Exclusive Artist Interview: Ryan Rickenbach | PERFORMING JULY 30TH AT BAR NINE

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A vague dream of the silver screen led Ryan Rickenbach to New York City. That and the near certainty of “white-hot instant success”, a fantasy carefully nurtured in the heart of suburban Maryland and quickly tempered on the streets of Manhattan

In anticipation of his live show with us on July 30th at 8:30PM, Ryan was nice enough to email us from his home-base in New York to discuss his musical influences, live show experience, and what inspires him on a day-to-day basis

BAR NINE: What type of band are you?
RYAN RICKENBACH: I am the ambassador of cosmic folk.

BN: Tell us the brief history of your band
RR: I began writing music as a teenager but did not take it seriously until about five years ago. I had performed in a musical about the folk scene in the 1960’s and that was the impetus to start performing live and writing again. Since then, it’s been my main focus.

BN: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
RR: I have a holy trinity of Elliott Smith, Hank Williams and Steely Dan. The three of those will always grab me and take me into their universe, totally. When I talk about cosmic folk, that’s kind of what I aspire to: songs that are so uniquely your own that you create your own damn cosmos. Get it?

BN: What are your dreams and goals?
RR: I’d like to make a living writing and performing music. That’s the realistic goal. Loads of money would be an added bonus.

BN: Who writes the songs, what are they about?
RR: I write the songs. They’re drawn mostly from my life, although they’re not autobiographical. I like to write thematically.

BN: How do you promote your band and shows?
RR: I make an online poster with cool fonts and plaster it all over social media. Then I call all my close friends and beg them to come.

BN: Describe your show, visual and musically
RR: Well it’s just me, and I’m not wearing any costumes. Sometimes I have a band play with me, but this show will be solo. For solo shows I don’t really make a setlist. Maybe a list of all my songs so I have something to draw from. But I like reading the room and playing to the crowd. I like to entertain and make people laugh if I can. I really strive to put on a good show. That’s the whole point, right?

BN: What do you think about downloading music online?
RR: Incredibly convenient and expedient. You can have what you want, when you want it. Although we’re not really talking about downloading any more, are we? We’re talking streaming. Streaming is great, but the current model is unsustainable. Ten bucks a month for every song ever recorded? That doesn’t seem very fair to me. And it’s not, I don’t think anyone could say otherwise.

BN: What's your outlook on the record industry today?
RR: Change seems to be a constant. So it’s hard to keep up. I just try to keep up with how the business is changing while still keeping my artistic flag in the dirt. My plan is to keep on putting out music I am proud of and playing as many shows as possible. Weigh any opportunities as they come. Life is too short.

BN: What's your claim to fame?
RR: I am the ambassador of cosmic folk!

BN: Tell us a story about a day in your life
RR: Yesterday I went to the beach and it was hot as hell. I put on sunscreen but I still got burned. I had little white lines on my stomach from where my stomach folded in on itself and didn’t see the sun. It was the 4th yesterday, so I watched fireworks on the roof and drank some red wine. I went to bed around midnight and had to wear earplugs because I’m on vacation and my family snores. Now I think I have an ear infection.

BN: What inspires you to do what you do?
RR: Process of elimination. Also youthful dreams of adoration that I never let go of.

BN: What advice would you give to fellow bands?
RR: I have nothing to offer.

BN: What are some of your pet peeves?
RR: If you’re lazy or inconsiderate we may not get along. I try not to keep a list of pet peeves. 

BN: How does music affect you and the world around you?
RR: I think the same way it does to everyone. I’m a little more hungry for it than the average person I think. I like when I find a song that clearly is going to represent a brief but very specific moment of my life. It’s seared into your soul from that moment on. You can always go back to it, for better or worse. Right now it’s Ty Segall’s “My Lady’s on Fire”.

BN: What's new in the recording of your music?
RR: I just finished my first full-length record. It’s being mixed right now. Should be totally done by the end of summer.

BN: What are the biggest obstacles for bands?
RR: Sticking with it? I really don’t know. I can’t speak for other bands.

BN: What's the best and worst thing about playing clubs?
RR: As opposed to the street? It’s a room full of potential. An audience waiting to be captivated. There’s alcohol. The best and worst are contained within those things.

Steven Padernacht