Marty Ryan, the brain behind Anna's Anchor, a musical project that breathes new life into the genres of emo and indie-rock, travels a lot. It's very clear after just looking at the bio notes that were sent over to me surrounding the release of Nautical Miles, his debut record that became available earlier in September. We'll get into that a little more later, as Ryan and I speak at length about the making of the record, how traveling played a big part in his previous EPs and overall creative process, and so much more.
This is your debut album. Congratulations! When did you approximately begin pulling together music for the album that would become Nautical Miles?
Thanks so much, it feels great to have an album out. So few bands in the grand scheme of things get that opportunity so i'm overjoyed. I started writing the album late Summer 2015 with my good friend Brian Scally on drums. Brian was back in Ireland for a limited period and was up for doing the album so we met up down in Cork as many times as we could in August to get the bare bones of the songs together. He then went back to his normal life in the U.K. In the meantime, I spent the next four months working on the songs, demoing, writing other parts etc. Since Anna's Anchor for the most part is myself, it takes quite a long time to write all the parts because you don't have the luxury of being able to write in the rehearsal space, members at a time. Throughout this whole period, the studio was booked for January 2016 so I had a strict deadline there and I used all that time writing the songs and demoing the different parts.
I noticed that you're giving away the album for free via Bandcamp, but if people want to make a donation, the funds will be going to the Limerick Suicide Watch. I find this incredibly admirable. What made you choose this particular organization?
Thank you, I personally didn't see it initially as too big of a deal as the money I make from downloads is not that much, the physical keeps it all afloat and on top of that, Ireland is funny because it doesn't take too many downloads to get into the charts, and I feel like some bands use that outdated system as a false badge of honor, I'd much rather that money go somewhere important than to iTunes.
The reason why I chose Limerick Suicide Watch is simple. I think it's hugely important and the work they do is beyond words. To give you some context, Limerick is a beautiful place with a terrible (and in my opinion, unjustified) reputation. It's a city that doesn't get that boost from waves of tourists like Dublin or Galway, I personally feel sometimes it's been a bit forgotten about, but that's also fantastic too because we have these incredible things to ourselves. However, like a lot of towns, it can be a difficult and depressing place. Built on the River Shannon, everything about the city surrounds the rivers, including its three bridges. Far too often you hear the search and rescue helicopter overhead. I've been around when one person has jumped in and also seen a body recovered. It's chilling stuff, especially as I have been near that mind frame myself at one point. LSW volunteers patrol the river at night and they frequently save lives. I drive through the city a lot late at night coming home from gigs and see them, I think about it a lot. A lot of the album is centered around getting my head together after my family fell apart due to alcohol abuse from one of my parents. I reacted badly to it. The toll that those kind of things take on you is incredible, and even though you don't feel like it at the time, it does pass once you get around to dealing with the problem properly. Jumping off the bridge isn't the answer and LSW stop people from doing it, I can't think of a more worthy cause.
What is the meaning behind the title Nautical Miles and what does it represent for the album as a whole?
I find that with a lot of things in life, I have to always go a bit further to get what I want whether that's academically, musically or work related, but most of the time I do always get there. I struggle through. It's quite rare that I'd have a stroke of good luck so I find I have to work really hard for anything but the important thing is the arrival at the end of result. A nautical mile is a little longer than a normal mile and that's what it means to me, having to go push yourself through and go that little bit further.
You went through a rigorous filming process for "Signal Tower". You wrote 'The Islands' EP over a period of eight days, a different song on EIGHT different islands. You recorded the album in Manchester. What inspires you to travel to so many different locations?
