Shiny Joe Ryan
Shiny Joe Ryan
Getting to Know a Psychedelic Rock Icon
If you’re a fan of psychedelic rock you probably know Pond. Initially conceived in 2008 as a revolving line-up, the band has, since 2016, consisted of five members: Nick Allbrook, Jay Watson, Jamie Terry, James Ireland, and, of course, Shiny Joe Ryan. In 2014, they won Most Popular Act and Most Popular Live Act at the West Australian Music Industry Awards. More recently, their studio album Tasmania was nominated for best independent rock album in the 2020 Australian Independent Record Awards.
Their guitarist, Shiny Joe Ryan, has contributed extensively to the psychedelic genre in his own right. In addition to the nine albums he created with Pond, he has issued two solo albums and makes the lights and visuals for his fellow Australian band, Tame Impala. At this stage in his career, he’s grasped the art of tapping into his out-of-this-world creative intuition and is a model of what happens when you focus your intentions and live out the strategies outlined in ‘How to Get the Most of Your Psychedelic Journey’. The following is an overview of the life and career of this psychedelic rock icon and insights into how he creates his sound.
Joseph Michael “Shiny” Joe Ryan was born on August 23rd, 1987, in the bustling county town of Nenagh, Ireland. When he was six years old, his family immigrated to the Western Australian city of Perth, which he now considers his hometown. He likes to keep his personal life an enigma, though he keeps his fans abreast with updates through his social media pages. Occasionally, he uses his or his family’s personal history as inspiration for his music.
Shiny Joe Ryan’s musical career began in 2007 when he joined the band Mink Mussel Creek as guitarist. This collaboration was short-lived, but Shiny Joe Ryan and Nick Allbrook, the lead vocalist of Mink Mussel Creek, seemed to like working together—and in 2008, they, alongside Jay Watson, created Pond as an open collective.
In 2014, Shiny Joe Ryan released his first solo album: Cosmic Microwave Background, written over two years and released on May 30th, in Australia, with a worldwide digital release that October. Fellow band member Jay Watson describes the album as having a fantastic chord progression with a pop classicist feel. Shiny Joe Ryan also started crafting the live visuals for Tame Impala in 2014.
Seven years later, he released his second solo album Shiny’s Democracy, which he finished piece-by-piece during the Covid-19 pandemic. The album leans positively into Ryan’s corniness with some songs taking inspiration from Ryan’s father’s Irish background. Ryan describes “Dad’s Hat”, in particular, as a mix of the style of the Celtic punk band The Pogues and Irish instrumentals—an example of Ryan’s fearlessness in seeing musical ingenuity anywhere and melding into his own.
Shiny Joe Ryan is a virtuoso capable of playing drums, synthesizers, guitars, and more. For specific equipment, he’s been known to use a Diamond Vibrato pedal that has two switches: high, which intensifies the vibrato, and jazz, which emanates a warmer, vintage-like tonality. As for guitars, Ryan is known for his eclectic, mesmerizing technique on the 12-string, purportedly an Epiphone Wilshire. This instrument features a mahogany double-cut body, making it light with an easily accessible upper register. While Shiny Joe Ryan’s gear produces excellent sound, he does not use overly expensive equipment, preferring instruments he resonates with, and which can conjure the unique sound qualities he wants.
Ryan reports that his musical style is heavily influenced by the musician Beck’s pop-country style. Additionally, Ryan takes inspiration from Motorik, a 4/4 beat associated with krautrock bands, and the musical subgenre of German 60s and 70s psych. To make his music, Ryan often asks for help from his bandmates. Together, they track the songs instrumentally and later finish the vocals and overdub instruments.
Shiny Joe Ryan is lauded worldwide as a prolific star of the psychedelic rock genre. He’s someone to aspire to, both as someone who’s gone far in his psychedelic journey and as a melodious force of music.