A delayed album, a delayed tour, a delayed soundcheck and a horde of fans waiting to have all their stuff signed outside the changing room. Despite all the pressures of a first-night show on their new tour to highlight the release of The Chronicles of Tim Powers, Ryan Hamilton took the time to answer a few questions while he was still sober… (with only a slight interruption from Jarret Reddick!)
So, Ryan Hamilton – one half of Wikipedia-labelled “supergroup” People on Vacation…
Terrible! Hate it!
It does actually say that. I have to ask – do you write that on Wikipedia?
I did not. I don’t know who did that. But let’s keep it, why not?
How does it feel to be classed as a supergroup?
It feels a little silly, but we like silly.
You like silly, but according to your t-shirts, you don’t like fun?
Yeah, that is a funny thing. It’s because I didn’t go to Jarret’s New Year’s Eve party and he got mad at me. So he tweeted “It sucks that our band broke up because Ryan hates fun” and people did not know he was joking. They got pretty upset with us so instead of apologising, he decided to turn it in to t-shirt and buttons. So now people can walk around in a “Ryan Hates Fun” t-shirt. Please go buy one!
Obvious question – how did you guys meet and start writing together?
It was about 2010, my former band [Smile Smile – Mosh] was at SXSW as sort of a… buzz-worthy indie band, up and coming. We were doing a showcase there. Jarret walked in and I remember leaning over to my former bandmate and saying “What is the singer from Bowling For Soup doing here? There’s no way he likes this.” He hung around for the whole show, we came off stage, he introduced himself. He was super nice, he invited us on tour… and we said “No, we’re not going on tour with Bowling For Soup – your fans are going to hate us”, but he talked us into it and – longer story shorter – we became fast friends. My other band wasn’t much fun to be in. It was a struggle, but we loved what we were doing musically so we kept doing it. So one day I approached him and suggested we just try writing some songs together and see what happens. We’d intended on writing songs for other people, make some of that Nashville money, but we liked the songs so much we got stingy and kept them!
Did you have other people in mind to write for, ot did you think of writing songs and then seeing if there was someone out there they’d suit?
Honestly, the conversation never got that far. The first song we ever wrote was called “Rainy Day” and it was just this really interesting meeting of his punk background and my sad singer/songwriter background. It worked and we never got as far as “someone else can have this” because we wanted it!
The first time I saw you over here was opening for BFS Acoustic. Was that your own first trip to the UK?
That was my first time in the UK and I threw up a lot. A lot of alcohol and throwing up and Jarret filming it, and making fun of me.
I saw you at the Liquid Rooms in Edinburgh…
Oh, that was the first time I ever ate at the place “Oink”. They put a pig a day in the window which they’ve roasted the night before, and once that pig is gone the place closes. To this day it’s my favourite place on planet Earth to eat.
You had Linus of Hollywood opening for you that night as well if I remember correctly?
Yes! That’s actually the only time we’ve been able to have everyone together like that, in that way. I have a lot of great memories of that tour. Though a lot of the memories involve drinking…
Linus did keyboards on your first album and EP…?
Linus has been a part of all of it. he’s kind of… I don’t want to say our “secret ingredient”, but he definitely takes what we do – we say “hey, we’re going for this sound” – and he adds what we refer to as “jizz”.
And I think we’ll keep the rest of that secret secret! Lines must be drawn! So who do you have touring with you tonight? You’re known as a two piece, but you play as a band so who’s backing you tonight?
We do, we have Micky and Robb – drums and bass. We actually feel these guys are our band now. This is our third time touring. It doesn’t feel like just Jarret and I and a couple of extra guys.
[Jarret – even though it’s our faces on all the shit! Famous!]
When you wrote that first song and decided to be selfish and keep it, did you think PoV would pick up the way that it has?
Man, I hoped that it would because my last band was a bummer to be in and it was nice to have some fun. I’ve learned a lot from Jarret, and I definitely want to learn more and work more. I cross my fingers that it continues to keep growing. This tour’s a big step for us and I hope it goes well.
What made you decide to crowd-fund the Tim Powers album?
We’d done a couple of things before, BFS had done something, and it just worked so well. To not have to have a record label was just the greatest thing ever when you’ve had struggles with one in the past which Jarret and I both have. So we can have all the people who already like our band fund this and get some cool extra things along the way. I’ve backed other projects as a fan, and I think it’s an incredible platform.
Do you think this is all down to social media, the internet and so on?
Yeah, everyone’s so connected and you just feel like you know people even though chances are you never met them in your life. You can form a connection like you couldn’t back in the day.
A lot of bands these days are doing their own social media rather than leaving it to PR.
I think it’s really important. For example, one of Jarret’s heroes Sebastian Bach… just to look on Twitter and see Jarret and Sebastian tweeting back and forth is unreal!
Why the delay with the tour? You were supposed to be over at the end of last year.
Both of us personally have had a crazy couple of years. There was just a lot going on. But the single “You May Not Believe In God” started doing really well in the UK, getting played on the radio quite a bit. So personal struggles, plus a lot going on, combined with the single starting to do OK … and the music business chimes in and says “let’s see how the single grows, let it build a bit, let’s push the tour back, you guys could use a break anyway…”. We could probably have gone ahead with the tour, but it made sense on a personal and business level to leave it for a bit.
Last time you were here was in April last year supporting Patent Pending. How does your headline slot compare to the more limited time you had with that show?
Well now we have a new album and more songs so now we can play all the songs people know and like and a few from the new album. We just have more options. Then – even though we had a great time and I think we played a great set every night – we were considerably more limited with song selection. Now we can have whatever we want.
So the key question after the delay and the venue change… are you worth the wait?
I think so. And here’s why. Because it gave us more time to rehearse the new songs, to see what new songs people liked, and just to feel out the response. No we can go “OK, this album’s been out for however long on Pledge Music and now it’s officially available everywhere”, we can look and see which songs people are quoting or asking us to play.
[Find out if we thought they were worth the wait in the gig review from that night… Mosh]