Musician Ryan Megan returns to much-loved Iowa


mp3 sample: Oryan

"Nice Hat"

Ryan Megan moved from Iowa City — where he was born, raised, attended Kirkwood, and eventually dropped out — to Dutchess County, N.Y., seven years ago to pursue a job in television.

Megan will visit his roots Thursday when he plays a solo show at 9 p.m. at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St. Admission is $6.

In New York, Megan met his assistant, Ryan Schoonmaker, a drummer and later bandmate. The two combined their musical talents — Megan plays guitar, keyboard, and sings — and fumbled around with tunes until finding a third member.

“It was actually a former coworker [whose] brother’s name was Ryan [McCann] and he was a bass player,” Megan said about the formation of the band they named, for a year, Bonar. “We changed our name to Oryan earlier this year because we just got tired of having to explain to everyone what it meant. And because it sounded like ‘boner,’ we were just passed off as a joke band.”

While he and his bandmates decided to modify the band’s name to steer clear of any flippant connotations, Megan describes the music as a deviation from the norm.

“The lyrics and the song structures are a little off-color, a little off-kilter,” the 32-year-old said. “I would say it isn’t necessarily anything like you would hear from your average Iowa City type of roots-rock band. That’s not to say I don’t play serious songs, but there’s a lot more humor and depravity injected into the lyrics.”

After a short hiatus the band took in the last year, now is the time to give the band an honest shot, Megan says. He attributes the sudden rise in interest in the band’s well-being to a minor crisis in New York, where he experienced a massive culture shock.

“I moved out here expecting more liberalness, and actually, it’s a lot more conservative,” he said, noting that the people who live in New York have their identity tainted by the television and media. “I think all the people here think they’re celebrities.”

Megan, who’s loyal to his band in mid-state New York, says the Midwest is the perfect blend of East Coast cynicism and West Coast flakiness.

“A lot of the locals I’ve talked to — they’re all rednecks — think this is farmland,” he said. “I’m like, ‘I’m from a college town. It’s more socially acceptable for one man to kiss another man in public than it is to have a Republican bumper sticker.’ ”

Unlike bands that confine themselves to one specific sound, Megan says that just listening to his first two or three songs won’t describe the rest of the act.

“I’m confident that if people come to the show, there’s going to be at least a song or two they’re going to like, so long as they don’t loathe someone playing the guitar and singing,” he said. “I guarantee I’ll entertain them at least 10 minutes of the hour.”

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