Ryan Bingham Talks "Tomorrowland"
Mon, 24 Sep 2012 06:52:53
"It's a combination of leaving stuff behind and looking forward to the future," Ryan Bingham ponders on his brand new album, Tomorrowland.
The future is looking very bright for the singer and songwriter. His fourth full-length release brims with Americana soul and folk poetry. He's elegantly woven together perspectives of life on the road and forging forward in the fabric of 13 unforgettable songs. Tomorrowland isn't just a promising future for Bingham, it's promising for music as a whole.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Ryan Bingham talks Tomorrowland, inspiration, his dog, and more.
Did you approach Tomorrowland with one vision or vibe in mind?
Yeah, I did. I had a little bit more time to write the songs and think about what I wanted to do with this record. I took some time off this past year. One of the important things was trying to make a record that would be a lot of fun to play live with bigger guitars and sounds. I was more focused on the electric side of everything. I definitely had more time to experiment with that and work on the tones and sounds I wanted to get.
What guitars did you gravitate towards to capture that bigger sound?
It was the room as well. We worked on the loud distorted tones and delays. It was about letting sounds ring out and find their own paths.
What's the story behind "Beg for Broken Legs"?
I think all of the songs come from a similar place—traveling around. There are so many places you go and people you meet. When you get home, you can reflect on all of these places you went to, what the world is going through, and how it makes you feel. Poverty and corruption are endless things that repeat themselves in history. I guess it's a take on all of that. There's a lot of reflecting on the whole scene.
Where did "Too Deep to Fill" come from?
That song was definitely influenced by Woody Guthrie. It has that thing going on. I didn't have a plan for the record. I had a bunch of ideas. Once we got in there and started recording stuff, some of the songs started creating themselves. After we were done recording, we played the tracks next to each other and saw how they flowed and fit together. It seemed like "Too Deep to Fill" fit at the end.
Is it important for you to tell stories with the songs?
It is in a way. I've thought about that before. I don't know if you're trying to describe a picture or an image. It's almost like you're describing a feeling that a picture gives you. How would you explain a painting? If you have to put it down in words, it's not really describing the details of anything. It's describing the feeling and the emotion certain images give me.
What fosters that outside of music?
I've been getting into Banksy. He's a graffiti artist out of the UK. I've been digging his stuff for a while. There's a guy named Terry Allen and an artist named Kiki Smith. I really like their work. Other than that, it's life. When you're on tour, you're in a different city every night. Going to other countries, you see you how people live in different parts in the world and how it miraculously seems to work. People make it happen, and things influence other things. The big picture for me is trying to look at it as a whole and make sense of it in my own way.
Does traveling show you how simple life can be?
It gives you a perspective of everything—good and bad. I try to remain hopeful and positive in the songs, but I don't want to ignore the brutal realities and darker characters that pop up in life on the road as well. I'm trying to take it all in and appreciating how it all works out. I can't help but write about it. It inspires me.
What artists shaped you?
Bob Dylan was a big one for me. When I was in my teens and really starting to write, there were some guys around Texas like Townes Van Zandt who I tried to learn from early on. I don't know if I was learning from it or just relating to those songs and that music in my own way. Bob Marley was another big one for me. Then, bands like The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and Led Zeppelin had a big impact as far as music and guitars go.
If Tomorrowland were a movie or a combination of movies, what would it be?
Maybe a mix of The Goonies and Apocalypse Now [Laughs]. Throw a little Pulp Fiction in there.
What kind of dog do you have?
I've got an Australian shepherd. He's the sweetest dog on the planet, but he's a little guard dog too. His name's Boodreaux! I got him when he was a puppy, and he's about a year old now.
Have you heard Tomorrowland?
Photo: Anna Axster