I travelled to LA on Monday, to finish the last of the vocals on the record (all that remains are my parts on Okay and Stopless. Cameron’s are all done). However, after just one afternoon of singing ‘Okay’, my voice was gone. When I awoke the next day, and it was even worse. I went to a doctor, and found out I had a fever and viral laryngitis.
Back home to Tucson I went, silently, dreaming of what could have been a step towards the completion of the album. And on my Southwest flight home, my iPod was snatched, from right under my nose (the perpetrator leaving only it’s empty case underneath my seat). Fortunately I’ve got an old iPod Mini to get me by.
And so it goes! It’s still a beautiful time of year. And being home is never a bad thing. I’ll be doing my best to recuperate quickly, and let’s all hope that the opportunity to return to LA and finish the job comes quickly and healthily! In the meantime I hope to see some of you next week at the annual Christmas show.
Cheers to you and your families, Merry Christmas and Bon Ani!
But mostly reggae.
Since we just got finished with our tiny tour, and we are on the eve of re-entering the studio, it seems like the best time of all to write a little bloggy blog blog.
First, a math question:
If two trains are traveling towards each other at a speed of 130 km/hr, and train A contains Owen Plant, and train B contains Ryanhood, what is the most precise expression of the energy created by their collision?
The answer is: One million awesomes. (Feel free to check the math on that. I was fortunate enough to get to sit in on a math class at MIT with my younger brother while I was in Boston, and even though it was mostly beyond me, it DID get me thinking.)
So, the tour: Owen Plant. Man, oh man. This guy can SING. If you’re lookin’ for a boy with a voice…
Each night we followed roughly the same order. Owen played between 2 and 5 songs, with Ryan guest harmonizing on the last couple. Then he turned the show over to us and we played between 3 and 6 songs, after which he rejoined us for a powerhouse, all-star jamboree… usually between 6 and 9 songs.
Owen’s been playing songs from his three solo records as well as some sweet songs from his new band, The Sunshine Brothers. One of the songs we performed together as a part of our all-star guitar throw-down was called, “Sex and Reggae.” This is fun because, when else are you going to hear Ryanhood singing the words, “It’s all about sex and reggae,” at the top of our lungs?
Our set included a smattering of songs from each record. Usually we did, “Can I Kiss You?” “Army,” “Stopless,” and the new song, “Back Into Blue.”
I was hanging out with a dear friend in Tucson at the start of the summer, and I sang him “Back Into Blue,” in my living room. He memorized the words and music and took the song to New York state where he was a camp counselor for kids from all over New England. He taught it to a bunch of his campers, who then liked it and learned to play it… all unbeknownst to us. So we were happily surprised when we got requests on this tour to play a song we thought no one had ever heard! In addition, we’ve had requests here on myspace for a posted recording, even though no recording even exists for this song as of yet. Well, one DOES exist, and it’s got guitar and cello and Maestro and me, and it’s awesome, but it’s not yet fully finished, and so, as yet, remains very unavailable to the public.
Other songs we’ve been playing live include, “The World Awaits You,” “Gardens and the Graves,” and the newly revamped “Helpless Hopeless.” During our rock-your-socks trio segments we played “Nothing But The Real Thing,” “Welcome You Into My Head,” our cover of Jars of Clay’s “Show You Love,” and the face-melting “Around The Sun.”
What kind of tour would it be, and what kind of songwriters would we be if we didn’t capitalize on each other’s gifts and write a song together? (Note: This question is rhetorical and does not have a factual answer like the math problem above.) Hence, I believe we may have written our finest song. The tune is called, “Rubia” and sounds like… something amazing. Folky, poppy, slightly bluegrassy, with some great lyrics about not missing the moment. Since I love lyrics, here’s a sample:
“Light fall on the trees/ rainfall on the street/ city in the dark/ help me win the heart/ of Rubia.”
New York City cast a spell on me again, almost as much as this beautiful girl in a green and white dress who walked by. The question is, did I miss the moment, or was I a man of action? You’ll have to wait to hear the song to find out! Won’t be out until the next next record, though. But you’re patient, right?
Speaking of patience. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for hanging with us for so long. We have taken so much longer to make this record than anyone would have guessed. And we fear at times that we’re trying your patience too much.
By the time you read this, we’ll be back in the studio. It’s my hope that you’ll keep on spreading the music any way you can. If you ever think of us during the day, send some prayers up, and some good thoughts our way. We’re going to finish this thing, and it’s going to be worth the wait.
Tucson is a place for flip flops, a place for shorts, and Tshirts. Nobody really brings jackets or scarves to carnivals in Tucson. That’s all I’m saying.
