The Lumen Sessions Interview (Number 3)

I visited Ryan a few weeks ago and we sat at his place, after both of our kids were in bed, and had a few beers and did this interview.  It turned out great.  I think.  Ryan's wife kept walking by and interjecting her own thoughts, so really this is a "two for the price of one".  Enjoy!

This is Ryan Earnhardt's interview.  Ryan, do you feel this album, The Lumen Sessions, is different (I then rant about the smell of a fart...) than past albums of mine?  "Yes."

How?  "The instrumentation.  (long pause.... we both laugh) Okay, let me explain.  I think your past albums were going after the, maybe the Ryan Adams and the Cardinals .....uh..... sound.  Because you secretly had a love affair with that band.  But I think this album was trying to search for .....(laughter)....    the real Flint."

Awwww.  "Yeah, the real Flint.  And, uh.... (laughter).... I love how you're recording this instead of trying to write it down.  In your state.  (laughter) (Ryan's cat meows in the background and his wife says something as she walks into the room.)  I'm being interviewed, honey.  He's interviewing me."

What is your favorite song from The Lumen Sessions?  "String."

Why is that your favorite?  These are deep questions. (Ryan's wife again says something.)  That's enough over there!  (laughter)  Fiona Apple...  (laughter at the inside joke and she states she is going to bed.)  "My wife is in bed and I am not there."

Right.  Well, you have to answer these questions. (laughter)  Why is that your favorite?  (laughter) "Um, I think String touches on a vibe that maybe it's just the vibe of a place that, that, uh, maybe I can't go to or is beyond my scope of reality, but it's a place that I can act like, it's like this crazy bar or something.  People are going nuts and there's this raunchy blues/rock music and stuff and people are going nuts for it, you know, and in real life, um..... a bar doesn't look like that.  But I want it to look like how I see it when I hear String, you know?   I want people to be going nuts, dancing on tables.... (laughter).  You know, like......"

Drinking Green Man IPA? "What are you smiling about?" (Ryan's wife obviously did NOT go to bed and is heckling.)

I have my questions!  " Okay,......"

Why are you still here, I thought you were going to bed? (She asks if I am really asking him questions.)  Yes I'm asking him questions, I have them written down.  These are all my questions. (She says she sees that.) (We try to explain what we are doing.)  "He interviewed his daughter and she mentioned me several times, it was really  weird."

Yeah, yeah. I asked Scarlet and then I asked Jana.  Ryan's next.  (laughter) (She says she thought we were just playing around.) No.  No, all this will be typed up. (laughter)  "He's going to have to transcribe, therefor I am giving a really long answer."  (She asks if I need a pen.  I try to explain that I am recording it with my phone.) "Okay, okay, here's the thing.  Flint types at about ten words a minute (laughter) which is basically (I say it's going to take me days), it's not like chicken pick, it's kind of like two or three finger chicken pick, okay.  (laughter) So..."

Answer the questions.  "Okay, I'm going to make sure I make them really long."

Describe your perception of the writing process.  (Ryan tries to grab my phone and put it closer to himself.) I put it there so I can hear myself too.  "(whispers) oh."

I have to be able to hear what I'm asking. "Okay..."

He touches my phone!  "HUH?"

You touched my phone.  "Yeah, I know."

Oh, okay.  "Well...."

Describe your perception of my writing process.   "I really like your writing process actually.  I think your writing process is..... is that you don't have any...... you know, ideas planned out or any parts written, necessarily.  But, you're, you're actually showing up to the studio to discover the song itself and I think that is the best way to do it.  It's that the song, starting with the basic guitar rhythm and the vocal melody and the lyrics, the song fills itself out as we go through the day and each layer is dictating what the next layer should be. So, as we're listening to the guitar part and the vocal, we're thinking about what the drums should be, it's telling us what those drums should be, you know, and then from there we're hearing, like for String for example, we're hearing the claps, or we're hearing the bass or whatever next, you know, and um..... beyond that, um....., really, ....... your process only, only requires about two or three rounds of that, cause after that it's just a lot of beer, (laughter) and a lot of dicking around (laughter).  And then the song is done (laughter)."

