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Ryan Morgan - Lead guitarist for Misery Signals

Date: 6/28/17
Interviewed By: Jack Mangan


Interview with Ryan Morgan of Misery Signals!

1. 1. Misery Signals' debut album, "Malice and the Magnum Heart" has such a fanatical and devout following. What is your take on that album's place in the world and in your catalog?

Ryan: I think that album happened at a time where clearly people were ready to hear something like that. I mean, it's not the first album to incorporate a bunch of melodic stuff into a hardcore setting, but I think it did it in a way that was maybe a little more immersive than some of the other bands that combined a bunch of melody into a really heavy backdrop with really heavy, really aggressive vocals. So I think it just landed for a lot people in the right place at the right time. And for us, yeah, it was important because it was our first full-length. It was the first time I'd worked with a real producer, it was the first time I was on a real record label with anything that I'd done. You know, I'd toured in other bands before, but this felt like an arrival when it was happening.

2. So let's talk a little about the movie, "Yesterday Was Everything." Part of the purpose here is the dredge up the past. . . There's a lot that comes out over the course of the film. Having this film crew with you - - how much of an impact did that have on you guys, while you were trying to work out these things between you?

R: Yeah, that's a good question, because it's hard to know how much was actually the filming of the movie, and how much was the reunion itself, because the reunion itself was really such a good and positive thing. And to be clear, we didn't have a whole crew. It would have been awesome! I wish we had a full film crew, but we just had my best friend, Matt on the tour with us, who was planning to come and hang out as it was, and it sort-of cascaded into the idea of filming. At first, we were just filming a little bit of the shows and maybe some behind-the-scenes shenanigans to put out a concert DVD sort of thing, and it just evolved into this greater thing where he started seeing the whole story of what was happening with us reconvening with the members and talking about the old times, so he just kept the camera rolling. And it ended up being a few days into the tour that he was starting to get a look at the whole story and wanted to make it into a whole film. So props to him for going above and beyond the call of duty by a couple of years (laughs) of us inviting him to come film stuff. I think it had a combined effect with slowing down and talking to the camera, and having those little candid moments where we were unpacking what was actually happening. And I think that made us more aware of what we were going through because we were taking those moments to digest everything and figure it out as we went along, which was really therapeutic, and it kinda helped us get in our heads about what was actually going down and how we had felt about how we'd treated each other and all this rift in the the band and everything in the past. So i think the fact that we took those moments really did have an effect on how much of an effect the tour had on us as the members.

3. I can see that; the guy behind the camera's your friend, so every can be more comfortable.

R: Yeah, he was uniquely poised to be the one telling this story.

4. How cathartic has this been?

R: Hugely. I didn't really imagine that it was going to have the emotional arc that is has, and I don't want to spoil too much of the movie for anyone, so I won't get too into what that arc is, but it was a huge reconciliation for us to come back together and try to figure out how to do this tour, and tell the story of the band and share that, like, that’s two huge elements, and they both felt really good to do that publicly. And I think it's gonna be a cool thing for people, especially if they have attachment to the music and the content, particularly the first record and the lyrics on there. I think it's gonna take down some the mystique behind it and let people feel closer to that album. So I think it will be special for people if they already have an attachment in some way to Misery Signals.

5. I know there is the film to tell your story, but if you don't mind, for anyone who's getting introduced to you through MetalAsylum.net, can you give a summary of Misery Signals' history, at least with Jesse and Karl, and anything else you want to throw in?

R: Sure, so Jesse is the first singer of Misery Signals. He actually joined up with me in my old band, 7 Angels 7 Plagues, and he was set to be the singer of that band as it was breaking up. And right out of that, maybe the next day (laugh), we started Misery Signals together, and he was the vocalist at the beginning and for a couple of years. He had a bit of a falling out with me and the rest of the band and left the band while we were on the rise, after we had released that first album that people were getting worked up about and excited about. We just couldn't make it work, man. We were young dudes, and we were at each other's throats, and we were on an extreme amount of touring, and we had had it with each other. So he left the band, and we got a new singer named Karl, and he was in the band for the next 3 records. And at the 10 year anniversary point of the first we record we talked about bringing Jesse back to kinda celebrate that record and do some some shows. We had never really capped off that time with Jesse in the band. It ended really abruptly, we never had final shows or a farewell or anything, so we felt that was kind of appropriate to do a reunion tour with Jesse, ten years.

6. So I understand now, there's new music being written and new tours planned with Jesse back in the lead role. Is that accurate?

R: Um, that may be a bit speculative (laughs). We hope there is, but nothing is really announced at this point.

7. In the film, there's mention of Jesse's admiration for you as a father. How does being a family man blend for you with being a pro musician?