In Tucson, the town of our birth, there’s almost nothing as beautiful and pleasant as a spring night spent out of doors and under the stars. So when the wind began blowing bitterly and coldly last week just as we were setting up for an outdoor show called Spring Fling, most everyone was caught completely unaware.
Pretty early on in the show, I checked in with Ryan to see if the seemingly eternal flame in his fingertips had been cooled. Amazingly, even though he could have pierced my septum with the icicles on his knuckles, he was still able to play all of his guitar solos.
I was going to suggest to our audience that if they were cold, they could scoot closer together and closer to the stage and we could all keep each other warm. But when I looked up at them, they were already standing close together, close to us, dancing and clapping to keep warm. And they stayed the entire length of our set, figuring if we were going to play, they were going to stay for it. And we were figuring, if they’ll stay, we’ll play for them.
And in that way we all kept each other warm, even though we had flip flops and thin shirts.
I guess I don’t know what else to do to stay warm, when a bitter and cold wind blows through a warm place like Blacksburg, Virginia. Maybe all you can do is stand close by someone else and cry and shake your heads together.
Realizing that Ryan and I have been flying under the radar as of late, we thought it was high time we let you know how our recording is going, what the songs are sounding like, and what we think of it. So without further ado:
– We began recording in late summer, and we worked on and off up through Christmas. We’re roughly 70% of the way finished. (Slow and steady wins the race, right Mr. Tortoise?)
– We have completed bass and drums and main guitars for 11 of the 12 songs we’re planning to include.
– We’ve sung what are called “scratch” vocals for all of them, in order to find out which harmonies work, where different melodies are needed, etc.
– We’re currently back home in Tucson rehearsing our acoustic butts off, making sure that we know exactly what we want to sing when we get back to LA to begin recording again.
– The songs to be included are as follows (though not in playing order):
o THE WORLD AWAITS YOU – an upbeat waltz, inspired musically by Coldplay and lyrically by the struggle to teach the ones you love, like kids or younger brothers and sisters, where to begin making sense of the world. A very difficult song to write.
“Some get a silver spoon/ some get a name/ some get hated-on/ thrown away”
o STOPLESS- what is, to us, a classic Ryanhood song. We’ve been performing it for the last two years, and it was first available on the recording, On The Radio. All I can say, is that Ryan and Ross (Hogarth, the producer) found the PERFECT way to take this song to the next level. It’s a long, steady build, with drums and bass exactly where you’d want them.
“How pointless is my point of view/ until I reach the point of you?”
o AROUND THE SUN- an up-tempo, minor-key plea for balance between a life-lived in the moment, content, and the longing to see and feel more. We co-wrote it with Boston-turned-Los Angeles singer/songwriter Owen Plant. You can see an acoustic, video version right on the front of our myspace page. Ryan has worked out some extra harmonies, and we’ve thickened up the choruses by having us both sing all the way through. Preeeettty niiiice.
“Don’t you want to stop/ taking personal offense/ and stop talk, talk, talking about love in the future tense?”
o NOTHING BUT THE REAL THING- a Mraz-ish rant about the myriad ways we fake each other out, in order to present a strong, capable, good-looking front. At heart, a sort of love song, about peeling back layers of yourself to another person. Full bass and drums and a bunch of hooks. First available on the live disc, Live At Fiestas ’06, though some lyrics have changed since then. But only for the better. Maestro plays all the guitar, so live, I’ll be dancing and prancing around with nothing but a T-shirt on… and a microphone.
“It’s hard to be/ everything you wanna be/ and to try to do it honestly/ but I know you/ and nothing but the real thing will do.”
o OKAY- Second in the, Who Am I? Series (kidding, no such series exists, except on this record, in our minds). Okay is as tight and tense and hard hitting as a pair of acoustic guitars can be, with the drums joining in for a Led Zeppelin chorus. After we’ve finished the singing, Maestro’s going to unleash a guitar frenzy on the bridge of this song, the likes of which have never before been seen.
“I’ve got Godiva/ Mercedes Benz/ I’ve got fame and Benjamins/ I’ve got the sex, I’ve got control/ and a hole the size of you inside my soul.”
o MATURE- Third in the imaginary Who Am I? Series, following Nothing But and Okay. The crowning achievement. Brooding and very acoustic, with hypnotic drums. Currently, Ryan and I are trading the singing on the verses, so we take turns telling a story about being a little bit lost on the road, and dealing with fears about forgetting who we are and where we’ve come from. A spooky and meaningful song with excellent, Ryan-penned lyrics.
“I don’t want to turn me into/ something that I’m not/ keep me close in mind and body/ you are all I’ve got.”
o ALRIGHT- “Me and Sergio can make a microphone out of anything.” A funky, uplifting party about small things like eating good food and driving around with friends in the 110-degree Tucson heat. I guess it’s the answer to Mature, a balance to the touring life. Maybe the anti-thesis of Okay. Musically inspired a bit by Jack Johnson, a bit by Dave Matthews, and reworked to great effect by producer Ross Hogarth.
