RyanRyan Fitzgerald Parr was born September 13, 1978 in Houston Texas. His parents divorced when he was 9 and his childhood was not without some challenges that he believes allowed him to “disappear” deeper into his world of writing, music and acting. Although he played many sports, like most kids, in 7th grade he took to drama much more than football and track, and one day made a clear choice between sports and drama when he decided to quit pole vaulting and follow his real passion to MC a talent show. It was a move that led him to begin competing against other schools in the drama club winning numerous top place trophies in categories like Improvisation, prose and poetry. He also acted in many plays and even after middle school continued to study acting at Chris Wilson’s studio for actors in Houston. In high school Ryan wasn’t very “popular” but was pretty funny in the class rooms, it seemed he enjoyed entertaining people more than learning, and apart from playing tennis for almost 7 years, there was another passion growing in him, the passion to fly. At 15 he took a discovery flight in a Cessna 152 at Hooks airport in Texas and had every intention of flying fighter jets. His vision however kept him from that pursuit and upon graduating realized he did not want to go to college but rather wanted something more exciting and adventurous, so after a brief stint working on his grandfathers farm, at age 19 Ryan enlisted in the United States Air Force to serve the country he loves and to travel the world. In all he spent 5 years in the service as a Crew Chief on C-130’s. He was stationed in Albuquerque NM and spent almost 4 years in Ramstein Germany. Although he was big into musical theatre and writing before, it wasn’t until Germany that he actually bought a guitar just to learn some covers so that he could entertain people around campfires and and while on random trips. He didn’t even know what a songwriter was at the time, “Most people then didn’t know what songwriters were, as the internet was just starting to come into its own and all we knew were the artists.” After about 3 months of learning cover songs, Ryan’s love for writing and his love for music finally began to click. He realized he could write on top of the guitar sounds and finally, at age 21 started to learn he had another love as well, a love for melody. A love for writing, music and melody is a perfect storm for any songwriter.
Ryan on guitarRyan wrote many songs while in Germany, some of which are recorded in demos on the internet, like Galveston Strand and Mama… “The sad truth is that ive forgotten or lost more songs than ive recorded or written down, but the beautiful truth is that no matter what, whether you lose or forget a song, it is your style of writing that gets shaped, and that style is much harder to lose, forget, or be taken than just one song is.” When he traveled he often played in bars and hostels, in his 1977 VW Westy, or just randomly for his friends in the barracks. He always had a guitar around, and when he moved out of the barracks into his own apartment in Reichenbach-Steegen Germany, he began to record on minidisc players and really started to fall in love with the art of songwriting. It was in 2002 and the soldiers and airmen were working 7 days a week 12 hours a day since the attack on 9/11 and though he really loved the Air Force and serving his country he knew he had to get out and explore his blooming passion for songwriting. His time in Europe was not without experience. He loved to travel, often alone, to places like Budapest, Istanbul, Prague, Russia, Switzerland, Holland, Ireland, Scotland, Paris, Greece, Australia, Israel, and Bulgaria, just to name a few, and has said that the experiences he had as a young man exploring, writing, and playing music in these places were some of the best and most eye opening times of his life and says he still cant seem to shake the travel bug, hence part of the dream of being a songwriter as you can literally do it anywhere. In all he went to 19 different countries while stationed in Germany and wrote many songs on trains, in hostels and at his dorm room on base, and shared them with many people along the way. Upon his honorable discharge from the service in September 2003, Ryan flew back home to Houston to pursue his songwriting more aggressively. However songwriting wasn’t paying the bills and in 2004 Ryan decided to take a job in Africa as a contractor. He was in Africa for 16 months, the whole time working on material as much as he could and satisfying his desire for travel and adventure. It was in Africa when his love for flying really took a leap forward as on one of his R and R’s he went to get his skydiving license in Australia. It was also in Africa when he realized another big step in his passion for songwriting, as he finally got to play his songs with a band. He knew that writing music wouldn’t be enough, that he wanted a bigger sound for the songs and he began to see he actually had a little talent for production, it was in Africa that he ordered a 4 track Tascam tape recorder and learned the power of multi track recording. But still says that nothing sounds or feels like playing live to him, “It is a sound that resonates with the soul, it is full of energy, tone, and power, it just touches you in a way that i was totally unprepared for but knew I wanted to be a part of, it was pretty much in Africa when I knew I wanted to be in a band.” Ryan’s recordings while in Africa were raw but full of potential, and he left Africa because he knew he wanted to start a band and thought that would be a great way to try and earn a living, so in the meantime he got a job at the Guitar Center in Clear Lake Texas and used his GI bill to go to Audio School in Pasadena Texas.
