Here’s a Q&A with Cameron Hood from Ryanhood. I’m loving the insightful answers.
Q: What is your favorite part of the writing and recording process?
A: “Writing songs is easily my favorite aspect of playing music, because I like the intersection of Art and Craft.
To me, Art is the initial inspiration: the melody, the interesting lyric, or the new rhythmic turn of phrase that seems to drop in on the wind. And then Craft is the process of using all the songwriter-tools I have to weave that original idea into a full song. And I LOVE that process. The song becomes a puzzle or a problem for me to solve. And I like challenging myself to use the very best lyrics I possibly can to solve the problem… to say EXACTLY what I mean to say. I thrive on that challenge.”
Q: What is the best part of going back to touring again?
A: “Playing for crowds that know our songs and sing them with us. It will be really fun to release a new set of songs and then watch as people pick their favorites. Then the songs that we’re most excited about (which are always the newest ones) will be the ones our audience is also most excited about.”
Q: Is most of your writing done together or separately?
A: “All different ways. The older model was that I would write mostly-finished songs, and then Ryan would rearrange some lyrics and add in some nice harmonies and musical parts (Gardens and the Graves, Army). Occasionally he’d come in with one or two fully formed songs (Ivy, Can I Kiss You). In that way, he was the George Harrison, dark horse figure. But in the last 2 years we’ve written a lot more songs together and Ryan has also contributed a lot more songs. It’s fun for me to switch roles and write a pre-chorus here or there for him. That suggests that we’re more like Lennon and McCartney now, however, that’s a qualitative comparison I’m not prepared to make. Newer songs like Second City, After Night Came Sun, and I Didn’t Put Anything Into Your Place are complete co-writes. Ryan wrote them as instrumental pieces, and then I sneakily appropriated them and wrote lyrics. It’s one of my favorite ways to compose songs. You know, stealing Ryan’s music and writing words and melodies on top of them. Not sure if it’s HIS favorite way of writing. ;)”
Q: What new additions have you already made to your live performances?
A: “Well, we play twin sousaphone solos now.”
Q: What are some of your influences?
A: “Since I’m a 90′s kid I grew up wanting to sound like Robin Wilson of the Gin Blossoms. So many other singers from that era had this gruff, grunge vocal style, but Robin Wilson was so clean and pure. And though I love U2 with my whole body, I don’t necessarily want to be Bono. Well, maybe I do.”
Q: How do the new songs differ from older Ryanhood songs style-wise?
A: “Since I blew off your live performance question, maybe I can answer a little of that here. We were committed for a long time to being two guys with two guitars and neck ties. But we burned ourselves on that over the last six years, so we needed to try some new things. I’m not at all burned out on playing acoustic guitar, or writing folk pop songs, just burnt out on forcing ourselves to stick to one particular formula. So we took a sabbatical from touring and promoting and doing band “business.” And when we began talking about recording this new album during that sabbatical, questions like, “How will we play this song live?” “Is this song equal parts Ryan and Hood?” “Does it sound like an acoustic duo?” were abandoned entirely. Instead we just asked, “Is it beautiful?” “Is it fun?” “Is it creative?” “What’s inside that wants to come out?” And there’s no question in my mind that these are far and away the best songs we’ve ever written. Not sure how we’ll ever make a record this good again. But that’s a worry for another day. For now, we’ve got to put the finishing touches on it, and let the world hear it!”
Thanks for everything, Cameron!