BIRMINGHAM WEEKLY: Ryan, thanks for your time. How’s the tour going so far?
RYAN BINGHAM: It’s been good. We’re in Omaha, Nebraska and we’ve been freezing our asses off up here (laughs). We’ve been having some good shows. We’re going to be out for a couple of months—it’s kind of a two-months-on, one-month-off thing for the rest of the year.
BW: We’re really enjoying Junky Star and I’m sure you are pleased with the way it’s being received.
RB: We’ve been having a good time playing these songs and the crowds have been great. We feel really fortunate to be out here doing this everyday.
BW: How did the material for Junky Star take shape? Had the songs been around for a while in pieces or did the songs come to you quickly?
RB: I had a bit of time off last year during the holidays and I’d been working on those songs some. I’d started (writing) on the road the previous year and wrapped them all up when I was home.
BW: If you will, talk about the Crazy Heart experience and how that affected your schedule.
RB: There was a lot going on, but at the same time I had time off and I was home. Most of that stuff took place in and around Los Angeles, so I had quite a bit of time just to be home and I could really sit down and work on things.
BW: How do you feel about the musical climate today? Some artists say it’s great to have the accessibility that outlets such as Youtube, iTunes and satellite radio provide. On the other hand, some artists say that the accessibility and ease of releasing music results in over-saturation.
RB: It’s definitely an issue we’ve talked about within the band. For us, it’s always been about playing live and touring. We’ve always just toured and that’s how we put food on our tables and keep the roofs over our heads. That’s really all we worry about. For us, the technology is awesome in having the opportunity to record stuff and make good quality recordings. Every time you have a new song, you can just put it down.
BW: How do you keep songs fresh after you’ve played them hundreds of times?
RB: Oh, man, they can get old (laughs). Whenever I write a song, I think about that. If I write a song, I’ll go back and listen to it and I’ll think, “Is this something I can sing every night for the rest of my life? Is it something that means a lot to me?” You really have to take that into consideration—it can be challenging sometimes.
BW: Do songs continue to evolve even after you take them into the studio to record them?
RB: Yeah, because sometimes your mood will be different from when you wrote it or your emotions will change sometime. You can write a song in the heat of an emotion and by the time you get into a studio a few months down the line, you feel a different way about what you’re saying. You’re maybe in a better or worse mood in general, so it affects the recording and how you’re singing and playing it. As far as playing live, we’ve always been a band. We’ve never spent a lot of time rehearsing because we like the spontaneity of getting up and letting it be a jam and free-flowing. So a lot of times stuff will come out of that. They definitely evolve that way as well.
Tickets to the all-ages show are $16-$18 day of the show— and can be purchased at www.workplay.com
Brent Thompson writes about popular music for Birmingham Weekly. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.