With a career as a medical assistant at bat and one as a Registered Nurse on deck, West Haven-based musician Russell Lyman has put music on the backburner and is focusing his energy on work and school. Whether he ends up at a hospital or small doctor’s office, Lyman knows where his future leads him and that music will, in one way or another, always be a part of it.
S: So, you’re a musician, quite obviously. What got you into music?
R: Hmm. Well, one of my friends got a guitar for his birthday when he was 15 or so, and I thought it was really cool and wanted to learn to play, too. It seemed like a great hobby.
S: Interesting. So you play purely guitar?
R: Nope, I can play the drums or bass.
S: A man of many talents.
R: If you play guitar, you can play bass because it’s almost the same. But if you play bass, it’s harder to play guitar. When I started guitar, my friend there wanted to start a band and we didn’t have a drummer, so I learned that, too.
S: So you just picked up a pair of drum sticks and said, “All right, let’s do this.”
R: Pretty much. I didn’t really know how to play, and I only had two drums and a high hat at the time. It was a few months ‘til I got a full kit.
S: So which instrument would you say you prefer or play the best?
R: Guitar, but I’m a rhythm guitarist. I can’t do solos that well because I mostly liked singing, too, so I just play the rhythm part.
S: Ah, yes, you sing too. How long have you liked to sing then?
R: Well, I always liked to sing. I wasn’t always the best at it, though. But I tried. I started to take some singing lessons when I was about 20, and those helped a lot with my pitch, melody and sound.
S: What kind of music are you usually inclined to sing or play?
R: It’s like rock-pop, I guess…pop-punk…there are so many things to call it. I just sing, though – no screaming. I’m not really into that heavy sound.
S: (laughing) I see.
R: Yeah, it’s like boy band meets rock. Stuff with a catchy sing-along chorus and fast beat.
S: Since you know how to play so many instruments and are obviously musically inclined, have you put your efforts into a band?
R: No, bands are for losers. I would never join one of those.
S: That’s what I suspected.
R: (laughing) Yes, I always found myself in and out of many bands, with all different styles of music and people.
S: Any that you took particular interest in or were especially proud of?
R: Well, there were a few that I would say I was proud of, each with their own achievements. “A Chase Worthwhile” was my end-of-high-school-days band, when pop-punk was real big, and Blink-182 and New Found Glory were just hitting it big on the scene. We had a big following and played a decent amount of shows in CT, and even got to play at Coney Island. The next band was “Red Chester,” which I did not front and was just a guitarist in. This let me move around more on stage and put my full potential of a stage show to use, spinning my guitar around my body three times in a row, sometimes. We were sponsored by a clothing label called “Reject Clothing Company” and did a small tour for a week with John Hampson of “Nine Days.”
S: I feel like I’ve heard of “Nine Days”… that song “Story of a Girl”?
R: (singing) “This is the story of a girl, who cried a rive that drowned the whole world. But while she looked so sad in photographs, I absolutely love her when she smiles.”
S: Yes, I love that song.
R: After that band was my last and most recent band, “Saturday Matinee.” Being around for about four years with four CDs and a small U.S. tour, it was the biggest one. We even did our own Christmas CD, with covers and a Christmas song we wrote.
S: Well, I’d say that’s pretty successful. Why didn’t the band work out?
R: We wanted to take a new approach, and I was going to step down as front man and we were going to get just a lead singer. In trying out people and finding one, having practice with the new line-up was taking a toll on me. With late-night practices and a full-time job and school at night, there wasn’t much time for sleep. I had to throw in the towel and call it quits to focus on my education and career.
S: That makes sense. When did you start having an interest in medicine?
R: Well, over time. Everyone always said I would be good in the medical field because I enjoy helping others, and I would make a good nurse. They said there was a high demand for male nurses, and they make a lot of money and are always needed.
S: Have you found that that’s true?R: Yes, so far.
S: So you have a job now as a nurse?
R: No, I am currently in school for nursing and finishing up my medical assistant certification. I’m going to Goodwin College tomorrow for a seminar and may be taking classes there after I see how it goes.
S: Gotcha, so you’re still in the process.
R: (laughing) Yes, a long but worth-it-in-the-end process.
S: So, where does the music fit in, if at all?R: Right now, no where, but I can always go back to it. You can never stop playing once you start. I’ve jammed with some kids here and there, but nothing serious yet. I want to finish school.