We are excited to have Ryan Rosoff of Little King with us today! Let’s start with the band name – tell us how you landed on it?
My first name, “Ryan,” is translated to Little King from Gaelic. Band names are a struggle, and I pride myself on not taking myself too seriously, so it seemed a good way to poke fun at myself. Nothing like a good inside joke, right? The goal has always been to make music with my super-talented friends, but the one constant has always been ME…so “Little Tyrant” might have been more accurate!
I don’t think they’d agree, though. I am pretty laid-back when it comes to producing their parts. I want it to be GREAT, but I am not a bass player and I sure as hell am nobody’s drummer, so I let them have total creative control when it comes to writing their parts. I may make a suggestion or put on the Producer Hat and make them do it again, but that’s pretty rare. If they’re happy, I’m happy!
You have had some great success in the music business. Do you have a favorite career moment that stands out from the rest?
I have been a huge fan of the band Rush for as long as I can remember. In 2003, when the SARS scare gripped Toronto (apropos to right now with the Coronavirus madness, I guess), there was a huge benefit concert for the city that took place at Downsview Park. It was headlined by the Rolling Stones, AC/DC, and Rush, who hails from TO.
My best friend and former Little King bassist Shannon Brady and I traveled to Toronto that summer for the concert, along with 490,000 other fans. It was INSANE! But along the way, I contacted a friend who knew the longtime producer of Rush, Terry Brown, and he arranged for us to meet.
Now that was cool, in and of itself. But we hit it off, and when it was time to mix Virus Divine (recorded in Texas in 2003), Terry agreed to mix and assist with the mastering of the album. Now understand that this person is one of my heroes. I listened to the albums he produced with Rush until the record player broke! So to have this humble, accomplished, talented, and kind man put his hands on my music was a lifelong dream. I wanna say that a lot of times, it might not be the best idea to meet your heroes…there are horror stories about that, to be sure. But Terry is the best, and we are still friends to this day.
You have shared the stage and collaborated with some amazing musicians. Does any one person or band stand out to you as someone that you learned the most from?
We have had great fortune to play with a lot of great bands and musicians, but I don’t know how to choose just one! I guess I can say that the experience of working with Eddy Garcia, who is our drummer and also the founding member of the Thrash band Pissing Razors has been fantastic. Grandpa Eddy, as he is known by to a few of us, is the best drummer I’ve ever played with. He is a monster! Ed is also one of my best friends, and we have been through the production of 4 of my records…that’s a helluva legacy. So watching Eddy in the studio and live has been a thrill. Sometimes I can’t believe how lucky I am.
When you are working on new material, how long do you work on it before you release it? Do you ever truly feel like you are finished with a song?
A song is done when it’s mastered! Before that, I second-guess and kvetch about it until I drive myself and my son crazy. I say my son because I subject the poor kid to every rendition of every song, from the writing stage all the way up through the final mix. He is decidedly unimpressed, for the most part, by his dad. So, if I get his seal of approval, it’s probably finished! Every song is different, but I work and re-work all of our songs. They don’t just “come” like they do for some writers. If they do, I won’t allow that to be that! I can’t imagine just writing a song and having it be perfect from the jump…there are always edits to be made that can improve a song. Once I have it done musically, Manny (Tejeda, our bass player and the other vocalist) and Eddy add their eyebrows to the arrangement. Once the music is finished and recorded, I will then write the words. Little King songs, particularly the ones on Occam’s Foil, are HARD to play and sing at the same time. So I have to make sure the music is done and then I can go about fitting the lyrics to the mood and meter of the music. It’s a process, and one I take very seriously. This is my LEGACY, dammit! Not to be rushed through or taken lightly.
I know it maybe a difficult choice but, if you could only pick one rock band as the greatest ever – who are you choosing?
You know, Rush is definitely the one that did it for me and still is one of my go-to’s. It’s been pretty well-documented over my career how much I look up to those 3 guys in many ways. Not only did they stay productive and progressive for over 40 years, they did it with humility and grace. They busted their asses to always try and challenge themselves, they are all virtuosos on their respective instruments, and the late great Neil Peart was the greatest drummer of his generation and a giant of a lyricist and philosopher. Hard to beat the career those guys had, and maybe most impressively, how close they remained as friends and kept out of the sellout spotlight.
If I had to round up my top choices, I would probably go with Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Steely Dan, the Talking Heads/David Byrne, the Beatles, and Tupac. Love Dr. Dre and Snoop, too. Honorable mention as well to Mozart, Coltrane, and King Sunny Ade.
Where can fans catch you live and find you on social media?
Our website is at www.littlekingtunes.com and that is pretty comprehensive! It has social media links to FB and IG (@littlekingtunes) as well as my YouTube page and some other tidbits. I like our website…if you wanna know who we are and hear where we’ve been, that is by far the best place to start!