Photo courtesy of Doug Rathburn

By: Devin Witte, Staff Writer

“No matter what you do, know that you just need to do it. If you don’t put yourself out there then you’ll hinder yourself later. It’s never too late. Pick up a guitar. Join the team. I was never an athlete in high school, but now I am a part of two college sports,” said Ryan Geary, member of the band Fourth Degree.

This is the advice Geary gives for those pursuing anything in life. Geary is a junior at USM and is from Derry, NH. He majors in music education with a focus in voice. Geary is highly involved musically with the university as he participates in many ensembles, choirs, and bands. Outside of music, he participates in men’s club volleyball and men’s tennis.

Fourth Degree began back in early 2018, the band consisted of lead singer Jake Hudgins, guitarist Tate Pinyochon, and drummer Tommie Wood. Fourth Degree considers its music to be pop rock or as Geary jokingly states “almost a kind of boy band rock.” However, the band was in search of another member and would have on and off bass players. One day, after playing a gig with Geary, “things just clicked,” he said. After starting with the band, Geary’s role was originally just to play bass for the band. Later on, he began playing trumpet and flugelhorn as well as helping to write and sing songs. 

Fourth Degree. Photo courtesy of Ryan Geary.

Geary manages the band and being a college student well due to the team work of his fellow band members. The band members are all either college students or newly graduated full-time workers. During school the band focuses on school, but during the summer it is all Fourth Degree all the time. 

The band’s music making process either begins with Hudgins bringing a prewritten song to the group or by the band just putting instrumentals together and getting lyrics later. When the lyrics are filled in later they often have either a deeper meaning to a larger concept or simply sound good when put together. Once the songs have been written it is time for the band to perform it live to hear what sounds good and what needs to be fixed. 

Next in the process is the recording part where the band records the song together to build a strong foundation. Then each member records separately so that they may layer or add background lyrics or instrumentals. Continuing on, the lyrics and instrumentals are then mixed, layered, and mastered. Lastly, is advertising the music to get it out there. A lot of Fourth Degree’s music can be found on Spotify and Apple Music. Geary said “the process takes a long time, but it’s all about happiness and did we have fun and are we proud of what we put out, not will this song really do well. We make music for us not for anyone else, so it doesn’t really matter if it works out in the end.” 

Geary was introduced to music and truly fell in love with music at a very young age, “I believe that many people’s love for music begins when mom would sing to them at night or when they would listen to catchy commercials on TV, but for me that love for music began when I started playing guitar. That is when I really fell in love with music,” he said. “It moved me from just being a choir singer, which I love, to a more physical action of playing and moving my body as well.” To Geary, there really was nothing else to life after a guitar was placed into his hands. 

Geary says that there are two main things that inspire him when it comes to music, “to always do the best that he can do,” as well as, listen to what his former teacher from Gilbert H Hood Middle School and now colleague Mark Karthas once told him, “don’t strive for happiness, always strive for satisfaction because happiness can be in moments but satisfaction lasts for periods of time.” Geary believes he can accomplish this, as well as, improve as a musician by pushing himself out of his comfort zone. 

To move away from college music like jazz and classical and just remember that there is music that comes from different cultures that he may have never heard before. He also believes that if you improve yourself in one thing, it will help to improve other things in your life. You can practice whatever it is you want to be better at for hours, but it’s about connecting it back to actual life that is the most important part,” he said. Geary said that he would really like to collaborate with Ed Sheeran, “so I may see his process when songwriting and compare it to my own. That way I can work to improve mine and become a better songwriter and musician in all.” 

He also talked about some of the aspirations of the band. Fourth Degree has always had small talks about moving to make it big somewhere else, however all members have agreed that their education is more important right now. “Our goal is to do the best we can during the summers we have, but maybe later move to Tennessee,” Geary said.

Geary was excited to plug his favorite songs, the first is “The Beat,” which he believes is “the best to listen to.” The song encompasses all that the band can really do with their musical talent and is rated very highly by those who listen to their music. It is rated first on Spotify and third on Apple Music. The second of his favorites is “Right Before Your Eyes,” the song is about a very serious topic that is shadowed by the beauty of the beat and instrumentals. “Almost genius if you ask me, in how it was constructed and hidden behind such a groovy beat,” he said.

Fourth Degree is well known on many media, however the most popular are Apple Music and Spotify. Here are links to their profile for both media. 

Apple Music: 



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