Ryan producingHe spent 2 semesters in Audio school but has said didn’t really enjoy what he was doing, he still just wanted to create music and write songs, not spend all his time recording, but rather creating, hes likened it to the dynamics of the cock pit in an aircraft, “you have the pilot and the co pilot, and no offense to the co pilots out there, but I just couldn’t sit there and watch someone do what I really wanted to do, that’s why I never tried to become a flight engineer in the Air Force, I just don’t think I would’ve enjoyed my job as much knowing I really wanted to be in the pilot’s seat.” He played a lot of open mics and wrote a lot of songs while back in Houston but eventually decided to take another contracting job and in 2007 flew to Doha Qatar. He was in Doha for 18 months and recorded more songs on his now digital BOSS recorder, enjoying his travel time more and more, scuba diving and skydiving and playing music, by this time he had made about 300 skydives (he has over 2000 now) but didn’t know he was soon to work in that sport. He said his time in Doha was very peaceful as he was enjoying a fresher relationship with God and connecting more and more to his spiritual side, he says, “Look man, I read the Gospel when I was 27, I did what it said to do, I was alone, I went into my room, closed the door, and prayed for the Holy Spirit and to be born again in the name of Jesus and what followed was by far the most exciting, enlightening, uplifting, eye opening experience of my life, and I’ve had a lot of experiences. How can I not talk about that? How can you not talk about your baby being born? How can I deny it? How can I be ashamed of it? The truth is I felt born again by the fire of God, and I would rather live one day in the Holy Spirit than an eternity without it. If this makes me uncool, then so be it, at least I’m truthful. The hard part is fighting through all the hypocrisy, in myself and in others… the hard part is to remain truthful when it’s not the cool thing to do. I have written a lot of Christian songs, but I find I’d rather seek to bridge the gap for those who were and are just like me… I want to remain truthful, not self righteous.” After his time in Qatar, in 2008 he flew back to Houston and tried again to gain some traction in the music industry. He quickly realized that Houston may not be the right place for him and decided to take a break and live off some of the money he made overseas and moved to Breckenridge Colorado. He says he loved it up there but that it was very expensive and after about 10 months was broke and decided to take another contracting job, this time in Kuwait. He was in Kuwait for a year, and this is where his songwriting really began to take shape, this is where he says he began to find his voice as he was so passionate about his songwriting that he would write and rehearse in his work trucks when he had the time. He knew he wasn’t going to be a contractor forever, or at least hoped not, and really began to focus on his own technique of any style goes…”Its not me, but the song that matters”.
Ryan plays songsGrowing up in Houston his influences were very broad, he said he listened to everything from Tupac to Elvis to George Strait to REM and really loved the oldies and the blues. Obviously his love for country music was pure as he is a native Texan, but it was the city of Houston part of Texas that exposed him to all sorts of music, so when he learned that the music was just part of the songwriting and literally anything goes, he realized that he didn’t want to be tied down to just one style or genre of music, that he wanted to be as original and free as he could be, sort of a reflection of his life really, as he loved to travel, take risks, and try new things it only makes sense this would come out in his music. He says freedom is a big part of his soul, one of the most important parts, I for one am glad he didn’t get caught up in the hustle of the music industry which really does attempt to change someone into being more marketable. Ryan is a free songwriter and it truly does come out in his songs…“I don’t want to be tied down by anything or anyone, if it happens to come about then I’ll deal with it, but id rather be totally free to create as wall-less as I can, I’m sure there are those who understand this, especially if you met me. I mean I’m 37 years old with no wife and no children, sometimes it seems like all I have is my music, as barren as some might interpret that.” He says people have called his music sad but he just says that it comes from a place of healing, not sadness, “there is nothing sad about healing” he says, “many artists throughout history have traveled alone and dug deep to spawn their creations in spite of what people think they should be doing, art is expression, how can you truly express whats not inside you, and how then can you connect with anyone without learning to connect with yourself?”
