Ryan Key

Ryan Key (born December 17, 1979) is an American rock musician. He is best known for being the lead singer and rhythm guitarist of the American pop punk band Yellowcard, and one of the two lead singers in his side project Big If.

0wn life

Key was born William Ryan Key on December 17, 1979. He grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. He began to play piano at the age of 7 and guitar at 13. He attended Episcopal High School of Jacksonville before transferring to Douglas Anderson School of the Arts from which he graduated. Ryan then attended Florida State University together with fellow musician Dan McLintock from the local pop punk band Inspection 12, inviting Ryan to perform guest vocals on their 1999 album Step Into the Fire for the song “Nothing to Lose”. They majored in theater for a short while before dropping out to go to Santa Cruz, California and audition together for the Tooth & Nail punk rock band Craig’s Brother, which was looking for two guitarists and backup vocalists. They were successful, but after touring for a while, at one time representing the band as an acoustic duo at the Cornerstone Festival, the band’s van broke down and with the tour abruptly cancelled, Ryan moved back to Jacksonville and took a shift at Chili’s with bandmate and friend Sean Mackin.

When Ben Dobson, the previous lead singer of Yellowcard, decided to quit, Ben Harper asked Ryan to come and join their band Yellowcard as the lead singer at first, but after Todd Clary left the band in early 2000 Key also took on the role of rhythm guitarist. After Dan returned home, he also helped Inspection 12 record bass for their Home EP that got them signed to Honest Don’s Records. On March 6, 2001, Ryan’s best friend and Inspection 12 drummer Scott Shad went into diabetic shock, passed out in his car and died in the crash. His death was traumatizing for Ryan, and both bands would keep writing songs and paying tribute to Scott’s memory throughout their careers.

Ryan then convinced the guys in Yellowcard to move to Camarillo, Ventura County, California, where the group recorded and released their third album, One for the Kids in 2001 on Lobster Records, and followed up with The Underdog EP through Fueled by Ramen Records in 2002. After the release of The Underdog EP, Warren Cooke left the band due to personal reasons. The band later asked close friend Peter Mosely from Inspection 12, to become the band’s new bass guitarist. After Yellowcard released The Underdog EP the band was sign with Capitol Records, who were looking to sign pop punk bands at the time. Yellowcard then began the recording of their major-label debut album Ocean Avenue in late 2002, gaining the band major success. Mosely, being a member of both Yellowcard and Inspection 12 simultaneously, left during recording of the album due to personal problems. He stayed with Inspection 12, and Ryan was again invited to reprise his guest vocals on their new album Get Rad as the band was recording a new version of “Nothing to Lose”‘. The band then asked Alex Lewis to join as the bass guitarist. Yellowcard released their album Ocean Avenue on July 22, 2003 hiting at number 23 on U.S. Billboard 200, the album was a commercial success in the United States with the hit singles Way Away, Ocean Avenue, and Only One.

Lewis left the band in late 2004 after Peter Mosely rejoined the band. In 2005 the band members went their separated for a while to create new material for their next album, Key and Mosely moved to New York City while the others moved to Los Angeles. The band reregrouped in LA in the spring 2005 to began pre-production of their new album.

In April, lead guitarist Ben Harper stated in an interview with MTV News that he was finished with writing the guitar tracks for the album and that he was leaving the band. He was replaced by Ryan Mendez from the band Staring Back. The album Lights and Sounds was released in January 2006, the album’s theme centers around the band’s negative feelings towards Los Angeles and time of production made the broke away from its pop punk sound to a more alternative rock album. The album peaked at number five on the U.S. Billboard 200, The title track, “Lights and Sounds”, was the first single, released a week before the album. It peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks. Lights and Sounds did well on the charts and reviews, but failed to match the 2 million sales of the band’s previous album.

October 16, 2006, the band re-entered the studio to begin pre-production on their next album. Paper Walls was released in the U.S. on July 17, 2007, the album debuted at number 13 on the U.S. Billboard 200 selling about 40,000 copies in its first week. The band spent the rest of the year promoting their new album nonstop since its release while touring with Linkin Park and Blue October. The band needed to re-schedule several dates during their European leg of their tour in January while Parsons went home to spend time with family. Yellowcard released their live album Live from Las Vegas at the Palms on January 22, 2008. It was recorded during their Blue October Tour in October 2007 in Las Vegas.

In April 2008, Ryan and Yellowcard went on a hiatus that lasted until August 1, 2010. Ryan also started singing in a side project entitled “Big If” with Sean O’Donnell of Reeve Oliver, who also became a member of Yellowcard. Big If has released several songs on their MySpace page, but have not yet released a record. They are not currently signed to a record deal.

Ryan Key has recorded a song entitled “Stop Right There” with Hollywood based pop-punk band Assemble the Skyline. The track was released on January 7, 2011 with Assemble the Skyline’s new EP “Right Here. Right Now”.

Key also contributed guest vocals on a new Silverstein song, titled “Stay Posi”, to be released in early 2011.

Ryan Key

Ryan Key of Yellowcard
Background information
Birth name William Ryan Key
Born December 17, 1979 (age 31)
Origin Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.
Genres Pop punk, Punk rock, Alternative Rock, Acoustic
Occupations Musician, Songwriter, Vocalist
Instruments Vocals, Guitar, Bass Guitar, Piano Violin
Years active 1997–present
Labels Hopeless Records
Fueled By Ramen
Associated acts Yellowcard, Big If, Inspection 12, Craig’s Brother
Website Official website
Notable instruments
Gibson Les Paul Studio
Gibson SG
Gibson Explorer

Non-musical projects

In 2008, Key worked with Patrick Stump and Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy in a film called Moustachette. He has appeared as a Made coach on the MTV series MADE and featured in MTV Cribs. He also had an appearance as a party goer in the 2008 Monster film, Cloverfield.


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