Ryland Blackinton

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Ryland D'arcy Blackinton
Blackinton performing on October 11, 2008
Born (1982-03-31) March 31, 1982 (age 33)
South Kingstown, Rhode Island
Residence Los Angeles, California
Nationality American
Education Bachelor's Fine Arts in Acting
Alma mater Florida State University, Olympic Heights Community High School
Occupation Musician, actor

Ryland Blackinton is an American musician and actor, best known for his work as the lead guitarist and backing vocalist of Cobra Starship. He was born in South Kingstown, Rhode Island on March 31, 1982, but was raised in Wilmington, Massachusetts and Boca Raton, Florida. He has also worked as the lead singer and lead guitarist of folk pop duo This Is Ivy League and as half of the electrofunk duo GRVRBBRS.

Early life[edit]

Blackinton was born to Mary Jo Blackinton on March 31, 1982, in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. Born Ryland Sharp, his last name was changed to Blackinton at age 6 when his mother remarried Dennis Blackinton and he adopted Ryland, along with his younger brothers Alex and Connor.[1]

The Blackintons moved to Massachusetts and lived there for several years. Growing up in and around the local grunge scene, Blackinton developed an interest in music, particularly guitar. He received his first guitar at age 12. Blackinton cites Nirvana, Weezer, and Massachusetts locals Dinosaur Jr. as some of his musical influences from this time period.

When Blackinton was 15, his family relocated to Boca Raton, Florida. Here, he attended Olympic Heights Community High School, where he also met future bandmate Alex Suarez. As Suarez was also interested in music, and a member of local band Kite Flying Society, the two quickly became friends. They wrote a few songs together that, while never recorded or played then, would go on to become the first songs for This Is Ivy League.

While in high school, Blackinton played with a few different bands, but he rarely stayed in any of them for very long. It was also in high school that Blackinton began his involvement with theatre. This involvement spurred Blackinton to attend Florida State University's School of Theatre once he graduated high school in 1999.


During his time in college, Blackinton participated in several theatrical productions. He inspired and originated the character of Declan Hennessey in Jason Chimonides' The Optimist, which premiered as a workshop production during FSU's New Horizon Play Festival on June 12, 2004. (Blackinton has gone on to play Hennessey at least two more times—at a table read in New York in 2005, and again for one week of GroundUP Productions' performance of The Optimist in April 2008.[2])

Other college productions Blackinton was involved in include Leopold and Loeb, a stage adaptation of a 1920s murder case. Blackinton played the role of Loeb, and names a kissing scene he had to do in the show as one of the worst, least believable performances of his acting career.[3]

While in college, Blackinton had a minor role in a short educational film entitled Credit Card Monster, in which he played a talk show host discussing the top ten dangers of credit card usage.

Perhaps Blackinton's most notable performance in college was when he portrayed the difficult role of Victor Emmanuel Chandebise in the French farce, A Flea in Her Ear.[1] He starred in this production alongside Nicholas Ciavarella who played Dr. Finache.

Joining Cobra Starship[edit]

After receiving a BFA in Acting from FSU in 2004, Blackinton moved to Brooklyn, New York in order to pursue work. It was here that he reconnected with Alex Suarez, seven years since the two of them had last spoken. Suarez had graduated from culinary school in Florida, and after his catering company there failed, he had moved to New York for a fresh start. Once they discovered that the two of them lived ten minutes apart from one another, they quickly fell in with one another again, resuming work on the songs they wrote together in high school. As Blackinton and Suarez fleshed out their songs, they named their musical project Ivy League, but later changed it to This Is Ivy League due to copyright issues.

Though Blackinton found modest work in New York, he didn't land any major roles, and grew more focused on his musical career. In 2005, pop punk band Midtown broke up, and rumors swirled that frontman Gabe Saporta was starting a new, more pop-oriented musical project. Blackinton and Suarez had both been fans of Midtown, and Midtown drummer Rob Hitt lived in the same apartment building as Suarez. Therefore, they knew about Saporta's new project, and Saporta knew about them. He contacted them early on inviting them to join his new project, but Blackinton and Suarez declined, choosing instead to focus on This Is Ivy League. However, once Blackinton and Suarez learned that Saporta's project, now named Cobra Starship, was set to record the title track for Samuel L. Jackson's Snakes On A Plane, the two of them changed their mind and contacted Saporta asking to join. The band still needed a guitarist and bassist, so he agreed, and the two of them became members. (As both Blackinton and Suarez knew how to play lead and bass guitar, and neither of them had any preference, they flipped a coin to determine who would be the guitarist and who would be the bassist.)

