Wyland - Ryan Sloan / by E

What brought the band together?

Ryan Sloan: We actually had, kind of, fate working its strings to pull us all together. Originally, I started this group based off a bunch of songs that I wrote myself and I brought in a couple of my friends and I was like 'can you guys just help me bring these to life?' and through that, you know, when I saw what we were doing as a group, I was like, we really need a guitar player that - I can play guitar, but I'm not that good - we needed somebody that was going to really, really bring these songs to life and just really help create moments that people can hear and be like, 'yes, this is great'.

We made a Craigslist ad that nobody answered except for one person and that one person moved out here from California a year prior and was just so tired of classical music. He came out here to study at Montclair State and he was just doing a bunch of repetitive classical training and he was like 'I'm losing my love for music and I wanna just, kind of, join a project and just see what happens,' and he went on Craigslist and the first thing he was interested in was our list, our little post. We met up with him and we instantly - we tried out a bunch of people - but he was the one that just made sense. As soon as he started playing I was like, 'you're the one'.

So, right there it was me and Mauricio at that time and us two were like, 'alright, we're definitely in this band,' and we were on the search for a bassist. We had a couple fill-in members when we went on tours and stuff, but nobody felt like they were a part of Wyland. We ended up doing a tour up North in New York near Syracuse and I reached out to this band called The Overnighters - they were really good - and we saw the band play - they opened for us - and the bassist of the group shined. He had this life about him: he was almost like the leadman of the group. The band was great, but all I watched was the bassist and, a year later, he's now our bassist, so that's how he kind of came into the mix.

In terms of our drummer, somehow I was friends with Ricky on Facebook, which was really strange - I guess, at some point, either him or myself added one another in hopes of collaborating and then we just never reached out to one another until, one day, I was just like, 'listen man, we don't have a drummer anymore and we really need one,' and he jumped on.

Everybody comes from very different backgrounds, which is what's interesting. Mauricio, the guitarist, is just like a big Beatles-head; he's a die-hard Beatles fan. The bassist, Zach, is a huge prog rock/classic rock fan and then our drummer, Richard, he has a very pop/funk background, but is also a big fan of The Police. But then, I kind of grew up on U2 and Lynyrd Skynyrd, which do not jive well at all [laughs] but, apparently, all four of us work well together. So that's strange, but that's kind of how the group came about. It all happened over the past two years. I would say that this past September is when the band was solidified and we finally are a tight group; these four individuals are the band.

As a band which artists do you take inspiration from?

I think that, as a whole, we kind of take all our individual influences and push them into Wyland. Like I said, Richard is a big Police fan, Zach and I are big U2 fans, and Mauricio, he uses a lot of the theory and experimentation that The Beatles used and he applies that to Wyland. I think everybody's individual passions and interests in other bands collectively works together to influence what we do in Wyland.

Why choose the name Wyland?

The last EP was called You're In The World, Get Off Your Feet, and that EP title was an accident. I was listening to Bon Iver and he has a song called "Holocene" and, in the song - I can't understand what the guy's saying half the time [laughs] but the music's so good - one of the lines in his song was "you're in Milwaukee, off your feet" and I misunderstood that as "you're in the world, get off your feet," and then, when I found out that wasn't the line, I was like, 'I'm totally stealing that'. I wrote it down and I was staring at that for a long time and I guess I had that title long before the band name and long before that EP, but that long title, You're In The World, Get Off Your Feet, kind of made Wyland: why ever get back on the ground? Then, we just took off the 'h' and connected the words.

Originally you wrote all the songs, but what's the songwriting process like now?

When I first started the band it was just me, so everything kind of came from me. Now, the process is just, I guess, what, hopefully, every other band is kind of like. Somebody will come up with an idea, whether it's a riff or a vocal melody or a bass line, a drum part, a groove, whatever kind of puzzle piece, and if there's something there, something sparks, we'll kind of build off of it. We have a new song coming out that we kind of just wrote in ten minutes as a group and it just all comes together. I think, at this point, it's just kind of everyone bringing little pieces of a puzzle together until it all makes sense and there's a clear image of what we want and what we're doing.

