Ryanhood rock CD Release show at Rialto Saturday
04/04/2009 11:59 AM
The appellation Ryanhood comes from the melding of Cameron Hood and Ryan Green, who are putting out their third full length album, The World Awaits, and celebrating the release with a party at the Rialto Theater on April 4. Every ticket includes their CD so there’s no reason not to go. Hood had this to say about the event, “No, really, THIS is the most important show. YouHAVE to come to THIS one!”
I remained skeptical until I recently heard the acoustic guitar duo, who sound like when Simon & Garfunkel met U2 in a park and The Edge taught Garfunkel to shred on guitar, while Nickel Creek drank coffee and rocked the bluegrass.”
Below, NightBuzz caught up with Cameron Hood to ask a few questions pertaining to playing shows in Tucson, burning yourself out in Tucson and burning Tucson down with fiery guitar licks.
AZNB: I was surprised to see that you are living in Tucson because I haven’t seen you play out very much. Is it true that since you’ve moved to Tucson you’ve started playing less? What’s up with that?
CH: Aw, you were missing us? That’s sweet.
We’ve found ourselves playing here at home every three or four months for a couple of reasons: One, we’ve been on the road! We spent eight months of last year driving around the country playing colleges and acoustic clubs. Along with that, we were in various stages of recording this new record in Los Angeles, so we just weren’t home very much.
Two, it’s nice to play only every once in a while, so each show feels like an event. This way, we avoid getting into situations again as we did in past bands when we’d play every week and end up burning out our audience.
What are some of the pros and cons of living in Tucson vs. Boston?
CH: Big city life was nice. In Boston you can get everywhere you need to go on train, by bus or with your 10 toes. And I thought Boston had a great heart, both literally and figuratively. It has this wonderful downtown with a giant park and ice skating and ducks. And we were really well received there as street performers, which can sometimes be a harrowing musical adventure.
One of the things I love about Tucson is that it just has these really good, down to earth people. Stay in our spare room and, ‘can we cook you chorizo and eggs for breakfast?’ kind of people. And we have Calexico! Plus, Tucson is sunny and warm and smells like orange trees. I don’t know, I can’t decide. Can I have both?
You have a list of personal questions about music preferences on your MySpace page that you’ve invited fans to respond to. Did you learn anything from the answers?
CH: Definitely. For one thing, even in the age of iPods and peer-to-peer file sharing, a lot of people still like to buy and own physical CDs. Partly as a response to that, and partly because we loved Viva La Vida, we printed our new album, The World Awaits, with these beautiful fleshy, cardboard sleeves, that are big and colorful. You kind of just want to keep opening and closing them, pulling out the liner notes and then putting them away again—and then cuddling with them.
A lot of people suggested blogs and magazines and apps, like Facebook, YouTube, Last.fm, and iLike. We’ve been going down just about every one of those roads, exploring every avenue, driving every… OK, I’m done. Basically, it’s a time where success and exposure is in our own hands as artists. If we’re waiting for a big label or manager or anybody to swoop in and do it all for us, we may be waiting a long time.
Tell us a little about making your newest record.
CH: It was hard. It was long. It was long and hard. And the result is awesome.
It took us three years. We struggled some with our producer, Ross Hogarth. He pushed us hard to get good performances, which was to his credit and our disliking. And we got back-burnered a couple of times so that he could take on some higher-profile engineering jobs. I remember once, there was an offer on the table for him to engineer the then-new Smashing Pumpkins album, and Ryan and I were praying, pretty selfishly, “Don’t let him get that job. Let him keep working with us.” He didn’t get it, so we kept recording.
But he had a tremendous talent, a crisp and full sound and an impeccable ear. He brought in some A-list musicians to play with us: Joey Waronker (REM, Beck) on drums, Sean Hurley (John Mayer, Vertical Horizon) on bass and Rami Jaffee (The Wallflowers) on organ and accordion. Ultimately, he helped us produce a great album.
I’m incredibly proud of Ryan and myself, both for our performances and for seeing such a long project through to such a beautiful completion.
How tough is it to make a record that you want to market nationally?
