“A bout a year and a half ago, I was recommended to play drums with Jeremy Fisher’s band from a mutual friend,” says Ryan Granville-Martin, originally from Cranbrook, who has spent the past 20 years of his musical career hobnobbing with Canada’s musical elite in the heart of Toronto’s national-central scene.
“Jeremy needed a good drummer who could sing strong harmonies, and our mutual friend said: ‘I know just the guy!’ So I got a cold call out of the blue from Jeremy.”
Ryan performs live with Jeremy Fisher at the Studio Stage Door Theatre on the evening of Monday, Sept. 28,
“We clicked right away,” says Granville-Martin. “Jeremy’s a sweetheart of a guy. Really easy to hang with and work with. A really good communicator. Really easy, right off the bat. That isn’t always the case when you’re a journeyman musician and a hired gun. Jeremy gave me his records, and a set list to learn for the tour, and recordings of the specific harmonies he wanted me to sing; he was pretty specific with how he wanted his songs to flow, but when we were rehearsing he was never picky about me doing something exactly this way or that way.
Every once in awhile he would suggestion, and certain songs were learned differently for a live presentation as opposed to how they appeared on record. You have to adapt to that live arrangement. I brought in some of my own ideas, and he was pretty open to that.”
A drumming prodigy from his early teens, Ryan Granville-Martin not only excelled in the MBSS Jazz Band, but also swiftly nailed his name into the pages of Grunge-era Cranbrook garage rock by combining heavy-metal technical chops and sophisticated jazz-fusion/progressive-rock savvy (projected with his devil-may-care aplomb). Following a stint at music school in Edmonton, he soon aweighed anchor for Toronto. His musical compatriots in Hogtown include author-musician Dave Bidini, singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith, and producer Michael-Philip Wojewoda, among many others.
“We’re touring as a trio with (former Weakerthans bassist) Greg Smith,” says Granville-Martin. “I’ve played with Greg before when we were the touring rhythm section for (former Rheostatics lead guitarist) Martin Tielli.”
Granville-Martin’s many musical irons in the Toronto fire include occasional stints in a highly enjoyable Classic Albums Live band. “I’m doing a few ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ shows in November for all the Pink Floyd fans,” he explains, “as well as Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours,’ and I have to learn the ‘Sundown’ album when we play in Gordon Lightfoot’s hometown of Orillia!”
Album production holds a special place in his musical passions, though. “I just finished co-producing a really interesting record with Jessica Stewart. This fall I’ll also be focused on writing another record of my own.”
Granville-Martin is also swinging into the bustling Toronto world of film-making; his supporting-cast appearance in Phillip Barker’s avant-garde short film “Malody” saw him strutting the red carpet at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.
“I stumbled into acting by accident,” Ryan admits. “When you’re trying to make a living as a musician you have to stick your thumb into a number of pies. I did some work as an extra; I played the wedding drummer in the background scene of a movie or something like that. I ended up getting an agent and auditioned for TV commercials. But I got tired of that world, since I wasn’t putting everything I had into it. It wasn’t panning out.
“But I ended up developing a relationship with Phillip Barker from doing a film with him a few years ago, and he asked if I’d do another one! So it’s not really a world that I feel too much a part of, but I certainly enjoy it through working with him.”
And given Ryan’s early musical influence (and maintained die-hard love) for the great British heavy-metal legends Iron Maiden, it should come as no surprise that he and his partner Mia Sheard (herself a notable singer-songwriter) find the tongue-in-cheek time to perform around Toronto in their Iron Maiden tribute Copper Lassie …where they rearrange Maiden classics like “Run to the Hills,” “The Trooper,” “Aces High,” and “Wasted Years” into acoustic country format: banjo, fiddle, upright bass, dobro, the works.
After being a Torontonian for over two decades now, Granville-Martin still finds himself galvanized by his musical surroundings, and living in the eye of Canada’s artistic hurricane.
“It’s always a bit complex. It’s not an easy way to make a living, let’s be straight. The professional landscape is always changing. But I’m certainly in the best place in the country to be giving it the old college try. There’s a lot going on here, for sure. I don’t see me leaving here anytime soon.”
Ryan Granville-Martin performs live with Jeremy Fisher at the Studio Stage Door (11-11th Ave. S., Cranbrook BC) the evening of Monday September 28th. For ticket information please contact Mike Robinson of Lotic Environmental at 250-421-7802