Ryan Hamilton & the Harlequin Ghosts, slowing things down for their new video release ‘Won’t Stop Now’. It’s a song of quiet defiance giving thanks for all the good that music can bring, despite everything the world likes to throw at us. Facebook
‘Won’t Stop Now’ was written during the aftermath of some unspeakably cruel online bullying, which got so bad, Ryan had to get the authorities involved. Native Texan, singer/songwriter Hamilton, thought it fitting that the track be released around the US holiday of Thanksgiving (November 28), given the song’s subject matter.
“The video features footage from the past 10 years of my life”, says Hamilton. “Former bands. Former relationships. I am so thankful for this life and the incredible power music has to get us through the most difficult times”.
The track is taken from the critically acclaimed 2019 album, ‘This Is The Sound’, released on Wicked Cool, the label run by Little Steven/Steven van Zandt (a long time supporter and co-writer of former single ‘Mamacita’).
Renowned for their killer live shows, whilst the band look forward to bigger tours and festival appearances in the UK and Europe during 2020, they recently announced their inaugural ‘Holiday Hoedown’ Christmas show, MFN, Nottingham, on December 14. With the intention of making this an annual event, the band have pledged their support to Notts based homeless charity ‘Emmanuel House’ and will be collecting donations of essential items at the show for distribution to local homeless people.
“The UK – and Nottingham in particular has been amazing in its support of our band”, says Hamilton, “this event seemed like the perfect opportunity to give something back to the community”.
The ‘Holiday Hoedown’ will take place at MFN, Shipley Gate, Nottingham on Saturday 14 December.
There’s something gloriously familiar about this second long-player from UK bovver rockers Hard Wax, something that I can’t quite put my finger on, but it’s something that right from the very first spin has me beaming from ear to ear, so it must be something good right?
They say the make of any band is the strength of their tunes…and here on ‘This Is The Sound’ Wax main man Tom Boutwood (ably assisted by Paul Bond on drums, Tom Murphy on lead guitar and Matt Colton on bass) has penned some of the finest Oi! infused terrace anthems you’ll hear anywhere this year. Just like the recently released Michael Monroe album it’s not exactly groundbreaking or genre-bending stuff but sometimes I just need my punk rock music to be just that, straight ahead and no-frills, and right here on ‘This Is The Sound’ what you get for your entry money are ten premium cuts of bovver boy rock ‘n’ roll.
Kicking off with ‘Welcome To Bovver Rock City’ this just shy of two-minute long intro bears all the hallmarks of Hard Wax’s upcoming UK tour partners Giuda, albeit a Giuda fronted by someone who sounds a hell of a lot like Ginge Knievel. And that right there is the familiar thing I couldn’t quite put my finger on at the top, because at times during ‘This Is The Sound’ it’s just like Mr Knievel has returned from his self-imposed exile and is finally fronting the band he’s always wanted to front. The similarity really is uncanny, but trust me, there’s a whole lot more to this record that the singer sounding a hell of a lot like the ex-Sick Livers/Nicotine Pretty frontman.
Things really kick off in style on ‘Living The Dream’, a proper piece of punk rock argy bargy designed to get your oxblood a-stomping. Elsewhere ‘This is The Sound’, ‘Days Of Glory’ (ooh hello Sailor) and ‘Razor Part Rebels’ (complete with an otherworldly Ace Frehley guitar riff) all steam out the blocks full of cock-sure 70s glam rock swagger and just a few spins later you’ll be singing along like you’ve had this album in your life since your childhood.
When the world outside your window is slowly turning to shit ‘This Is The Sound’ is the perfect pick me up record with tracks like ‘Have A Good Time’ and ‘Not Just a Pin-Up Girl’ guaranteed to make you smile once again, and in ‘Boys Of A Saturday Night’ and ‘Stomp All Over The World’ you have the near perfect soundtrack for a right proper tear up…on the dancefloor of course.
Which just leaves ‘In For a Penny’, a track I went straight to when I first got my copy of ‘This Is The Sound’ simply because I initially thought “wow a Slade cover that’s gonna take some balls”. Well, it’s actually not a cover, although the guitar riff is equal parts Hill and Holder and it’s the kind of glorious call to arms tune that would have seen Hard Wax on Top Of The Pops had it been released back in the 70s.
With a whole raft of great new punk rock records released by UK bands in 2019 (if you think otherwise then you really do need to read RPM more) I’m delighted to say that ‘This Is The Sound’ is right up there with the very best of them.
Now go get your boots on and get down your record shop and get yourself a copy.
