American producer John Ryan has been involved in
numerous classic rock albums, most notably such acts as Styx and Santana. He
also worked on a Robin George LP "Dangerous Music", in 1985. In the mid '70s he
produced one of my favorite LPs of the decade, the overlooked "Sun And Steel"
album by IRON BUTTERFLY. Thanks to John, as we did this Q & A a few weeks
back. Sadly, since then Eric Braunn, who was the leading
writer, singer and guitarist Iron Butterfly at the time passed away.
Check out the 'Chicago Kid's' site [see link below]
and check out: www.ironbutterfly.com
How did you wind up producing what would become
"Sun & Steel" by Iron Butterfly?
KID] Thru MCA.
Were you familiar with the band's previous
recordings and what did you think of the new version of the band, baring in mind
it only included 2 of the original members [Braunn and Bushy]?
KID] Sure ..didn't give it any
KJ: The band became legendary with
'In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida'. What was the concensus or direction of where the
band wanted to go with their sound in '75?
KID] I had played the big cut in radio
in Chicago...we were just after the best possible record with the lineup we had.
What did you think of the bandmembers > Ron
Bushy, Phil Kramer, Bill deMartines and Erik Braunn? Does anything stand out or
did you get along with any of them in particular or see any potential stars?
Erik Braunn wrote and sang most of the album's
songs. What did you think of him as a songwriter, singer and guitarist? Are you
surprised he never made a name for himself beyond IB?
KID] Not really.
Phil Kramer also wrote a couple of songs and
sang, in particular 'Lightin' and 'I'm Right, I'm Wrong'. what do you recall of
Phil as a singer and songwriter, and how was he to work with?
KID] Fine, laid back.
'Sun & Steel' was a fairly heavy album, much
in the vein of classic Uriah Heep and Deep Purple. Is that a fair comparison?
Were you [as producer] happy withy the album?
it was cool. It would have
been nice to work with all the main original guys. Ingle was
What do you recall of the songs? I love the intro
on 'I'm Right, I'm Wrong' [great song!], as well I like the title track, and the
2 ballads [particularly 'Watch The World go By'], and 'scion' [which reminds me
a lot of Uriah Heep's 'Gypsy']. Any comments or recall on these or other tracks
from the album?
KID] Thank you, I tried to make as
musical an album as possible, but still keep the edge. deMartines had strong
melody instincts for ballads
Was there any tracks recorded but not used for
the released album? [anything].
KID] Honestly don't recall.
KJ: How well did the album do [that you know of]? I
gather it wasn't a huge success. were you disappointed or surprised by it's lack
of commercial success? Was there much help from MCA with supporting it?
KID] Band lacked powerful management,
which would have helped, didn't aggressively tour. MCA had changes going on, as
I recall, many bigger acts to work.
KJ: Did you have any contact or work with any of the
Butterfly guys beyond Sun & Steel?
You also produced 3 of the first 4 Styx LPs. What
can you recall of working with that band early on? what did you think of them
and those early LPs?
KID] We were learning as we went, my
musical/radio background helped them shape their sound. Lady was written and
recorded in space of a couple days after I heard Dennis DeYoung tinkling it on
piano, worked out pretty well.
What have been your best and biggest selling
productions? And what are you currently up to?
Interview: İKevin J. Julie
(Universal Wheels) July '03