“We will all run out of bread/ we will all run out of sugar/ we will all run out of wine/ that’s fine/ it’ll all come back in time.”
o HELPLESS HOPELESS- Ross maintains this is the best song on the record. It’s been my favorite of our songs for a long time, and I was a tiny bit disappointed with the way it came out on Forward. Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot about it, especially the mood, but I don’t feel like we made the definitive recording of it, like we did with, say, Army. I’m pleased that now it will get a second chance to live. The drums are more consistent, with a steady 2 and 4 feel (drummers, are you with me?), and we’ve rearranged some of the lyrics and choruses. You can be alarmed if you want to, but I really really really like it this way.
“Today is a day/ for letting go/ of promises I’ve broken/ and words that I have spoken/ when really, I don’t know.”
o BACK INTO BLUE- A beautiful, Ryan-sung song about leaving home to go on tour a month after getting married. There’s a lot of imagery sung over a nice, slow-bounce. But it’s the melody that wins all the Grammys here. No drums on this one, but probably an upright bass and we’ve been plotting to have some cello. I’ve been singing the bridge, which is funny because Ryan wrote it for HIS girl, but I just go to my own place when I sing it, and we both think it sounds good.
“I’ll have you with me/ and there won’t be anywhere we have to be/ you are the ocean and I am the moon/ wading out in your waters/ I’m fading back into blue.”
o DIVIDES- The mother load. An intense, rocking, lyrically to-the-point song that we wrote with Carlos Arzate, singer of American Android. Rhapsodizing on Mahatma Gandhi’s exhortation to “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” we sang, “Be what you want to see.” A moving rocker, Divides features U2/Larry Mullen Jr. style drumming and some of the highest notes, sung for the longest periods of time that Maestro and I have ever done. This song just about defeated us in the studio. Not that it’s particularly hard to play, but I found myself struggling greatly to record my guitar parts in time with the drums. After great duress, Ryan, Ross, and I pushed through it, though, and I’m intensely proud of the results.
“This world divides us all between/ who we are and who we can be.”
o BORN TO RUN TO YOU – the ballad that will probably close the record. First available on On The Radio, it’s a sweet song, told in reverse, about a girl who made up her mind to believe in the love that she hoped for, even though she couldn’t see it yet. No drums here. A couple of acoustics, maybe some mandolin and maybe some violin, to complement Ryan’s beautiful guitar solo. It’s the only song that has a completed vocal, since we opted to have yours truly sing it and play it at the same time. Seems like you’d expect, huh? But recording is strange sometimes. I dug so deep trying to sing with the right emotion that I almost threw up. Mmmm…romantic.
“It took a lot to get there/ she measured distance in days/ while she wondered from miles away/ ‘Is there such a thing/ as a love meant to be/ and if so is one meant for me?'”
The goal for this record has been to make it sound like Ryanhood, as in, Ryan and Hood, with both personalities shining through. I think we’re really making that happen. What we didn’t want was to make a super-produced record with me singing and Ryan getting lost somewhere in a big, soulless backing band. I think that Ross has very successfully steered us clear of that, and in fact, steered us into a really interesting, very personal, very strong musical place. If we keep on putting the work in until it’s finished, though it may take a while yet, this will definitely be our finest record to date. Thanks for being patient with us.
…having to seal my finger-tips up with super-glue, that is! My normal, guitar-player calluses (which come and go) have definitely gone on my left hand, as the result of performing Stopless for 5 hours in the studio yesterday.
The ..B.. and ..G.. strings were digging a hole in my left middle finger, so I pulled out the old super-glue, and gave myself a protective plastic coating. It makes me feel very tough, and industrial, and ingenious.
Apparently Ryan and I suck at the guitar pretty bad. I didn’t used to think that was the case, but apparently it is. We’re taking a million years to make this record. And let me tell you something: we’re not getting any younger. Soon, it’ll be curtains for us, I say, curtains.
The studio is a hard situation. Not only is it like a microscope or a super high-resolution lens, but it’s also like trying to draw a picture of a cougar, with a girl you like looking over your shoulder. How are you supposed to just draw naturally and let your artistic whims go wherever they will? “She thinks I suck at drawing cougars! She thinks I shouldn’t have drawn his beard like that!” These sorts of worries plague your mind. And even though the studio is a time for playing what you’ve already written and arranged, as opposed to “just feelin’ it,” it’s still hard to just sit down and PLAY the guitar naturally. I get all worked up. I lose all semblance of any mojo I might once have had.