R: Well, a lot of times it's at odds with being a pro musician, because touring becomes so much more difficult; being away becomes so much more difficult. Also, being a parent is a very interesting experience. You know, it kinda raises the stakes of everything and forces you to engage more in everything in your life. You're suddenly being watched all the time and emulated all the time by someone, and you're trying to teach, and trying to learn how to be in that role, so, it just forces you to engage a little differently. And as an artist, it's kind of a new window to look through. I feel like I write differently, and I have a different perspective that I'm speaking from when I write. But, on a day-to-day level, it's like a huge pain in the ass to try to anything that's not a parent. It's not necessarily parenting that's difficult, it's trying to do anything else in your life at the same time as being a parent that's kind of difficult. So that's a lot of the reason that the band has slowed down and it's taken us how however many years to put out an album, because the day-to-day is so much more occupied.

8. So, I notice while watching the film that all of you guys are pretty introspective, and you know, that's not always the case.

R: I think that that might be true; we have tendencies toward being introspective, but I also think that the nature of what we were doing when we filmed that, and where we were all at in our lives. . . at a certain age, you start to be more introspective, and I think we were all arriving there together, right around the time of this reunion, and a reunion in general, by its nature, is a look back. I think we were filming at a time when we were all sort of forced to do that, and forced to look back. I mean, I do take it as a compliment that we appear thoughtful, and I don’t want to discredit that, because it’s probably partially true. And I think that’s what makes a lot of the interview footage interesting, is because everyone had some insights, some contribution to it, like every member of the band did. Everyone stepped up, and I’m proud of my dudes for sharing with the camera, you know? But yeah, I think it was also a lot of the nature of what was going on and where we’re all at, as we kinda round the corner of our mid-30s, and what that means to be on that adulthood cusp, and. . . it’s just where we were at when we were filming.

9. It seems like you’re kinda perceived as the Steve Harris of the band, as in, the guy who’s in charge, who makes the decisions and has the most authority. What’s your take on that? Is that true?

R: Yeah, it’s kinda true. Kyle has always been administratively holding the fort. It’s like I’ve been creatively at the wheel, in a sense. . . Or maybe it just feels that way because I’m kind of the constant. I never left the band and came back; I’ve always been there - - my brother as well, has always been there, but he’s more of a go-with-the-flow kinda guy, and I was the one taking the initiative on trying to make decisions and position us for whatever we were trying to achieve next. So I think that’s fairly accurate.

10. What do you have coming for yourself in the next year or two, between Misery Signals and side projects?

R: I’m always writing. I’m also producing a lot more now. I work in a studio and engineer and produce for bands, so I still get my hands on music that way. But yeah, I would love to create some more Misery Signals music if it’s possible, and I hope it is.

11. Outside of your own stuff, what bands are you working with or listening to these days?

R: Man, I’m not super-good at being up on music anymore. Again, that parent thing, where I don’t have the luxury of doing so. (laughs) So I hesitate to try and give people leads on new stuff.

12. OK, well let’s reframe that with the classic interview question: What are some of your all-time favorites and influences - - your must-listen bands and artists?

R: Oh man, that’s a good question. I feel like Radiohead’s a good place to start, that’s one of my favorite bands of all time. Same with nine inch nails, is also on that list. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t include the Thrash Metal roots that I have. I mean, Metallica was huge for me, getting into playing guitar. Megadeth was the same thing. And then I had a huge 90s rock era for myself, and that was also pretty formative when I was learning to play guitar and trying to start bands. Soundgarden was my favorite band for a long time, at that point. I would have to include some 90s Grunge-type stuff as well. But I also have a bit of a thing for more atmospheric-type stuff. . . like I guess Bjork would be one that a lot of people wouldn’t expect, and Sigur Ros. So I’m kinda getting pulled in a lot of directions, I guess; maybe that’s why Misery Signals sounds the way it does.

13: Thanks for taking the time to talk to MetalAsylum.net. Best of luck, and congratulations on the film - - “Yesterday Was Everything,” it’s really incredible. I don’t want to have the last word - - go ahead and take us out with a bang.

R: Yeah, I think the film has something for everybody, especially anyone who directly themselves or good friends of theirs has been in independent music in any form, they will have a connection with what is going on in the movie, and that sort of spirit of just getting out and touring and not knowing what’s going to happen. The film is as much the story about us as a celebration of that. So yeah, if you have the time to check it out, it would mean a lot to me. “Yesterday Was Everything” is what it’s called, and it’s on iTunes and GooglePlay and Amazon Prime, and all those places you stream things that aren’t Netflix (laughs).

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Official website: http://miserysignalsmusic.com/


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