Ryan Montbleau: Naukabout's rising star
By: Ben Runnels, August 1, 2011
Genres are difficult and often obnoxious to speak about when attempting to describe music. New genres seem to pop up overnight, causing countless hipsters undue stress about what band belongs in what category. But the Ryan Montbleau band doesn't care about genre labels. A violin with blues? Psychedelic synth sounds over a folk ballad? The Ryan Montbleau Band can handle that and make it their own. Whatever fits the song is cool with them, because with the RMB, it's all about the song.
Frontman Ryan Montbleau sparked his career in coffeeshops and small venues in the Boston area, adding other musicians to help fortify his sound, and later graduating to play festivals and clubs across the nation. Three studio albums and hundreds of gigs later, the band has become an unstoppable force, touring relentlessly and building a fanbase from the ground up.
With musical optimism that is genuinely infectious, the Ryan Montbleau Band demonstrates a tremendously passionate devotion to the art of songwriting. Montbleau chooses deep subjects such as sobriety and relationships, and mixes them with sunny, upbeat rhythms and melodies. The honest and encouraging words are inspired by life itself, speaking of lessons learned from past mistakes, and employing patience for oneself and others.
The band will headline the 4th annual Naukabout Festival this year on August 6th at the Barnstable Country Fairgrounds. Annual veterans of the festival, the band will bring a fresh sound to the area, performing songs off their new album, Heavy on the Vine, produced last year by Martin Sexton in Cambridge.
InsideOUT caught up with Ryan Montbleau to discuss life on the road and his changing goals.
InsideOUT: For years, you've been touring extensively in support of your music. Has life on the road changed you?
Ryan Montbleau: It's given us a platform on which to play better and be better entertainers. The music gets better, the shows get better, and it keeps growing. It's hard because now all of a sudden we're grown men in a van, versus kids in our twenties. We have families at home, but the thing that keeps us going is that it keeps getting better. In some ways it's harder than ever now, because we still hit the road hard, but we keep being encouraged to keep going. It's fun to keep watching it unfold.
I/O: How has your music evolved?
RM: We've all gotten better individually and collectively. We still cover a lot of different styles in our music, but I do feel like it's getting honed, like it's starting to streamline a bit.
I/O: You've been offering live recordings of some of your shows. How do the performances differ from what's on the live album?
RM: Something good happens every night, so hopefully we capture that in our recordings. Every night it's different - solos are always different, there's a little bit of improv going on, and every set list is different. Records are a different art form - they're still performance art, but you have a little more time to spread it out in and you don't have to do it all at once.
I/O: Do you have an ultimate goal for your music career?
RM: I've spent all these years trying to get myself out there, and getting people to know who we are, just to get our foot in the door. And now I'm just trying to buckle down and get the art better. And now there's also the goal of some stability, because it's a tough business. We just want to have nice lives.
I/O: You've played the Naukabout Festival every year since the first in 2008. What's your impression of the event?
RM: It just keeps getting better every year. I've been most impressed with that. I do a lot of festivals, and with the Naukabout Festival, they keep stepping it up. That's been the overwhelming thing, to see it grow. It's a great vibe, with a beautiful setting.
Catch Ryan Montbleau at the 4th annual Naukabout Festival this Saturday! For tickets ($27 in advance, $37 at the door) go to www.naukabout.com.