Ryan Bingham a rising ‘Star’ with cross-country appealBy Andrea Warner
Ryan Bingham’s life story has the makings of a country song: young, wild teen joins the rodeo circuit riding bulls, picks up a bit of guitar along the way, and goes on to become an Academy Award-winning songwriter for Crazy Heart’s “The Weary Kind,” all before his 29th birthday. A few months later, Bingham and his band, the Dead Horses, released their third album, Junky Star, a haunting collection that shows off the Texas-raised singer-songwriter’s bottom-of-the-bottle vocals and bruised-and-blues lyrics. Now, almost a year later, Bingham is getting ready to make his Vancouver debut, speaking with WE over the phone during a quick break on the road.
Please confirm my suspicions that there are similarities between the rodeo circuit and the record industry.
Ryan Bingham: Yeah, there are quite a few. The main thing is there’s a lotta bullshit. [Laughs]
Were you surprised by how many skills came in handy transitioning from one to another?
Yeah, I think I was. Kinda familiar territory... You spend hours and hours tryin’ to get to a place where the performance part of it is just 10 per cent of it, and the rest of it is just tryin’ to get there, you know?
Do you write from a personal perspective rather than telling stories about other people?
Yeah, I think so.
A lot of songwriters say “no,” it seems, just so people won’t analyze the subject matter too deeply.
Yeah, I mean I just think it’s a combination of a lot of different stuff. Just travelin’ across the country and goin’ overseas to Europe. The people you meet and the places you go and the stuff you see every day, you just take all of that into consideration.
Have there been a lot of ‘Wow, I can’t believe this is happening’ experiences?
Yeah, I think a lot of the stuff when we were tourin’ in Europe, goin’ through Italy and playin’ in these old castles and you know, some of the places you get to, it’s like, man, what are we doin’ here? [Laughs]
Did you have any idea at all what was in store for you when you met [Crazy Heart director] Scott Cooper?
No, not at all. I just had lunch with the guy and he told me a little bit about the film and the script and it was just kinda a real informal meeting and I had no idea anything would come of it... And then a lot happened. [Laughs]
Obviously it gave you more exposure, but does the award make any real difference in your day-to-day life?
No, not really at all. You know, still get up and put your pants on one leg at a time. [Laughs] That’s the biggest misconception: everyone thinks you win an award like that and you get a million dollars, but it doesn’t happen.
Still returning your empties to the store?Exactly.
Ryan Bingham & The Dead Horses perform Feb. 20 at Venue, 8pm. Tickets $16 from TicketWeb.ca.