“A nautical mile is a little bit longer than a mile. I find that with everything I do, be it academically, work or music related, I always have to work a little harder to get where I want to,” explains Marty Ryan, the man, heart and soul behind the Limerick based indie-emo-punk act, of the title’s origin. Nautical Miles certainly is befitting for an artist who won’t let simple geography stand in the way of “writing and releasing as much music as possible.” Laying down Nautical Miles saw Marty spend all of January 2016 criss-crossing the Irish Sea for studio sessions with producer Bob Cooper. Marty enlisted his pal Brian Scally to lay down drums, before handling all other instrumentation and vocals himself. The fruit of his labour is a soulful amalgam of emo, indie and pop, reminiscent of Jimmy Eat World and Into It. Over It. Before the album’s release 23rd September, Marty is pleased to talk you through it, track by track…
Hampton: was the first track I wrote when I had in my head that I wanted to do a full length. I knew before writing the album, I wanted it to flow along the path I’ve gone down the last 3 or 4 years and Hampton is the jumping off point on that. I have a small family, we used to live in a house called Oakhampton and due to alcohol abuse, it was split in two. It’s a really hard thing to talk about from a time when I was really angry, sad and confused ,but it does have a glimmer of hope and the album as a whole works on from this tough point. In terms of influences on this track, I was certainly listening to a lot of peripheral vision by Turnover at the time and feel that there are some elements of that in the lead guitar. The rhythm guitar is in the American Football tuning and this was the first song I had ever written in that tuning which features heavily on the record.
I should say at this point, the record was done with Bob Cooper in Manchester over 5 weekends. I would fly out from Ireland Saturday morning at 7am, be in the studio solid until my flight home on Sunday at 8pm. There’s a shouty backing vocal part in the pre-chorus that Bob had me do so many times before I left for my flight and I remember coughing up some awful stuff in the airport and being hoarse for a few days after it! We focused a lot on having this track as polished as it could be as we felt from early on it’d be a single.
Do You?: is one of the more intricate songs on the record. It has a lot of different parts and nuances. It also has a lot of stops and unusual timing patterns which is where Brian Scally, my great friend that drummed on the album is to credit for. He came up with a lot of great ideas in terms of ordering of parts and timing to make the song a little more fucked up, which it is. It’s probably the darkest and heaviest song on the record. Without going too specific lyrically, when you think you’re at rock bottom, some people will literally blow your mind as to how low they can actually act. But as always, this is an album of learning and reflection and these are ultimately tests and I do feel like a much better person after the instances that this song cites and you can hear that as the song progresses. We tried to get a real La Dispute mixed with Interpol vibe with the guitars on this one and that’s where Bob is at his strongest I think. We spent so much time working on the tones and layering of the guitars and I think it shows here.
Big Sky State: The mood is lifted a bit with Big Sky State. It’s a more upbeat song with a big chorus on it, again filled with lots of delayed and reverb’d guitars. Lyrically, it’s about being in a certain place that you don’t want to be in, but your mind has you stuck in its ways, thinking that this is how things are. We went for a bit of a Minus The Bear vibe on the guitars in the verses – a band I really only discovered during the writing of the album from a rig rundown video – and I was in awe of the creativity of the guitar parts & effects. Interestingly, after we finished up recording the guitars for that on the Saturday night, got back to Bob’s apartment and he was like, “just saw on Facebook that MTB are playing Manchester tonight”. They were meant to be on stage in 15 minutes time, so I called an uber immediately got there as they started the first song. This is one of the fondest memories I have from the whole month or so, as they’re a band that wouldn’t come to Ireland and it was so spontaneous, yet they were really influential on the record. I hadn’t a clue where I even was in Manchester, on my own and my phone died during the gig, so getting back to the apartment was a mission, but got there in the end!
House Is Full: this actually featured on the first EP I put out called “Oak Street”. It’s one I can never really play live, as I just tour solo and it only works in really quiet environments, but it has been a lot of people’s favourites. I think it’s a song that bares all. It describes the emptiness of my family’s house after everything that happened and announces the unfortunate end of my relationship with that family member, but it makes sense as it is an important realisation to make in order to move on and the mood certainly changes dramatically from here. The song is a turning point. Sonically, it’s very ambient and stripped back, until it kicks in and I think it sounds massive when it does. We layered tonnes of super spacey guitars, Brian’s drums are just insane. Between Bob, Brian and I, I feel like we all complemented each other really well on this one and got to tape exactly what was in my head.
