Grammy Award-winning singer songwriter Ryan Bingham wraps up his run supporting The Milk Carton Kids across the UK this week. Rushonrock Editor Simon Rushworth caught up with one half of the team behind the theme tune to Hollywood smash Crazy Heart.
Rushonrock: How much were you looking forward to this month’s UK tour and what do you like most about playing for British audiences?
Ryan Bingham: I’m loving the tour and the fans in the UK are great. I enjoy playing the solo acoustic shows here and it seems like the audiences enjoy that more intimate format as well.
Rushonrock: How do you explain the explosion in popularity of country/roots/Americana in Britain during the last decade?
RB: I’ve definitely seen it grow over the last few years and it’s nice to see a younger generation of fans getting into the music. I think they are getting tired of the over produced pop music that has been forced onto them and are now looking for stories and songs that have a bit more depth and honesty to them.
Rushonrock: What are the different challenges that you face playing back home compared to gigging overseas?
RB: I’d say the travel is the biggest challenge. It’s definitely easier to get around over here with public transportation and the rail system. In the US we are just bound to a bus, which has its pros and cons but definitely is less independent and also less environmentally sustainable.
Rushonrock: Are you a lover of life on the road or is leaving home a wrench – can you describe the ups and downs of being a gigging musician?
RB: I still love the adventure but now that I have a family it’s a bit tough to leave. I feel lucky to play music for a living but I constantly miss my kids.
Rushonrock: What’s the story behind American Love Song’s album title?
RB: American Love Song is a concept album based on where I’m from and the experiences I’ve had growing up in America. It’s about where I was raised and all the towns I have lived in growing up. It’s about political and social issues as well as personal experiences. The album is the story of a young kid growing up in America. What it meant then and what it means now.
Rushonrock: What is your approach to songwriting and do you favour an individual or a collaborative approach?
RB: Most of the songs I write are a bit too personal to collaborate on lyrically but I do like to collaborate on the music side of things.
Rushonrock: Will there be an opportunity within your set in Newcastle supporting The Milk Carton Kids to offer an insight into that songwriting process?
RB: Yes, I hope so. I usually tell a few stories about where some of the songs came from or what they were inspired by.
Rushonrock: Can you describe the impact that The Weary Kind had on your career initially and its continued influence today?
RB: It definitely gave me the opportunity to travel and perform in places I probably would not have otherwise visited. And it opened some doors. But I tried to stay true to why I wrote songs, including The Weary Kind, in the first place and not give in to the outside pressures to just recreate that one song over and over.
Rushonrock: Have you written better songs or are the best yet to come?
RB: I hope the best are yet to come!
Rushonrock: What can you tell Americana fans about The Milk Carton Kids and why should they do everything in their power to make this week’s?
RB: Prior to this tour I’d never met The Milk Carton Kids but their music is great and I love hearing their songs live. They have a great sense of humour that they bring to the stage. It will be a great night of music and stories in Newcastle.
*Ryan Bingham supports The Milk Carton Kids at Newcastle Tyne Theatre tomorrow.
Images by Anna Axster