Ryan skydivingWhen Ryan left Kuwait he returned to Houston, built a studio off Cavalcade, found a place to live at his friend’s house, and tried again to plug his music in. He came to a place here in early 2010 where he really pondered giving up, basically just stopping the pursuit with such fervor, he says he literally thought in his head one day while he was working on a song in his friend’s garage that he should just think about quitting. He said he’s put so much into keeping this dream alive that he may still have time to pursue something else. He didn’t want to contract anymore but he was also getting tired of working so hard on something that’s just not paying anything at all in return. “Your family and friends are pretty understanding and supportive when you’re in your twenties, but when you hit your thirties it starts to become a little stale and pathetic to them in many ways, it really is hard to keep the dream alive the older you get.” By this time he had spent thousands and thousands of dollars just trying to stay inspired to write and keep the equipment and gear going and he says he really tried to confront the decision to give up, not to quit writing songs, but to give up the dream of playing music for a living. He said that no sooner that he thought that did he write another song. The name of this song was Hunt. He says he said to himself that “No, I’m not gonna give up dammit and now I’m a little pissed to be honest and now it’s time to go on the offensive, that’s when I wrote Hunt and that’s what the songs about, not giving up and going on the offensive.” He says very shortly after that, songs just kept coming together, he says when he confronted that truth in his heart and combated it with a song that he knew that he had found the fire again and in 2010 in his friend’s garage found a lot more life in his songwriting and started putting ads out in the Houston craigslist. By this time Ryan had a lot of songs ready to go, and found a Brazilian guitarists/producer/songwriter, Eddie Brandoff to help him with his first real demo. They created “Levitate” in his studio in Houston and moved to Austin to get a band together. They called themselves The Outlinners, after one of Ryan’s songs, The Outline. Unfortunately the time In Austin was expensive and took more time to yield musicians than they had hoped, and eventually Eddie had to move back to Brazil. Ryan was once again stuck, but not by any means undetermined, he says he believes he was being taught patience and humility and still desires these things more than success, but he still needed to make a living and so he made a move to Wisconsin and earned his Skydiving Instructors rating. He says he thought to himself “well I love skydiving and love writing songs, so maybe I can just earn a living skydiving and continue to work on the music?” It was a move that worked out very well for him and after the jumping seasons, in November 2012, Ryan moved to Denver Colorado to try and join the Denver music scene. “I questioned where I would go, and I had already lived in Austin and Nashville for awhile, I didn’t want to go to New York or Los Angeles, or back to Houston, so my choices were Asheville NC, Portland, OR, or Denver CO and I chose Denver for the fly fishing, mountains, and what I believed was going to be a blossoming music scene.” When he arrived in Denver he got a job working for Out Of The Blue Skydiving in Canon City and stayed at his brothers house. While at his brothers house he began working with a drummer named Dave Gussebauer (Goose) and actually wrote a whole set list of originals around their style of playing. They named the band Shade Of September and It was around this time that Ryan met Pete De Boer at World Famous Studios in Arvada, and in 2014, after another skydiving season, sold his car and began working on another EP.
Ryan contemplates his songsBy this time Ryan had recorded many demos and even had flown to Nashville in 2011 to record an EP that his brother funded which he says “it just didn’t sound like me and the producer never finished the mix or master, the whole thing was just a mess as the producer, who was the bass player for the Fray, was going through a divorce and in the middle of leaving Nashville at the time and just seemed to need to get paid rather than put his heart into the songs. I understood but of course I didn’t like it, that’s one of the dark sides of the music industry and life really, the timing was just all jacked up.” Nevertheless he says a lot was learned by that experience and he knew that EP wasn’t going to get him anywhere though he said he really liked some of the songs, and that dissatisfaction combined with determination led him to want to create a stronger EP that sounded more like him… he knew he had to be a part of the production and set out to find a great studio and a great engineer, and Pete at World Famous Studios fit the bill perfectly. “Hes just so talented and cares about your project and hes worked with literally the finest musicians in the industry, I just wanted a relaxed, professional, ultra creative environment to record the songs and I got that at World Famous.” Ryan’s new EP, The Spark, came out in September 2016 and has 5 songs on it. He says he wants to build a fan base and start a kickstarter campaign with those who really want to hear more of his music. “I’m just like anyone, I’d love to be “successful” enough to keep doing what I love, and honestly over the years there have just been so many people believe in me and I’ve had to watch that belief sort of fade… I want more than anything to get it back. I mean my brother spent 6,000 dollars on the Nashville EP and it wasn’t even finished, don’t you think it would be nice to validate his support at some point? And he’s just one person, there are many people who still believe in what I’m trying to do. I will always be content writing and recording songs, I know who and what I am, but its such a beautiful thing to get a spark from someone who believes in you and its something that I’ll fight for even if it means I have to come up empty handed, I may not win but I will fight and give it everything I have… literally.”
Ryan and FenderImmediately after recording This Wild Love at World Famous, Ryan packed up his now 2000 Toyota minivan and left Colorado for Anchorage Alaska. It was a move even he didn’t really understand at that point… “All I knew was that I had to leave Colorado and ever since I was young I wanted to see Alaska. I had a friend who had a couch and I needed time to market this new EP and he had a humble job for me washing vans so as I saw it was a perfect time for me to drive up to Alaska… and yes, I fished all along the way”! About a month after arriving in Anchorage, Ryan scored a little gig hosting an open mic at Anchorage City Limits. He says, “the key is to play, play a lot and play often… treat open mics like they are your job and you will find the right people eventually.” While Ryan really loved living in Alaska, he knew he had to move on to continue on the music path. He then left Alaska and went to live in Bend, Oregon where he quickly found himself wrapped up in that music scene but realized that wasn’t really going anywhere either and living expenses were incredibly high so after about 6 months he made a move back to Colorado. He found a job as a Skydiving Instructor in Fort Collins and ended up staying in that town, which is where he resides today, as of now.