Ok Ok settle down for a minute and take it all in. After signing a new record deal with Wicked Cool Records Ryan Hamilton & his HArlequin Ghosts have just dipped their toes into the choppy waters of Rock and Roll and after hooking up with Legend Mike Peters and his latest version of the Alarm and hitting concert halls of the United Kingdom does he announce that the new album is imminent and so is another round of headline dates to coincide with the record. these are certainly exciting times from Hamilton and we wanted to share the news and throw some questions at the main man so make yourself comfortable and read some words we put together – Ladies and Gentlemen Ryan Hamilton…
So Signing to wicked Cool must be a really cool move for you personally. How did it come about? did you pester them or was it Stevie hunting you down?
It’s been AMAZING. We found the perfect home with Wicked Cool. They heard a song called “Fuck You Brain” that Ginger Wildheart and I did together. After that, they started digging around and discovered our album “The Devil’s in the Detail”. Stevie Van Zandt then LITERALLY added HALF the album to his radio station. I didn’t even know that was allowed! Haha. After those 5 or 6 songs went into rotation on his station, our relationship with Stevie and the Label grew into something special… and even though I SWORE I wasn’t going to sign another record deal, I am so thankful that we did.
What noticeable difference have you experienced working for a label like WCR? is it less stressful or more stressful are the pressures the same?
Haha. BOTH! It’s been a big adjustment for me. I got VERY used to doing things on my own. So, to hand the baton to someone else and trust them to handle it… especially when you’ve been burned by Labels in the past, was a difficult adjustment. But they’ve been great about it, and I feel like we have a perfect balance now. They handle everything, but we are included in the discussion and decision process along the way. It’s rare to find a label like this. We seriously hit the jackpot.
I take it this album was recorded differently to the last studio record. No large country houses visited in Scotland here? or were there?
Haha. This album was different, yeah. Stevie Van Zandt worked on every demo with me/us. We even co-wrote a song together (Mamacita). How cool is that?! After the pre-production w/ Stevie, and whipping the songs into shape. I flew over to the UK to do the actual tracking/recording at Dave Draper’s Tower Studios. Other than a few guitar and vocal over dubs that were recorded at my home studio in Texas, the album was recorded at Tower Studios in Pershore, UK.
With a stable line up in the amazing Harlequin Ghosts. what qualities do the individuals bring? Heres your chance to big up the boys (and Girl) in the band (when I say Stable I mean…you know what I mean right?)
We are all VERY different. An oddball group of talented weirdos coming together to make something I truly feel is uniquely wonderful. Mickey is a truly incredible drummer. Rob is a truly incredible bass player. (I think they’re the best rhythm section around today… Period). Carol has the voice of an angel and makes me sound WAY better than I should, at every show. Haha. Amazing keyboard player, too! Dave is like a mad scientist on guitar. The dude is genius. So genius in fact… that it makes him pretty weird… But I love that. I’m a weirdo. We’re all weirdos. Outcasts and nerds that thankfully found each other. A British band full of crazy talented people, fronted by a Texan. Gotta love it.
Has it been easier to write for this record?
I don’t really know how to answer that question. Haha. It’s always the same for me. I’ve never been able to just sit down and go, “I’m gonna write a song”. I have to wait for them to come to me. When they arrive, seemingly out of nowhere, I have to grab them before they evaporate. This group of songs is the 12 best, from about 30 ideas/songs that I captured during the last couple of years. It’s without a doubt the best songs I’ve ever written. But I chalk that up to the legendary help/guidance I had on this album.
Tell us about a few of the tracks? I’ve been lucky enough to hear it and I felt it was a louder record than your previous records. Would that be a fair point? (Is Laney to blame bringing his Glam rock roots to the table) Some big riffs happening like the opening of ‘Mamacita’. This record sounds like it was made with a lot of laughs and if it’s possible for a record to smile then this is positively grinning would that be fair?
You nailed it! Haha. Mickey and Rob are old school Metal loving dudes. I can’t stand that music. True! Haha. But we’ve learned to embrace those differences, and this album is the sound of those different tastes, upbringings etc… coming together in a totally organic way.
Songs like “Mamacita” and “Get Down” are prime examples of us not overthinking anything, and just letting the songs happen. It’s WAY more fun when you operate that way… and like you pointed out, you can totally tell we’re having a lot of fun on this album.
