“Many of the most rewarding things in life seem to be the most challenging”
They released their latest album Brighter Wounds back in February, a record which deals with loss, fatherhood, illness and anxiety about the future of the planet, given the politically turbulent times that we’re living in.
We chatted to Ryan about toxic masculinity, privilege, becoming a father and much more…
Toxic masculinity is quite a big topic of debate at the moment and on your new album Brighter Wounds, you discuss how the cycle of violence (often perpetuated by men) could be broken. How do you think we should challenge toxic masculinity?
One can interpret these songs in a number of ways. The particular topic of “toxic masculinity” isn’t something I had intended to address lyrically, though it’s a reasonable association to make with some of the content.
Ultimately, nothing changes unless those of us privileged with unearned power (which is the privilege to earn power) use that power to elevate others. The weight of that conviction has increased since I became a father recently.
As a white male born into some means, he was given the loudest kind of voice, and handed the biggest megaphone. I need to teach him to know what to do with those things. “To whom much is given, much is required”.
I know that you went through some major life changes during the creation of this album – what effect did these events have on your mental health + how did you overcome it?
My son was the hero of 2016. I lost my best friend that year, and then the illness spreading in our country metastasized into full blown cancer when Trump was elected.
My son swooped in right at the last minute of 2016, and brought with him a thousand distractions from despair. “Overcoming” isn’t the word I would use, though, as if the pain of losing someone you love is something you hope to defeat.
A mentor of mine once said, “lick pain clean off your plate”. There is something priceless to gain in loss.
Your son was born around the time of the U.S election in 2016, was that a source of anxiety for you? Knowing that he’s growing up in a pretty tumultuous world.
He was born on 12th December. The first time I apologized to him was on Election Night, when he was still in the womb. I hadn’t anticipated feeling I had failed him so early, before he had even taken a breath.
What has been your biggest life challenge and what did you do to overcome it?
Marriage has been the biggest challenge so far, and I expect fatherhood will prove as difficult or more so. Many of the most rewarding things in life seem to be the most challenging.
How important has music been to your mental health?
Making music is essential, in the way that breathing is essential. There is no health without breathing.
What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?
There are so many great ways to find a perfect day, but at least two rounds of coffee, good food, family time, and a focused window to make music are essentials.
For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
My wife, my son, my parents, my Son Lux family, and music. And coffee.