Van Halen. Danzig. Santana. Simple and iconic flags flying the motto “Let the music speak for itself.” Metts Ryan & Collins are bold new standard bearers for this rare breed. With Geoff Metts leading the charge on vocals and guitars, Dain Ryan on the bass foundation, and Mike Collins as drum corps leader, the band is taking the fight to listeners with their gritty and vibrant brand of guitar rock.
Drawing from their collective experience in Rock and Soul projects, the band chose a classic blue collar approach to their self-titled 2015 EP. Aiming for “one pass” or one take that captured the songs, they laid tracks down live on 2 inch tape and added minimal overdubs. After mixing to tape and pressing to vinyl, the resulting EP captures a decidedly raw and honest take on gritty and high energy material. The EP cover art is your first clue to this approach, depicting a hi-fi reel-to- reel tape machine.
The single and the opening track, Oregon, sidles in with a country-blues slide guitar riff from Metts, which is quickly met with the steady thump of Ryan’s bass and Collin’s kick drum. Metts delivers the familiar narrative of a nomad in search of a place of acceptance, “making the way to Oregon. “ After a Steve Miller-esque soaring phaser guitar solo, the lyrics take a future perspective with Metts crooning ”Ten years or maybe ten days never did unpack.” Here the narration seems to diverge from the hopeful, starry-eyed seeker, ending with the inevitable measuring of a life spent in Oregon against those who remained. A plaintive return to solo slide guitar now seems nostalgic, leaving the listener feeling conflicted.
The following track, I Wanna Love You, begins with a Jack-White style distortion guitar riff mirrored by a low octave bass. This track is a steady rocker, with Metts singing about being infected by desire someone just out of reach. Following a four- bar blues bridge, the bass and drum pare things back for a few measures, building into a short but blistering guitar solo. Metts then clarifies his intentions by repeating “I wanna love you.”
Right On Track carries things ahead in a style that combines the rock blues of the The Rolling Stones with electric slide guitar solos reminiscent of Leonard Skynrd. The voice of Metts here resembles the best of AC/DC’s Brian Johnson as he proclaims a second credo for the band: “They say you can’t take it with you and can’t take it back. They say to enjoy it now and I’m right on track.” This anthem is sure to have listeners singing along and enjoying the moment.
Closing things out with a southern rock groove, Nothing More I Can Do elucidates a hope for no regrets. Serving as a letter to an old lover, this song is also an apt moniker for the record. There was indeed nothing more the band could do to make a more consistently rocking EP.
Be sure and catch the Metts Ryan & Collins PDX Spotlight episode for an interview and performance from this power group. Also, download the EP or purchase a vinyl record just in time for summer barbeque season, or for those windows-down drives out to the swimming hole. Get out to Lebanon, Oregon August 7th, 8th, and 9th to see the band light up the stage at Guitars Under the Stars. Here is a recommended playlist incorporating the group’s guitar rock:
George Thorogood and the Destroyers- I’m a Steady Rollin Man
Jack White and Loretta Lynn- Portland, Oregon
Metts Ryan and Collins- Oregon
Blitzen Trapper- Whiskey Kisser
Lynyrd Skynyrd- Give Me Back My Bullets
AC/DC- Gone Shootin
Metts Ryan and Collins- Right on Track
Queens of the Stone Age- Burn the Witch
The Rolling Stones- Crazy Mama
Led Zeppelin- The Ocean
Thin Lizzie- Cowboy Song
Metts Ryan and Collins- I Wanna Love You