Ryan Bales is a name many longtime Galleywinter members will be familiar with. He is cut from the cloth of the San Marcos singer/songriter tree and has taken his music in a definitive southern rock direction with his soon to be released debut album. Find out more about Ryan, his band, the new album and my strip club habits in this edition of 20 Questions.
1. What’s new and exciting with the Ryan Bales Band?
The biggest thing going with us right now is getting this new CD out. It has been a long time in the making and we are just ready for people to hear it. The guys and me are really happy with the way it’s come out and that we didn’t lose any of our sound in the recording process. It is truly a Ryan Bales Band album. That and we are trying to work go-go dancers into the shows….you know same ol stuff.
2. You’re one of the few musicians still based out of San Marcos. Most have moved just up or down the road to Austin or New Braunfels. Why San Marcos?
I love it here in San Marcos and we are always trying to be different, if everybody else moves, we stay. Along with the fact that I have a great house here and ¾ of the band lives here just makes it work.
3. Name association:
-Randy Rogers- Success story, the guy worked his ass off and it paid off.
-Mark Sanders- Fat guy turned skinny guy, my old neighbor
-Ryan Turner- He’s no Amy
-Cory Morrow- Sat in with me at the Rooster when I first started, borderline crazy.
-Micah Harris- Guy loves fried food and white women….
-Fred Andrews- That guy has the prettiest hair in the biz.
-Wade Bowen- Never met him before we opened for them at Harry’s, always been cool to us.
-Jason Boland- Love drinkin with him, but glad to see he’s doing better now.
-Peter Dawson- Nashville, just kidding Peter is a super nice guy looking forward to hearing what he’s doing up there.
4. You list Pantera’s Clubhouse as the greatest place on earth. When are you going to open up your own Clubhouse in the Austin/San Marcos area? What would you call it? And if/when you do, can I have a job?
If you have not been to the Clubhouse I highly suggest making a pit stop there. I have a business plan for my own Clubhouse in the Austin area but I can’t go into the details, all I can say is franchise! Brad you definitely can not have a job it’s serious business and I could see you being a drooler.
5. Describe the process of recording this new cd. I’m assuming it was much less nerve-wracking than when you did the EP.
We did the new CD at Cedar Creek and I was a little nervous to work with the master mind behind Red Concrete but Adam is the definition of cool. We had all the songs ready or close to what we wanted, so we started drinking Mimosas, had to be at the studio at 10 am, and just cranked out the album. Recording there you just know you have to step up and that studio brings out the best in you.
6. Speaking of the EP, are there any songs from the EP that made it onto the new album?
3 actually made it, Heartbreaker, Outlaw, and Taryn’s song. Taryn’s song wasn’t going but I just kept getting a good response to it so we put it on there with some reworking. Plus we hadn’t really written any slow songs for this one so we brought that along.
7. Stories behind the following songs. Describe the inspiration, where they came from or why you decided to cover them:
-Heartbreaker-Started writing it about a girl that I knew that was always complaining about not finding the right guy, as she went though guy after guy. What’s weird is like half way through I figured out that I was writing it about myself and my situation with girls.
-Just Not Good Enough- I was trying to write a song and I saw McClure at Saenger and knew I couldn’t do it any better, so I cut Mike’s song. Just really loved the song.
Smile- I wrote Smile with my friend Garret who co-wrote 4 of the songs on the album. It’s kind of a tribute to his mom who passed away. I’m really proud of this song.
8. You started out at open mics in San Marcos at Cheatham Street with guys like Brandon Jones, Micah Harris and Mark Sanders. What were those nights like in the beginning?
It was a very cool atmosphere for us to bounce ideas off one another and really learn to not suck. It was always a competition without it seeming like that.
9. What’s the best advice Kent Finlay has given you?
Kent has always been very nice to us but hasn’t sent much wisdom our way. We don’t play there very much because it’s kind of Randy’s place and we want to make our own way.