I like when blogs are funny. That is, I like reading blogs that people write FOR their audience. I aim to make mine more that way. I fear I fall too far into the, “Let’s talk about my favorite subject and yours: ME!” camp. I like serious blogs too. But not necessarily hyper-emotional, hyper personal-blogs (you say, “Sure Cameron, have you even READ your own blog on your personal myspace? Beyaaaaaa!!”) So anyway, I’ll try to keep things light and froofy and funny.
A question: How does one keep it froofy? Is it akin to keepin’ things jiggy? Can you get jiggy for Christmas? Perhaps froofy is like a petticoat. Perhaps it’s like dryer-sheets. Or like static-cling. Perhaps like a sock stuck on the inside of your pant leg making you feel extra comfortable. Could it be that froofy is like a mixed-drink involving fruit flavors that kids would like, but hard alcohol that would make them stagger through a McDonald’s Playland shouting, “What it IS Ronald? You never come ’round no more!”? Perhaps it’s like Imogen Heap. Or is that “Froufy?”
A bad idea is mistaking super-glue for contact-lens solution.
The Greene Room Recording Studio, 11:30 PM. Ryan’s playing the chords for ‘Back Into Blue’ in the main studio, while I sit in the control room next to Ross, typing.
A friend just asked me yesterday, ‘You’re here. Can you believe it?!’
At times I pinch myself (mentally, of course. Why would I really pinch myself? Have you ever pinched yourself? . . . and not like a love-pinch, but like a real ‘wake-me-up-when-the-biscuits-are-done’ pinch? Hurts.) Anyway, at times I pinch myself and think about how were living out what we dreamed of in high school . . . how we’re professionally recording songs we wrote at the edge of our beds and on our friends’ couches . . . how even though we’ve made records before, we’ve never done ANYTHING like this.
But as a balance to that, I also think that this is just the next logical step. I know all the things that came before this . . . all the work and preparation and long drives, the hundreds of times we’ve played these songs live or in rehearsal, the battles over song-structure and lyrical-choice, the sheer number of phone calls involved in setting this up, the horrific loss of blood, the nightmares, the humanity, oh the humanity (emmm?) . . . and so anyway, it is right and appropriate for us to be here.
‘Shayzzuss . . . you’re clacking away like a monster,’ Ross says to Ryan. ‘Give me one more take.’
And Ryan understands that Ross means he’s playing too percussively and that he should minimize the amount of string-sound, and maximize the amount of chord-sound that’s coming from his guitar. Ryan and I have started calling this the NPS ratio, or the Note Per Strum ratio. I have a high NPS ratio, while my volume doesn’t vary much, which can be boring-sounding. Ryan has a lower NPS ratio, though he’s a much more dynamic player.
And Ryan also knows that even though Ross says, ‘Give me one more take,’ he may actually be performing that part of the song twenty-six more times before it’s right.
Performing a song like ‘Back Into Blue,’ or ‘Born to Run to You,’ (which I attempted unsuccessfully earlier) can be a humbling experience. These studios have excellent microphones. And that’s like saying, ‘These photographers have extremely high-resolution cameras.’
It’s like being naked with the lights on, and then a photographer comes in and sets up and tells you to be perfectly at ease. And that’s difficult because you know that when you look at the photo proofs you’ll be able to see all your imperfections and extra pounds all zoomed-in-on and up-close. You can imagine that’s great for the old confidence.
Songs like ‘Alright’ are easier because there’s a drummer and a bassist to hide behind. There’s the extra challenge of playing perfectly in time with what they’ve already played. But little freckled notes and slightly sagging tunings have the luxury of being concealed among those backing tracks.
So click click goes the musical camera of our life. (heh heh. Who’s writing these puns? They’re fired!) And we want to make our mamas and papas and Ginas proud, so we’re gonna be naked and uncomfortable for quite awhile. But it’ll be good in the end.
‘I was waiting for you to look at me and tell me it wasn’t good,’ Ryan says, still working on Back Into Blue, an hour later. ‘Well it wasn’t,’ Ross says, ‘It was all, ‘Blaaannnggg!’ Give me one more.’
I will say it feels like the ‘big time’ being here. We are working with SERIOUS record makers. Guys who are really freakin good at what they do. And right now they are trying to make our record really good. Getting to work with them makes me feel big for a second, but then I remember that next to them, I am but a little shivering hatchling, with pieces of my own shell in my hair.
Other reasons it feels like the big time:
*There is a gate that opens when we drive up and say our name. And I think that one time it even scanned Cameron’s retina.
*The studio has a runner, who will help with anything we need (get food, goto the post office, etc).
*Everyday is like Groundhog Day, and the kitchen is restocked with food and drinks, and my little recording booth has fresh bottles of water in it sitting in the exact same place.