Intralude: The great thing about an album is you can get more experimental than an EP. I feel like with an EP, you have a very short amount of time to grab the listener so it needs to be to the point and catchy as possible, but you can get a little more creative with a full length which is why I included an interlude. It has a lot of reversed guitar parts and noisey layers building up to this washy crescendo. It also has a conversation I had with a few friends looped. We used a bunch of tracks from the demo for this and truth be told, I gave Bob a rough idea of how I wanted it to sound and sent him over the mixed back of tracks and he just knocked it out of the park. I called it intralude as I like everything to be a little different and to get the listener thinking. Inter is typically used as a term for between things, where as intra is within and the album is one big look inside to gather your own thoughts so that’s why I gave it the quirky name.
Signal Tower: This is the beginning of side B of the record. All of the harsh realities of Side A have been realised and Side B is about putting it all back together in a positive way. Signal tower is a short snappy fun song which was also the first one that Brian and I put drums to. I feel like at times it has a Title Fight element to it. I bought a Japanese telecaster before the recording of Nautical Miles that we used for a lot of rhythm on the record and I think it sounds its best on this song.
Everyone’s Deserving: Everyone’s deserving, like signal tower featured on a release called “The Islands” where I visited 8 islands over an 8 week period to write, record and release 8 songs. Truth be told, in the back of my head I wanted it to serve as fun writing exercise to lay the foundations for how I would approach writing the album and I really liked some of the songs and felt with more time, instrumentation and thought, that they would fit on the album and this one is such an example. It also has a more relaxed feeling to it, edging towards a turnover & Jimmy Eat World vibe. It’s a simple song lyrically about moving on, as I think a lot of us have a tendency to cling onto what’s good in life and keep doing the same thing which ultimately is just fooling yourself, but of course this isn’t something you’ve realised until you’ve done it yourself!
No Place for A Queen: definitely a change of pace for the record, it’s got a few different layers of keys, glock and bed tracks of interesting noises. When the drums kick in there’s much more of a rhythmic tom kind of pattern which makes it stand out a little but it definitely feels powerful when it does all kick in. When I was writing this track, I was inspired by the first foxing record, it’s so sad yet so beautiful and wanted to portray that feeling in this song.
Discussion: Discussion was probably my favourite one to record. Like I had said previously, I wanted the record to be cohesive and be a like a book with a definite start, progression and finish and Discussion is bringing together all the thoughts of what I’ve just gone through and realising what I’ve learned and have gotten from it now that I’m through a really tough period. Lyrically it’s a little different and out there as it’s based around myself having a fictional conversation with the walls of my family’s house. They’ve seen it all, even more than what I have and I think it’s an interesting image to have.
Sonically, it’s got an intricate guitar part in the verses that I’m really happy with. We used one of Bob’s awesome fender twin reverbs on that and then the chorus rips in with a monstrous tone out of a JCM 900. I think it’s the biggest chorus on the record and that’s really down to the man himself, Bob Cooper. He peeled back my original lead guitar idea to something more straight forward that works a lot better and while we’re on the topic of him, I would really recommend anyone to record with him, what a joy the whole experience was and he went above and beyond all expectations. My favourite part of this song is the ending as it features a breakdown which is a key change into the key of the next song and it goes into a crazy slow down to meet the tempo of the next song. Brian on drums doubted initially how this would work but because he’s the best drummer around, he killed it and it sounds awesome. I wanted a few songs on the record to flow into each other and this one does it the best.
Conclusion: the only acoustic track on the album, it kind of appears out of a wash of guitars and cymbals from Discussion because the songs are a pairing that go hand in hand, if Discussion was trying to analyse and look at all that has gone on, Conclusion brings it all together into one simple summation that where we grow up shapes us immensely and often times the bad parts have the biggest positive influence on us and changes your perspective entirely. This is an album about coping, change, resolve and realisation and this song breaks it down in a stripped back manner to deliver this message as clearly as possible and finish this whole chapter of my life.