How would you describe your sound?

As a band, I feel like we have so many influences but, I mean, at the end of the day, we just call it alternative rock, of course, because it's just easier that way, but we use a lot of atmospheric sounds and ambient guitars to just try to create this cinematic experience for the listener. A lot of the times [laughs] - my bandmates hate me for this - but a lot of the time, I'll put on the producer hat and be like, 'make this feel more like a movie, like imagine,' and then I'll put out this whole ridiculous scenario, like, this guy losing the girl and then running after her. I'm like, 'I want to hear what the music would be like when he's running to her; play that on guitar,' and then Mauricio looks at me like, 'why am I in this band?' [laughs].

What was the inspiration behind your latest single, "Lifeboats"?

"Lifeboats" is one of my favorite songs that we ever wrote. I feel like that's one of those tunes that kind of just came together, as well. I sat down on the acoustic guitar and, I don't know what happened, but I just started playing and I tuned out a couple strings and the song came out verbatim, like, lyrically, everything just came out at once and I remember it was just a miracle, so that song definitely means a lot to me and the group.

For the video we have this beautiful girl that's kind of dancing with the sunlight and we actually shot it in Long Beach Island in New Jersey and there's a lighthouse there and we shot all this really great footage on this really expensive camera and when we went back and watched the footage we were like, 'okay, this looks beautiful, but where's the story?'. So we were like 'there's a lighthouse, and the light's spinning on it, so let's find a place where it can look like the band is inside the lighthouse and she's reaching for us'. It's like we're singing to her from the lighthouse and she's dancing with the sunlight, trying to get to us, and then she finds out that she can't. We kind of just tried to build it as best as we could around the song but, you know, due to circumstances, we shot something and it didn't necessarily work out so we had to go back and kind of make it all work.

Is the sound on "Lifeboats" indicative of what we can expect to hear on your forthcoming EP?

Yes and no. I would say that the songwriting is the same, in terms of, I think I use a lot of the same melodic ideas and progressions, but in terms of the sound and the guitars, we amped up the guitars a bit more so it's more electric. We have a lot more unique soundscapes. For instance, we pride ourselves on our live show and everyone who comes to see us always complains that what they hear on the recording isn't as good as what they see live and we were like, 'okay, we need to capture what we do live,' so we went to the studio and we recorded everything live. So, everything is on the spot live and the energy is there, which I think was lacking on the past EP.

Are there any tracks on the new EP you're excited for people to hear?

I'm excited for people to hear every track [laughs]. We're really, really, really excited about it. We recorded at Lakehouse Studios in Asbury Park because they have a state of the art facility there and everyone can see everybody; we're all in the same room and we're all looking at each other and feeling each others energy and applying that to each moment, so every song that we already felt strongly about prior to is just amplified to a whole new extreme. In terms of picking a single, we don't even know which one we want to pick. We feel like they're all worthy.

Any songs you're hooked on right now?

Yeah, absolutely. I've been listening to this Norwegian group called Highasakite and she is unbelievable. What I like about her is she's an incredible songwriter, but the sounds - there's something about female songwriters that I think just trumps any guy and I think it has to do with the fact that women have just so much more imagination than men. I don't know why I feel this way, but just something like Sara Bareilles and Regina Spektor and this incredible woman on Highasakite, the songwriting is just so much more real to me than anything else. I don't know, I guess I just like female artists much better. Definitely check her out if you get the opportunity; she just takes you on an adventure. I feel like I see the world through her music, like, when I listen to it I feel like I'm traveling and I'm on the road with a bookbag and just going through mossy hills and beautiful sunlight. It's so good; I love it.

What do you hope listeners can take away from your music?

On the new stuff, hopefully a similar thing. Like I said, we used a lot of atmospheric things and I try to pull from groups like Highasakite and try to create these cinematic moments where, hopefully, a listener can feel energy and feel this inspiration to go out and do something that they normally wouldn't do. That's definitely my personal goal with these songs.

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