*I get a headache every time we play Tony Hawk in the lounge because the screen is so big.
*Hootie recorded here
To be honest, I was pretty much against it even being on this record. I was wary, because we’ve changed the arrangement of it, which means that weve changed aspects of the song in relation to the order of verses and choruses as well as the instrumentation. The intro to the song is different, one small half-verse is gone, and we now go straight from the ‘wrapped myself around mama’s feet’ lyric into another chorus. So some things are missing. It’s true. And I was worried that this newer version wouldn’t sound or feel as good as the version weve already put out, on Forward. How pointless would that be? Ugggg.
But Ross has been very much behind this song, and he’s believed in it, so I’ve had to exercise faith in his vision for this song. And I think its paying off. Other parts of the song are a lot more beefed up, such as the fact that we’ve made a musical feast out of the guitar part that happens in the version you know, right after ‘warrior, yeah yeah yeah’ (amazing lyrics, I know). And it kicks butt. But more than that, the feel of the song . . . the groove . . . just FEELS really good. So I’m now very much in favor of it being on the record. I am also in favor of taking my foot out of my mouth at this time. Thank you.
This studio is fabulous. See pictures here.
Each time I enter my little isolation booth, I scoot in behind the microphones, take a swig of water, slip on my headphones and get going. All four of us musicians have our own little mixing consoles. This might not mean very much to you. But if you’ve ever been to a show early and seen the band soundchecking, and they’re all saying, ‘Uh, Ted, could I get some more of my guitar in my monitor [the live equivalent of headphones] . . . uh, actually that’s too loud . . . could I get a little less?’ – – – then you understand how nice it is to for all four of us to have personal control over how loud each instrument is in our own headphones. Very nice, friends, very nice.
I’ve got the click track, which sounds like a metronome playing a simple beat, in one ear and the actual drums in the other ear. Being the rhythm guitar player, it’s my job to listen to both the click and the drums and not rush too fast or slow down to the point where it steers the drummer off course. I do this while singing and trying to emote in such a way that the band feels the urgency or relaxation of a given verse or chorus and plays accordingly. Very often, I get excited and rush the section, which makes the drummer speed up a little to keep up with me. However he’s also got to stay right in time with the incessant clicking in his ear. This is hard for him. He feels like he’s being pulled in two directions . . . like Stretch Armstrong. So Ross tells me to settle down a little. So I do. I’m very talented at settling down a little.
I’ll leave it for Ryan to tell you about the studio experience from his perspective. We see the world with two completely different sets of eyes, so the things he notices will probably be very different from the things I see. Our visions are very often complementary. And that’s good. It’s like teamwork. . .like Mulder and Scully . . . or how in The Sixth Sense, Haley Joel Osment was good at seeing dead people, and Bruce Willis was really good at solving crimes or something. Very complementary. So if anyone ever asks you how solving crimes through the use of paranormal sight relates to Ryanhood and folk rock, you’ll know what to say.
More to come.
It’s been stormy and rainy and windy and lightningish outside for the past three Tucson days. So beautiful.
Most places I’ve been to or lived in like the rain less than Tucson does. But I’m going to wager half of my M&Ms and guess that it’s because Tucson has well over 300 sunny days a year. So, here, a cloudy day is a scarce resource. And what is scarce is usually very valuable.
Tomorrow we return to Los Angeles. Monday we set up. Tuesday, we begin, finally begin, cutting a record. I don’t say ‘making a record,’ because Ryan and I have been ‘making this record’ for a long time. Insomuch as weve been writing these songs and testing them out live, and then going into Woolly Mammoth Studios in Boston to record 30 demos, and then going to LA to play them for our producer (Grammy winner Ross Hogarth (can you say SWEEEEEEEETTTT!!!!!)), and then going back to Allusion Studios in Tucson to rerecord a bunch of the songs with the changes Ross suggested, and then sending many demos across the internet with many miniscule changes, waiting for Ross’s subsequent suggestions, then repeating the process, and then going again to LA on several occasions to rehearse the songs with our little band of studio musicians… insomuch as we’ve done that, we’ve been making this record for a long time.
But Tuesday we actually begin to lay it down permanently, for posterity.
Bob Glaub is playing Bass. A fantastic and appropriate bass player who’s worked with a jillion amazing people, including Tracy Chapman, Jackson Browne, and Leonard Cohen, and who, on top of that, is a perfect gentlemen. We were working with Brian MacLeod on drums. But opportunity knocked, or rang, as it were, when he got a phone call from Michael Jackson’s people asking him to fly to the Middle East to write and record for the King of Pop’s new record. As a result we’ve been rehearsing with Joey Waronker. Please do as we did, and resist the urge to feel like he’s a replacement drummer. Mr. Waronker has recorded with R.E.M., Beck, Elliot Smith, Tonic, and seventy-five million other outstanding musicians, and brings a very unique, very appropriate feel and groove to our songs. I think you, and we, are going to be very pleased with the results. He’s a fantastic guy, and I want to tell you that I’ve enjoyed Mexican food with him on several occasions. All occasions were tasty, and conversations were fun and flowing.
