American Dream by Sally Draper | INTERVIEW
Author: Thommy Delaney

Hey Sally Draper. Congrats on your new album "American Dream". Before we get into talking about the album, tell us a bit about how your guys met.

Ryan: If you had asked me this question when we first started the band, I would have said we met in middle school when our respective first bands formed, but a few years ago I found my fifth grade yearbook and was shocked to see that Bob had signed it. So apparently we've known each other since we were around 10-years-old.

Bob: Ryan was the new kid at our school in fifth grade or so, and though we didn't interact at all, I could tell he was cool cause he had spiky hair or glasses or Vans or something. In high school our circles overlapped because of the local music "scene" and our involvement with each of our bands. He would host basement shows and I would sometimes end up there with my group to play or just to listen to our friends' bands. But it wasn't until 2012 when me and my crew rented our first house that me and Ryan actually became good friends. I threw a housewarming party, stress-drank way too many beers, and we ended up hanging out all night until I eventually yakked.

Musicians often draw from different influences that help form their own sound. You quoted Thin Lizzy as one and I can certainly see how they influenced you on the guitar side of things. Who were some of your other influences growing up?

Ryan: The first bands I really got into were Blink-182, Green Day, the Offspring, and Weezer. I strongly responded to how they were rebellious, but didn't take themselves too seriously. It doesn't hurt that the more punk based songs were easier to play. I had a phase in high school where I was kind of against guitar solos, probably because of the time it took to learn them. Thankfully, playing with Bob made me realize how fun it is for both of us to do our version of shredding at the same time.

Bob: The Beach Boys and the 60's Brill Building scene (Burt Bacharach, Carole King, Neil Diamond, etc) have guided my appreciation for pop songwriting for my entire life. But when I was nine or ten I found out about The Clash, The Police, and Weezer, and those bands made me pick up a $30 acoustic guitar at the flea market. Blink 182 was also huge. I couldn't believe that they had swear words.

You began writing the songs for the album in the early 2020's. During that time, you were experiencing different things in your life. What was the initial concept behind the album when you first started to create it?

Ryan: When the pandemic started, I really didn't know if we'd ever play music together again. The first versions of most of these songs weren't clicking lyrically at all for me. It all felt like I was forcing myself to feel a certain way, when really I was probably just bored and unsure of what was in store for the future. Through a series of very unfortunate events starting in 2021 up until we finished recording the album, I experienced a series of profound losses with many close friends and family members falling severely ill or getting into freak accidents. With the exception of one friend, each of those people ended up passing away.

Bob: I didn't write any of these songs, so I can only chime in from an outside perspective. Ryan would text me saying he had a new riff, or he was almost done with a song, or he had just accidentally erased the lyrics he just wrote, and I would be saying "make a demo! Let me hear some of this stuff!", but he never did. So I didn't know what any of these songs were gonna be until shortly before we recorded the album, and even then, I hadn't heard any of the lyrics and didn't know what kind of themes the album would touch upon. Definitely came out heavier than I had expected.

"LWKY" (or "Life Will Kill You") definitely feels like it could have been a theme song during the 2020 COVID pandemic given how many people we lost during those times. What was it like for you living through those times then writing a song about it and releasing it only a few short years after it was all over?

Ryan: Interestingly enough, my period of profound loss did not involve anyone suffering from COVID complications. I think that song came from the anxiety of anticipating these morbid certainties with nothing too terrible happening during the initial isolation period of COVID, to only then have everything come crashing down as soon as the world felt like it was opening up and becoming a seemingly safe place again.

There is a song on here that is dedicated to a dog called "Me And Marl The Dying Dog". Though it's been done before, I rarely often hear songs about someone's pet nowadays. Who's dog was it written about and why did you decide to write a song about him?

Ryan: Marley was a lab my parents had for about 12 years. Shortly after my wife and I got married, he died. At this point, the series of tragedies in my personal life had truly begun. I think the song felt easier to write about because it was more expected, since it's a given when adopting a pet that they will be gone before you are. For a lot of our songs, I can't point to clear musical influences, but with this one, I wanted to write my version of an Everclear pop rock song. Another big influence on this one were songs like "Pablow The Blowfish" by Miley Cyrus and "Laika" by Wil Wagner. It always amazed me how two of the most urgently profound songs about humanity could be about animals.

The theme of "Social Socialist" is a very current one with social media being absolutely crazy during these times. What moved you to write a song related to that?

Ryan: Being a more active social media user than I'd like to admit has made me too plugged in with buzzwords like microaggressions and has made me way too aware of who's in trouble for saying the wrong thing on any given day. The song is basically a reaction to the need to comment on every little thing regardless of context or intent. It's about how people use whatever progressive social issue of the moment to embrace a mob mentality to bully people, using their righteousness as a pass to be unkind. Musically, the song is kind of our stab at a Lawrence Arms-esque back and forth vocals.

