When choosing which songs would go on his latest record, singer/songwriter Ryan Bingham had only two requirements -- the songs had to be loud, and they had to be fun to play live.
It had been nearly two years since the release of "Junky Star," Bingham's stripped-down, deeply personal third LP, and he was ready for a change.
And for the 32-year-old Los Angeles native, that transition began with the recording of "Tomorrowland," which Bingham self-produced and released in September.
"A friend and I set up in this old ranch house with hardwood floors and high ceilings," Bingham said. "Everything sounded great in there. We had amps stacked to the ceiling and we were just dorking out on gear and different guitars and pedals. With this record, I thought, '(Expletive) all the rules.' The way I saw it, if we weren't pissing off the neighbors, we were doing something wrong."
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Bingham will perform songs from "Tomorrowland" and his three previous albums during a show May 14 at the Music Farm in Charleston. Opening will be The Wild Feathers, a Nashville quartet who most recently opened for Bob Dylan. Bingham also opened for the iconic singer/songwriter in June and July.
Bingham discusses the new record, his inability to write on the road and winning an Oscar for Best Original Song for "The Weary Kind" from 2009's "Crazy Heart."
Question: What was your mindset when making "Tomorrowland?"
Answer. I really just wanted to make a record that would be fun to play live and, at the time, I was playing a lot more electric guitars and trying out different sounds and tones. "Junky Star" was much more stripped-down, but it was a bit sad to play those songs every night.
Q. Did it work? Are you enjoying playing the new songs?
A. These shows have been some of the best and most fun shows, I've played in a long time. I still play a lot of the old stuff, but I'm really loving being able to play the new songs because they're all so unique. It allows me to kind of mix things up and break up the monotony.
Q. Do you have a favorite off the new album?
A. Probably a song called "Western Shore." That's a pretty personal song for me, and it's been a fun one to play live.
Q. Are you working on new material? Writing on the road at all?
A. I've never been particularly good at writing on the road. You're always so busy and always have so much going on that I like to wait until I get to a place where I can reflect on all of the experiences I've had.
Q. How often are you asked about the Oscar?
A. (Laughs) Like every day. But it's fine. I mean, it was totally surreal to have that opportunity and be a part of that film and work with T-Bone Burnett and meet Jeff Bridges. It really was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and something I'll remember forever.
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