Rock music

The Buffalo Ryders bring powerful alternative rock music to Canton’s Buzzbin

Buffalo Ryders bassist Kevin McManus didn’t flinch when he explained why he and his bandmates juggle their daily work and personal lives with their passion for music and live performances.

McManus, who also belongs to popular local band The Outside Voices, is used to being asked questions about his rock music aspirations.

“You get that when you’re an adult playing in a rock and roll band,” the 31-year-old Akron resident said. “There are always these family members and people who care about you and say, ‘And if you don’t make it, when are you going to settle down?'”

But “we see how the other side lives and we want to live in that world,” McManus said, his tone unabashed and brimming with conviction. “We are younger guys, but we have a ton of experience, and we have a lot of gas left in the tank and we want to see where it takes us.”

The Buffalo Ryders will play Saturday night at Buzzbin, 331 Cleveland Ave. NW in downtown Canton, as part of a summer club show schedule that has included venues in Michigan and Wisconsin and elsewhere in Ohio.

Starting at 9 p.m., the free outdoor concert on the Kempthorn Stage also includes Joshua Powell & the Great Train Robbery, Gudger and Brimstone Coven.

Vocalist and guitarist Joe Risdon, 27, and drummer Mike Lupica, 32, both Akron residents, are also driven to play loud, raw alternative rock with modern studio production.

“It’s a way of life,” Lupica said. “We chose this lifestyle – it’s probably what we’ll do forever.”

Released earlier this month, the band’s new album, “Where the Liars Go,” embodies that ethos of the underground rock scene – a lean, sonically cohesive, unrelenting seven-song explosion of alternative rock rooted in the guitar, percussion and bass complimented with moody and determined vocals.

Writing credits are shared by the trio.

“We really didn’t want any filler songs,” said Risdon, a self-taught singer. “We really wanted it to be a smooth album that rocks from start to finish – no matter how long it is.”

Tracks from the new album will be played at the Buzzbin show.

“You’ll smell us when you come to see us,” Lupica swore. “You’re going to feel our intensity. We give it our all on stage every time we go – that’s what we do.”

McManus added: “These guys literally come out like it’s the last time every time. It’s hard and fast and we’re having the time of our lives.”

New album

Risdon, who learned to play guitar under Akron bluesman Mike Lenz, formed The Buffalo Ryders in 2009.

“Where the Liars Go” was recorded in February at Amish Electric Chair Studios in Athens, Ohio, with engineer-producer Neil Tuuri.

With 2019’s “Egghead” album and several EPs under their belt, the band added McManus for new material and the live gigs that followed.

Full-fledged sonic assault

The influences on the record are obvious – The White Stripes, The Black Keys, Cage the Elephant and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. All esteemed bands in the alt-indie-rock world.

But the Buffalo Ryders own the sound.

From the album’s opening track, “Built a Prison”, it’s a sonic assault in its own right, the trio mustering the ferocity of a band at least twice its size.

On the song “7734”, Risdon’s guitar work is blurry and wild while “Ghost”, the album’s lead single, is a catchy riff-based track where Risdon’s clean, rhythmic vocals are featured.

“Learning the Language” is another firestarter of a tune. Risdon’s haunting, chant-like vocals combine with powerful, angry guitar stabs and melodic interludes to form a beautifully eerie soundscape.

The lyrics are cryptic and abstract in the tradition of alternative rock, but overtly allude to observations about the state of the world.

Consuming the message, it’s fear that drives them

Ask Permission From Armed Politicians

They’ll tell you they feel you, they’ll tell you they need you

There’s a place where they run

There’s a place where they hide

There’s a place where they preach

There’s a place where they stay awake

Unique and sophisticated

Weaving a thread through the seven songs is Risdon’s musicianship.

“The way he plays guitar is unlike anyone I’ve ever seen or worked with,” McManus said. “He plays in open chords like Keith Richards or a bluegrass or country player might.”

And “he attacks the strings with his fingers like a bass player and creates different chords”, added the teammate. “So his way of playing is really, really unique and really sophisticated.”

Evolve as a group

Both production and high musicianship shine on “Where the Liars Go,” the by-product of a maturing and evolving band, and the addition of McManus.

“I knew (Tuuri) would nail The Buffalo Ryders,” McManus said of the producer. “He likes to use the sound space to the best of the band’s abilities.”

Prior to joining the band, McManus saw untapped potential in The Buffalo Ryders.

“I just knew…there could be a much bigger sound that did it justice, especially on the bass and drum side,” he said.

Risdon agreed that the new material releases the band’s primal sound coupled with more refined studio techniques.

“The first album, we recorded everything ourselves,” said the frontman, whose musical influences include Bob Dylan, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Motorhead and Neil Young.

“…I think they’re both in the same vein,” said Wadsworth native Risdon. “There’s a raw feel to it.”

Pandemic impact

The impact of the pandemic has been undeniable on the band, both with the new album and struggling with the inability to perform live for an extended period.

Risdon wrote lyrics in Montana and Washington State while camping and immersing himself outdoors in national parks.

“I think it was a time for everyone to reflect on life and society as a whole,” said Risdon, who works as an events coordinator.

Coping with pandemic-induced isolation and loss is at the heart of the song “See This Thru.”

“You took it for granted?” Risdon sings with palpable desire. “We all pass the age of death. Separated we live our lives, together we fade.”

Value of live music

McManus admitted to struggling without releasing live music during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“It left me feeling really lost because that’s what I love doing more than anything,” he said.

Collaborating with Risdon and Lupica on the new album was “very cathartic” and “very powerful,” McManus said.

Risdon said the pandemic has proven that live music cannot be replaced virtually.

“There’s definitely no such thing as live rock and roll with people in a sweaty room.”

Contact Ed at 330-580-8315 and [email protected]

On Twitter @ebalintREP