Ryan Bingham And The Long Road To Overnight Success
Anyone who’s followed the Americana or Texas music scene had been familiar with Ryan Bingham for at least a couple of years. Since the release of Mescalito in 2007 and its follow-up, Roadhouse Sun, Bingham has won critical acclaim and a growing fanbase. The success of the movie Crazy Heart and his song “The Weary Kind,” however, has brought him some well-deserved mainstream recognition, not to mention a Golden Globe award and an Oscar nomination. Bingham took some time away from hobnobbing with the Hollywood elite on the red carpet to talk with The 9513 about Crazy Heart, his future plans and his wardrobe consultant.
SAM GAZDZIAK: I know this is a cheesy question, but I have to ask it. How did you find out about the [Oscar] nomination?
RYAN BINGHAM: My agent Jack Whigham called me on the phone.
SG: You mean weren’t up at 7 in the morning watching it on TV?
RB: Oh, hell no. (laughing)
SG: How has life changed since “The Weary Kind” put you more in the public eye?
RB: I don’t know if I can really tell yet. I’ve done a lot of interviews and stuff like that. I think we’ll really be able to tell when we get back on the road touring and see if it’s made a difference there. Other than that, man, not much has changed.
SG: What was the Golden Globes experience like for you?
RB: It was a lot of fun, kind of like all this stuff. You make the best of it and try to have as much fun as possible.
SG: Did you meet anyone you’d always wanted to meet?
RB: I didn’t get to meet a whole lot of people, but I got to meet Wes Anderson, which was cool. I’ve been a fan of his for a long time. I met Jeremy Renner, the guy who’s in the movie The Hurt Locker.
SG: How did you get your two songs (“The Weary Kind” and “I Don’t Know”) on the soundtrack?
RB: I first met with the director, Scott Cooper. He gave me the script and wanted to know if I was interested in writing some songs, and it went from there. I got in touch with T-Bone [Burnett] and wrote the songs with him.
SG: Was it planned that you would have a part in the movie as well?
RB: No, it wasn’t. That didn’t come in until a little later. The director came out when the band played at a show and thought that we’d be good for this bowling alley scene.
SG: What was the experience of shooting a movie?
RB: I’ve never really done anything like that except for making the music videos. It was a lot of fun. Jeff [Bridges] is such a great guy. Stephen Bruton was really great as well. He was there helping everybody and giving direction. I’ve been a big fan of T-Bone Burnett’s as well, and Stephen and Jeff, so it was nice to meet them and have them turn out to be the nice people that they are.
SG: Did you know Stephen Bruton before the movie?
RB: I’d just met him through this movie as well; I met him through T-Bone. I knew of him before but didn’t know him personally. But I’ve always looked up to Stephen and his guitar playing, and the sound he brought to the world. It was incredible. It was great to experience that and meet him.
SG: Have you done any shows with the band or playing solo lately?
RB: I haven’t done a whole lot lately. I’ve been writing a bunch and done some acoustic shows by myself. I’m putting the band together in May, and we’re going to be touring quite a bit and get back in gear.
SG: T-Bone is going to be producing the next album for you, correct?
RB: Yeah, we’re going to be in the studio in March.
SG: So what can fans expect from you?
RB: I’m really excited about the songs; I’ve got most of them already written. I feel like I just keep growing every day and learning every day, so when I listen back to the songs, it feels like things are progressing. This is a new chapter in my life, and I’m writing songs as I go. I’m writing about places that I’ve been and people that I meet along the way. It’s the story of what’s been going on in my world the past couple of years.
SG: Looking at where you are now, do you look back at where you came from with a little bit of shock?
RB: Oh yeah, man. It wasn’t three years ago that me and my drummer were living in our Suburban. I enjoyed that stuff, though. It was good for us.
SG: How do you kind of describe your music to people, and how does it fit in with today’s country music.
RB: I don’t really try to fit in with anything, but I was definitely raised on country music. That’s always been at my roots, and how I started out–folk, country and blues. It’s nice that with the band, we can take it in any direction we want. We can sit down with a bunch of acoustic instruments and get more of a bluegrass thing going, or we can turn up the electric guitars and play some rock & roll. It’s all kind of a big soup, you know?
SG: What is country music?
RB: I think just anything that comes from the heart and soul. It’s music that comes more from the heart and not so much the mind. That’s probably the best definition I can think of.
SG: Thanks, Ryan. So have you got your plans all set for Oscar night, what kind of tux you’ll be wearing and who you’ll be thinking in case you win?
RB: Oh, I haven’t got that far at all. I’ll probably have to call Colin Farrell and see if he’ll let me borrow some clothes. (laughing)
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