Renaissance’s New Guitarist Ryche Chlanda

Originally Published March 3, 2013

Ryche Chlanda is an accomplished guitarist. He has been a musician, vocalist, songwriter, composer and producer for over thirty years. He was a founding member of America’s first progressive rock group, Fireballet, in the 1970’s. The band’s first album, Night on Bald Mountain, was produced by King Crimson founding member Ian McDonald who went on to additional fame with Foreigner. During that time Ryche worked on the Intergalactic Touring Band project. For a period during his solo career he played with the progressive band Nektar where he became a “bandmate” and friend with Larry Fast. Soon after, Ryche was signed as a recording artist managed by Hit & Run Music joining fellow performers there Genesis, Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel. Ryche recorded his first solo album during this time.

His musical journey led him to writing and singing for films, including the title track for “Build for Speed”. A severely fractured arm altered his musical journey and he returned home to rehab his arm. During that time he built a studio and focused on writing and producing. In 1993, Ryche was asked to write and produce aerobic musical tracks for exercise gurus Denise Austin and Joanie Greggains which resulted in sales of over 2 million tapes. This led to working on productions for Motown and sessions with members of Todd Rundgren’s band, the OJ’s, Billy Joel and countless others.

After years of touring and studio work, he devoted the last several years to song writing and composing, but the thrill of performing has led him back to the stage and the upcoming release of his new album, Hidden Me. It also provided an opportunity to work with his old friend, Larry Fast.

David Cohen: Do you listen to classical music?

Ryche: I love classical music! My father was a Juilliard graduate and my mother was a singer and songwriter. The first music I learned on the guitar was Prelude for Lute #4. Even now I don’t use a pick when I play the guitar.

David Cohen: Where you a Renaissance fan?

Ryche: I was. When I was in the band Fireballet, back in the 70’s (first record produced by Ian McDonald of King Crimson) it was basically America’s first progressive rock band. We supported Renaissance at Trenton State College I became a fan on the spot. We did our set then I went into the audience to watch them and I was blown away

David: What year was that?

Ryche: 1975.

David: You were young!

Ryche: I was a tadpole!!

David: Was it through working with Larry Fast that you found out about their needs?

Ryche: Yes, it was. Larry gave me the phone call that there was a tragedy and they were auditioning guitarists. I had spoken with Annie and she asked if I would you like to audition. Of course! I’m not sure how it came together but I got the phone call from Larry.

David: What did you play for the audition?

Ryche: I spoke with Annie on the phone, we clicked right away and then she turned to over to Rave-the musical director. He gave me four songs to learn for the audition. I learned Carpet of the Sun, I Think of You, Ocean Gypsy and Mother Russia. I was familiar with the songs but never played them.

David: When you auditioned was it with the whole band?

Ryche: When I was going to the audition I was singing the songs in my head and thinking of the chord changes and I went an hour out of the way in the wrong direction. So I was late for the audition. I called them and told them what I did and they were laughing.
David: Where was the audition?

Ryche: It was at Rave’s studio in Ridgewood, NJ.

So I got there, I walked in and it was Annie, Frank Pagano, David Keys and Rave. I walked in, plugged in and the first song was Carpet of the Sun. It all felt so good, it all clicked. We did the other songs and it was beautiful. They left the room after the audition and I was sitting there thinking, OK. Then after about five minutes Rave came out and hands me an itinerary and asks me into the room. I walked into the other room and there was an opened bottle of wine. They said, “welcome to Renaissance” and we toasted. It was a moment I will never forget.

During the audition I was pinching myself.

David: Will you have a voice in the presentation or will you just sit back for a time?

Ryche: I think that’s the way to do it. Annie gave me a DVD to listen to. I’ve been playing it, sleeping to it, eating to it; I’ve been working on it daily. You know when another guitar player comes in it’s going to be a little different. But I think I’m just going to try to capture Michael’s essence and let my voice grow with it in time.

