We chat to singer songwriter Ryan Hamilton of the transatlantic rock and roll band Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts about their new single, more music to come and staying creative during lockdown.Interview by Jane Howkins
You recently released a new single called Jesus & John Lennon. What can you tell us about that? It’s quite an interesting title!
It IS an interesting title, isn’t it?? Haha. We’ve actually had Spotify playlisters REFUSE to even listen to the song, because they were offended by the title! As ridiculous as that is, I actually sort of love it. Jesus & Lennon is the new single, which I co-wrote with Stevie Van Zandt. The song is essentially asking the question: If things are going to fall apart, no matter what, would you still do things the same?
You released a lyric video to accompany the single. May we ask why you chose to go down that route instead of making a more traditional music video?
Truth is, I’d rather people focus on the words, and the song… instead of trying to impress people with some sort of clever music video. Can’t it be enough, just have music, and words that you’re proud of? I’ve grown tired of the pressure to do music videos with every release.
Do you have any more singles planned for release? If so, when can we expect them, and what are they?
Yes! We have a few singles leading up to the release of the new album. The next one is called Oh No. Featuring my friend Kay Hanley (Letters to Cleo). It was such a blast to sing on the song together. I love her, and I think Oh No is gonna be a lot of people’s favorite from this new album.
You also have an album coming out in September called Nowhere To Go But Everywhere. What can you tell us about that?
I can tell you exactly what you just said! We have a new abum coming out in September! Haha. Jokes aside: This album was written in the wake of my divorce, during a road trip across America. It’s pretty heavy stuff. But I know (and the team of folks around me agree) that it’s the best album I’ve ever made. I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever make a better album, or write a stronger group of songs. If this album doesn’t do something big, I think maybe I’m in the wrong business.
This is your second album to be released. How did you find the writing and recording process? How different was it writing and recording the new album, compared to with your debut?
I got divorced. I will forever have empathy for anyone who goes through the devastation of divorce. The songs that poured out of me are a direct reflection of going through that life altering experience.
You also recently released an EP titled Incommunicado. Why did you decide to release an EP before the new album comes out, and how was the process of creating the EP different to with an album?
The EP was a last minute idea, recorded remotely in texas, the UK, and France… during lockdown. I had to find SOMETHING creative to do, or I was literally going to lose my mind. It was all recorded and done in just a few days. The fact that THIS was my first ever iTunes Number 1 blows my mind. Who knew! Haha.
Do you have any tour dates planned in the UK at all (once the pandemic has died down)?
It’s tough, because we want to plan… and there are some ideas being thrown around, but no one really knows what’s going to happen. Really hoping to be back in the UK early next year.
Has the pandemic caused any changes to the band over the last few months, or affected the way the band operates at all?
Not really. I take the lead on most things, and I’ve always operated from home. If anything, I’ve been more productive. Quarantine can have it’s advantages if you have the right attitude about it.
Why do you think people should come and see you perform live, and what can people expect from one of your shows?
I don’t think there’s a better live band out there right now. I’m not just saying that… you will see the same thing in the press. I work hard to MAKE SURE our shows are each truly memorable nights They are communal, joyous experiences.
Any last words for the fans?
If you buy any album I ever do, but this new one – Nowhere To Go But Everywhere.