CH: That’s a great question. In the pop/rock genre, my opinion is that it comes down to songs. If you have good, hit songs, you’ll do well. If you don’t, you won’t.
I think that our heads have always been in the clouds a little bit. Since our first shows at apartment complexes and in subway stations we’ve been dreaming of taking our songs to bigger and bigger audiences. But I don’t think that has changed the way we write music, or the way we think about our songs.
This may be a little too neatly drawn, but as a general rule, I want to write songs that are lyrically very meaningful for me, and Ryan really wants to be moved by music and melody. So we have our own internal check and balance on each other before we ever start thinking about how marketable a song is. If I write a song that I think has great lyrics but Ryan thinks is musically boring, then either I find a way to dig deeper melodically or rhythmically, or the song goes to doggy heaven.
What’s your biggest fear of the next record?
CH: I think my fear is that we’re going to be in debt for a long time. But we were so incredibly lucky to have been supported in this, financially and otherwise — to have been allowed to make the album we wanted to make — my gratitude outweighs my fear. Gina, thank you.
What are you going to do with the songs you wrote over the last couple years while making this record?
CH: Not sure yet, but they’re reeaally good! We’re writing as a team now more than ever, and the results are better and richer than what we’ve written separately. We’ll be playing a couple of the newer-than-the-new-record songs at our release show on the 4th.
Did touring slow down the record-making process or was it good to take a break?
CH: Both. Everything that slowed the recording down was a frustration on one level. But on another level, it was great to get out from under the microscope of the microphone and just play and stomp and have lots of people sing along with us. That is good for the heart in a way that’s hard to describe.
You have been known to call yourselves ‘Christians in a rock band,’ instead of ‘a Christian rock band,’ which is a distinction I get. Is it odd that people want to peg you as Christian Rock?
CH: I see it like this: to one person, “Helpless Hopeless,” which is on the new record, is a song to God. But to someone else, it’s the story of a marriage, the story of commitment and vulnerability. And since I think people interpret songs the way they want to, I like that our songs are open enough for a lot of different ways of relating to them.
Ryan and I made a decision when we started that we wanted to be a band that tries to find hope, that leaves people with hope. So, there might be some hand-holding, some camp-fire singing-along at our shows. Call it what you will. We want everyone to come. We want everyone to listen. And we want to write about what’s true for us. So we’ll keep on walking that line.
Do you plan on being acoustic forever or are you going to pull a Dylan and shock us with electricity?
CH: I think Ryan wants to stay acoustic for a while, but in my mind we’re already Coldplay and Ryan is like David Gilmour playing some sweet electric guitar solo from the top of The Wall.
You chose the Flight of the Conchords for the cover up. I bet that was great. How familiar are you with them?
CH: We wanted to do something fun, and not take ourselves too seriously. I especially get grave and wordy, so it was good to sing about robots and amphibious ladies for a while. We watched every episode of the show, every You Tube video we could find. We even made a vowel pronunciation chart for the New Zealand accent, and practiced our bantering while we were driving through North Dakota. I especially like how “Girls” become “Gills.” There are some good videos of that show up at www.youtube.com/ryanhoodvideos.
How’d the show go?
CH: You’ll have to watch the YouTube videos.
Tell us a little bit about putting out your CD at the Rialto.
CH: It’s the most ambitious show we’ve ever staged ourselves. People are flying in from around the country to come to it. I’m pretty sure you can still get tickets.
Is anything going to happen at this Rialto show that hasn’t happened before?
CH: Yes. Definitely! Every ticket includes a copy of our new album, The World Awaits. And we’ll have a full band behind us for this show, like we did when we recorded. We’re currently rehearsing with bass, drums, keys, and cello. I’ll be playing harmonica, and Ryan is going to bust some mandolin.
Also, it’s going to be reserved seating, which is wonderful news for our parents who’ve been standing at Club Congress for the last three years. Club Congress has been really good to us, and we’re excited to make them proud by going across the street and headlining a big show.
It’s going to be a big night for us. I hope Tucson feels about us like we feel about it. We’ve had this crush for a long time, and now it’s time for a proper date.