Though Saporta had already recorded the majority of Cobra Starship's first album, While the City Sleeps, We Rule the Streets, by the time Blackinton and Suarez joined, the two of them quickly became invaluable members nonetheless. In addition to playing lead guitar, Blackinton also contributed backing vocals and additional synths to live performances. He also made good usage of his theatrical training in live shows in order to better entertain the audience.

Involvement in Cobra Starship[edit]

In the next three Cobra Starship albums, Blackinton and Suarez were very involved in the songwriting process, contributing much of the music while Saporta handled lyrics. Though working with Cobra Starship left him less time for This Is Ivy League, Blackinton continued to work on it alongside Suarez, and they released their debut album in 2008.

Beginning with Cobra Starship's 2009 release Hot Mess, Blackinton self-produced Cobra's albums alongside Suarez. Blackinton also began to sing more vocals in live performances at this point, as Saporta had recently undergone vocal chord surgery and lost a bit of his range as a result.

Blackinton also produced Cobra's next release, 2011's Night Shades with the help of Suarez. The two of them took the names Pleasure Ryland and Lexual Harrassment for production purposes.

After the release of Night Shades, Cobra Starship took an unofficial hiatus. Though Blackinton met with Saporta and the rest of the band in the studio on occasion, no announcements or releases were made. During this time, Blackinton also signed to Pulse records as a songwriter and producer.

Post-Cobra Starship[edit]

In August 2014, Cobra Starship released Never Been In Love, their first new material in three years. However, two months later, Blackinton and Suarez announced their departure from the band, each of them pursuing their own musical careers. It is unknown how involved Blackinton and Suarez were in the making of Never Been In Love, nor if they were involved in any potential material that Cobra Starship has yet to release. They have since been replaced—Blackinton by Andy Barr (formerly touring guitarist for Miranda Cosgrove), Suarez by Eric Halvorsen (formerly of A Rocket To The Moon). Cobra Starship has not released any new material since Blackinton's departure.

Since leaving Cobra Starship, Blackinton has moved from New York to Los Angeles. He has produced and written music for several other artists, including Kelly Clarkson and fellow Pulse clients Oliver. He also DJs occasionally, sometimes under the pseudonym of Rothchild.

Guy Ripley[edit]

During his time with Cobra Starship (particularly from 2007-2009), Blackinton had a character named Guy Ripley. A fictional reporter for BBC World News, Ripley made appearances in related band The Academy Is...'s web series, TAI.TV, in addition to Cobra Starship's own webseries, CobraCam.TV. Ripley was a well-meaning, but ultimately awkward and annoying reporter who often got facts wrong or alienated his guests. Though he targeted all of his subjects equally, Ripley was infatuated with both Cobra Starship keytarist Victoria Asher and The Academy Is... lead singer William Beckett. Guy Ripley's catch-phrase was "Delicious." Throughout his appearances, he repeatedly asked his favorite musicians to sign his shoes.


A song on Cobra Starship's second album, ¡Viva La Cobra!, is titled "Pleasure Ryland". "Pleasure Ryland is an imaginary place in your mind that pretty much anybody can go to, where the drinks are free, and you can always dance with most of your clothes off." said Blackinton in an interview.[citation needed] Saporta also said that before Blackinton was a fully paid member of Cobra Starship, he always wore a shirt that said "Pleasure Island" and decided to name a song "Pleasure Ryland" But then Saporta said that after they went over the songs on the album, they thought that it was kind of a bad idea that two of their songs had "pleasure" in them. Blackinton rebuffed him by saying that pleasure is a good thing.

Mike Carden dedicated a song to him during the Sleeping with Giants Tour in Orlando, Florida.

Blackinton plays a humorous street musician in the 2008 feature film The Unidentified, directed by Kevan Tucker of Floodgate Features. In that scene, he is seen playing guitar to the song "June" by This Is Ivy League.

Blackinton also co-stars in Misplaced Planet's short zombie video "Brains!" and contributed the bulk of the music for Misplaced Planet's production of "Momentary Engineering," along with Stirling McLaughlin.

Blackinton is the second cousin of Westlife singer Shane Filan.[4]


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