By Jim Schutze
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Shortly after the breakup of Marked Men, Mark Ryan began working on a solo project. He started multi-tracking guitar and vocal parts and assembling them into songs over which he would then get either Greg Rutherford of High Tension Wires or Mike Thorneberry, formerly of Marked Men, to lay down drum tracks.
Over time, this project came to be called Mind Spiders, and rather than just thinking about it as a series of recordings, Ryan began recruiting folks in Denton to form a band that would perform the songs live.
To this end, Ryan commissioned the talents of Daniel Fried (High Tension Wires, Bad Sports, Video, Wax Museums) on bass, Stephen Svacina (Uptown Bums) on guitar, and, to top it off, both Rutherford and Thorneberry on drums. The result? A band that features Ryan making decisions unilaterally, has two drummers and is pretty damn loud.
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"I really like the 'wall of sound' kind of idea," Ryan says. "Recording-wise it just sounds cool."
Rather than being democratic endeavors, Mind Spiders' practice sessions are led by their benevolent dictator, who instructs the band members on what to play and shows them the finished product before working out how to play it live.
This top-down methodology is new for everyone in the band, but it makes things easier nonetheless.
"We all kind of let Mark do whatever he wants to," says Svacina. "It's Mark's brain."
Ryan says the reason he started the project was so that he could have complete creative control.
"I made it to where, if people want to play and record with me, that's awesome," he says. "But, other than that, it's just me and I can do this without having to worry about other people."
A behavioral psychologist by day, Ryan works as a consultant with people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. He employs bandmate Fried at his office.
"He's a good boss," Fried says. "He pretty much just tells me what to do, and I do it. He's told me what to do before in the band setting, so it's normal to me."
With a five-song EP currently out and a full-length album coming on Dirtnap Records early next year, Mind Spiders will continue to play shows and develop their live sound. Their next performance is Saturday at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios as part of the club's Free Week festivities.
As for Fried's reading of the previous two shows?
"The girls seem to love it," he says. "That's pretty rare for bands that I'm in."