INTERVIEW: Scott Von Ryper

Vents is pleased to welcome to our humble abode guitar maestro Scott Von Ryper; welcome to Vents, Scott! Before we get started, how has the last nine months of 2021 been treating you?

Thanks for the kind welcome.  2021 has been kind of strange to be honest. It’s like the first half of the year just happened and I’m not sure how or what I did. The first 6 months of 2021 felt more like an extension of 2020 really. It’s been 18 months of great change though.

Major congrats and kudos are in order for the upcoming October 15 release of your first solo album, Dream State Treasure. Does it feel at all surreal to finally be just a little over a month away from the debut of your solo album?

Thank you.  Yeah, surreal could be it. In some ways I’ve already released it in my mind because I finished it last year, and it’s just taken time for the whole release part to happen for various reasons. It has been a long process though, with years of thought and work in there. In some ways I’m quite detached from it now and listen to it in a completely different way now than I did last year; just as a person enjoying it, and not as a producer constantly critiquing it and going back to tweak things.  That part is enjoyable.

I’m very focused already on what I should be working on next, but I’m also really looking forward to people being able to enjoy the record.

For those that might be late to the party, how would you describe your style of music?

Well that’s a hard one to answer. What is my style of music? I’m not sure I have just one. I’d like to continually evolve.  It depends on the project I’m working on and what I’m interested in doing at the time. Saying that, I will concede that despite a few outliers, Dream State Treasure is definitely a bit of a love letter to my long time admiration of certain 70’s production. I feel you can hear my love for the first few Lennon solo records in there and the Phil Spector production, but you will also be able to hear my love for the slow build and big production; the Scott Walker, Pink Floyd, Spiritualized. The record has some spiritual moments I would say. The one thing that I hope will always tie it together is the emotion. I truly aim to make music that stirs emotion.

What was the genesis of Dream State Treasure? Is there a Secret Origin story to the album?

If I dig deep on this thought, it maybe goes back to a moment in time, decades ago. I was still living in Sydney, in my late 20’s still, and the band I’d started my musical career with had broken up. I’m pretty sure it had a lot do to with the major label we had signed to. Even at that early stage of my career, I just recall being completely over the music industry.

The antidote to this feeling was for myself and the guitarist from the band setting up a little 4 track studio in his house and dedicating 4/5 days a week to writing material and recording it. I started writing songs on the acoustic guitar (the same one I have today), and the recording and producing side of it was fully mine for the first time so it was a significant time for me. We had one mic, one 4 track, one Ibanez guitar multi effects unit which I used on everything, and a drum machine. All analogue. The song style, but more importantly, the production and sounds I created then were definitely the genesis of what I’d pick up 20 years and many bands later, and try to perfect and finish in some way. There’s obviously a million important moments in between, but that’s the genesis of that sound I think.

The first single off of Dream State Treasure is the phenomenal Devil’s Son. What made this track the perfect choice for a single release?

Well thank you firstly. I am very proud of that track. There are songs you write in a lifetime that you hope might last the test of time. I hope this is one of them.  Maybe that’s why it seemed like the right choice for the first track. It has a classic sound and feel to it. It is very different to what I’d been doing with The Black Ryder for the last 10 or so years.

Other than me thinking it was a really strong track, the primary reason I wanted to go with this first, was that it’s a piano based song. I’m primarily known as a guitarist, so it felt important to me to lead my solo release with a piano track, so I could highlight that I was doing something different here.

I know that you used the lockdown brought upon by COVID-19 to finish Dream State Treasure. Did world events like the pandemic at all inform and drive the direction of Dream State Treasure?

I don’t believe they drove the direction of the album at all, but the time off from life as we know it (and touring for me), definitely impacted my ability and clear motivation to finish it. Just to have that huge chunk of uninterrupted time and complete isolation allowed me to be in that headspace to finish it. For that, I am grateful.

Who was your producer on Dream State Treasure and what did that collaboration look like?

I produced the record myself, and recorded and mixed the majority of it as well. That collaboration looked very lonely at times.

What do you hope fans walk away with after listening to Dream State Treasure?

I hope they feel something and want to listen to it over and over. Maybe they will get something different from it depending on their mood or need at the time, like I have. The songs on this record were my only real company during the last 18 months as I’ve been very isolated.  My one outing every day in 2020 was a long walk up in the hills around my old place in LA. I would listen to this album every day and began to identify certain songs with a place on the route. At first I listened to it to identify things I needed to work on or to let creative ideas come, but then I kept listening to it when the record was done….just because I loved it, and that felt really good.

