First play of ‘Alex Whiz’, the new track by Ryan Allen & His Extra Arms

By Ben Tipple

On his third solo album, Ryan Allen (under his & His Extra Arms moniker) continues his whimsical nod to both 60s pop and the 90s alternative. With ‘Alex Whiz’, his latest track, Allen tells the tale of peculiar individual, harking back to pop-culture from the aforementioned eras.

The track appears on ‘Basement Punk’, due for release on the 30th September 2016 through Save Your Generation Records. It is available to pre-order now.

Allen will be making the occasion with an album release show in Ferndale, MIĀ alongside Fawnn and Lawnmower. Full details are available on the Facebook event page. Continue reading after the track to see what Allen has to say about ‘Alex Whiz’.

“Alex Whiz is mostly a true story,” explains Ryan Allen. “Or, should I say a somewhat imagined story about a real person. Alex was an eccentric kid that grew up next-door to my childhood best friend. We would spend lots of summers over at their house, playing basketball, swimming or just generally running around (as kids do). Often times Alex would come around, typically acting peculiar. In my young mind, I just thought he was a weirdo; and as such, we would poke fun at him. He popped into my head about a year ago (I mean, with a name like “Alex Whiz” you aren’t going to easily forget it) and I just sort of started singing his name with a melody I previously had. When I started to write lyrics to it, I began to create this half true/half remembered/half fantasized story about him. As an adult, I realize that Alex was likely autistic. But in 1987, I had no idea what that was. I started to feel guilty about the hard time we gave him as kids (and we weren’t overly cruel; it was more normal kids-razzing-kids type of stuff), and it occurred to me that having to deal with that kind of constant picking by other kids (who were probably a lot meaner to him) had to have impacted him in some way. Sort of the crux of the song is that while most people thought Alex probably wasn’t very “cool” back in the pre-understanding of autism days, now the joke is probably on all those people, because he likely turned out to be pretty cool after all. I like to imagine that he’s somewhere with a giant beard, dressed in a robe and the owner of some multi-million dollar drone company or something like that. In other words, it’s sort of a the meek inherit the earth-type of story with my dreamed-up version of Alex as the protagonist. I still do wonder if he’s out there (I tried looking him up, but no luck) and if he ends up somehow hearing the song, I hope he picks up on the fact that I have mad respect for him.”

“In terms of sound, I really wanted to dip my toes back into the sort of pop/shoegaze combo that I tried on “Become A Disaster” from my last album. I really wanted to do something that combined my love of Slowdive with my natural tendency to write a succinct pop song, and I think I pulled it off. I added some woozy synths to the song, and the major 7th C chord thrown in during the verses and bridge helps give it that slightly off-kilter vibe that I was going for.”