Lucas from Venice is Sinking here. I got some sad news today. Ryan Michael Fujiki-Hastings of the Tampa band Candy Bars passed away in a tragic accident this weekend. I had the privilege of knowing Ryan Hastings on both a professional and a musical level, and he upheld his end of the bargain as an intelligent, funny, and cool human being in both realms.
As a publicist, Candy Bars were the rare dream clients that reminded me why I stayed on the Titanic that was/is the music industry in the mid-2000s, even after half my colleagues had bolted, been laid off, or given up. Candy Bars—and their stalwart Tampa label New Granada (some of the finest label folks on the planet)—had very little budget for promotion. But they had this record, this enigmatic…thing of a record, a smooshing together of chamber pop, LOUDquietLOUD dynamism, heavy metal growling, psych-rock drones…well, it was an odd thing, but it was a thing. The title was just as mysterious, even a tad annoying: On Cutting Ti-Gers in Half and Understanding Narravation. What is that all about? But the record was this strange wonderful thing, certainly the best record ever produced by two Guitar Center employees. And it caught on: Stereogum, Pitchfork, Magnet, NPR…we only sent out about 100 copies of the thing, and almost everybody wrote about it. It got some head scratches, but mostly great reviews, and I feel like the band was on the verge of something big. To be frank, that was during the BLOG BUZZ BAND era, so almost every band was on the verge of something big, but Candy Bars really deserved it, in my mind (plus Ryan et al. were great to work with…a publicist’s dream!). Unfortunately, they couldn’t hit the road a ton given some geographical and demographic obstacles, so they never got to really take it to the next level. Still, they are/were one of those bands that people some people really dug. If you got it, you really got it, you know?
*Puts on “musician” hat*
For one, the band was just a transfixing live act, jacking up the dynamism of the record twofold. They made a lot of sound with three people. A lot of quiet, too. We had the pleasure of playing with them a few times, and it was always a great show. Were they tight? Hmm, no? Not exactly? And maybe that was on purpose? It was hard to tell. They straddled the border between shambolic and the fluid, but it wasn’t sloppy or lazy. They just had “it,” I guess. Very few do! Ryan knew how to play quiet and lay back when he wasn’t needed. That’s a great quality for a drummer to have. Very few do! It signals intelligence and a commitment to something beyond yourself as an individual musician.
My favorite memory of them was playing a show with them the night of their cello player Melissa’s wedding. They put on a mesmerizing show (our keyboardist James sat in for a bit) outdoors at the New World Brewing Company in Ybor City. Melissa played the show in her wedding dress, and Ryan and Danny were wearing their suits. A wedding band in a very different sense of that phrase! They all looked to be having a great time, and that energy transmitted. The last time we played with them they had new songs and they were righteous. I hope we all get to hear those some day. As far as touring companions go, they were super. Ryan was a really nice fellow, and we talked some drum shop and such. I wish I’d gotten to know him beyond the role of client and colleague, but I’ll take what I got. His music certainly meant quite a bit to me, and it lives on even as he doesn’t. I’m very sorry to hear that he has passed away. Tragic.
VENICE IS SINKING + CASPER AND THE COOKIES + SPACE TRUCKS
Celebrating the Venice is Sinking 8th Bandiversary!
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2011 - 40 WATT - ATHENS, GEORGIA
This is probably the show of the century and/or the year and/or at least the end of the year. Our friends Casper & the Cookies are playing new jams. BP and his awesome new band Space Trucks are playing awesome new jams. WE ARE PLAYING NEW JAMS. Three of them, to be exact.
Plus we will have cake and maybe some other things.
It’s our 8th Bandiversary, for Pete’s sake. You have no excuse.
Megafaun + Venice is Sinking — 40 Watt — Athens, GA — Friday, November 18!
Hello, VISers! It is our great pleasure to be playing a show this weekend with the stellar Durham, NC band, Megafaun. They really are one of the best things going, a band that does a marvelous of riding the line between the familiar and the unique. They can be folky, experimental, noisy, pastoral, boisterous, pastoral, psychedelic, and more, often within the same song. You really should not miss this show.
The website for the sadly defunct web radio station WOXY is being shut down, so you might want to grab our Lounge Act session while you still can. We thought it was a pretty good one.
It was sad to see WOXY go down (stupid Future Sounds), so soon after moving to their swank new studios in Austin. WOXY was always a huge supporter of VIS, and everyone there was a delight to work with. They are still missed.