“Over & Over” for example, is the first on the record. It’s still a song I put on quite often when I start a walk or a drive. There are other tracks that peaked musically when i come over a hill which opened up to a glorious view of the city, and I had a moment to reflect on the beauty of the view, or the song, the good or tough day I was having. These were very emotional moments in an emotional year. So, my hope is that others get at least a fraction of the reward that I have from the record to date.

You have such an epic track in Lucifer for the upcoming album. The scope and the runtime of the song really brought to mind some of the best tracks from bands like the Stones, Led Zeppelin and even Weezer’s EP Everything Will Be Alright in the End. Was that deliberate, were you going for that particular brass ring?

I’m not sure I’ve been mentioned in the same sentence with such grand company before, so thank you. That’s very kind.

I’ve always been a fan of the epic track; a sucker for the slow start, the build, the glorious ending, and the monumental changes in a song that give you goose bumps. It’s one of the reasons I love the producing and mixing side of music.

 I had written the idea for that song a long, long time ago. It existed as a two minute simple organ piece with a very filtered/effected vocal. It was always haunting, but it lacked warmth and it didn’t take you anywhere in the end.  It was just a brief moment in space.

When I realized that I wanted to develop this track for the record, the first thing I knew was that it had to have a gospel element. It’s a deeply meaningful and spiritual song about the review of one’s life at the end. The length and development of the track needed to reflect the wholeness and significant changes that one can go through in life. It’s made me quite emotional more than a few times when I’ve listened to it at certain places, and there’s no higher satisfaction than that.

You hail from Australia; how does that inform you musically?

I know other Australian artists have cited the isolation we have from the rest of the world as being an influence, which is true, but I grew up in the suburbs so I’m not sure if it’s any different to a kid growing up in the suburbs in any other city.  I feel like Australian radio back then was a great balance of Australian, English, and U.S. artists.  Australia is also supportive of it’s own artists as well, which is think is very important for the health of an industry.

 I was very influenced by Australian artists when I was growing up and really started listening to music in my early teens. Bands like The Church were hugely influential to me. The Triffids, The Stems, Nick Cave, The Underground Lovers, and lots of other less well known Australian bands were very influential to me at different times.

You’re pulling double-duty with the upcoming solo album – You are also the guitarist in the band The Jesus And Mary Chain. Did that gig in some ways prepare you for your first outing as a solo artist?

Well the guitarist in The Jesus and Mary Chain is William Reid.  I’m merely the supporting guitarist in the live dynamic, and that’s a great honor, as well as being a very enjoyable role to play.

I’m not sure if my role touring with JAMC really has had any influence on the solo record. Being blessed to have the gig with JAMC did however give me the ability to spend more time on my record when I wasn’t on tour because I wasn’t working a 12 hour a day studio job somewhere. For that, I’m very grateful.

With the pandemic seemingly stretching further into the year, what plans do you have in regards to touring to promote the new album? Is that on the backburner for the moment?

Yes, that idea is definitely on ice right now.  I do have JAMC touring Nov/Dec in the UK/EU which will keep me busy, but we’ll see what happens next year.

Musically, who inspires you and your sound?

In some ways there’s two different answers there. I can be inspired in many ways by artists, but not have them influence the sound of my own music.  Artists that ignore the noise or trends around them, I find very inspiring.

There are all sorts of influences on the record. As I mentioned earlier, there are tracks on this record where the sound was very much influenced by the early Lennon solo records. The slap back on the vocals and drums I always loved. I’d also say some early Crosby, Stills & Nash too.  I’m a big George Harrison fan as well and I think you can hear that in the slide guitar on the record.  I also was listening to some soul music around then too. I just love those horn sections, and I think that made it’s way into songs like “The Devils’ Son”

I was always a big fan of the crooners too. Maybe you can hear that on the record. I don’t know. It’s hard to be objective about those things.

Final – SILLY! – Question: Best film about rock and roll – This Is Spinal Tap, Almost Famous or American Hot Wax?

“This is Spinal Tap” without doubt. I may have seen that movie a hundred times over the years and has been well quoted in the tour van/bus over the last few decades.

An honorable mention should also go to “Anvil! The story of Anvil” as well, for the heartbreak of what it’s like sometimes to have the blessing and curse of the music blood in your veins.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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