We pull the plug. "Yes!  (laughter) But!  But the song doesn't sound incomplete though. Because if you have guitar and drums and maybe some low end somewhere, um.... it definitely has to have bass, but, um...... you know, as long as it's a full spectrum kind of sound, where you are filling out the range, uh........ then, yeah, the song sounds done, you know?  Sometimes it's the claps or whatever or sometimes it's the vocals..... but..... but usually your writing process revolves around basic tracks, lots of beer and zero expectations (laughter)."

All of that could have been summed up with that.... (laughter)  Do you feel Ryan Earnhardt's involvement made a difference in The Lumen Sessions? (laughter) "Now what kind of question is that? (laughter)"

It's so vain. (laughter)  "I think that, because we're dealing with an art form, that you literally can record,..... you can record...... you can literally, if you wanted to, rerecord the same songs and get different results every single time.  So, sure, on that day, you know, depending on what mood I was in I would play the drum beat a little bit different and I might have different ideas depending on the day, I might have different aspirations and, ........ you know..... (laughter)  So, so yeah, i do think it made a difference."

That was good.  What do you think about the older songs that we, that have been redone?  "What would some of those be?"

So that would be like, uh...  "Violent Red?"

Violent Red is one, um.... uh....... it used to be called Martin Myers then we, you, renamed it Under The Jaw.  Songs like that.  " You named that song Under The Jaw."

I did?  "Yeah."

I think you renamed everything.  "No..."

If it has a new name, you renamed it.   "No, I know for a fact, you said, under the jaw.  I asked you."

Cause it's in the fucking song!  "Yeah, I know." 

Oh.  And I said to type it in?  "Yeah.  I said, what's this song called and you said......"

Everything else that was renamed, you renamed it.  " Nah, I didn't rename any one of your songs.  (laughter)"

You renamed most of them.  "You know what I renamed?"

What do you think about them?  "Is Ocean's Laughter."

No you didn't!  You didn't even do that song!  (Ryan laughs) "Yes.  I called it Ocean's Laughter."

What do you think about the songs that have been redone?   Older songs?  "I think that .....(laughter) I think that there's more of you in your own damn songs!  You know?  I think that....  I think that your older stuff  was, in a lot of ways, a little overdone or overmixed, even the stuff that I mixed for you sounds a little over EQed, for example, and I look back and I think why did I, you know, EQ it so funny, or whatever.  And so, I think that having,.... I think that the biggest difference is that in the process that I use, it's a tracking and mixing kind of all in one so that the mixing doesn't completely redo what we tracked, you know?  Um, on the first project we did it to where it's like, oh wow, you know, like, I'm going to rerecord that one tom hit for example, (laughter) you know, but it was like there was so much of like, getting it up to spec.  Now, for this, for this project, for Violent Red or whatever, it was like, keep it as raw as possible, keep the energy there, um.... keep the feel there, you know, so everything was, is as honest and raw as possible and that carried into the mixing as well because now when we mix it, it's basically don't screw it up, you know, don't over EQ it or don't do something weird to the vocal or whatever, um...... so the biggest difference is that it's stripped down but I think that it's probably a lot more honest.

Alright, I gotta pause it here, I need another beer.  (We take a beer break and then we're back)

This is, uh, Ryan's interview part two, had to go get some beers (laughter).  I'll type all that in.  Is The Lumen Sessions relevant in today's music?  "I think that it is a counter to today's music.  I think that today's music is over clocked, it's over, um.....  you know, its over looped  and sampled and, uh,  you know, tempo synced and all that.  And generally you don't have any organic feel in today's music and I want to say maybe even country or, you know, some sort of pop music that uses real instruments would be the best chance for it.  Maybe some rock, the Black Keys or something, really your music stands in the wake of tons of over-produced shit that's out there.  You look at Maroon 5, for example, Maroon 5 started out with real drums and guitars, bass, they actually had a cool groove going, and if you look at what they have now, what they are releasing, it's like techno beats.  Did they fire their real musicians and keep the lead singer? I'm pretty sure they did.  (I snort with laughter) Like literally, you know, your music is actually, you know, it's actually expressive and that's the biggest thing is that you're not going to get expression of subtle details with like, you know, I love techno music and I create it and I love, like, where you can go with electronic music, you can push the boundaries like nothing else but, there's not the same nuances that are present in that music that you get with, you know, music that we've created. So I think it's actually music that will,..... if it's not relevant it will become some sort of, you know, cherished music just like I, hopefully, like I cherish Wrecking Ball by, uh..... um..... what's her name?  Type in her name. (laughter)

Emmylou Harris.  "Yeah.  Daniel Lanois produced that.  And, so, like, that was from 1994 and maybe that was celebrated at the time, maybe it wasn't, but we are certainly celebrating it now.  And so....for me, yeah, it's really relevant because if you don't create art that matters, um, ..... you know, there's not a whole lot left to live for, I think.

