Brooklyn-based dark indie singer songwriter Ronan Conroy just released his fifth solo record, “The Moment Is Gone,” a 9 track digital and vinyl release which examines interpersonal and family relationships, the personal traits we inherit and develop and how we struggle with them, and the yearning for love and redemption.
The songs were written and recorded between September 2014 and October 2018, featuring musicians Ronan regularly works with in Charlie Nieland (guitars, bass, keys, synth, drums) and Justin Wierbsonki (drums), with Ronan on vocals and guitar. Charlie has been recording, engineering, producing, mixing, and playing on Ronan’s records since 2013.
The first three solo albums followed an arc as Ronan explored songs he’d written in the prior 10 years, writing some new songs in the process, starting with the folksier “Discontent,” developing into fuller band arrangements in “The Game” and moving through to heavier more alternative and indie territory in “not a part of anything.” Having completed that arc and gone through a divorce, the next release was a very stripped back dark indie EP, “Blood Dread,” with no drums at all on two of the five tracks, building to the epic fifth track which, for Ronan, forms a coda to everything that came before it in all four releases.
“The Moment Is Gone” feels like a fresh start, moving ahead into new material and uncharted territory, digging deeper into himself and seeking new understanding.
Musically it remains dark indie, but Ronan can definitely hear his influences from The Band, Amy Mann, Nick Cave, Bob Mould, David Gray, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, even a little Radiohead.
In parallel with these solo dark indie recordings over the last five years, Ronan formed the goth and ethereal darkwave project Lovemyth. One album called “The Slow Death Of The LoveMyth” is nearing completion and a second release is in the works. Lovemyth combines two key influences for Ronan – the 80s/90s goth bands like The Cure which formed an emotional soundtrack to difficult younger years and remain influential to this day; and ethereal darkwave bands he was introduced to later, like Love Spirals Downwards and Autumn’s Grey Solace. Playing with Oh Halo was a proving ground for experimenting with guitar pedals and textures, and appreciating the combination of female vocals and goth music. After Oh Halo failed to really go darkwave enough for Ronan and he left the band, he began the Lovemyth project in 2013
Ronan grew up in Ireland with four brothers, all of whom had strong opinions about music and introduced him to a range of influences from 80s new wave to post-punk to metal and grunge.
His parents were musicians in their spare time – his father playing guitar and mandolin and his mother playing guitar and tin whistle. Ronan’s mother was trained by a famous Irish whistle player, Willie Clancy. His parents would play together in the evenings or on holidays, so he grew up with traditional Irish music in the house. His mother would also strum folk songs on her old nylon string guitar. His parents played Johnny Cash, Simon and Garfunkel, Elvis and Abba records, and from an early age he was captivated by performers like David Bowie who seemed to inhabit their songs as actors in a drama, or 80s power ballads with their staginess. He’d lie in bed with the sheets pulled up over his head pretending he was performing songs like “I wanna know what love is.”
At age 15 his mother loaned her nylon string guitar to him and his brother Niall during a summer holiday, probably to keep them busy, teaching us a few chords and unlocking a whole new world. Right away he began writing songs.
He learned to play guitar from self-teaching books, school friends, and playing along to Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and John Lee Hooker records. Those pentatonic lessons really helped later when he unlocked The Cure frontman Robert Smith’s guitar style.
Later in college, friends introduced him to grunge, indie, Bob Mould, Bob Dylan, Nick Cave. These influences all began to coalesce in his songwriting.
He’d always wanted to be in a band since college, and after a couple of years in his college band Vile Jelly, later in his twenties he met drummer Chealsea Wierbonski and together with his friend Bryan Pocius they formed Brooklyn-based alterna-folk rock band The Listeners, releasing two albums, 2008’s “Lamentations” and 2010’s “Fix.” He’d spent a few years soaking up singer songwriter influences like Leonard Cohen, Warren Zevon, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and he fused those together with grunge and indie influences.
After the Listeners, Ronan played lead guitar with dream-pop goth band Oh Halo between 2011 and 2014, embracing the opportunity to experiment with and develop his guitar style, welding a range of guitar effects to his Hendrix and Robert Smith influences. He brought two songs with him into the band – “Dream Lucy” and “(Gifts of) A Lesser Man” – both featured on Oh Halo’s second album “Ghosts Can’t Be Buried.” Ronan co-wrote the music for three more songs on “Ghosts,” and those five songs were all selected by other artists to remix on Oh Halo’s 2014 “Remixed” EP. While with Oh Halo, Ronan also released a limited edition 7″ double A-side featuring “Dream Lucy” and Children of Mu’s “Solarized.”
After releasing two albums with The Listeners, and one album with Oh Halo, Ronan felt like he was writing a lot of songs that didn’t always fit the style of either of those bands, so in 2013 he began recording solo work with Charlie Nieland, one of the producers of the Oh Halo record he played guitar on after the break-up of The Listeners.
Justin Wierbonski – Ronan’s main go-to drummer – is a prolific and highly talented multi-instrumentalist from West Virginia who releases electronic music as Demonic Sweaters, but also has an extensive back catalog of indie, surf rock, experimental and jazz music under Justin Robert and with bands like Quiet Sons, Frame, the Cod, Children of Mu and others.
Chealsea Wierbonski played drums with Ronan in both The Listeners and Oh Halo, and contributed drum tracks to a number of Ronan’s solo recordings. Chealsea grew up in Morgantown, West Virginia where she was part of the local music scene in the late 80s and early 90s that spawned bands such as Th’Inbred, Lincoln, 63 Eyes, Karma to Burn, and One, a hard-core band featuring Chealsea on drums. After moving to NYC in 1999 Chealsea spent time dj’ing small weekly parties in the East Village and LES before picking up the drums again in 2002 to play in art rock backlash band Peace of Werk, Brooklyn punk rock outfit The Kittens in 2004, and Brooklyn hard-folk band The Listeners in 2008, before joining Oh Halo in 2012. She currently plays keytar for indie metal band The Netherlands.
Charlie Nieland, a native of Chicago, is an accomplished musician and music industry professional in his own right, playing guitar and singing for 25 years with shoegaze band Her Vanished Grace, and now half of book-inspired song-writer duo Lusterlit. Charlie is a guitarist, bassist, keyboard player, and drummer, and has also led a long career as a sound engineer and producer, working with artists as diverse as Debbie Harry, Rufus Wainwright and the Scissors Sisters, along with a range of exceptional independent artists.
Susan Hwang is the other half of book-based songwriting duo Lusterlit, and is a singer-songwriter, accordion, piano and percussion player, actress and dancer. She brings a rich blues and gospel inspired voice to the Lovemyth project, fiery and passionate and full of emotion for the title track “Love Myth” and the raw “Demon.”
LA native Shannon Browne has an ethereal and beautiful voice that conjures Kate Bush, and has just the right touch for “Passenger” and “Nightland.”
It’s an honor to have Oh Halo frontwoman and singer Julie Dicterow on the record, given that she has always been a true inspiration for my darker gothier work, and she delivers a keynote performance of stunning beauty on “Double Helix,” the first track we recorded for this project. Julie formed Oh Halo in LA and through a variety of incarnations Oh Halo has released three records. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Julie performed in instrumental and vocal ensembles as well as independent bands from an early age. Her love of music is inherited from a long line of musicians including her father, violinist Glenn Dicterow, former concertmaster at the New York Philharmonic. Julie has recorded and toured with Water for Paul, Eris, LILA, Circus Minor and Oh Halo as lead vocalist, and playing piano, Theremin and guitar.