10. Talk about your band. Who plays what? How long have they been with you? Etc.
Cody Brown on the lead guitar from Austin, TX. Met Cody over a bottle of whiskey and we started the band the next day. Most unappreciated guitar player in this scene, that will change when the new album drops. Paul Thomas hails from Cibilo, the bass guitar and harmony vocals, also a founding member and Mr. December in a questionable male calendar. Clay Oliver beats on the drums from San Antonio, TX He is the new guy, we got him in November of 05’ but he fits in like he’s been here forever. Bad ass on the drums and good with the moms.
11. You’re known for your distinct voice. Did anyone ever try to get you to sing a different way?
No and I wouldn’t let em. I grew up listening to Willie, and Robert Earl. I don’t think you should ever change yourself for anyone. Take what you have and make it work.
12. This new record takes a decidedly Southern Rock turn. Was that your goal going into the recording or did it just come about while you were in the studio?
As we were writing the new stuff it just kept going that way and we were all diggin it. We didn’t set out saying we were going to sound like this or that we just wrote the new songs and started feeling out how to play em.
13. Favorite memory of the following towns/clubs:
-New Braunfels- The days of the compound, the Icehouse just isn’t the same.
-Dallas- I believe I mentioned the Clubhouse, the band at the table by the pole ‘nough said.
-Ft Worth- Officially convincing Mike Graham that our band is crazier that his. And there is a waitress at Woody’s with a great Indian name.
-Houston- Played a benefit for injured troops, very cool, and then went to the Men’s Club, I see a pattern here.
-College Station- Playin Harry’s for the first time and drinkin ritas at Zapatos.
-Saengerhalle- Back porch Wednesdays where Cody and my tabs were huge.
-Adair’s- Just happy to get out of there with all of our equipment.
-Woody’s- “Walks With Great Ass” and just good people.
14. When did you decide to pursue music? Who inspired you to do so? Was it something you’d always wanted to do?
I think I was like 5 and I could sing every song on Willie’s Greatest Hits and Some That Will Be. I have always loved music but really got into it end of high school and beginning of college. I just knew that a real job wasn’t going to work for me. I had to do something I was passionate about, and I love making music.
15. What’s your favorite part of performing? The response from the crowd, the feeling you get, the actual playing of the music. What?
I love to play with our band, some of the best guys around. I love playing for a rowdy crowd, and the ones that we have to win over. Some places they look at you like “who the hell do you think you are?” and it just makes me try that much harder to make them like us. I love to have them won over by the end of the night and then get to meet folks and have a drink or two with them.
16. Is there a song you wrote when you were first starting out that you’re embarrassed of but that people always request?
There was but thankfully I think they have forgotten those so let’s let those songs rest. R.I.P.
17. What’s you’re favorite song you’ve written? What’s your favorite song that you haven’t written but wish you had?
My favorite of mine is probably Closet just because I really felt that song as I wrote it and it just came out so easy. Favorite I wish I had written I would have to say The Ballad of Curtis Lowe, Skynyrd.
18. Rapid fire:
-Spurs or Mavs- Mavs
-Astros or Rangers- Rangers always have been just waiting for some pitching, could we bring back Nolan?
-Playboy or Penthouse- Playboy, stay classy San Diego
-Whiskey or Vodka?- Whiskey
-Snuff or Cigarettes?- neither can I say more Whiskey
19. Favorite George Strait song.
Either The Chair, or Cowboy Rides Away
20. Compare/contrast mainstream country music with what you and your contemporaries are making.
Down here we are actually making music for intelligent people who know good music, up there they are making money off of people who would buy Big and Rich, or Trace Adkins. I mean it’s just my opinion, but the Nashville country music scene is a joke and I think it’s funny when they call these new jackasses outlaws. Waylon was an outlaw, Johnny Cash earned that title, Willie is still doing more shows than anyone and doing it his way. Saying you’re an outlaw because you have no talent and still making money it’s a f***ing joke. It’s all coming around and eventually good music will prevail.