Leeds Trinity alumnus and Yard Act star Ryan Needham returns to campus ahead of global tour


Leeds Trinity University alumnus Ryan Needham recently returned to campus before setting off on a global tour as part of Leeds band Yard Act.

Man with dark hair and glasses stands in front of building holding Leeds Trinity University scarf above his head.

Ryan, 41, is the bassist in the rock band. He first studied Communication & Cultural Studies and Media at Leeds Trinity in 2001 before leaving to focus on his music career. He then returned in 2011 and graduated with a First in Media.

Ryan formed the band with friend and vocalist James Smith after moving into a house together in Meanwood in September 2019. They recruited Sam Shjipstone on the guitar and drummer Jay Russell and played only a handful of shows before COVID-19 hit in 2020.

Since then, the band has enjoyed a meteoric rise and reached number 2 in the UK Album Charts with their debut album The Overload.

Ryan returned to Leeds Trinity University’s campus in Horsforth before heading out on tour to America, Canada and Europe, where the band will be playing in Philadelphia, Boston and San Diego, as well as Leeds, over the next eight months.

Speaking of his time at Leeds Trinity University and the skills he learned, Ryan said: “I think the first time around, I remember doing logo design, branding and marketing. I made a fake record label and I remember that actually the logo is not that dissimilar to the Yard Act logo. I did learn a lot of stuff, especially the second time around.”

When asked whether he had any advice for students, Ryan added: “Choosing wisely and not rushing into things, going at your own pace is really important. It’s important to be open but not just to say yes to everything and utilise your time and energy well because you can often get side-tracked from the path.”

Brett Arnall, Alumni Relations Officer at Leeds Trinity University, said: “It was brilliant to welcome Ryan back to campus and it was a huge privilege for me to be able to host an interview with him. It was so nice to hear how Ryan's media course experience helped so much with the launch of the band. He also shared some great advice for our current students who are in bands or avid music lovers.

“Yard Act are just about to go on tour, and I will certainly be keeping an eye on how things go for them. I wish Ryan and the rest of the band the very best of luck and hope we can welcome Ryan back to campus again soon.”

Professor Catherine O’Connor, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education and Experience at Leeds Trinity University, said: “It is always great to connect with members of our Alumni community and catch-up with what they have been doing since leaving Leeds Trinity. We are grateful that Ryan was able to take time out of his busy schedule ahead of travelling to America to discuss his time at Leeds Trinity and how the band is developing. We’re delighted to see what he is achieving with Yard Act and wish him every success.”

Yard Act have recently been awarded the Grulke Prize for Developing Non-U.S. Act at South by Southwest (SXSW) 2022.

To watch the full interview with Ryan, visit the Leeds Trinity University YouTube channel.