We all cope with the difficulties of life in different ways. For singer-songwriter Ryan Hamilton, a “crushing” divorce inspired him to take to the road where he embarked on an adventure of self discovery and healing. The miles of asphalt that passed beneath his tires also lead to his latest album, Nowhere To Go But Everywhere, available tomorrow on Wicked Cool Records.
“Taking that road trip changed me, and the course of my life, in the most incredible way,” he said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace. “Forever thankful.”
We recently sat down with Hamilton to discuss getting truthful, shedding pressure, and why forced isolation has been a struggle for him.
TrunkSpace: Your new album, Nowhere To Go But Everywhere, was written during a road trip across the USA. We love ourselves a good highways and byways journey of self-discovery. Outside of this collection of songs, what was the best thing that came out of that trip for you?
Hamilton: I went on the road trip in the wake of my divorce. Divorce is a CRUSHING thing to go through. Getting the hell out of there, and hitting the open road was my way of facing my demons, and emotionally processing everything. I spent nights in the desert, in the mountains… everywhere. The solitude, the quiet, the beauty… not only was it the perfect setting, for me, to deal with the emotional aftermath of divorce, it became an overwhelming adventure of self discovery, healing, and learning things about myself I never knew. I didn’t plan to, or even think about writing any new songs ‘til about halfway through that trip. Taking that road trip changed me, and the course of my life, in the most incredible way. Forever thankful.
TrunkSpace: How did being on the road influence your writing? Where did it impact you the most?
Hamilton: The solitude, the beauty, and the lack of distractions seemed to make things more raw… more real. I found myself just telling the truth, all the way, without trying to be clever during the songwriting process. I just wrote what I felt, and being on the road lent itself to writing that way. The songs came out different. It felt like therapy.
TrunkSpace: Nowhere To Go But Everywhere is the follow up to This Is The Sound, which won the Independent Music Award for Best Indie Album. Did you feel any creative pressure heading into the follow up?
Hamilton: Yeah, I did! (Laughter) Truth is, I wasn’t planning on writing/recording another album anytime soon. But, life happened, and these songs started appearing. So, in a way, it took the pressure off – because this new album came out of nowhere, and the songs came from a very unexpected place.
TrunkSpace: The album is due to drop September 18. What kind of emotions do you juggle with when releasing new material to the masses, and is the experience different this time around given that the entire world, essentially, has ground to a halt?
Hamilton: It does feel a little different. But I’m proud of us, and our label for going for it. Music has a healing power, and we need it more than ever right now. I always juggle the emotions of hoping I’m working as hard as I can, to do everything I can, to make the album as successful as it can be. I feel that pressure more than ever right now, because I know this is the best album I’ve ever made.
TrunkSpace: Normally you would tour to support a new release, but that is not something that is possible in every state right now. How has promoting the upcoming album changed? How do you get the word out when people can’t get out themselves?
Hamilton: Thankfully we live in a time where digital, online promotion is possible. Now that touring is off the table, we focus more attention to promotion online. Fingers crossed! And may I just add: I CAN’T WAIT TO TOUR AGAIN. I miss it so much.
TrunkSpace: Jack Kerouac’s belt is featured on the back of the album. “On The Road” obviously impacted you at some point in your life as it has countless others – which makes us wonder, what would it mean to you to have Nowhere To Go But Everywhere be the inspiration for others to go out and find themselves on the road? Why is it the perfect companion piece to a long stretch of open sky highway?
Hamilton: Several people have said things along the line: “It’s the perfect Road Trip album”. I find that fascinating. Ya know, since it was written on a road trip. (Laughter) Being the owner of Jack’s belt is an unexpected honor, and I will treasure his belt forever. Reading “On the Road” changed me. I was in college, and not too long after that, I found myself dropping out of school, and going on tour for the first time. Jack’s writing gave me inspiration to go for it. That’s pretty damn powerful.
TrunkSpace: If someone sat down to listen to Nowhere To Go But Everywhere front to back, what would they learn about you both as an artist and as a person?
Hamilton: That I’m broken, but I’m still full of hope.
TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Hamilton: Its honesty, and the quality of the songwriting. I pushed myself harder than ever.
TrunkSpace: We have all been in some form of lockdown for the majority of 2020. How much of your time spent social distancing has also been spent creating? Have you experienced a creative jolt during this period – and will it lead to another album?
Hamilton: I haven’t really had any creative jolts. I find myself forcing myself to stay creative, to keep the depression at bay. The loneliness, and isolation-inspired sadness is a struggle for me.
TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Hamilton: Damn straight I would! I’ve spent a decade operating in the middle… PRAYING for a break. At this point, I’ll take any clues to get me to that ever illusive “next level’ in this fucked up backwards business of music.
Nowhere To Go But Everywhere is available tomorrow via Wicked Cool Records.