Live & Loud director Jackson Williams recently interviewed the Sandusky band Artha - consisting of bassist, Ryan Dayringer, guitarist and lead singer David Sullivan and drummer and backup vocalist Jared Kleinbaker - about their history, influences, future and much more.
Jackson Williams: How new of a band are you guys?
Jared Kleinbaker: We’ve been together for almost a year, but playing probably four or five months.
JW: What were those seven months before playing like?
David Sullivan: Ryan and I started out by recording a six song EP in December of 2018 and literally in a 5 by 5 foot room, hard wall, ceilings, exactly what you want for proper recording with two people who have no idea of sound engineering. We put that out, said we were looking for a drummer, we went down and played some singer-songwriter night, open mic thing for Halo Live in Sandusky and we found Jared. He joined in two weeks before a show. We got six songs together and we knocked it out.
JW: How long have you guys been playing music individually?
Ryan Dayringer: It’ll be 21 years, this year. I started at 14.
DS: I started at eight years old, playing the viola. Then I moved onto the bassoon, and then I moved onto bass guitar, electric guitar and keyboards. So about 20 years.
JG: For me, maybe like 12 or 15 years on different instruments. School drove me to kickstart it and actually want to play in a band.
RD: He’s pretty sick on the trombone (laughs.)
DS: We’re gonna start scouting with him actually (laughs.)
JW: I have to ask the classic band interview question. Who are your influences?
JG: David was in a band with his brother for a while, kind of a straight electronic group, which is completely different from Artha.
DS: All of us really like ‘90s and ‘00s alternative. I personally really like ‘50s music, like Dion, Elvis, some doo-wop stuff.
JG: My personal favorites are ‘80s alternative, post-punk, like Joy Division, New Order, The Cure, Psychedelic Furs. Other than that maybe ‘90s pop rock.
DS: Emo. We gotta make emo great again.
JG: That’s true. Everyone loves emo. 13, 14 (years old) emo music was hitting hard (laughs.)
JW: This seems to be a common theme on the show. All our artists are from Ohio and so many of them are emo fans. Do you think there’s a reason Ohio is such a bed of emo fans?
JG: Look outside every day. If you’re not in the Northeast or the Northwest, you’re stuck in the middle and it’s still gloomy.
RD: It just breeds the emo, because it’s sad Ohio.
JG: It feels like everyone’s trying to get out, but then everyone’s like, ‘I’m okay staying here I guess,’ and then write some beautiful emo songs.
JW: Do you guys feel happy in the Ohio scene as of right now?
DS: We’ve all talked about this. As much as we talk up Ohio, it’s a great place to live. It’s not too expensive and we’re close to everything on the East Coast. New York is six hours. Baltimore is six hours. We’re in a prime position to hit up the Midwest and still get to all those big cities.
JG: Where we live in Sandusky is right in the middle, so we can just hit an hour either direction and we’re hitting Toledo or Cleveland and other great cities with a growing music scene. Cleveland’s the home of rock and roll so you can never go wrong and Columbus is two hours south, just another megalith. We’re in a great location for music and the scenes in smaller cities, like specifically here in BG, it’s popping off too.
JW: It’s surprising how many artists we get that are so local.
JG: I like seeing that too. I do bookings in Sandusky, so I’ll see a band and I’m like, ‘Oh, everyone knows everybody.’ It’s just nice to have that community.
JW: So, I guess we can pivot back to some more general questions. Your band name is Artha. What is the origin of that?
JG: Our first four or five shows we did, we had different band names.
DS: Machines of ambivalence and searching for more.
JG: Yeah, some good ones right there.
DS: So for Artha, I was sitting at my computer and browsing Wikipedia, because I’m a nerd. I wanted to learn something about Hinduism, so I looked it up and there’s four pillars of Hinduism and one of them was Artha. It basically means purpose, meaning and means of life.
JG: Yeah, purpose, meaning, your reason to be here.
DS: Like your profession, kind of. I thought it was an extremely suitable name.
JW: Yeah, when I was thinking of how to remember it, I was thinking: Martha without the M.
