In a summer concert circuit crowded with large-scale music festivals,…
- Posted on Apr 30th 2012 3:30PM by Eric R. Danton
Ringle started playing quiet, rootsy songs when he moved from Idaho to Portland, Ore., to give himself a break from the loud-all-the-time rock-band dynamic he had spent years navigating.
"I kind of burned out on that dynamic," Ringle tells Spinner. "After playing in bands in serial fashion, I kind of got tired of competing with the volume of a drummer and a bass player and the attitude that's inherently involved in playing louder rock music."
No one is likely to mistake Horse Feathers' latest for a rock 'n' roll album -- there are a lot of rich string arrangements and pastoral melodies -- but Ringle's new songs are bigger and fuller than previous efforts. He's taking a drummer on tour this spring, for example, and 11 different musicians helped him flesh out the 12 tracks on Cynic's New Year.
"It's not the same animal that it was when I started," he says. "I'm definitely getting interested in larger dynamics and a grandiosity, if you will, in terms of arrangements."
Ringle began writing songs for the album early in 2011, and began recording them last year, largely in a studio he improvised in the attic of the house he lives in. He had a wish-list of Portland musicians he wanted to work with, and when it came time to record a song, he'd make some calls to see who was available.
"I'd work up a song, and it would be pretty much ready, and I'd brainstorm with the producer in the morning, and we'd get on the phone and call people and see what they were doing," Ringle says. "It was really casual: they'd come over, have a cup of coffee and get a tune laid down in a few hours. We'd really kind of just throw it at them."
Ringle has in the past cited author Cormac McCarthy as an influence on his songwriting, though for Cynic's New Year he says he was inspired more by poets like James Wright and Robinson Jeffers.
"I just really enjoy reading poetry, which if you print that, it's going to destroy my rugged image," Ringle jokes. "But I do, primarily for the fact that I enjoy its focus on the aestheticism of the language, on the sound of words."
There's sufficient buzz around Cynic's New Year -- it debuted at No. 23 on Billboard's folk chart and at No. 29 on Heatseekers -- to suggest that it could be Horse Feathers' breakthrough album, though that notion amuses Ringle.
"When I'm in the writing stage and making music, I desperately try to divorce myself from the concept of what might happen," he says. "The reality of the fact is, when I turn the record in, it doesn't really belong to me anymore. If it is a breakthrough, that's great. I feel like I accomplished something personally. Whether or not the rest of the world agrees, that's up to them."
Cynic's New Year is available now on Kill Rock Stars.