I always bring an extra bag/suitcase full of coffee home with me…
Since ‘near-as-dammit’ cracking the UK market with his band The Traitors’ debut release ‘Devil’s In The Detail’ (reviewed here) Texas’ Ryan Hamilton hasn’t been resting on his laurels. As if collaborating with Ginger Wildheart and some of the cream of the UK’s underground scene wasn’t enough, he’s now putting the finishing touches to a country album with Terrorvision frontman Tony Wright.
MR’s Ian Savage had a chat with him about how fertile he’s finding the UK’s country ground, and what brought a Yorkshireman and a Texan together to make good old-timey music…
Ian: Hey man – since the last time we spoke, you’ve been touring in support of your first ‘proper’ solo album ‘Devil’s In The Details’ (review here) – how’s it been going?
Ryan: It’s been amazing. We’ve worked really hard to be a great LIVE band; it’s important to us. To see the audience grow, and the shows continue to get bigger and bigger… yeah, it feels amazing. Super rewarding, for sure.
I: Most of the dates have been the UK or USA – any plans to get further abroad?
R: Yes! We’ve had some interest in Japan, Germany, and Australia. Some things to figure out first, but we’re gonna try and get to those places this year.
I: And whilst this has been going on, you’ve somehow managed to find time to record a country album with Terrorvision’s Tony Wright – how did you two come together for that?
R: The country record with Tony is something special. I love it when something magically, but seemingly accidentally, comes together. We have lots of mutual friends, but sharing a producer (Dave Draper) was the thing that brought us together. I’m a big Terrorvision fan, and apparently Tony was/is a fan of my band. Which, of course, I was honoured to find out. We’ve become fast friends. We both LOVE old-school country music. Which is super random, I know. Haha. Working together just sort of… well, happened.
I: Again, it’s a trans-Atlantic partnership (like The Traitors)…as much as I love Tony, surely there’s more ‘authentic’ country musicians on your side of the pond?
R: *laughs* I was SHOCKED to find out that Tony was a big fan of old-school country! But we went for it, and thank the Lord, it TOTALLY works.
I: There’s only one ‘official’ video of your collaboration (here), but plenty of YouTube material – do you have a favourite song that you’ve done together?
R: I think my favorite is Wayfaring Stranger from this new album. People are gonna shit (in a good way) when they hear these versions of the songs. I’ve never been more proud of anything.
I: Sooooo….country music. Something that (from a European perspective) has quite a niche audience, unless it’s being parodied – what drew you to doing an album of US country with a guy from Yorkshire?
R: Again, as random as it is, it just happened! *laughs* Tony and I bonded over our love for the old school tunes. Those older country songs are SO GOOD.
I: Who would you say are your favourite country artists, who we might not have heard of in Europe?
R: Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson, for sure. I’ll save you the list of other people you’ve never heard of *laughs*
I: No, talk to me – there’s bound to be guys over there doing stuff we’re not likely to hear often?
R: Hmmm….okay then, I really love the music of Hank Williams Jr and Dwight Yoakam. There’s some country music from the 80s and 90s that people in the UK don’t seem too familiar with. Marty Stuart, too. Love that dude.
I: ‘Proper’ American country music seems to be as diverse and deep-rooted as blues music, to an outsider; is there a specific vein that you’re mining with Tony?
R: Yeah, it’s pretty diverse I guess. But I gotta say, I find this “new country” terribly cheesy. To quote Tom Petty, “New country is like bad rock, with a fiddle.”. *laughs* Couldn’t agree more. Tony and I are definitely going to the older, purer sounds of old school country. More bluesy, raw, acoustic based stuff.
I: From your Facebook feeds (yes, I follow them ;) ) you’ve not had the best start to 2018 – how are you?
R: I’m getting better, thank you. Anyone who breaks their ribs will now forever have my empathy. It’s been an incredibly frustrating injury.
I: Condolences…how’s the Traitors’ Club thing been treating you in the meantime?
R: Honestly, it’s been tough. Still not quite caught up, but we will get there. I’m a little frustrated, but people are being super understanding – broken bones really put a… what’s that British saying? … “spanner in the works” *laughs*
I: The standard ’stupid last couple of questions in the interview’: what’re the three things you take with you on tour without fail (excepting guitars)?
R: Hmmm… No one’s ever asked me that before! Gum… deodorant… and my iPhone!
I: And is there anything you’ll be taking back with you from the UK that you’d miss?
R: Ya know… that’s a long list. I have so much love for the UK.
I: I’m thinking physical stuff that you can’t get in the US – have you developed any affection for, say, corned beef, Marmite, or any of our candy?
R: Costa coffee. I always bring an extra bag/suitcase full of coffee home with me. Yes, really. Don’t judge me! *laughs*
I: Thanks for talking to us Ryan – hope to catch you in March!
Ryan Hamilton and The Traitors have a UK tour in March, and Ryan’s country collaboration with Terrorvision’s Tony Wright is available for pre-order now.