David: Are you going to use Ovation Guitar’s? I spoke with Michael not that long ago and he mentioned his specific change from Ovation to Martin.

Ryche: I actually played his Martin in rehearsal. It was the most beautiful guitar I’ve ever played. I use ovations but what I’m going to use for the Renaissance tour is a Taylor Auditorium which is from the early 90’s and Guild F12 from 1977. I’m also bringing a 6 & 12 string Ovation for backup.

David: Have rehearsals started yet?
Ryche: Rehearsals start early April.

David: What will this do with your solo career? You have your CD Hidden Me that you just finished.
Ryche: Hidden Me was an EP but Larry Fast and I finished a few more tracks so it’s a full CD now. It will be coming out soon but I put that all aside to work with Renaissance. I’m actually playing the Sellersville Theater on March 26th. I’m debuting the CD there.

David: Is it in your contract that you can’t play out as yourself while working with Renaissance?
Ryche: No as a matter of fact, Annie was the person who got me the gig at the Sellersville. She is very supportive of letting the artist be artists but I am totally devoting all my time to Renaissance.
David: Has Annie sung any of your songs?

Ryche: Wouldn’t that be a dream come true. No, we just did that one audition and we’ve been in touch a lot but right now we’re focusing on Renaissance material. There’s a lot of work to get done with that.
I am happy and honored to be a part of Renaissance. I am really looking forward to being with them up there.

David: When you auditioned was it with the whole band?

Ryche: When I was going to the audition I was singing the songs in my head and thinking of the chord changes and I went an hour out of the way in the wrong direction. So I was late for the audition. I called them and told them what I did and they were laughing.
David: Where was the audition?

Ryche: It was at Rave’s studio in Ridgewood, NJ.
So I got there, I walked in and it was Annie, Frank Pagano, David Keys and Rave. I walked in, plugged in and the first song was Carpet of the Sun. It all felt so good, it all clicked. We did the other songs and it was beautiful. They left the room after the audition and I was sitting there thinking, OK. Then after about five minutes Rave came out and hands me an itinerary and asks me into the room. I walked into the other room and there was an opened bottle of wine. They said, “welcome to Renaissance” and we toasted. It was a moment I will never forget.

During the audition I was pinching myself.

David: Will you have a voice in the presentation or will you just sit back for a time?

Ryche: I think that’s the way to do it. Annie gave me a DVD to listen to. I’ve been playing it, sleeping to it, eating to it; I’ve been working on it daily. You know when another guitar player comes in it’s going to be a little different. But I think I’m just going to try to capture Michael’s essence and let my voice grow with it in time.

David: Are you going to use Ovation Guitar’s? I spoke with Michael not that long ago and he mentioned his specific change from Ovation to Martin.

Ryche: I actually played his Martin in rehearsal. It was the most beautiful guitar I’ve ever played. I use ovations but what I’m going to use for the Renaissance tour is a Taylor Auditorium which is from the early 90’s and Guild F12 from 1977. I’m also bringing a 6 & 12 string Ovation for backup.

David: Have rehearsals started yet?

Ryche: Rehearsals start early April.

David: What will this do with your solo career? You have your CD Hidden Me that you just finished.

Ryche: Hidden Me was an EP but Larry Fast and I finished a few more tracks so it’s a full CD now. It will be coming out soon but I put that all aside to work with Renaissance. I’m actually playing the Sellersville Theater on March 26th. I’m debuting the CD there.

David: Is it in your contract that you can’t play out as yourself while working with Renaissance?

Ryche: No as a matter of fact, Annie was the person who got me the gig at the Sellersville. She is very supportive of letting the artist be artists but I am totally devoting all my time to Renaissance.

David: Has Annie sung any of your songs?

Ryche: Wouldn’t that be a dream come true. No, we just did that one audition and we’ve been in touch a lot but right now we’re focusing on Renaissance material. There’s a lot of work to get done with that.
I am happy and honored to be a part of Renaissance. I am really looking forward to being with them up there.

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