Globetrotting musician Ron Pope has been pretty busy these last few months with tour dates scattered across the US, Europe, and Australia following the release of his latest album, Calling off the Dogs. The veteran singer-songwriter has been releasing indie tracks since 2007, including “A Drop In the Ocean”, a track that gained him popularity with the Internet generation. He has been featured on MTV and his music can be heard gracing some of TV’s most popular shows, like The Vampire Diaries. More than just buzz, Ron is a true musician at heart. Even on the road, he continues to develop new material and hone his craft. Now back at home for a few weeks, Ron took a moment to chat with us.
StageBuddy: Hi Ron! So I know that you write all of your songs and have a hand in every step of production. Can you walk us through your creative process?
Ron Pope: You know, it changes, definitely from song to song and record to record. The songs come from all sorts of different places. Sometimes it’s lyrics first, sometimes it’s music first, sometimes you get a riff idea or a little melody, you keep humming that, you record, and go from there, or you see something and it inspires you. It can be something that happens in your life even -- really, from any number of places. I don’t really have the luxury of my process being really specific because I’m always on the road traveling so I just kind of go where the music takes me.
Do you have any major musical influences that affect your work?
It’s kind of a fluid thing. I’ve listened to so much music over the course of my life. You end up listening to so much music and I think all of it has an effect one way or another on what you’re doing. I think the most surprising one is the one I discovered on my own. The first music that I found on my own was hip hop. I discovered rap music from my parents and country, soul, and gospel through my grandparents. Hip hop was the first I found on my own, so I learned more about phrasing from Tupac more than anywhere else, believe it or not.
If there were one element that sets you apart from other musicians, what would you say it was?
I’m stealing this from Bruce Springsteen, to be fair. Bruce said of himself, and I feel like this is also true of me, “The difference between me and every other guy that came out of Greenwich Village at the same time I came and with an acoustic guitar, is that at the end of night I can plug in my telecaster and burn the building down.” I just think that a lot of the people that you hear who became known for writing songs are strummers, they’re not really players. I wanted to be a guitar player first and foremost as a kid. As an adult, when I come home I keep singing to keep my voice in shape to go on the road but I practice guitar every day fastidiously.
You also play a variety of different instruments, is that correct?
Yeah, to carrying degrees of poor I would say. [laughs] I do play a number of other instruments.
Do you have a favorite track of yours that you love to play more than any other?
At the moment, I’ve been writing for my next record so I’ve been playing some brand new songs and that’s always exciting. I think on the road this year the most exciting thing has been playing songs from my new album, Calling off the Dogs, and I’ve been writing my new record and playing those songs. I just feel like if you’re not inspired by your new work, why would you be doing it?
You're recently back from a European tour, how did that go?
I have been on tour constantly since January. I went to Europe for most of January and February then I went on tour in America, and then back to Europe, and back to America, and then I went to the West Coast, and then I went to Australia, and back to Europe. I went to Colorado and now I’m home for a few weeks then we go out on tour in America again. So it’s been kind of a whirlwind this year. It’s been really intense but wonderful. The fans have been incredibly receptive of the new material so it’s been a blessing.
I know I’ll be going to your show in New York next month! I can’t wait.
Thank you! This tour is going to be really exciting. We’re going to be recording a new album of brand new material as we go on the road so you’ll hear the hits, you know the stuff that people have come to expect of me, and then you’ll also hear some brand new songs that I’ve never played in public before. I think on some level, when you’re making a record, you’re missing one of the fundamental elements of music because when you’re performing you’re making the music and you’re also interacting with the people who consume the music. In a studio, you’re kind of in a vacuum. Nobody is around to hear it and tell you what they think so I think that it will be great playing brand new music for people as we travel.
Do you have future plans to collaborate with other artists? And who would you want to work with?
That’s so hard, I admire so many people’s work. I really love Jay Z and he would be a very interesting person to talk to because he’s had such incredible amounts of success in so many avenues. Every time people have told him “you can’t do this, you can’t do that, this is impossible for you, stay in your lane,” he says “you know, actually, you’re going to be really surprised how well I do with this” and then he’s succeeded. I really admire him as an artist and as a person so I would love to work with him because he’s just continued to make hit after hit after hit for such a long time now and also, just conquered everything he’s tried to do.
So last question. It's a tough one. Do you have any regrets about musical decisions you’ve made in the past?
I don’t have any regrets. I feel like everything I’ve done was leading up to the point. I wouldn’t be the artist that I am if I hadn’t taken those steps. It’s chess, not checkers. It’s a journey and you have to play the whole game before you get to the end.
Many thanks to Ron Pope for taking time out to sit down with us. You can catch Ron in concert at Webster Hall on September 27th!