The Whole (S)tory (TWS): Where did you come up with the band name Muddy Ruckus?
Ryan Flaherty (RF): I was born and raised in Rock Island, IL….. It sits right along the ‘Muddy’ Mississippi River. I also wrote a song called Mother Mud that’s on our first album which inspired it a little too. The Ruckus part is more about the sound or crazy level of sound we get as a duo, using one guitar and a suitcase for a kick drum. The name defines the music we play.
TWS: What made the two of you decide to become a touring band together?
RF: We play original music and we love to travel. We don’t want to stay put playing our music just in one place. We do it for the passion of living and itchy feet syndrome. We also travel so much up here in New England, we are used to endless driving… so we take it as far as we can get it.
TWS: Who are your musical influences that contribute to the songs you play as Muddy Ruckus?
RF: We have hundreds of influences ranging from rock, blues, punk, jazz, country, classical… you name it. I grew up listening to punk rock and grunge. I later turned to the Blues, especially old timey blues and folk, then Jazz and world music. I also love bluegrass and surf rock! It all sticks to my bones. I read a lot too! Poetry and fiction. I’m recently deeply into Rumi. I’d say all that and more has influenced my songwriting.
TWS: How have your different albums differed from each other as far as style and the approach you took to record?
RF: Each album is so very different. They grow as they go. The first album was way more grassy and rootsy. Erika was singing but didn’t play the drums back then. We also had an upright bass player and sometimes violin, depending on the day. We were just starting out when we recorded that one. Fast forward a year later, the band stripped down to just Erika and I. Erika picked up the drums and I switched from acoustic to electric guitar. We wrote a lot of new songs under this format and recorded our second album, “Pretty Bones”. That album was totally different than the first. Much more rocking and raw, and only the two of us with our guitar and drums. Our third album, which we are still working on, is a rock album and completely different than our previous albums. Only the two of us are on the new one. We’re not sure when that is coming out yet but we’re really excited about it!
TWS: When did you start playing music? What lead you to the kind of music you play now?
RF:I started singing at a real young age. I sang in a punk band when I was in high school. I began learning how to play guitar in college, mostly from close friends. I traveled the country and lived all over. I moved up north and toured in a few different bands. I moved to Portland and met Erika. We started Muddy Ruckus and touring right away.
TWS: Genre wise, how would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?
RF: Muddy Ruckus is a rock duo – steeped in rock, blues, folk and swamp.
TWS: Do you think you will always remain a duo or would you ever add more people to the mix?
RF: We’re totally open to trying things out, but we’re really happy as a duo. Adding another instrument, like a bass, would probably change the way we sound and the way we have to write songs. We’re really proud of the sound we have developed as a duo, and we’re planning on sticking with it. Most people that come to our shows all say the same thing to us – “you two sound like a five piece”.
TWS What is coming up for Muddy Ruckus that the readers should know about?
RF: Muddy Ruckus is touring this Spring up and down the East Coast. We’ll be playing several festivals in Massachusetts and Maine this summer. We’ll be playing some cool shows in Providence, RI and the Boston area. We’re ready to go anywhere. Festival producers, please check us out! We will have a new album coming out over the next year so please keep a look out for that and check out our calendar!
Local Show Alert!
April 28: Bright Box Theater, 15 N. Loudoun St., Winchester, VA
Doors at 7, show at 8 pm