Texan singer-songwriter Ryan Hamilton is tired of the Bad Breaks
“Dear music business executives. I have some things to get off my chest. Are you listening?…”
So begins Ryan Hamilton’s latest single release, pissed-off and squaring-up firmly against a self-serving music industry.
Spin magazine has hailed Hamilton as one of the ‘35 Best Lesser Known Artists of The Last 35 years’, but owing to a calamitous series of events around the release of his latest album, it appears the gods of rock want it to stay that way.
Hamilton entered 2023 full of optimism, stating back in January, “I’ve been on the verge of tipping the proverbial scales for several years now. I’ve had some incredible people supporting and championing me. Now that all the pandemic-related road blocks are out of the way, it’s time.”
Nominated every year for the past fourteen for some kind of ‘Best New’ artist award, it felt like the elusive ‘next-level’ was finally within reach.
Originally slated for a March 10 release, ‘Haunted By The Holy Ghost’, Hamilton’s fourth record for Stevie Van Zandt’s ‘Wicked Cool’ label, had all the hallmarks of a career high. Advance reviews were uniformly giddy, Classic Rock magazine for one calling it ‘genius – one for the ages’. Then, days before the album’s release, it all turned to shit. A completely random check discovered that CDs of the album had entirely the wrong audio. A worldwide recall was hastily ordered.
Initially pushed back by over a month, in the week of its new release date, certain retailers inexplicably reported the album was delayed by a further week. And then by another. Completely in the dark, Hamilton was powerless to keep his loyal fan base appraised of the unraveling situation. Reports kept coming in of various pre-orders arriving in homes early and the album being displayed for sale in stores, such a stuttered release totally destroying Hamilton’s chances of emulating or eclipsing his previous multiple Top 10 Official UK Chart placings.
His response in the face of such adversity?…
To immediately write, record and schedule a stand-alone single directly addressing the music industry that has failed him so spectacularly.
A brand new track/ single just weeks after releasing the latest album. It’s a bold move.
After the new album delays, manufacturing errors, the album leaking early… then getting delayed – and AGAIN! etc… I decided it was time to draw a line. Do something new, something completely different. Something that I had total control over.
One suspects the opening guitar twang on the single doesn’t evoke Beck’s ‘Loser’ by accident, as Hamilton rails unto his audience, spoken word:
“I am not a person to you.
I am NOT a person to you.
You are the Dealer and we are the addicts.
You don’t need me.
You have Harry Styles and Taylor Swift!”
What do you think will be the industry response to the message behind the new single – (or should you even care?)
I don’t know and I don’t care. Which is new territory for me. I think because I’ve been through so much shit with the “Industry” over the past several months – and years… and it’s gotten me nowhere… I really don’t care what they think. Truth is, they’ll probably just ignore me.
Both Taylor Swift and Harry Styles get name-checked on the new single, what do you think they’ll make of it?
They will never hear it. They live in the “super famous” bubble. They don’t visit us down here in Struggling Artist Land.
The video for Bad Breaks looks like you’re taking a real beating…
Yeah. Nothing like getting slapped in the face repeatedly! Especially when you have to do several takes. But it’s an accurate representation of the song, and how I’m feeling.
Hamilton continues the song by championing the cause for better treatment and remuneration of “paycheck to paycheck” artists like himself (“your critical acclaim doesn’t fill my fridge, your awards don’t pay my bills”), positing:
“Imagine movies – without music.
Imagine television – without music.
Imagine theatre… without music.”
Once finally out in the world ‘Haunted By The Holy Ghost’ was embraced by a hugely supportive audience (despite many CDs still carrying the wrong audio). Aware of at least a fraction of the lows (and lows) befalling Hamilton, several fans fighting on behalf of the underdog bought extra copies and gifted forward to friends. But with such a fractured release the album eventually staggered into the lower reaches of the Official UK Charts across several weeks, rather than have one big victorious birth.
For months you seemed to be on a roll promoting this album with hilarious videos highlighting the pitfalls you’ve struggled against in the music industry. Then a devastating cluster of cock-ups with your album led to it being delayed by nearly two months. Does it ever feel like someone’s playing a sick cosmic joke on you?
I must have really pissed off the Music gods, because… DAMN! We had so many incredible things on the horizon. I turned in “Haunted By The Holy Ghost” over a year ago. We had been planning and promoting for a year. So, for it all to go to shit the way it has is pretty devastating as far as the hopes we had for the album.
So, is this the way forward for you – writing, recording and self-releasing as often as you want, without ‘Industry’ interference/hindrance?
Absolutely, 100%! I’ve been so beaten down by all the recent insanity, the only thing that makes me feel excited, or inspired, is escaping and doing things on my own.
Does this mean plenty of new music on the horizon?
It means an ABUNDANCE of it. I already have another album’s worth of material.
You announced a ‘Farewell Tour – Part 1’, which was subsequently cancelled. More bad breaks?…
Yeah. You can’t make this shit up. Album delayed, Tour(s) cancelled. None of it within my control… but I’m the one paying the price for other people’s screw-ups. It’s inspired me to do things differently moving forward. It’s gonna be better. I believe it.
Previous single ‘Asshole’, brilliantly released on Valentine’s Day, got the attention of the Darkness’ Justin Hawkins, humorously branding it as ‘career self-sabotage’. It must feel good to get recognition from your peers…
Absolutely! Love that guy, and I love the way he operates. To have his support and hear someone I look up to praise a song like “Asshole” is amazing.
On even cheerier news, you recently announced that your wife is expecting and that you’ll soon be first-time parents. Congratulations!
Thank you. I didn’t think being a dad was in the cards for me. I’ve surprised myself by how excited I am about it.
Hopefully no saccharine lullabies for the newborn – there’s been some real stinkers from rock-Dad’s over the years…
Haha. ZERO chance of that happening from me. I think it will have a really interesting effect on my songwriting. But I guess we’ll find out soon enough.
And presumably you’ll be advising your offspring AGAINST a career in the music business?…
Haha. Nah, if they want to get into the Music Business, I’ll just be their Manager and use my wealth of knowledge on what NOT TO DO.
And what of touring? Is it ‘farewell’?…
I just confirmed a House Party Tour for early next year. Yes, really. I’m headed to the UK to play in people’s living rooms. I’m tired of doing the same old thing that everyone else is doing. Time to mix it up, and reconnect with the incredible people who support me and my music.
Finally, if you could give any advice to independent artists from your own experience, what would it be?
Don’t worry about “big” shows or “big” tours. I’ve made that mistake, and been let down too many times. Focus on your craft, promote yourself online, or with a Newsletter (something I just started, and LOVE) … and really focus on becoming a better songwriter, or guitar player, or singer etc.
Here’s to Bad Breaks ushering in a run of better luck for Hamilton.
‘Bad Breaks’ is most definitely available digitally on all platforms from May 16.