Drummer Ryan Dunn joined the FC Team for their December Garden Route tour with Matthew Mole. Fresh out of high school, it was his first tour! We loved having him as part of our team on and off stage and we decided to ask him some questions about his experience!
Can you tell us a little bit about your drumming background?
I’ve been drumming since I was 4 and got my first kit when I was 5. I’m sure you’d hear many professionals say they were just naturally drawn to drums when they were young around that age, and the same went for me. I’m self-taught since then and I started off playing to Taylor Swift’s debut album, Adam Lambert’s debut album, Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and eventually have made my way up to Dream Theater (my greatest musical influence). The first drum lessons I really started were in Grade 8 at school, which increased my technical knowledge in terms of knowing what I was playing technically rather than just based off feel.
This was your first tour! What did you have in mind when musicians mention “going on tour” prior to your experience?
In my understanding and pre-conceived idea of a tour, I imagined a month or longer on the road playing at a long list of venues. This tour certainly did fit the description of a tour, but on a smaller scale, which I am very grateful for as huge tours can be taxing on someone new to it I’d imagine.
How did you end up on tour with the FC Band?
Devon De Swart, FC’s guitarist, started working as the new guitar teacher at Milnerton High School (where I went to school) and got involved with the school band in terms of helping with the technical side of songs and making sure we had a set list etc. for gigs within the school environment. After about a year or so of him working with us he brought up his interest in having me fill in for their drummer, Emil, on the tour that would potentially be planned for the end of the year (2019). Obviously with me being finished with school by then, I would be much more able to go.
If you could only listen to 3 drummers for the rest of your life, who would you pick?
Gavin Harrison (Ex-Porcupine Tree, Pineapple Thief), Matt Greiner (August Burns Red), Ray Hearn (Haken).
Most memorable moment of the December 2019 Garden Route Tour?
My body not being used to being on the move all the time and eating full meals as often as it did (I usually eat Weetbix when I’m hungry), which led to me throwing up in the car on the way back from Knysna after eating a fruit salad for breakfast. I had to change on the side of the road into my pajama pants and hoodie after we cleaned everything up. I think I’d be justified in blaming Brandon’s driving as partial cause for this, though.
Everyone has a few good tour stories! What’s yours?
Well, besides the one I just boldly put out there, I’d say playing UNO in the accommodation after the first gig at the wine farm. I was assured by Devon that the band aren’t party animals, and this was good proof of that. That suited me well because I’m not one either and I’d much prefer the way we ended that day to partying any day. Another good one was when a woman promoting a new energy drink gave us each one to drink and pose with for a photo at the last gig, which we started at around 9. I knew I shouldn’t have done it, but I thought something along the lines of, “Whatever, dude. Just drink it.” 2 hours later I felt like I could run back to the accommodation. It’s easy to imagine that when we got there I completely crashed.
You had to play Cajon for the first time on this tour. For those who don’t understand what that is please give us a quick rundown! Was it strange to get used to playing a whole new instrument?
A Cajon is, in a basic description, a hollow wooden box with a hole in the back that’s sat on and hit with your hands on different spots on the front to create different sounds as a smaller replacement for a drum set. I had been introduced to playing one briefly before for church, but hadn’t ever put any time into learning to play one properly, so this was more of a learning curve. It was strange, but luckily I could use an actual kick pedal to keep the kick beats going instead of having to sacrifice a hand to play those. My hands would hurt a lot after sets as well, but it’s part of the fun afterwards I guess.
What’s your favourite road trip snack? Was there a meal on tour that stood out to you?
In terms of snacks, the most memorable one is definitely the raw noodles that were pulled out in the car along the way between destinations, which I thought were brought to cook at the accommodations, but were actually meant to be eaten right out of the packet in the car according to Frances and Brandon. My stand-out meals would have to be the calamari that I’d order at any given restaurant (I think I’m finished with calamari after this tour).
What sort of accommodation did you stay in?
The first accommodation was a hybrid of a house and a tent, with the frame of the house being made of wood and the covering (walls and roof) being tough fabric. It was a really nice place with a view of a lake and it was just about on the side of a mountain. The other place we stayed at was Backpackers in Knysna, which is where we stayed for the last night.
A Garden Route tour means a LOT of driving! How did you keep amused?
Lots of new music I hadn’t heard before being played off Brandan’s phone and off Frances’ CDs in the car. I generally like those kinds of drives due to the more country scenery so there’s always stuff to look at that you wouldn’t otherwise see every day. There was also a lot of conversation to be had at just about any time in the car, no matter how long the drive, which was also really cool.
What was it like to open for Matthew Mole? Twice!
That was really fun, especially considering he brought a nice crowd for the second show, of which I’m glad I’ve gotten used to playing in front of throughout school (my first audience was in grade 3 in front of my primary school). He was a really nice guy and so was his drummer, Robbie Spooner, who I was also keen to meet. It was a pity I didn’t get to use the drum kit, but overall I didn’t mind and I had a really good time performing as always. Frances also made the experience 10 times better with her stage presence and drawing the crowd in, making any situation more comfortable.
Is it true that Devon cheats at UNO?
I’ll refrain from saying anything as I really can’t remember. But if it’s agreed upon by the rest of the group then I’d imagine so!
Did anyone snore while sleeping?
Not that I can remember. I fell asleep pretty quickly both nights. I’m sure someone at some point probably did though. Who knows, it could’ve been me.
What have you been up to this year (besides staying at home for lockdown!)?
Most of my days are classes on Zoom and studying the work afterwards to get a Network Engineer qualification (which is basically the more physical side of IT instead of programming – the guys that do all of the networking and server side of things). I’ve been playing more challenging stuff on drums to start to improve with the time I have, and I’ve been spending more time with God and building my relationship with him. I make time to play PC with friends and then my dad and I end the day off with gaming and YouTube.
Would you go on another tour in the future?
After this last one, I would say yes for sure (if my work schedule can allow it)!
Thanks Ryan for opening up and sharing the info!!!