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My Favorite Merch: Matthew Ryan

Matthew Ryan has been a familiar face at Kansas City hardcore shows for the last couple years since his move here from Leavenworth, Kansas. Following the end of a short lived pre-pandemic band, Ryan and Max Chaney from Devil’s Den linked up with a couple Denver pals to start P.S.Y.W.A.R. That band’s demo is one of the hardest you’ll hear all year and I cannot wait to see the band live. Read below about a few favorites from his merch collection.

So what was the first piece of merch you remember being excited to own?
I think it was like 2009 or 2010 or whenever Lil Wayne went to jail, it was like a Free Weezy shirt at Hot Topic, and I was like, damn, that shit’s sick. I got my grandma to get it for me. I had it for a few years. I don’t know what happened to it. I wasn't allowed to wear it at school for some reason, but I tried to a couple times

It’s fucked up that they would put you down like that.

It was any fucking merch that I got. Like I had a blue Odd Future [shirt] with the OF doughtnut shit on it and I wore that and they looked it up and they were like, “This is a gang who has some weird fucking songs and you can't wear that here. You have to turn it inside out.” It sucked man, I wasn't able to wear that shit ever.

They didn’t wanna hear “kill people, burn shit, fuck school” I guess.
That was actually what they referenced! The song “Radicals,” they were like, “Yeah, you can't do that. That's dangerous and harmful.” But then I wore my Earl shirt and then I just got a bunch of weird looks.

That’s Leavenworth I guess.
Yeah. I could never wear any cool shit.

Sounds like the prison town mentality might seep into the rest of life there, huh?
For real dude. My aunt had this boyfriend who went to jail and stayed with us for a few days and he left his jail sweats there and I tried to wear those to school [laughs]. They're like, “Dude, what the fuck is wrong with you? Why do we have to tell you to not wear this shit?” [laughs] It’s like, man, I'm just trying to fucking live out here.

It’s like, “Yeah, I want everyone to know I’m tough. Maybe I’ve been to jail!”
I’m wearing these big-ass sweatpants. Obviously I don’t give a fuck [laughs].

Do you think you could describe to me your personal style? Or are there any characteristics or types of clothing in general that always attract you?
Usually just black pants and whatever t-shirt. I have a couple jackets, like my jean jacket and then I have this black bomber jacket that I wear sometimes, but it's either like t-shirts and black pants or sweatshirts. Sometimes baggy. I really like RealTree. RealTree’s like my favorite shit. I’ve got a couple longsleeves and a jacket and shit. But yeah, I don't know. I'm usually wearing a bootleg of some sort or just a music t-shirt or a movie t-shirt or something.


Were there or are there any people that you’ve ever tried to emulate in your own style or just been a big fan of in that way?
Yeah, honestly the first time I saw Cadaver Dog I was like damn, he's wearing the small beanie and he's got the Vans, those are fuckin’ tight. For a while like I thought the Carhartt shit was cool, but it’s really fuckin’ played out now. I liked the vintage Carhartt and stuff like that, but Carhartt’s mad expensive now and so are Dickies. It’s weird. I like to think that some people here have some good style, but then there's some people that I see wearing some outrageous shit, and I’m like, whatever works for you.

Not quite related to merch, but I think furniture and decor play into a similar sensibility with most people. I know you’re a big fan of American Pickers and lots of antique type stuff.
I didn't really have a lot of shit growing up at all. It seems like I always liked my grandparents’ stuff, but they were the kinds of people that when it was time to upgrade, they would just kind of throw it away, so there's a lot of cool shit that I've managed to get my hands on. But for the most part, I do have a lot of hand-me-down shit, especially in my kitchen. I have a lot of fucking Pyrex stuff and porcelain bowls and shit. I have the old school Tupperware and shit and I really like that. I've just gotten some cool shit passed on to me.

And whenever I was younger I just used to be obsessed with either dumpster diving, finding shit on the side of the road or going to thrift stores and antique shops and stuff. I tried to get used pants, like secondhand stuff mostly or try to buy stuff from smaller DIY people and that's why I have a lot of good stuff. Plus, old shit is just really expensive. So every once in a while I'll splurge on something that's old, but it's always worth it, you know?

Can you tell me a little about what to expect for P.S.Y.W.A.R. merch?
Yeah, we have a couple ideas, but I think we're going to try and get surplus shirts, army surplus shit probably, screen print over those, have somebody print some shirts secondhand. But yeah, not really too many concrete ideas. We do have a little logo thing that we're thinking about using.

So, shirt number one.
I’ve got my Comfort Colors G.I.S.M. fuckin’ Military Affairs Neurotic shirt. It's got the fuckin’ little skull with like a little penis thing, the fuckin’ anarchy symbol with the gun. And on the back it just has anarchy and violence and paranoia and violence. But yeah, it's got fucking weird Sakevi art on it. He's the vocalist, he does a lot of the art and shit.