The flip side of that coin: Songs like “This is the Sound”, “Feels Like Falling in Love” and “All Fall Down”… I let myself go deeper and darker than I ever have lyrically. Again, no overthinking… no trying too hard… just knocking proverbial walls down, and letting it happen. I think you can feel that realness on this album. Both on the darker, more serious songs… and on the fun ones.
I love some of the songs like ‘Feel Like Falling In Love’, ‘Far Cry’, then a change of gears on ‘All Fall Down’ you guys really hit the groove here, the record has mass appeal for sure touching on some great classic alternative bands like Soul Asylum on the title track (hope you’re good with the comparison? then you get a twist with ‘GirlvsMonsters’ with its pedal steel and brushes on the snare is some really good country rock, then ‘Same Page’ goes toe to toe with the likes of a Mellencamp and that’s a compliment (style wise) I hear a lot of great bands touching these songs but the album flows totally in a Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts way and the personality of the band shines through. That’s why I wonder if its been the easiest album you’ve written?
Oh, wow. Love those references. Thank you! I don’t know if it was the easiest, but it was definitely the most I’ve ever pushed myself to just let the songs happen how they were going to happen. No forcing anything. Just let it happen.
Tell us about a few of the songs. I’ve mentioned a few but we could talk about all of them here. Do you have any particular ones that stand out or you’d like to explain?
I know it’s not a single or even the best song on the album, but “Won’t Stop Now” is the most personal song I’ve ever written or recorded. So much so, that I almost left it off the album. I struggled to make it through a take without crying… and I have no shame in admitting that. But, leaving the song off the album felt like it would be going against everything this album is about. Ya know? Also… I’m not one to pick favorites… but there’s something magical about the song “This is the Sound”. I got a feeling about that one.
Is it easy recording a record with you living in different countries? how did the recording compare to previous albums?
It would be impossible without modern technology. In fact, this band wouldn’t exist without it. We’ve gotten into a routine that makes it work. I record the demos at home and send em over. Then after the songs are whipped into shape, we all go into the studio together. I guess that’s become our routine. Maybe it should be more complicated… but it’s not. Haha
You close the record off with the big ballad ‘Won’t Stop Now’ with cello and violins and something of a duet I know you mentioned it earlier but whats the song about?
The song is the most personal song I’ve ever written. It references the most difficult times in my musical life. Previous bands… related struggles… bullying… mental health issues…. and how difficult it sometimes is to find the strength to carry on.
One of my all time favourite bands is The Alarm I’ve seen them over 200 times in all sorts of line ups and form, you seemed to strike up a bond with Mike and the band on the last tour how did that tour come about?
I have SO MUCH love for Mike, Jules and that whole crew. Would love to play more shows with The Alarm. I’ve been welcomed into that family, and I feel very thankful for it. We shared a radio plugger, Tony. He was working our new single, and The Alarm’s new single at the same time. Long story short: Mike liked our music, and seemed interested in us supporting them. I mentioned it to Stevie, and he just picked up the phone and called Mike! Haha. Seriously. After that phone call, we made it happen… and haven’t looked back. I’ve learned A LOT from Mike . More than he realizes. From showing me different guitar tunings to play with… to sharing gear etc… To other things like amazing stories from back in the day.
What was it about the band you enjoyed?
He and Jules are such inspiring people. For a long list of reasons which I know you are aware of. I love them both very much.
Playing the Gathering as a two-piece you seemed to go down well in front of what can sometimes be described as a tough crowd. Over that weekend they are (in the most part) there to see and hear the Alarm and nobody else yet a lot of people were in early to catch your set.
Mike and Jules have worked hard over the years to get to where they are today and had immense self-belief and motivation to achieve the model cottage industry in the ever-changing music business. Is there anything, in particular, you got from being in their company that you can use going forward? you seemed to get along really really well and I hope it is a touring partnership that can continue in the future. He and Jules are such inspiring people. For a long list of reasons which I know you are aware of. I love them both very much.
You have some tour dates to support the new record in the UK. Are there plans for more touring later in the year possibly? What about North America does Wicked Cool have plans for you seeing as The Boss has a new album coming out it would make sense to maybe tour the world with the Springsteen gang? What are the chances?
We are touring SO MUCH this year. There are lots and lots of plans… most of which I’m not allowed to talk about… yet. Haha. But, for now… we’re currently on tour in America, and we have a UK Tour next month! Bring it on… all of it.
Catch you soon Ryan and I wish you and the band all the success with this new record.
Thanks so much!