So, let’s go make a record. I believe in these songs. A lot of you guys have shared with us what they mean to you, and Ryan and I are both beginning to believe that this recording is going to have something very, very, special, very unpronounceable about it. May it be so.
I’ve been thinking about the very personal nature of a lot of the blogs that I’ve put up lately, and coupled with some friendly advice, I’ve decided the best idea is for me to put the bigger, more-personal, often non-musical thoughts on my own… er… space. The main reason for this is just because most of these blogs have pretty much nothing to do with our band or our music. Makes sense, right? Ryanhood stuff on the Ryanhood page, Cameron stuff on the Cameron page.
I will continue to post more Ryanhoodish blogs right here, as will Ryan.
One big perk that I see, even with one eye hidden by an eye-patch, is that having my own page will allow me to upload non-Ryanhood, and pre-Ryanhood songs for the listening pleasure of any who are interested.
Also, to put it bluntly, I plan in advance to be bad about answering personal messages. So don’t feel bad if I don’t write back. I want to use the page as a posting-point more than as a second email. I love reading all the general comments, though, as well as any comments you might have about the blogs. And, ever so truly, I will treasure them like a pirate treasures his booty.
Thanks for sticking with us, for wanting to read our blogs, for listening to our new music, and for continuing to point your friends in our direction. That is how this ship will be built.
It’s three AM, we’ve just pulled into the Pasadena Royale Best Western, right outside of Los Angeles. We played a 30-minute opening spot for Steel Train at an all-ages club called Modified in Phoenix, AZ, and after we finished, hung out, and loaded up the car, we set out on I-10 West for Los Angeles.
I’m pretty sleepy.
But I was thinking of something. Surprise surprise. I was thinking maybe I have a split personality … not quite like Two-Face, from the Batman comics, where half of his face has been corroded by acid, and is therefore evil, and the other half is a reputable lawyer … not quite like that. Actually it’s not a split personality at all, I was just looking for inventive ways to talk about Batman and his varied foes.
Anyway, here’s what I mean. I loved being at home these past couple of weeks. After two years in Boston, and a ton of travel and a ton of hotel rooms and airports it was just nice and regular to be in Tucson again. I just got moved into a new place, with a new roommate, who is a good friend, and also our guitar tech, and also destined to be, if you ask me, a punk rock legend. Hes called 5ft2. It’s a good move to name your band after how tall you are.
Anyway, I was saying. We’ve been having a great time hanging out, watching movies, chit-chatting and the like, he’s turning me on to Malcolm X, and I’m getting him into Martin Luther King, Jr. Its a pretty sweet trade. Not that either of us are big academic authorities on either of these men … just fans.
So we’ve been hanging out, and it’s been good. And I know it’s been good for Ryan to be home too. So I was dragging my feet a bit on the packing and preparation for this little mini-tour. I don’t know, sometimes leaving home for long periods of time — that is, touring — isn’t as illustrious as maybe Jackson Browne or The Eagles or Willie Nelson have made it sound.
But once we loaded the guitars and T-shirt bag and Cds into the car, we said our goodbyes, and got an hour down the road, I found that it wasn’t at all hard for me to slip into a different frame of mind … the frame of mind that doesn’t get upset about spending hours in airports or spending numberless nights in nameless hotels. And that’s nice.
So in the words of Steel Train — who for the record, if you don’t know, and haven’t heard, can be imagined as being like the very best sweet and rootsy moments of the Grateful Dead mixed with the energy of the pop/punk generation — we did two shows with them — anyway, in the words of Steel Train:
Send your dad a note
you made it kid
you’re on the road!
It’s a good reminder, because when I think about little tiny things, which I do, like I said, a lot, I forget bigger pictures. I forget that I’ve dreamed of all this for a long long time. Thanks dad, and mom, for telling me it probably wasn’t going to be a good idea, but that you’d stand behind me anyway.
Ah, I get so dramatic. I love it. It’s a pretty good move to be dramatic when you’re a singer.
Give yourself an early Christmas present and pick up a copy of Steel Train’s Twilight Tales From the Prairie of the Sun, or even just download the sweet, sweet tune Better Love. I bet you’ll be humming it tomorrow.
Speaking of which … how will I ever get to tomorrow if I never go to bed tonight? Good night moon.