"Heavy For Real" gives the album an interesting curveball. It's not very "heavy" compared to the other songs. In fact, it's way more chill than the other songs. Yet, the lyrics are very deep. What was the inspiration behind them and what are they related to?

Ryan: "Heavy For Real" was one of the first songs written for the album. I wrote the lyrics very quickly after my grandmother passed away. It's more or less my way of struggling with the concept of faith. On one hand, it's very easy to say there's no God or afterlife after losing someone so kind and generous, but with that same logic, how else do you explain someone so pure and good existing in the first place? For every argument against faith or about how bad things happen, you can make a counter argument about every good and beautiful thing.

"The American Dream Is A Shopping Mall" is the most pop punk song on the album. It carries an important message that ties the theme of this whole album together. What is the message of this song and what do you hope people take away from the lyrics?

Ryan: I've had most of the guitar riffs for this song for a number of years, but always struggled with appropriate lyrics because it's so upbeat and it's so much easier to write angry or sad songs. One day, I was driving past the American Dream supermall complex and found myself thinking of the line "the American Dream is a shopping mall". One I had that little nugget, I found myself reflecting on how typically American my life had become. For once, I had a steady source of income, a wife, a dog, and eventually a baby on the way. Everything was falling into place. All of these hallmarks of the American Dream made me feel less unique, but in a really sweet way, I started to feel more purpose and more entwined with the human experience. Maybe not being the most unique isn't the worst thing. Maybe finding joy and comfort in some of these capitalistic American institutions isn't some grave hypocrisy.

The final song called "Infinitely Beyond" feels very uplifting and puts a more positive spin to leave us on. During the time when you were writing the album, you got married and had your first child. It feels to me that the lyrics are related to that. What moved you to write a song like this?

Ryan: Without getting too specific, shortly after my wife and I got married, a child in our extended family was diagnosed with an awful illness. We spent most of the first year and a half of our marriage experiencing an unimaginable level of suffering up close. As that disease ran its course, our family bond became closer than ever and we began truly starting our own family. Seeing the joy that child brought into all of our lives throughout his pain and suffering changed how I saw the world. The privilege of our short time getting to know him proved how precious each moment of time is. The entire tragic experience eventually brought on a sense of eternal gratitude.

With "American Dream" now out, do you have any upcoming shows that you would like to promote?

Ryan: I wish! We had a record release show a few weeks before my baby was due, and now that my daughter is here, it seems like it'll be a minute before the band will be active again. That being said, if anyone offers us a good show, we will try our best to make it work.

Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers?

Ryan: Thank you so much for taking the time to listen to our album and having such thoughtful questions. Having the support of BlowUpRadio has been such a validating thing. It really means the world to us to have the record reach anyone.

Artist Links:

Stream "American Dream"

Artist Bio:
Sally Draper? Nah, that ain't a band. It's two guys. Two guys ain't a whole band, yknow? That whole two guys thing, that's more akin to like Steely Dan or something. Where it's just two guys runnin the show and not a whole, whatchamacallit, you know, ensemble. But hey, listen, those two guys, Becker and Fagen, they had a whole bunch of good songs, not a ton of hits, I'll give you that, I mean they're not The Eagles or something, but they took that whole sound and kept evolving, every album they were evolving, until they just left everyone else in the dust. They play circles around those other schmucks. You dont even know what they're doin cause you don't know jazz. That's what the whole thing is about. And those two guys, Sally Draper, listen, they got chops. They meet at this guy Kev Murtha's house, and you know him, right, so listen, they meet up at his house and do ecstasy and form this band. Group. I mean two guys ain't a whole band. And they start talkin bout chops. An it just turns out they both got chops so they form this group. And Its not like, uh, you're not gonna, you just don't hear two guys playing Thin Lizzy solos in a emotional, political, punk rock band anymore. You know what I mean? I mean that's the way you do it. You get a blister on your finger playin guitar up there on the MTV but like, one guy gets a blister but you still got a whole nother guy who's still rippin, he don't have a blister does he? No. Course not. Two guys ain't gonna hurt their finger at the same exact time and that's why it pays to have two guys. That's the genius of the whole thing. Guitars, lyrics, a vision, a song, two guys. That's all you need to make a band.

Thin Lizzy? That ain't a band. That's basically one guy callin all the shots. But hey, listen…

About the Author: Thommy Delaney is a Senior Music Business Major at New Jersey City University. He is also the lead guitarist and a vocalist in the Bayonne Indie pop-rock band BreakTime: a four-piece writing modern pop tunes with generous vintage allusions to artists such as The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Looking for something new to listen to? Be sure to follow BreakTime @breaktimelivenj on social media and stream their music on all platforms.

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