What do you think attracts you to his art style?
It's so weird because like, since they're Japanese, some of their their lyrics are with some broken English and stuff like that and it's like you can tell they're pissed off about like the government and that, but some of the terms they use and the sentences and the lines are just like so vague almost and it's just hard to understand, but I really like the cut-and-paste style of it. And I really like the use of this head diagram with the brain but it's like an enlarged head. And it's just like, I don't know, I really like it. I think it's really cool.

Yeah, now that you mention it, I do really love their use of broken English just because it really captures how dumb and pointless and frustrating all those things are. “Fuck war, fuck government, fuck president, etc.” is really as valid as any more nuanced take to me.
Like yeah, just everybody in general, it's like I was telling you earlier, that motherfucker had a flamethrower on a subway and set a businessman on fire for staring at him. He's trying to fucking shoot down airplanes and poison the water at shows and shit. Like, he's just a crazy motherfucker and he beat the fuck out of bootleggers and said he would kill him and straight up like flew here to like be like, “Yo, motherfucker, I will kill you.”

Are you afraid you’ll be targeted for wearing this shirt, Matthew?
I actually don't wear it that much. Just because every time I do, I get some looks. I have a few shirts that I wear seldomly, like every once in a while, but yeah, I mean, I really love this shirt. I love how faded it is and it's just really comfortable.


I think that’s becoming a theme on My Favorite Merch. The cool, edgy shirt that people love that doesn’t get worn outside much.
One of my first bootlegs that I got actually was the fucking Nirvana one with the big boobs on and all that shit. I wore that shit a few times. I've worn it to stores and shit. Ian’s dad liked it, so that means it’s a good shirt, basically [laughs].

Next shirt.
Got my Cadaver Dog shirt. One of the first shirts I got at a show that I was really fucking stoked about. It’s got the teeth. I feel like if this was on paper it would look very like Xerox’d, but it's got the skull/face in it.

Last shirt.
That’s my Mayhem - Pure Fucking Armageddon shirt with the burning church on it. I pretty much only have bootlegs, not too much vintage shit. If I see something I really like, I'll get it, but they're usually just so expensive now. I got this from Schizoid Unit actually. They got some good shirts, they have a lot of fuckin’ designs. And I think that they do a really good job of being simple and it's a pretty basic shirt, but it's really good.

Yeah, I got my Agnostic Front and SS Decontrol tees from there. Great design picks, real clean.
Yeah, I have that [SSD] shirt, too. I got a Celtic Frost and my Bastard shirt from them, too. I actually have two of the same Bastard shirt. But yeah, it is a really good job of sticking to the original. For a while they were only offering like black and white, which is really cool.

Yeah, I feel like some bootleggers try to do a little too much and sometimes it pays off, sometimes it doesn’t.
Yeah, they do Gildan ultra cotton and I really like it. They offer fucking Comfort Colors now and I'm excited to get my next shirts from them because you gotta get the Comfort Colors for the big boys.

The G.I.S.M. shirt wasn’t from Schizoid Unit, was it?
No, that was actually the people that run Ails And Ills. They have some connection to this punk shop in Mexico and they just found a box of those shirts and the G.I.S.M. hats, but not really sure who made them or where they're from or how old they are, but they just had a limited number and I was just like, damn, that's a fucking really cool shirt.

A mysterious box of bootlegs. I don’t know anything about Ails And Ills.
They're really tight. I got my Integrity - Systems Overload shirt from them, which is really fucking cool. Really comfortable shirt. It's one of my favorites and then I have one of the first Morrissey shirts that they did. It's pretty cool.

So that’s just another bootleg press run by punk/hardcore people?
Yeah, also they're cool with Dwid from Integrity, so I think that they do most of Integrity’s new merch and do a lot of official stuff for them. That Systems Overload shirt was really cool. It's apparently the first time it's been printed since that album came out.

Are there any specific vintage tees or bootlegs that you’d really love to find one day?
Yeah, there's a few things. I really like the old Immortal shit and the old black metal stuff, like the Burzum - Aske shirts and shit. Pretty much just the black metal shit the old death metal shit. I can't really think of any specific designs or anything.

It’s funny seeing people randomly deciding to get upset over someone wearing a Burzum shirt every once in a while. Always seems really arbitrary.
Which is fucking crybaby shit. It's like, you don't realize that like Burzum fucking kicks ass. Like, dude, he recorded on the fucking shittiest equipment. He did basically everything by himself, fucking played drums, did vocals, like everything; it sounds really good and I think still really holds up. Even his last album that was just experimental fucking like, not really dungeon synth, but like, just kind of folksy ambient music, it was really fucking good. Like, I don't know, what's that one song? “Gathering Of Herbs?” [Laughs] That song’s good as fuck. It's just like what fucking hobbits would listen to if they were in the fucking woods, you know?

So #FreeVarg?
Yeah, I mean no, honestly, no [laughs]. I like Varg though. Yeah, I actually donate money to Varg’s YouTube channel. I make sure I support everything on platforms as well [laughs]. Me and him are cool, so I just send him money.

Ian, can I hit your Juul?


 [This article first appeared in Issue 3 of Shuttlecock's free monthly print edition. Click here to order a copy online, or pick one up for free at locations around KC/Lawrence/JoCo.]      

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