Wow.  How would you describe the musical style of The Lumen Sessions?  " (Laughter) What idiot wrote these questions? (Laughter) (Sarcastically) Blues slash Rock slash folk, with an "L", (laughter)."

Perfect.  (Laughter)  Give me your favorite memory of a show or an on-the-road experience with me? "I think..... trying to think of uh....... trying to think of what my favorite would be..... it's, it's gotta be probably the Gin Mill, where we were both way past gone and you were able to function still and I was just slap happy and it was probably about 1am and you decide to make idiot faces at me as you're playing your own songs (laughter), to where I can't even play my groove anymore because it's just so funny that I can't play (laughter).  And then that night wraps up with me counseling people at the bar and (laughter).  And then the whole place shuts down and I realize I have to pack up my kit, drumset, my drumset is perfectly set up (laughter),  it's, like, got lights on it still, you know, it's like shining, it's like the rest of the bar has chairs on the table, upside down, (laughter) and my drumset has microphones plugged into the PA system, it's got lights on it, it's got cymbals that are shining, it's got, it's literally got everything, including, like, a fresh drink and ready to go.  And meanwhile, I realize that I've been in this indepth counseling session (laughter) and we've already played three sets, there's no more playing to be done.  (laughter)  That's probably, that's gotta be my favorite memory of us touring or playing."

That's good.  "Yeah."

Do you feel there are enough references to people being killed on The Lumen Sessions?  "Sure."  (laughter)

What kind of person do you think this album appeals to?  "I think that it appeals to a very, ..... I think Flint's audience appeals,..... Flint Zeigler's audience, .... I think this man, Flint Zeigler, his audience, comma, appeals to a very complicated specimen.  (laughter)  One that enjoys the ups and downs of songs like Under The Jaw and On My Love, yet, enjoys the simple pleasures of Johnson City, Sunday's afternoon drive through town where the city's just wonderful."

Very good.  (laughter)  Has music or a song made any impact on your own life or caused you to change your viewpoints on anything?  "Are you talking about your music?"

Just music in general. "Okay, I'm sorry, say the question again."

Has music or a song made any impact on your own life or caused you to change a viewpoint?  "Sure, yeah, it definitely has, I mean, you know, I think there was a time where I used music to find myself and then there's definitely a time where doing too much of one style of music caused me to lose myself, then I had to use music to re-find myself, you know, reconnect with, with parts of me that I lost.  There were times where I wasn't even able to hear music or enjoy music because I was so numb, or so destroyed, that I had to relearn how to listen to music.  And so, I wouldn't say it's a sophisticated role in my life, but I think it's more of a, almost like an emotional barometer in my life, where, you know, I can tap into different parts of me and, uh... you know, feed different parts of me.  It's probably the reason why I create music and I help others create music because I know that it's tapping into their deepest parts as well as feeding their deepest aspirations of what they want to see in the world.  And what they dream of doing, so they make it.  They make it through music.  So, the answer is sure. (laughter) It definitely does."

What are the last two CD's you listened to?  "Well, ..... I think it was Wye Oak, that's W, Y, E Oak, and then, um..... Probably.... probably Junky Star by Ryan Bingham, I guess."

This concludes our interview.  (laughter).

So, thank you to Earnhardt family for putting up with me.  I love you all and appreciate all that you do for me and my family.  Cheers Ryan, here's to many more years of creating art together!


1 comment

  • Matthew M. Quezad

    Matthew M. Quezad

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    I visit your article and personly I like very much because your contact is music. The picture that you show here is Guittar and website share unique info. I really love this musical instrument and I wish after some months I started to play this musical instrument.

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