by Sarah A. Peterson
The South Valley’s Ryan Dean and the Bricktops with vocalist/guitarist Ryan Dean, guitarist John Bell, bassist Mario Teixeira, and drummer Matt Hopson, are kicking off the New Year with their first Fresno show tonight (January 16) at Audie’s Olympic. Kings River Life caught up with Ryan Dean on the eve of the Audiepalooza 2016 All Star Western to discuss the band’s origins and their bright future ahead.
KRL: How long have the four of you been performing as a band?
Ryan Dean: We’ve been making music together in this group since March of last year. But we’ve all played in different groups together over the years, including in Poor Man’s Poison.
KRL: What is your particular genre of music?
Ryan Dean: I would have to say our genre definitely leans more to the blues-rock style with a hint of soul. I’m not a soul singer, but I sure try!
We’ve said, though, that there’s not gonna be a ‘ceiling’ on this group. No rules, just write what we feel; if it makes the cut, then so be it. John Bell and I have played together for many years in styles ranging from metal to progressive rock to American roots, but now we’ve kind of settled into the songwriting depths of the blues.
KRL: Who are your biggest musical influences?
Ryan Dean: Some of my favorite artists include Otis Redding, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Bob Marley, Alice in Chains, Tom Petty, and so many others. I think as a music lover, you learn over the years to appreciate, and even love, all types of music, for whatever it does to you on an emotional level.
KRL: Whose music did you listen to while growing up?
Ryan Dean: Growing up was rough for me as a developing musician. My folks would only let me listen to Christian contemporary music. So when I brought home my very first tape of the Beatles from my grandma, it went right into the trash. I learned early on that it would be beneficial to me if I just kept my music to myself.
KRL: Did you always want to be a musician?
Ryan Dean: I didn’t always want to be a career musician, but I always had a passion for it. I started just writing poems to other artists’ music and over time, I picked up the guitar and taught myself to play. I already knew how to sing as I had grown up singing in the church choir on Sunday morning. After I learned how to play music, it was all over. I was constantly writing!
KRL: What is your songwriting process?
Ryan Dean: Honestly, normally I just grab the guitar and find some chords for the mood I’m in, and start jamming. I’ll start with a chorus; if I have a solid chorus, then I can write the verses around that main point.
After I have a good song idea, I’ll bring it to the group and we just brainstorm, try different things until we agree on how the song should be. It’s nice to write with other open-minded individuals who are absolutely amazing on their instruments. I really couldn’t do this without the guys.
KRL: Where have you performed locally and abroad?
Ryan Dean: We’ve only been together a short time, but already we’ve been blessed to open for acts such as Billy Bob Thornton and his band The Boxmasters, and Craig Morgan in Temecula wine country. We’ve played twice in Visalia at The Cellar Door, and have our first Fresno show tonight at Audie’s Olympic for Audiepalooza 2016 All Star Western.
KRL: What is the best part about making and performing your music?
Ryan Dean: I would have to say the best part of writing songs and performing comes in two parts. Being able to write what’s inside me as a form of release is therapeutic. It’s a feeling of completeness. The fact that I’ve had people tell me that a song I’ve written has helped them get through a tough time is absolutely priceless and humbling. I write for myself, but I always want the listener to be able to relate to my lyrics.
And as for performing…the energy of being on stage with a big crowd singing along and cheering, is one of the best feelings ever. The support is awesome, especially from my hometown [Hanford].
Long story short, I love music and what it’s done for me, and I hope that my music can reach out and help others on their own journeys!
For more information on Ryan Dean and the Bricktops and their upcoming performances, please visit their Facebook page.
Check out more local band & musician profiles in KRL’s music section.