By Harriet Kaplan
Ron Pope and The Nighthawks are now on a U.S. and European tour. The band has an upcoming show in Los Angeles on March 5 at the Teagram Ballroom in Downtown L.A. The Georgia-raised singer-songwriter Ron Pope and The Nighthawks are promoting their self-titled, debut album out on Brooklyn Basement Records. The album has been described as an “Americana blend of country rock, folk rock and a dose of ragtime swing.” While in the studio, Pope enlisted filmmaker Kelly Teacher (No Cameras Allowed, Austin To Boston) to create One Way Ticket, a feature-length documentary following Pope and the band as they record their debut album and tour the U.S. Ron Pope recently spoke to BoC. He discussed being an independent artist and working without the safety net of major record label support. Pope spoke about the craft of songwriting reflected in his Southern roots and performing within a band context versus being a solo artist. He also touched upon touring and acting. Ron’s answers were succinct and straight to the point. He also displayed a wry sense of humor when formulating answers to questions he clearly wasn’t taking too seriously.
Ron – what does it mean for you to be a truly independent artist on your own terms?
Ron: It’s really all I’ve ever known. I’m not good at being told what to do; I spent a short time on a major label years ago and it was like being a teenager, because you know what you need to do, but you have to ask for money and permission. That didn’t really suit me.
Do you think your success is proving that artists can “make it” without the support of a record label behind them?
Ron: I don’t want to be the poster child for anything. If you can find the right partners, I believe you should work with them. For me, that has proven somewhat elusive, so I just keep learning to do new things and working with my head down.
Would you like to tie those questions into the documentary you made, “One Way Ticket”?
Ron: “One Way Ticket” is a documentary that follows my band through the creation of our new album and a US tour, using that as the backdrop to discuss the contemporary music industry and my place within it. We had a blast telling our story.
Would you say your latest album is a reflection and inspired by your life experiences growing up in the South and do they continue to give you source material for songs?
Ron: Growing up in the South isn’t something you can just shake off, I guess. Beyoncé hasn’t lived in Texas for a long time I’d imagine, but even on her newest single, she brings it up. In that way, she and I are the same. Please make sure to tell people that I said I’m like Beyoncé, if you wouldn’t mind.
Is this the first time you worked within the context of a band with the Nighthawks? Why did you feel it was necessary? Will they be able featured in the future on upcoming albums?
Ron: I haven’t been in a band for a long time; creating this one was a very natural process. I recruited all of these guys to be my backing band for a tour a few years ago and we just fell into being a band from there. We all shared a lot on this album; we wrote together and arranged songs together. It was a labor of love. I hope we get to keep working together moving forward; we’ll see!
I read the band members are from different backgrounds musically and parts of the U.S. How did you all contact and meet?
Ron: We all met in New York (where we were all living at the time).
Do you enjoy touring? What is your favorite aspect or aspects of it? Is there anything about this tour you’re on now that is different than your previous tours?
Ron: I love getting on stage every night; the travel can be tough, but I love playing for the fans and sharing that with them. This band is head and shoulders better than any I’ve ever been a part of, so every night you should expect fireworks at the shows.
Do you favor working the studio more than touring?
Ron: They’re very different animals so there’s really no way to compare them.
Ron would you say you’re officially an actor now that you appeared on Nashville? What was that experience like?
Ron: I don’t know when you officially become an actor. Nobody has called and asked if I want to join a secret society or anything like that. If Robert De Niro comes to my house to teach me a secret handshake, I’ll let you know for sure. I had a great time on the show; everyone was very gracious and helpful. Playing myself in such a strange, fictional situation was surreal, to say the least.