Ryley Walker is the reincarnation of the true American guitar player. That’s as much a testament to his roving, rambling ways, or the fact that his Guild D-35 guitar has endured a few stints in the pawnshop. Last year, he showed us what he is capable of as a solo artist, and on August 4th, he is back as the frontman of his band to present his new psychedelic Americana record, Golden Sings That Have Been Sung. But before the blast, he also answered our questions.
You’ve already performed on A38 Ship last year. What kind of memories do you have about that concert?
Had such great fun as it was my first visit. It was winter – so it was a bit cold. I’m really looking forward to celebrating music and friends in the nice weather. It’s great in Budapest.
You’ve said about your latest album, Golden Sings That Have Been Sung, that with it, you wanted personality in music. Could you explain this a bit more?
Perhaps just more of a concentrated effort to make a song that carries weight. I felt a need to pivot a bit musically. I really set myself up to be this folk thing and I had a good feeling I wanted change almost immediately. A tortured artist….woe is me.
Pretty soon after Primrose Green came out, you already talked about moving on, stating that you aren’t interested in those songs anymore. How soon did the ideas that became Golden Sings That Have Been Sung start formulating in your head?
Basically before the Primrose Green record came out. Maybe six months beforehand I had a few ideas working in my mind.
Initially, you said that there would be only four very long songs on the album, that it would be like a Coltrane or a Stormcock record. Could you talk about the development of your ideas about what the album should be like?
I was just talking out of my ass. Creating an album for me sort of happens day by day. Something that ambitious would be beyond my universe at this time. I like a nice, strong forty minute record with 8-10 songs. Lots of things to say.
If I say that it very much feels and sounds like a Chicago record, would you agree?
I would certainly agree. It’s a real musical city that I’m connected to.
There seem to be a lot of allusions to religion on this record, and to a Christian education. How important is religion in your life?
It’s purely allegory. I’m not religious nor have I ever really been religious. I enjoy my earthly time without all the hassle from God.
What does the lineup of your current touring band look like now and how would you say it altered the DNA of your music, compared to previous lineups?
For the show in Budapest I’d definitely say it’s built around guitar-centric jamming. Should be a blast to present the psychedelic vision to the great people of Hungary.
Apart from your solo albums, you’ve also released recordings with Bill Mackay and toured with Danny Thompson. Do these project serve as a different kind of outlet for you?
I treat them with as much effort as my own records. It’s just a way to keep busy and active.
In an interview, you bashed cute folk music, twee and the current revival of emo rock in America, saying that on the other hand, Trump might be the president. Do you think that these two phenomenons are related and if there had been more protest music, for example, the elections would have ended differently?
I don’t think emo had much to do with Trump’s election. I genuinely don’t care what people listen to. I was likely joking in that interview. I don’t think some asshole making a protest song would have changed the election cycle. The American people made their minds up a long time ago they wanted this.
Working on new music and trying to cut down on smoking. It’s expensive and gross.