Sometime ago, one of our fans in Tucson mailed a CD to their friend in Bothel, WA. This friend, a local Bothel guitar teacher, liked what he heard. He drinks coffee at a place called the Lyons Den. Last week, while getting coffee at that establishment, he noticed a flyer that said Ryanhood was coming. Tonight came, and he was there, with his son, and he even made a request for Separate. And this is awesome. So Good job! to our Tucson friend for passing along our CD, and Good job! to Cascadia College for making flyers, and Good job! Lyons Den for putting them up! Its amazing when this whole machine actually works. Please feel free to try this at home!
Speaking of home, we’ve been gone for a little while. 11 days to be exact. (Somehow I didn’t get the memo and I packed only 3 days worth of clothes, which has been ridiculously annoying; Cameron, if you are reading this, you may not want to sit next to me on the plane home tomorrow). In the middle of our time away, we spent two more long days in LA to work some more on the record (friends in LA, please don’t be upset we didn’t visit this time through, we are on-call 24/7 on these trips and haven’t had time to leisure about yet). We holed-up in a Hollywood rehearsal space, and ended up rehearsing right next door to Sum-41. I felt like I was inside of an episode of some E! Celebrity Sightings show. So far, we’ve worked up arrangements on about 9 songs for the record. There’s going to some beautiful hand-drumming on this record, and the use of full drum set is sparser and wiser. Stopless is sounding friggin awesome. I’m hoping its the lead-off track.
So in addition to our San Diego debut next month, we now have a show at the esteemed Hotel Café in Los Angeles the very next day. This is an amazing opportunity to launch things in Cali, and we really hope that people will rally together and start something big there! Spread the word! Were coming!
So one of my favorite candies in college used to be Starburst Fruit Twists (Licorice). And then they became Starburst Red Twists (Licorice) and they were still my favorite. And then they discontinued them. So I wrote an email to Starburst, dreaming that they would send me all the leftovers. But they just wrote back saying that they were ‘re-evaluating’ or something. More than a year later I found a three small packs in a store in Chicago. Which was sort of gross, because it meant that they had been on the shelf for a very long time. But I still bought all three packs. I ate them very slowly. Earlier this week while shopping in the produce section of a grocery store in Spokane, I spotted something called ‘Kenny’s Juicy Twists’. I am eating them now. And really liking them. It takes me right back to college. And the dentist.
Will go up on our roof
In the evening
To get a better view
We watch the sunset in the yard while
Im watching all the cars drive
Left and right
Making wrong turns at the light
And sometimes getting tickets
But getting back onto the road
And as the stars climb
The lattice of the sky
We know that its our wide world thats turning
And we think of how our little lives
Measure up to Time
With a moon thats been for ages
Spinning in the pages
Of dust and space
And reflections of the light
Overwhelmed I am
Sitting on my sleeping bag
But in the quiet you look at me and sing
You were born to be here
You were born to say
What nobody will say
If you dont
You will long to see clearly
To have it in your hands
But its far too big a plan
For you to hold
So lets go up on the roof
Only me and you
And in the quiet we will ask God what to do
PUBLISHED ON APRIL 20, 2006:
By STEPHEN SEIGEL
Nine Questions with Cameron Hood and Ryan Green.
Tucson natives Cameron Hood and Ryan Green constitute Ryanhood, a duo that has garnered a faithful following across the country largely via college and university gigs. On Friday, April 21, Ryanhood, along with The Year of Acceleration, inaugurate Hotel Congress’ Outdoor Concert Series at an all-ages show starting at 6 p.m.
What was the first concert you ever saw?
Hood: Green Day, Mesa Amphitheatre. Someone threw a boot at Mike Dirnt. It hit. It hurt. They were done.
What CDs are in your changer right now?
Hood: Switchfoot, Nothing Is Sound; Derek Webb, Mockingbird; The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers audio CD; demo mixes from the new Ryanhood CD. Green: D’Gary, Mbo Loza (Madagascan guitar genius I just found out about); 92.9 The Mountain Live in Studio C; 5ft2, Live at KXCI; Bruce Hornsby, Hot House.
How many total albums do you own (CDs, vinyl, cassettes, 8-tracks)?
Green: 300-plus CDs.
Do you download music, and if so, legally or illegally?
Hood: I buy from iTunes. Though sometimes Ryan’s got a CD, and I borrow it …
What was the first album you owned?
Hood: Boyz II Men, Cooleyhighharmony. It’s so hard to say goodbye to Boyz II Men. No wait, it was an old Star Wars episode on a 45. … Am I that old? Green: On cassette, I think it was Boston (self-titled). However, my first CD was MC Hammer, Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em.
What song would you like to have played at your funeral?