JG: That’s what we tell people too. I feel like one day we’ll make an album, like “Artha Martha” or something.
RD: Or just name it “M” or something.
DS: We were really influenced by “Batman v Superman (laughs.)
JG: (laughs) That iconic scene, the pivotal scene. We were like, ‘we need that, but we need to change it a little bit.’
JW: So where do you guys see the future of Artha going? You guys are recording an EP right now, so where are you hoping to go?
RD: As far as we can go with it, honestly. I’d be happy with pretty much anything.
DS: Honestly, if I could just be able to play and make enough money to pay the bills. I don’t need fortune or fame. Sure, that’d be great but if we could just pay the bills by making art that would be perfect.
JG: I think that’s what anyone wants to do with their profession. As long as you can just make some money doing what makes you happy, that’d be cool. But, as long as we’re still playing music, we’re gigging out, not just playing the same place and we’re always touring or doing something I’m cool with that. If we’re scraping here and there, it’s whatever. As long as we’re still making fans and getting song plays I’d be happy. I guess the first thing I really want is to go play a show and have a crowd sing back our songs.
DS: I’d probably f---ing cry.
JG: That’s what I’m saying. That’s worth more to me than money, to feel that.
DS: I completely agree with you, Jared. If that ever would happen, a person singing back a song, oh man, I’d probably cry.
JW: What’s your songwriting process like?
DS: It really varies from song to song. Very few songs have been presented in a complete fashion. Sometimes it’ll be like, ‘Hey, I have this song or this idea put together.’ Sometimes I’ll bring a song that I made with all the parts, but Jared’s just like ‘eh, this sucks David.’ (laughs) ‘Let’s just change this part.’ It’s great because a lot of times we fall into too much of a habit. So having our habits challenged in all aspects of life are really good.
RD: It’s that and also “Midsummer Night Screams.” It was a goth cover of “Fly Away”by Lenny Kravitz. We changed it into that and that’s how it came about. Personally, I don’t have any writing process. I just sit there until something comes out, and as for the band, I’ll play it and then somebody else will add something.
JG: Yeah, we all bring something to the table. We all write our own stuff and then we’re like ‘Hey, this would work well for the project and let’s see who can finish it.’ Like they said before, they had like six songs they had together and they kinda brought me into the band, and then from there, I feel like we became the band. We turned those songs into what Artha is, but from there we’re just kinda figuring it out. I’ll bring a guitar riff to the table and that’ll get finished and these guys will finish the parts off. That’s kinda the whole process there. Ryan will have a bass part or we’ll just be chilling at practice and somebody’s just d---ing off, playing a bass line and then we just start jamming to it and be like, ‘That sounded pretty cool, that’s a song now.’ It just happens sometimes.
DS: It’s a very collaborative effort.
JW: Do you guys feel like Artha has a sound? Like, the Artha sound?
JG: Probably not yet, since we’re so fresh.
DS: Honestly, I don’t like that concept.
JG: Having a specific sound?
JG: I do, in a way, because even if we each approached an album in a certain way, it would still have our influence, no matter what that is. We may even not know it, but other listeners might be like, ‘Oh, that’s kinda their thing.'
DS: Even with the songs we played here, a lot of them fit within the alt-rock feel and stuff like that. We’re really influenced by 2000s garage rock. But, I’d really like to explore different genres, like my personal and Artha’s take on a blues song. What would a funk song sound like? What would a ‘90s R&B song sound like? I like to explore those concepts. Of course there’s a time and a place and maybe it won’t happen now. There’s a value in getting your foot set in a certain sound, but in the future, I would like to explore many different sounds.
JW: Is there anything you guys wanted to talk about in general? Anything you wanted to put out there?
JG: We are on social media. We have an Instagram if you wanna check us out. We don’t have our EP out yet. It’ll hopefully be, let’s just say, spring of 2020, and it’s gonna be produced by Shawn Daley from the Mohawk Studio in Sandusky, Ohio and we hope you guys check that out and see what we’re about. Stay tuned for our upcoming gigs and our releases.