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  • Vasili Papathanasopoulos

5 THINGS RYAN MARTIN JOHN LEARNT WHILST MAKING 'GOODNESS GRACIOUS GRACELESS'

Goodness Gracious Graceless is out now!

Image: Jack Fenby


Australian musician Ryan Martin John has unveiled his self-produced debut album, Goodness Gracious Graceless. To celebrate the release, the musician has shared with MILKY five things he learnt whilst creating the record.


The musician will embark on a tour in support of the album, kicking off at the Stone Pony in Willunga, SA, on May 13. The run of shows will continue on to Melbourne, Castlemaine and Pt Lincoln, before wrapping up at the Wheatsheaf Hotel in Adelaide on June 3. Across the tour, he'll be supported by Isobel Caldwell, Wybie, FJ Steele, Alana Jagt, Mark Curtis and The Flannelettes.




COUNTRY MUSIC ROCKS

To be completely honest, I'm new to country music as a genre. I naively thought it was all just pickup trucks and cowboys. Previously I've been pretty folky with writing and producing my music. Until I heard Willie Nelson's album 'Stardust' and Flying Burrito Brothers' album 'Gilded Palace of Sin'. Then I realised, songwriters are songwriters no matter the genre. I loved the pedal steel textures - nobody does that like country does as a genre.


YOU DON'T NEED A PEDAL STEEL IF YOU HAVE A TALENTED GUITARIST IN THE BAND

Heaps of people have been commenting on the 'great pedal steel bits' on every song in the album. Fun fact, there's only about 8 bars of actual pedal steel (Concorde verse 2) played by Tyler Venter. The rest of the entire album's pedal steel is in fact my friend and guitarist Tom Kneebone doing some very clever volume swelling and slide playing on his 6 string guitar. He's a pro!


SIMPLE SONGWRITING HITS HARDER THAN TRYING TO BE CLEVER

I think there's a place for all approaches, but I think personally the more I simplify a sentiment and use fewer lyrics, and music techniques, the further the idea flies. I used to write super metaphorically driven lyrics and try to be musically complex but there comes a point where you start obscuring the actual message for listeners when you go too far. Gillian Welch has been a huge influence on that practice. She has the incredible ability of writing a novel worth of storytelling in two lines. Then the subtext all comes from delivery.


DON'T FORCE A SONG

Nick Cave has that famous letter of turning town the MTV music award in 1995 and in his rejection letter he eloquently says 'My relationship with my muse is a delicate one at the best of times and I feel that it is my duty to protect her from influences that may offend her fragile nature.' It made me think about protecting the virility of where my own ideas come from. Sometimes I'd spend three days on a verse and not finish a tune. When I forced an idea I'd resent my instrument and would have to wait a week before wanting to play again. Then I started noticing all my best songs happen like lightning in a bottle; usually after 3am when my brain's a little tired and unfiltered I start to hear songs & lyrics in my head and they're usually finished in about 10 mins.


DOGS RULE

To tell the truth, my music is just a farce of a platform to advocate my love of dogs. It's all just a giant time consuming front to push dog branded merchandise. Eventually I'm just going to phase out the songwriting entirely and become a dog treat-pushing mogul. I'll be like the Murdoc of Schmackos. Except not evil.



Goodness Gracious Graceless is out now!


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