Robert Pollard and R. Stevie Moore. Eat your heart out! There is a new kid in town! Paul Ryan is about to release his third record this year (end of October on Futureman Records). That, on itself, is enough to talk about, so we did.
Three albums in one year, that was not your goal for 2018, was it?
No, it’s just how it panned out really! “T-T-T-Technicolour Melodies!” was the first album of 2018 to get released (through US label ‘Futureman Records’) but, on the run-up to its release, I’d put out a cover of the BMX Bandits classic ‘Serious Drugs’ song. When the first album came out I think some folks were disappointed that ‘Serious Drugs’ didn’t feature on it so, around this time, I started thinking about maybe putting together another album.
I had a few songs kicking about and this BMX Bandits cover at this point. Once I had got it into my head to perhaps make another SUPER 8 album the songs started flowing and it all just came together really quickly. I think the thing that took the longest time was coming up with an idea for the cover. Once I’d decided on that (ie: me dressed up as a Mexican Bandito filming a giant octopus with a Super 8 camera – and why not, eh?) I had the album ‘in the can’ as they say.
That was Album No.2 ‘Turn Around Or …’ and it got a June release (again through FMR). I don’t know how I ended up doing Album No.3, to be honest, it just sort of happened! I have a vague recollection around about the time of the ‘Turn Around Or …’ release of someone laying down the sonic gauntlet as it were and saying: “I bet you can’t release three albums in one year”. It’s all a bit hazy really but, never one to turn down a musical challenge that’s what I ended up doing. Literally, right off the back of the second album’s release, I started penning what became this third album namely: ‘HI LO’.
What overarching theme will we discover in 5 years time? Or is the theme already there?
That’s a hard question! 2018 has been a bit of a musical whirlwind for me really! I’ve stumbled from one album into the next without looking (nor listening!) back. I haven’t really had an opportunity to digest what I’ve put out this year, to be honest, I’m too close to it all to be subjective. There hasn’t really been any master plan, it just sort of happened!
If there is some theme or thread running through this hat trick of albums then I guess it’s just trying to stay true to myself as a writer of songs and try not to let the quality control slip. To just keep striving to release good songs to the best of my abilities. As things stand I feel pretty confident that I’ve put out three strong albums this year but only time will tell really I guess. Like I say, I’m still too close to them right now. Ask me next year!
What was the biggest change since the last one?
I guess it was the realization (finally!) that: “Yeah, I can do this!” That, as a person, it is music that pretty much defines both who & what I am – it’s my voice! This I reckon has been the biggest change for me. To at last have the confidence to actually believe myself when someone asks me what it is I do and I reply: “I’m a Songwriter”. For such ‘a simple thing’ it’s taken me a long time to discover and accept this and this personal discovery sort of clicked into place somewhere between the making of the second and third album. Prior to that, I felt I’d just been winging it (‘Imposter Syndrome’ I think they call it!)
You lost your faith in social media and found it back again. What happened?
Oh that, yeah! Ha! Ha! Let’s just say I have a bit of a like/hate relationship with Facebook. I signed up to Facebook because I was told that, as a musician in the modern age, you HAD to have an online presence and that Facebook being the biggest social media platform in the world would perhaps be a good place to start. I was totally rubbish at it when I started but I’ve gotten somewhat better at it as time’s gone by … I think! That said, I still see social media as very much of a time suck and much prefer to spend my time making rather than trying to promote music! Anyway, being more of ‘a studio musician’ these days, I see Facebook (et al) very much as a necessary evil to be honest. Without it I wouldn’t be doing this interview for example!
The thing is, for all the time I spent updating stuff and trying to build a fan base for this music I make I sort of hit a virtual brick wall with it all a while back there. In hindsight, I think it’s because I was feeling a little burnt out. On the musical front, I write, perform, record and produce everything myself these days. It can be very rewarding but conversely, it can be very tiring too! I’m also prone to bouts of insomnia and, truth be told, I’m also a bit of a perfectionist on the quiet too! This can be a somewhat heady concoction at times and it has been known for me to work on a piece of music until it’s done (is it ever ‘done’ though?!) … sometimes for days without sleep! It was after one of these music marathons where I almost pulled the plug on the whole social media thing.
I remember thinking at the time that I’d had enough of trying to promote what I do online and that I’d just concentrate my efforts on the music making. I’d had enough of looking at cute cat pics (LOL!) and I’d decided that my time would be better spent just doing what I felt I did best. I didn’t really need social media, did I? It was making me miserable so, really, why bother? No one was listening anyway! Or so I thought … I switched the laptop off and battened down the studio hatches as it were. The thing is, a few days later when I next switched my laptop on, I was inundated with messages from folk all saying pretty much the same thing as in: “Don’t give up!” “Stay with us!” “We dig what you’re doing!” etc. It was a nice feeling and helped changed my mind somewhat. As such I’ve realized that social media does indeed have its place (even for Luddites like me!)
That’s a short question there Patrick! Proud of what exactly?? Of myself? Of releasing three albums in a one year period? Hmm … no, not really! We’re all just on a journey really aren’t we? There are a hundred different paths to the top of the mountain, you’ve gotta find your own way. CHEERS!