Artists in their own words: Nick Huster and Jake Ryan
Who: Nick Hüster and Jake Ryan
Where: Lower 9th
Artist’s Chosen Location for Interview: St. Coffee (2709 St. Claude Ave.): They pulled up in a very infamous van (see article below)
Q: What do you feel like gets you in places that you aren’t necessarily invited to?
NH: We were thinking about doing a couple’s interview where we answer for each other, so for Jake…I would say that thing is rope.
JR: I like that.
NH: Jake is a climber and has gone many places that you’re either not allowed to go or would not be able to go without rope.
JR: A little urban climbing. I’ve gotten into most buildings in Bloomington, Indiana where we’re from, including the tallest building. It’s not that big of a building - the town itself is pretty small - but it’s the tallest one there. It requires at least two people and a rope. I have a few friends that are climbers, so we hop some fences, get to the top of the building, throw the rope down, and we go from there.
What would you choose for Nick, then?
JR: Charisma. The kind of kick-the-doors-open-and-rub-my-belly kind of charisma. It’s not necessarily that he’s ever done that, but it feels like he could.
NH: I’ll take that.
Q: What’s a song you’ve joked about recording but haven’t yet?
JR: It’s funny because we do a lot of comedy, and a lot of the songs we joke about we do end up writing.
NH: I’ll talk about one. We went hiking in Colorado last October and a couple of our friends came. We drove with a ukulele the whole way out there, and we stopped in Kansas for the night. It was some random place, and my friend kept referring to it as the Town of Ross. He used this very archaic language about it, and we came up with an entire story about the Duke of Ross. It’s one of our road trip songs that never becomes anything, but it’s 70% completed and has an entire storyline. It’s a song about an evil duke that moves to Kansas and he’s at war with the Boulderians in Colorado. He harvests all the grain and refuses to give it to the people.
JR: Although, I would love to do a play-style, operatic version of this song. Maybe one day.
Q: What’s something you’d like to know how to fix?
JR: I’d really like to make my bike run better. I can do minor things, but usually I know just enough to make the bike run worse.
NH: Pretty much anything electrical. I’d love to know how to work with wiring since we’re dealing with broken instruments right now. Knowing how to fix amps, cables, and instruments would be great. I know it’s soldering, wiring, and a lot of youtube, but this is all stuff that we don’t want to break, so it’s risky learning it.
JR: Cable fixing would be awesome. One of our friends is great at fixing amps and stuff, and we were playing a show just a bit ago, and he fixed our cables right then and there. He’d make a great roadie.
Also, I’d like to fix the bipartisan system. Right now you have the Independent represented, but there really needs to be more.
NH: Something more meta or abstract for me would be the social perception of mental disorders. I have a bit of an issue with the way that we medicate our youth and people in general. People who are moody are led to believe that they must define themselves as depressed or maniac or have some sort of disorder. I don’t ever see that as a disorder. I see that as how the person is.
The whole discussion around this issue is very much Big Pharma telling us there is something wrong so they can sell us a product. I’m not a big fan of that.
Q: What other historical duo would you say you two are similar to?
JR: I really love the Avettt Brothers. They both take the lead on singing and they take harmonies at the same time, and Nick and I do that as well. Plus, both of them must have been the songwriters for the band because they seem to have different styles of songs co-written. Nick and I write together, work on harmonies, and sing together.
NH: Yeah, I started singing about two years ago, and I never attempted harmonies before. I had been in bands before where they wanted to do harmonies, and I was always that guy who was like, ‘No. I’m tone deaf. I’m the drummer, I don’t harmonize.’ Then Jake and I started writing together, and the harmonies came from there.
JR: I’ve always sung with other people. When I was a kid, my family used to sing harmonies together all the time. My dad and I would sing the Eagles and he’s into old country, so there are always harmonies to be had there. We did that when I was young, and I didn’t realize that it was probably really good training.
NH: Yeah, so when Jake and I started playing together we were playing my songs and we wanted to play his songs to keep the harmony. I took a vocal class my senior year, and I think I sang an operatic version of 'Sound of Silence,' but that class was really more about confidence building. What Jake and I do is different.
There’s a song on our album called “Yours and Mine,” and that’s the first song I picked up harmonies on. And this other song on our album, “Think is Wise,” was the most difficult for me. We started working on those harmonies in April, and it probably wasn’t until a month or two ago that we were ready to perform that.
JR: It’s solid as hell now. It also makes me think about harmonies more than I usually would—thinking about when I’m switching to the third and the fifth, which I wouldn’t always think about when singing by myself.
NH: Yeah, now I don’t even have to think about it. The muscle memory is there.
Q: What is it about coffee shops?
JR: The aroma? Fresh ground beans maybe? I’m also a super caffeine junkie. When I was a kid my dad always made coffee in a little percolator, and I loved the smell. I wanted to like coffee for so long, and it was always disgusting. Now I’m all in.
NH: I like that it’s usually an artistic community. Like in this place, you look around and there’s local art on the wall, the vibe is really awesome, and there’s always musicians around coffee shops for whatever reason.
JR: We’ve always done a lot of our work in coffee shops too.
NH: You can always talk to the barista, and they seem to know people and what is going on. There’s a community that’s built around them.
JR: We actually used coffee shops to do our Push the Van Campaign. We went to Craigslist in all different cities, and we’d post an ad for a van that was super cheap. We’d post the video with it.
NH: And we’d ask $500 obo for van.
JR: Our friends went to coffee shops to use the wifi and would write back about it.
NH: We jumped like 200 views that day when they all got in on it.
JR: Then we got flagged and taken down. Some guy knew it was bogus.
NH: And we really like that community vibe, for our band and everything. We started with just the energy of us two, and what we want to do is bring in a lot of artists and friends. Our album came out two weeks ago, so we’re ready to start releasing more music, like a 4 song EP. We’re having four friends draw pictures for each song, and we’re releasing that. We want that kind of collaboration. It’s where we feel the most contented.
Nick Hüster and Jake Ryan’s band, Mighty Brother, is currently on tour and will be playing at Gasa Gasa on Monday, January 11. Doors open at 8 PM. Hear and check out more about Mighty Brother through their website, Instagram, Facebook and Tumblr.
Kelley Crawford is a professor, writer, mentor, dancer, and constant questioner. If you would like to contact Kelley Crawford, you can email her at [email protected].