estate. Influencing many burgeoning artists of the time, No Knife earned four San Diego Music Awards before their untimely break up in 2003.
Going solo, Ferguson issued the acoustic based "Three, Four" in 2005. Self-released and supported by a U.S. tour with Switchfoot, the five-song EP sold thousands of copies through mail-order and touring. The albums lead track, Suddenly, was interpreted for The Sims 2 (Electronic Arts) and swiftly added into regular rotation at San Diego's trend-setting 91X and Indie 103.1 Los Angeles. This time he scored a San Diego Music Award for Best Pop Album, with a tight collection of songs that set the bar even higher for future CD's.
With "Only Trying to Help", Ferguson expands his sonic palette and pop sensibilities, but loses none of the intensity; his latest work is the culmination of a lifetime of influences. A lifelong San Diegan, Ferguson grew up in the 80s. He was a songwriter by the time he hit the 7th grade, absorbing the music of the previous decades. "I was way into The Boss when I was a kid," laughs Ferguson, "And my uncle made me an instant Beatles fan by the time I was 12."
Fans of hook-filled songwriting in the grand tradition of Jellyfish and Brian Wilson on one end, and Wire or Superchunk on the other, will find Only Trying to Help essential listening. Ferguson has crafted a unique sound and world vision full of swirling acoustic six strings, double tracked vocals and chimes, all fused with his signature bombastic electric guitar. The effect is breathtaking as he wrings every last bit of melody out of each song. Over a year in the making, Only Trying to Help hits a little harder emotionally than past projects. A glance at the lyric sheet shows some heavy times indeed, but the pop edge of the tunes keep them from being bittersweet.
"Because of the delicate subject matter, my goal was to write a real powerful record. One that people wont forget too easily." Ferguson succeeds. Despite a glossy pop edge and solid hooks throughout, the songs contain an intimacy thats quite affecting.
In addition to producing, Ferguson plays nearly every instrument on his most recent recording, including drums on In the Sea, one of the more compelling tracks. Now known as a fiery guitarist, originally Ferguson was a drummer. "I really got into Rocket from the Crypt," says Ferguson, explaining the switch which soon saw him helming No Knife through four albums. Inspired by guitarists such as John Reis and aMinature's John Lee, Ferguson soon blazed a trail of manic post punk rock 'n roll lasting nearly a decade.
"I've always written pop music, so these songs aren't too far off from what I've always done," remarks Ferguson. And while his analogy might ring true on an anthemic rocker like Remission, the string and harmony-laden ballad Must be Friday Night shows a real progression in song craft. "I'm always thinking about new melodies. Thats why I keep a little digital recorder handy," he confides.