I first met Ryan Manning at a tiny teen center in Peterborough New Hampshire when my band played a show with And Then There Were None back in 2006. At the time And Then There Were None (AATWN) was my favorite New England metal band and I was admittedly star struck. The down to earth, and humbleness of the members of a band I idolized always stuck with me. I watched as ATTWN eventually went on to a techno rock sound and eventually split. Late last year I discovered that Ryan had joined the Boston based group, The Devils Twins who I had come across back in 2012. I had always been a fan of both Manning's drum style and The Devils Twins sincere Rock and Roll sound, the marriage of the two was nothing short of sensational. Ryan recently took the time to do an interview with me, chronicling his extensive music career as The Devils Twins prepares to depart on their tour in March.
Ryan Whitfield (RW)- First off, thank you Ryan for taking the time to do this with me. I want to start from the beginning, when did you start playing music?
Ryan Manning (RM)- My parents and brother had a lot to do with my early musical development. My brother moved to Colorado and left behind his music collection. Literally piles of cassettes. My parents listened to classic rock and roll. Elvis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, The Moody Blues mostly. That coupled with my brother's U2, Metallica, The Police, and Anthrax tapes developed the initial foundation. As I grew up, my tastes grew more eclectic. I was heavily immersed in the "grunge" scene and adored alternative bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Helmet, Life of Agony and Faith No More to name a few. These groups all contained hard hitting drummers with amazing stage presence. I was captivated and soon obsessed. I wanted to be them.
My parents bought me a drum kit when I was 12. I used to get together with my friends and we would try to cover Nirvana and Silverchair songs. When we couldn't figure them out, we just started writing originals. They were basically just noisy two minute compositions. Throughout the years we just kept practicing and eventually started getting better and started venturing out and playing shows. I played my first "show" when I was 14 for my Junior High Class. It went over pretty well surprisingly.
RW- And being in this scene for so long what does playing music in the New England scene mean to you?
RM- This is the scene I cut my teeth in if you will. There is an abundance of passion and talent here from every genre you can think of. Literally never a dull moment around these parts.
RW- I think the dedication and diversity truly make New England's scene amazing. Give me the three best moments of your career thus far?
RM- Hard to narrow down 3 but I will try.
1. Recently I discovered that I love teaching and Instructing. I have been teaching drums for 2 years now and it has been so rewarding. My students impress me and inspire me on a daily basis.
2. This past October, The Devil's Twins got to open up for The Misfits. The show was in my old hometown and we had an amazing slot. We got to meet Jerry, Dez, and Eric and they were so friendly. Jerry gave us VIP passes to the Halloween Show in Boston. It was so sick!
3. Obviously all the touring I did between 2005 and 2010. Getting the chance to see the country and playing in the most obscure places is something I'll never forget.
RW-Speaking of all the touring back in '05-'10 how would you describe the different "eras" of your career. What's the difference between playing in the ATTWN Metal days vs techno days vs The Devils Twins?
RM- The ATTWN metal days were the most fun. I was young and I just wanted to play shows and have the best time possible. The "Techno" period was interesting and involved the most work and shows. I got to see a lot of cool places and met a ton of great people, most of which I still talk to.
The Devil's Twins is plain and simple what I want to do. I feel like musically, I've come full circle and I couldn't be happier.
RW- For curiosity sake from someone who always wanted to know, why the drastic change in styles for ATTWN?
RM- From what I remember, it was influenced mostly by certain members. We finally had caught the attention of a real manager, who in turn got us signed and made us able to tour full time for a while. It was fun while it lasted. I had a blast.
RW- Taking it back to a more personal side, how have you grown as a musician?
RM- Teaching has had the most to do with the "growing" aspect. I've gone back to basics and realized how much I just love drumming in general. I feel very lucky I am able to do so and never take it for granted.
RW- Looking at the present day and how you ended up where you are now, how did you end up joining The Devils Twins?
RM- I had just started teaching full time and I actually wasn't even interested in touring or being in a band. I came across their music on their bandcamp page. They had just released their first record and the original drummer had left right after the release show. I just went for it really. I gave J and Nikki a call and basically here we are!
RW- With your upcoming tour coming up I wanted to ask what's the coolest places you've played in New England?
RM- Mostly New Hampshire to be honest. The kids are amazing and the venues sound great!
RW- With this tour what dates are you looking forward to most?
RM- Just about all of them. This run is quick and it's mostly in the south so a little warm weather and a break from this brutal New England winter will be ideal.
RW- What are the pros and cons of being on the road?
RM- Well, you get to travel, discover new places, revisit old favorites, new venues, meet new people and revisit familiar faces. I'd say the main con is that it isn't the most cost effective way of promoting an album these days. It's all predicated upon whether kids show up and buy your merch, I've never been in a situation where touring was comfortable per say, but it's a labor of love. We do it because we love the music we get to create.
RW- In a big picture sense what's the goal for the Devils Twins?
RM- Our main goal has been to write music and lyrics we love and play for as many people as possible. We run this band completely independently, so we have the freedom to do what ever we choose. As long as we continue to make rock n roll records on our own terms, then our "goal" is made. Of course to do this as "a living" would be pretty sweet too, but we all have our own lives. J is a designer, Nikki is a tattoo artist, and I teach drums. I think each of our creative personalities, coupled with a passion for rock and punk is what makes what we do really special.
RW- I know things change over time, and we've covered about 10 plus years of music for you so this question applies to currently with The Devils Twins. Out of the three major aspects of being in a band whats your favorite? Creating music, Recording in the studio or Playing live?
RM- Playing live for sure. I love music and every aspect of what goes into creating it. Personally when it comes to composing, I love collaborating with someone. With J and Nikki it's so easy because we all love the same things that make a great song. Recording is obviously important and as a drummer, it can become a very physical and daunting task. Once you are through it though, it's always worth it. You have to be able to look back on a recording and performance with no regrets so I'm always appreciative when I'm pushed to my limits.
RW- Last thing before I let you go. What's next for The Devils Twins?
RM- Well...2013 was a great year for us. We plan on making 2014 even better. There are some really great opportunities coming up that are going to help us bring our music to more people then ever. We are always writing so there will definitely be another full length at some point.
I want to thank Ryan Manning for taking the time out to do this interview with me. Make sure you catch The Devils Twins tour kickoff March 6th in Cambridge, and you can't get more details and keep up with the band on their Facebook Page.