Well I guess each project has a different reason. I do really love Ireland's landscape, the coastline is so vast and amazing, the people are so friendly and I feel like i've put that to the fore with Anna's Anchor so far so for signal tower I thought, how could I put a definitive video to showcase how great it is and that resulted in the idea of going to as many landmarks in the country as possible in the one minute and forty-eight second video. I also like a challenge, something worthy of grabbing attention, so that's why everything is a bit ridiculous and mad travel wise. Ireland is the perfect playground for this and I'm really grateful to have it at my disposal. For the Islands, that was all about the landscape of those remote islands being a really interesting canvas for a collection of songs. On the absolute edge of Europe, with the most harsh, rugged and beautiful landscapes. The islands acted as an escape to tap into a new way of writing songs, and also, it has to be a challenge so providing a week to travel to the island, play the show, write the song and record/release it was it.
Recording the album in Manchester was only for the reason that Bob Cooper was based there. Once I knew I wanted to do an album, Bob was my number one choice. Doing this in Manchester provided a logistical travel challenge in itself because I have a full time job, I use all my annual leave on touring, this gives me around 60 gigs a year and If I was to go over to Bob for two weeks, my touring would be halved so I did it over 5 weekends, I would fly out Saturday morning from Shannon at 8 am and I'd be in the studio tracking by 11 am and we go hard at it until Sunday evening at 7pm and I'd hightail it back to the airport. Luckily the studio was the airport side of the city, the flights were cheap and at the absolute perfect time, so maybe I do have some luck!
About how long did it take, as a whole, for Nautical Miles to come together? From the moment you got into the studio, all the way until the final mixes were delivered?
So we had 10 days to track the record spread out over every weekend in January. The last day in the studio was the 31st of January 2016. After that it was a month getting the record mixed with the vast amount of it happening in the first week of February and the next three doing minor revisions. Mastering began on March 1st and was actually a longer process than you'd typically think because I'm quite picky and the record has a bunch of songs that run into each other so that took a bit of trial and error. I should also say, Alan Douches, who did the Brand New records, mastered it and he did an amazing job. I'm a project manager in real life and luckily with it just being myself, I have a very clear idea of how I want the project as a whole to be and there's no time wasted on reaching a common shared idea, I just decide it and do it right away so I had the whole thing planned out somewhat methodically. During this period of mixing and mastering, we worked on the artwork and got the first video ready, in time for me going off on tour with Brightr in March. Sent out the record to the various parties we wanted to work with and by the time I came back from tour, we had a label to put it out and a PR company to work on press. We sent the record to the pressing plant early April, received them in June when the first single came out. the record subsequently came out in September. In hindsight we actually could have had it out a month or two earlier because things fell into place and went off without a hitch, I suppose ironically given the thought behind the title but we were really lucky with the whole process and I learned so much from it!
Was there any song on the record that was particularly challenging to bring to life? If so, what was challenging about it?
There wasn't any song that I struggled with to be honest. Hampton is a really personal one and was the real catalyst for the record. I wrote it pretty quick but it was probably a hard one to get myself around to writing it mentally. It opens up about the tough stuff in my families life that has changed everything really, it really shaped the record I think, once that was out of the way, the floodgates kind of opened.
What kind of message, if you have one, would you like fans to walk away with after listening to your music?
I would like them to walk away having gone through some sort of journey. The new record tells a story and I've attempted it to be thought provoking, I want the listener to go away and be thinking about something hours later, what it's about, how it applies to them. A bit of time to think to ourselves is really important and that's what the album was for me in a nutshell, and I'd like the listener to go through a similar experience.
Finally: what does music mean to you?
Music at its face value for me is an essential creative outlet to get off my chest, all the things that trouble me and occupy my mind. Creativity is so important to keep yourself at ease in any form, whether that's in a game of football at the weekend, writing or otherwise. I say face value because it goes so much deeper, being part of a punk scene and involved in DIY endeavors has shaped every single aspect of my existence. I try my best to be a better person and treat others as best as I can as a result of it. All my friends are from this same kind of background and the bond you make with such like minded people is stronger than anything else I've had in my life. It truly is a lifestyle. You do things yourself because you want to do them, and you can. There is literally nothing or no one stopping you, and at the moment, that's everything to me.
This has been another Shameless Promotion.