Hood: How about U2, “Where the Streets Have No Name,” then Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers,” then singing and salsa dancing and a guacamole-eating contest. Green: “Flying” by The Beatles.
Musically speaking, what do you love that your friends don’t know about? What’s your favorite guilty pleasure?
Green: In high school, I used to listen to almost exclusively progressive rock. I still listen to my old Dream Theater albums on long flights–it gives my brain a better workout than a crossword puzzle.
What band or artist changed your life, and how?
Hood: U2 were honest, emotional, epic and overblown. Preachy, perhaps. I know Bono’s got a big mouth, but he walks the walk.
Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?
Hood: Midnight Oil, Earth and Sun and Moon. Green: Naturally, Too High to Die by Meat Puppets.
Having started things off right on Interstate 90 out of Boston, with U2’s “Beautiful Day,” and having listened to “The Fellowship of the Ring”, as read by Rob Ingles over 16 Cds (yes, I only made it through the first book…what?!…a guy’s gotta have some time for silence and some time for listening to great songs from yesteryear), and having paid $32.15 in highway tolls (particularly in New York and Indiana…[you states are pretty tricky, huh?…whatamigonnado?…drive around New York state?…]) and having logged over 3,150 miles (including a jaunt from Chicago to Bloomington to pick up my little brother and watch him kick booty in Scholastic Bowl [which is like Team Jeopardy, but for smart people] and then a drive back to Chicago for fun and a visit to a visiting friend, then back to Bloomington then on to St. Louis), having visited my dad and family in Kansas City, having spent only $17.23 on Red Bull and coffee, having promised with my debit card to pay $318.24 to various gas stations across the country, having negotiated snow in Indiana, rain and sleet in Illinois and Missouri, flatlands and boredom in Kansas and Oklahoma (sorry, Kansans and Oklahomanomians), powerful winds in New Mexico (I somehow avoided being spellbound in the so-called “Land of Enchantment,” though it was more beautiful than I remember it) and having somehow avoided any car crashes or mishaps while irresponsibly taking pictures of every state’s Welcome-To sign (this is not a good idea, for it involves caring more about road signs than about the semi-trucks that approach quickly in your rear-view mirror), while stopping often to pee and to buy toffee peanuts, I sailed into Tucson, Arizona at 2:00pm on the 6th day, in time for soundcheck and a spot at City Limits opening for Ringside (with Balthazar Getty from TV’S “Alias,” and Weezer’s Brian Bell), before eating a caeser salad and some strawberry waffle, drinking some water, talking with some friends, and going home to my older brother’s house for sleepytime.
Hampton Inn and Tammy
John Paul Jackson
And the disgusting bathroom at the Sunoco (or is it Citgo?) on Cicero Ave. near Midway Airport in Chicago. (I was going to make it the only item in a nothanks list, but if I don’t give it love, it will only feel bad about itself, and will never gather the strength to change itself into a topoftheline restroom facility).
I’ve posted a collection of pictures that are boring to most people besides me at:
CAMERON’S BIG ADVENTURE
Now I’m in Tucson, and I don’t know what to do. I’m tired of leaving. I was born in this town, but it doesn’t feel like home to me. Yet.
A million I love you’s to any and all who read our journals and who listen to our music and who write song quotes on their notebooks or put links on their pages or who pray for us or who speak kind words about us at right times.
And God, thank you, from my heart, for safe passage and plenty to eat. I wish I knew you better.
“Sonador, When you ran the earth shook and the sky opened and mere motrals parted…”
Tomorrow morning I move from Boston to Tucson. I drive the whole way. Boston to Cleveland to Chicago to Kansas City to Santa Fe to Tucson. Roughly.
Just me. Well, me and my Lord of the Rings Audio book. 52 hours of fun my friends, 52 hours of fun. I plan to take some pictures along the way. I’ll put some up on the photos section of Ryanhoodmusic.com when I’m done. I’m speaking in short sentences. It’s ok. Sometimes short is sweet.
“Renewed shall be blade that was broken, the crownless again shall be king.”
-Lord of the Rings
And I remember that somehow the story is bigger than my little life and my big drive and the friends I leave behind in Boston and the family I gain in Tucson. And I remember that life isn’t really a story about ME at all. Though I do play a part in it. How big, or how earthshaking a part I play in it, I’ll leave it up to the Earthmaker to decide.
Life is a big idea. It’s too big for me. But I’m aiming to live it, best I can.
Late night short sentence musings about big ideas and strong horses and long roads and endless stories and moving the whole earth with love the size a single kind word or a smile to a stranger.
“Beneath the noise below the din, I hear your voice it’s whispering, in science and in medicine, ‘I was a stranger, you took me in'”
Next time I’ll make more sense. And next time I’ll once more be a son of the desert. But this time I like my ramblings. Good night moon.