Ferndale DIY Profile: Ryan Allen, Musician, Writer, Dad
As part of our DIY series, we asked Ferndale residents five questions about what DIY means and how they put the philosophy to use.
Ryan Allen's astounding array of musical projects has made him a household name in the Detroit music scene. And as a writer his pieces have appeared in numerous publications including Metro Times to Real Detroit, and even Ferndale Patch!
We spoke with Allen about what he does, what DIY means to him and why it fits Ferndale as part of our DIY Project series. To learn more about our DIY Project and to participate, go here.
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
Guitarist. Songwriter. Sometime drummer. New-found-and-proud father to Emitt. Always-trying-to-be-better husband. Occasional music scribe. Collector of records. Pretend rock-historian. Wanna-be runner. Former member of Thunderbirds Are Now!, Friendly Foes, Cold Wave, and currently in Destroy This Place and Ryan Allen and His Extra Arms.
2. What does DIY mean to you?
DIY is the refusal to stop making attempts to be creative, and then see that those creations come to some kind of existence, despite any kind of adversity in your path, whether it be monetary, public interest, or otherwise. DIY is Ian MacKaye, Thurston Moore, Mac McCaughan, Steve Albini, and anybody else who has said "NO" when everybody else was saying "YES." DIY is also about community - call it Do It Together, if you'd like (DIT?). Any song, record, show, festival, recording, article, or person I've ever helped make, book, or be a part of could not have been done without the kindness and generosity of the band mates, friends and family in my life.
3. Tell us about a DIY project (or projects) you have worked on and why it was DIY.
This question is tough, because most of the "DIY" things I've been involved in have been mostly music related, and the Do It Yourself aspect of it is out of the pure gall to just want to see the songs that I've helped write get to people's ears. I envy and tip my hat to those who have opened their own business in these tough times, like Hybrid Moments, or folks who spend hours upon hours hand-sewing neck scarves, screen printing posters or t-shirts, like Shawn and Veronica Knight. My respect for those folks is quite high. But, still, I've worked hard at music all my life, and have spent countless hours self-booking tours, emailing back and forth with promoters, working out artwork details with printers, demoing a song to get it just right, and all the other things that go into being in a band - all done mostly with help from friends, and relying on hunches, assumptions, mistakes made, and chances taken to help me learn more. First world problems, I know, but it does take work. It's a fun kind of work, though.
4. Why does the DIY attitude fit Ferndale?
Walk ten steps out of your front door in Ferndale, and you're likely to run smack dab into a musician, artist, photographer, writer, bicyclist, karaoke expert, ice cream maker, bar tender, DJ, fashionista, hair stylist, parkour enthusiast, guy who sells t-shirts out of his truck, pizza chef, urban farmer, taco trucker, punk parent, and anyone and everyone in-between. Doing any and all of that requires some DIY gusto, and Ferndale is the perfect breeding ground for people who don't just settle for that whole "come home from work, crack a Budweiser, sit on the couch, eat chips, watch the game" type of lifestyle. We'd rather be making things.
5. Who is your favorite DIY artist/musician/human?
Picking a favorite seems impossible, considering all the creativity in this town, but a few names that I can quickly rattle off: Scotty Hagen, Tommy Door and everybody at UHF and Bellyache Records; my dude Johnny Weeks at Hybrid Moments; Chris Johnston and his family for providing the 'hood with great bars and an awesome late-summer Festival; any independent restaurant and food maker around these parts (Treat Dreams, The Fly Trap, Pinwheel Bakery, etc.) that feed me delicious grub; Terry Parris Jr. at Ferndale Patch, who works his ass off all day and night; Mike Koontz for fixing my guitars; and everybody at Progress of Design, who print awesome shirts and posters. Oh, and some of my favorite Ferndale bands right now: K.I.D.S., GLOSSIES, American Mars, Carradine, and Child Bite - all releasing quality music themselves on their own terms, always.
If you'd like to participate in Ferndale Patch's DIY Project, email editor Terry Parris Jr. here.