On self isolation lockdown in Fort Worth, Texas, with just his dog Peaches for company (save the occasional possum, beaver and a swarm of termites that wouldn’t respect social distancing), Ryan has recently completed a ‘QuaranTour’ through the online platform StageIt.
Having just put the finishing touches to his second album for Stevie Van Zandt’s ‘Wicked Cool’ label with band the Harlequin Ghosts (their debut just last week picked up an Album of the Year award at the Independent Music Awards), Ryan suddenly found himself with time on his hands.
Uncharacteristically quiet – for Hamilton – on the socials in recent weeks, the silence was suddenly broken on April 29 with a post simply showing album art, title and a date (April 30th).
Without further fanfare, the very next day (Hamilton’s birthday) the first video from a new mini-album/EP dropped, a cover of Jo Dee Messina’s ‘Heads Carolina, Tails California’. Originally released by Messina in 1996, the lyrics by Tim Nichols & Mark D. Sanders have an all new poignancy in these times of lockdown:
‘Somewhere greener, somewhere warmer
Up in the mountains, down by the ocean
Where don’t matter long as we’re goin’
The EP, Incommunicado, is available on all digital & streaming platforms now.
Proceeds from digital sales will be donated to the Music Venue Trust’s ‘Save Our Venues’ campaign, critical in protecting over 500 grass roots music venues in the UK that have been identified as at imminent risk of closure.
How did the idea for this mini-album/EP come about? (belated ‘Happy Birthday’ – by the way!)
Honestly, I was about to lose my mind. Being isolated, in a new house (I recently moved) and dealing with quarantine alone, was something I was NOT emotionally prepared for. If I didn’t find something to do, I was quite literally headed for some sort of emotional breakdown. Not being dramatic. Just being honest. So, instead of letting myself go to that dark place, I reached out to our Producer, Dave Draper, and we decided to dive into what became this Incommunicado EP. Recorded remotely from here in Texas, the UK, and France. THANK THE LORD FOR TECHNOLOGY!
Tell us about your song choices and what they mean to you.
When you’re from Texas, Country music is a part of your life. It’s everywhere, all the time. These songs feel like home. I also wanted songs that relate to quarantine, and the emotional roller coaster of all things related to this pandemic. But, I wanted it to still feel hopeful. Like the light at the end of the tunnel.
I understand the guitar you’re using on these tracks has a bit of a backstory?…
Yeah. My guitar is very special to me. I got it at Norman’s Rare Guitars in California. Norman is the go to guy for a lot of big names out there. Including my hero, Tom Petty. I went in the store at the end of a long, soul searching road trip from Texas… and had no intentions of leaving with a guitar. But, Norm and I got to talkin’, and we talked about Tom… and before I knew it, I was leaving with a vintage Martin acoustic. That guitar feels like my child. I cherish it.
And you’re donating proceeds to the Music Venue Trust’s ‘Save Our Venues’ cause.
Feels important to give something back right now and this is a cause close to my heart – and to everyone who’s missing live music right now. The UK has been very good to me and our band, we love playing live there. It’s heartbreaking to think of losing a lot of that heritage, we need to do all we can.
I believe the new album with the Harlequin Ghosts is due later this year – what are you able to tell us about it and what can we expect of the sound?
The album was written on the aforementioned road trip, in the wake of my divorce. It’s a group of songs about heartbreak, and finding yourself. It’s not like anything I’ve ever done. I am certain they’re the best songs I’ve ever written. When that album comes out, it will be like baring my soul… and I’m ok with that.
Produced, Mixed & Mastered by Dave Draper
Ryan Hamilton – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
Dave Draper – Guitars & Bass
Emily Ewing – Backing Vocals
Maurice Hipkiss – Pedal Steel