There you go, folks, a few words from Ryan about the new record and what’s gone on and going on. Pick up the new record Here
Follow Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts on Facebook HERE
Texan singer/songwriter Ryan Hamilton has been on our rock ‘n’ roll radar for a good few years now. We at RPM have been following his power pop goodness since the days of People On Vacation and ‘Hell Of A Day’. So, we were pleasantly surprised and overly pleased when the artists formally known as Ryan Hamilton & the Traitors only went and bagged a record deal with the uber cool garage rock label Wicked Cool Records, owned by the legendary Little Steven.
Joining a label that has released albums by RPM faves such as Prima Donna, Kurt Baker and Wyldlife probably excites us as much as it does them, and being mentored by a NY legend who champions so many cool underground artists can only be good news for Ryan Hamilton & the Harlequin Ghosts.
So, a name change, an image upgrade and a debut album usher in exciting times for Ryan and his UK based band of bruthas (and 1 sista). Following the most excellent ‘Bottoms Up/Straight Up’ pink vinyl 7 incher, the band now release their highly anticipated debut long player.
‘This Is The Sound’ follows on where the ‘Traitors Club: Year 1’ EP left us in 2018. And what is clearly evident is that the fine art of a catchy chorus is never lost on Ryan Hamilton. Yep, this album, like his past work, is littered with power pop goodness, quirky vocals, positive energy and an overall message of hope, something that is hard to come by in 2019.
The band starts strong with opening single ‘Mamacita’. With a Little Steven penned chorus, this is a classic sounding earworm that will have you singing the chorus on first listen and long into the night. Gloriously addictive and happy go lucky; you would be forgiven for thinking the band has shot their proverbial load prematurely with their strongest effort. But fear not power pop pickers, as ‘Mamacita’ is just a taster and not even close to being the best song on this album.
Like I said, this album has a very positive energy and you can bet your bottom dollar that in these trying times, Ryan will be there for you to raise your hopes. Whether he’s urging you, in pure David Lee Roth style, to “raise a glass and then kiss my ass”, or professing to “bustin’ through ceilings and love you like a superhero” on the brilliant and bouncy ‘Let You Go’, Ryan Hamilton & the Harlequin Ghosts will be with you every step of the way.
‘Bottoms Up (Here’s To Goodbye)’ is a high energy toast to going down with the ship. Full of 90’s Brit Rock vibes and Silver Sun soaked melodies. The band is firing on all cylinders in an effort to remind you all of the good times and promise more of the same ahead. A killer hook and summery vibes, this is a song to wear shades and down cocktails to.
The anthemic title track delivers the kind of euphoric, turn of the Century pop punk goodness the likes of American Hi-Fi gave us. Mickey’s urgent beats help bring the message to the fore, as it builds to a sublime chorus. The feel good themes of the album summed up in 3 minutes and 15 seconds.
You can take the boy out of Texas, but you can’t take Texas out of the boy! Fort Worth resident Ryan Hamilton’s roots are still all over this album. The goodtime rock ‘n’ roll of ‘Get Down’ is a bar room boogie that will have you shakin’ and a groovin’ and downing them beers. While ‘All Fall Down’ has shades of Tom Petty storytelling, while ‘Girl vs Monster’, with its mournful slide guitar and tinkling of the ivories, is full of country twang.
There’s a very fine line between cheesy and genius when it comes to radio-friendly sentimental balladry, but these guys have it nailed, hands down. The beautiful chorus in ‘So Gone’ really hits in the feels. A mixtape worthy song that will urge you to tightly squeeze the hand of the one you love and never let go. And ‘Feels Like Falling In Love’ has hit single stamped all over it, with Donnie Vie like vibes and hazy, lazy backing vocals, for me, its one of the strongest songs on offer.
The album closes on a reflective note with the piano led ‘Won’t Stop Now’. A heartfelt, haunting dittie, full of church hall echo, soaring vocal harmonies and strings that take it up to an ethereal plane.
If you are the sort of person that relies on music to get you through the day, let me introduce you to Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts. They have crafted an album of masterful songs that are guaranteed to lift your spirits, make you smile and reach for the play button the second the disc stops spinning.
‘This Is The Sound’ is a very strong album and expect to see it riding high on End of the Year lists six months down the line and with the backing of Wicked Cool Records who knows what the future holds.
Ryan Hamilton and the Harlequin Ghostshave announced a UK tour for June 2019 in support of the new album ‘This Is The Sound’.
‘This Is The Sound’ is released on 31st May 2019 on Wicked Cool, Pre Order the album Here the label run by Little Steven / Steven van Zandt, a long-time supporter and co-writer of current single ‘Mamacita’ –