Ryan Rodger ’11 WesCeleb
Whether you know him as the former guitarist of the legendary Last Minutes, or just as that guy with the hair, Ryan Rodger is a man to know. He recently sat down with The Argus to talk naked acrobatics, Foss Hill jams, and living the dream in Brazil.
The Argus: So what do you think makes you a WesCeleb?
Ryan Rodger: Well, probably because I’m the only honorary member of the cross-country team, but only during 4/20. We streak.
A: Does this make you a runner? An activist?
RR: Just a streaker [laughs]. Streaking has actually been a pretty elemental part of my Wesleyan experience. My freshman year, Miles Bukiet [’11] and I formed a naked acrobatics club that was born out of a number of streaking experiences. Since then, that bunch of streaking experiences has grown into Wesleyan Acro-Yoga, a student forum I’m running this semester. You can directly trace the lineage of the class from Miles and I doing naked acrobatics as freshman.
A: So what makes Acro-Yoga different from regular yoga? Are you still naked?
RR: Not yet [laughs], but 4/20 is coming back around, so you never know. Right now in the class we’re getting around to the actual practice of acro-yoga, which you do in pairs and is a mix of yoga, acrobatics, and Thai massage, and so far it has been really awesome. Some of it’s pretty silly, but some of it’s really incredible. It definitely gets you into your body, into the space, and into the other person you’re doing it with.
A: You’re a music major and pretty involved with the music scene on campus. What have you been working on lately?
RR: So we just finished performing Torrents, which was my senior thesis recital—it was music based on and written to include natural echoes as a part of the composition. There were places where if you hit a drum, its echoes would produce a particular rhythm, which then you could play music to. All sorts of people came out and you use anything for percussion, hit anything to create music in this composition. I generally try to incorporate elements of experimental music into more conventional forms and have the two resonate. We performed it out on Jackson field, so it was kind of groove-based music dispersed over the whole area, with the surfaces acting as performers. It was a lot of fun. We had a bonfire during the thing with marshmallows and a couple “wine faeries.” Needless to say, we had a good time.
A: What instruments do you play and what groups are you playing with now?
RR: Mostly guitar, but I play a little piano and trumpet, which I’ve played with the CFA and Wordsmith and the Temps, back when they weren’t the Concert G’s. The past little while I’ve been focusing on my thesis, but the group I’ve been involved with for the past two years was called the Last Minutes. I’m not really sure what we were trying to do—trying to keep party music fresh, I guess. Now [drummer] Bella [Loggins ’10] is gone, so that’s been over for a while. But well see though, the Spring should be filled with music now that the recital’s all done. There’s a whole lot of music to be played.
A: Any chance for a Last Minutes reunion?
RR: [Laughs] Probably not, but Bella, the drummer, shows up every once in a while out of the blue. And if we’re all together…and there’s amps…some sloppy, preposterous music might be made.
A: Where’s your favorite place to play music on campus?
RR: I’d say Foss Hill—Foss Hill, when it’s actually set up right, is totally cool, because it sounds good, plus the actual space is just where its at, just the most positive place in the world. My freshman year 4/20 (all these 4/20 things! It’s just on the mind) I played with a band for a Prometheus show out there—that, to this day, is one of the coolest things I’ve done here. Just a lot of fire and 15 musicians at the bottom of the hill.
A: Now that your recital is done, what are your plans for the rest of the spring?
RR: Now it’s just soaking it up, breathing deep for the next little while. See the people, do the things I want to do, play the music I want to play. I just want to make sure I can keep it moving slow. I’m also going to be in Second Stage’s production of “Rent.” I’m playing this kind of emo punk rocker with AIDS, and people keep telling me I’m perfect for the part. But that’s going up at the beginning of May and we’re having fun. It’s going to be outside, like I like to do music, probably on South College, with a sick band and a sick cast.
A: What are you thinking about after graduation?
RR: Well, I’m thinking of moving to Brazil. They’ve got Samba and Capoeira, which are just two of the coolest things. Really, I’m just looking to get back into a very physical lifestyle—you can try to do it at Wesleyan, but you kind of have to fake it, you know? I want to have a lifestyle that is intrinsically physical, so I may end up on a mountain somewhere, teaching snowboarding, or something like that.
A: What else are you involved in on campus?
RR: I’ve been getting into the poetry scene here on campus. A lot of my music has incorporated poetry and various poetic techniques and for now, I’m just sort of digging on it, working with a bunch of the slam poets on their various projects. Mike Rosen [’11] has a recital coming up in a few weeks that’s going to be a decontextualization of a bunch of poetry we’ve been working on. It’s kind of cool that Wesleyan has a poetry scene at all—English is sweet.
A: All right, so the final question. If you were a sandwich, what would you be? What’s on it? What makes it delicious?
RR: Well it’s got to be kind of sloppily put together, with stuff sticking out all the sides, like my hair. I’d hope it’s spicy, and thick, and not that cheesy…After much thought, I have come to understand that I am either a gorilla sandwich with sprouts and sriracha or a spicy tofu power sandwich from Weshop. I feel like I finally get me.