Nov 15, 2014

Ryan Beaver: A Passion For The Song and Leaving His Mark

Story by D. Collin Hudson

Talking with Ryan Beaver about his craft, it quickly becomes clear how seriously he takes on the art of songwriting.  “To me,” he says, “the song is what matters the most.”  Maybe that’s why in his short career he has already produced some highly memorable ones.  After six years of living in Austin and steadily performing around Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Louisiana, Beaver has two fine records to his credit.  “Under The Neons” was released in 2008 and “Constant” in 2011.  “Between the two full-length CD’s.” he recalled, “I guess I’ve worked about four or five songs to the Texas radio chart stations.”  Songs like “Hate,” “Streets of Austin,” and “Under the Neons” enjoyed radio airplay around Texas and the surrounding region while also earning the Emory, Texas native some notice in Music City.

 For almost a year and a half now Ryan has been living in Nashville and working as a paid songwriter. When asked how he balances being a solo artist with working on a songwriting deal at the same time, he confessed, “I definitely see it as a double-edged sword.  I’m the type that always wanted to write songs on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings.  I wasn’t just playing Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and then hanging up the guitar.  That guitar stayed in my hands the whole week.”  Beaver continued, “It was always a challenge wanting to collaborate with people or find time to write with somebody, and it was often hard to do.  So that’s one great thing about Nashville is this work ethic to just create.  So I’ve found like-minded people in that sense.  But then what can happen is that you can end up becoming part of the farm, or farming out your songs.  A lot of them can mean nothing to you, and be completely fictional, and some can be very personal.  And that fine line is up to you. What I have found is there absolutely is a balance there.”  Ryan added, “I’ve gotten to sit down now with some of my favorite songwriters and get their take on it.  At the end of the day when you shoot to do this as your job you have to do whatever you have to do to pay your rent and eat.  But if you care about the craft and you’re passionate about music, I think you’re always still thinking about leaving your mark.”   Then he admitted, “But there are some out there that are not as concerned about that and definitely look at it more as just a business.”
 The amazing Storyville guitarist and producer, David Grissom, produced Ryan’s first two releases, which I had to ask Ryan about.  “I hooked up to David Grissom through Lloyd Maines.”  He explains, “It was a lot of fun to get to know him and just being a kid who absolutely loved the way David plays, knowing the stuff he contributed on, it was just unbelievable! (Grissom has recorded and toured with music business legends like Joe Ely, Lucinda Williams, John Mellencamp, The Dixie Chicks, The Allman Brothers, Chris Isaak, etc.)  Beaver continued, “From David’s songs to his playing and production, he’s just really amazing.  I have always admired him because he was one of the best working musicians I ever got the chance to actually be around at a young age.  I just soaked up everything he had to say.  I did my best at that.”  Ryan added, “When I get a new record I like to sit down, put it on track one, and listen to it all the way through.  But to me, it’s still all about the song.  So Lloyd (Maines) was cool enough to spot this early on.  He conferred with David Grissom and said I should meet him and talk music.”  Maines told Beaver, “I just have a feeling you guys will get along.”
“And so we get together one afternoon in Austin.” Beaver pleasantly recalls, “We just jammed and he showed me a bunch of records that I didn’t know about.  And I knew he had played on some of my favorite ones, so it made for an easy transition.  I thank Lloyd for that every time I see him.”  When asked if Grissom has produced any other artists, Ryan confided, “I think he’s done a few songs here and there with some different people, but as far as full-length records, I think it’s just been me.  To work with him was just awesome.  Just to get to be around the guy and learn, and watch him and ask questions…  I was really like a sponge working on those projects with him, because he’s the real deal.”
While discussing the creative and recording process and what we can expect from the forthcoming album, Ryan allowed, “I’m doing my third record now and I talked with David (Grissom) about it and he was suggestive that I should get out there and spread my wings.  Figure something else out.  That it was time to do something different.  That was just him being super wise and talking to a young kid and knowing what’s best for him.  And I think he was right.”  Beaver continued, “You get out there and after a while you really start to figure out what works for you, and what you’re all about and where you want to go.  I’ve just been experimenting.  I feel like I’ve been in a lab for the last year and half.”  On his influences past and present Ryan says, “I’ve always leaned a little more rock n’ roll than country. Still to this day, if there’s a meter, I’m leaning a little more towards the roots rock than traditional country.  I’ve always felt like I was drawn to roots rock.  But I was also drawn to the story and the craft of songwriting from folk, Americana and country music.
 So for the better part of the last year and a half, Ryan has been carefully working on his third album.  The new record will be released in early 2015 and is being produced by Jeremy Spillman, Ryan Tyndell, and Ryan Beaver.  “The new album has been recorded, “Ryan explains, “and I’ve been slowly taking my time and piecing it together.  I’m being as meticulous as I can be where I listen to everything, step away from it for a month or so, then come back to it and realize some little thing wasn’t just right.  This is some of my favorite songwriting I’ve ever done.  I think you’ll hear some maturity in my singing, my playing and my writing.  I am sort of old-schooled in a lot of ways but I’m also very progressive sometimes, and this is a very progressive record sonically.”  Beaver continued, “Radney Foster put out one of the most progressive rock records I’d ever heard in my life, the “See What You Want to See” album.  And I thought to myself if this is where music is heading, I want in.” (Radney recently tweeted about being “blown away by Ryan Beaver’s new songs.”)  “And Jack Ingram put out a record,” Ryan continued, “I love a lot called “Electric” and it was so progressive.  This was great!  It just made my heart happy because I knew that the songs were still there.  You couldn’t take that away from it.  But they were also having fun and you could tell that they were going for sounds and something that just hadn’t been done.”  Ryan continued, “We all look back at times and the music we love and I love it all.  But for me, I want to try and push forward.  So the one thing I can say about the new record is that it’s progressive.  I’m pretty pumped about it.  I’ve been off the radar for a while.” 

 “I didn’t really quite expect to make this a job,” Ryan reveals, “but one day I woke up and I was working on record number three.  There have been ups and downs and we could talk about everything that has gone wrong, or everything that has gone right.  But it’s about the journey, and if you keep your eyes on the road, everything should be fine.” And finally, on the eventual release of his new record, Ryan put it so well, “At the end of the day, no matter how big you tee it up, it still comes down to whether anybody likes the record or not and how they feel about the songs.  You really can’t hide behind anything else.”

1 comment :

this site said...

I've never heard any of his songs. I think I'll check for some of his compositions. I could like them.

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