Ron Pope Interview

After many years of listening to Ron Pope's music whilst standing at bus stops in the rain I finally got the chance to see him live. Ron has embarked on yet another tour this year visiting many places in the UK, Europe and USA. I caught up with Ron at Liverpool O2 Academy on his birthday...

SG: You've visited the UK quite a few times now, have you managed to fit in any sightseeing?

RP: I run a fair amount on tour so I’ve seen some parks. The first time I went sight seeing in London it was my 5th visit to London and I couldn’t sleep and my wife was just lying there asleep so I didn’t want to wake her up. So finally at about 4am I got up quietly and left a note and went for a walk. I went to Trafalgar square and Big Ben for the first time, but I usually don’t have a lot of time. This year I've spent a lot of time in London I saw the crown jewels, the queens very nice hat.

SG: You have an impressive amount of songs, how do your first songs differ to your songs you write now?

RP: When you start writing songs you don’t really know what you’re doing so you’re figuring out how you write songs, how one writes a song. You first figure out how to write songs then you have to figure out how YOU write songs. You have to try and find what your voice as a writer is. Some people are lucky like Bob Dylan was writing Bob Dylan songs right out the gate. For me there's definitely a process. I wrote songs for a very long time before I sort of fell into my the stuff you hear now. The very first song I wrote was 'and like a dream' from the very first district album. I wrote that when I was 19 but I'd been writing songs for 7 years at that point that weren't very good, so when I wrote that I was like alright so this is going to be where it starts.

I would say absolutely it changes but I believe by the time you’re 12/13 years old you kind of know emotions that ever go in a song. If you’ve never been to a club, you know the feeling of wanting to go out and have a great night. You know what it means to be excited to go out. Even if you’ve never been in love, you know about desire, hunger, need and sadness. I think that great songs are the ones that you can react to if you're a 90 year old great grandmother or a 14 year old girl who has just started school or a 50 year old guy with 3 kids.Great songs are reactive for all people and great songwriters do that.
 SG: Your new single 'Nothing' is quite an emotional song, where did the inspiration for this song come from?
RP: Well my new album 'Calling off the dogs' is a concept album that follows two people from when they meet,to falling in love, falling out of love and finally ends with the last interaction. ' Nothing' is the end part of that story where it kind of comes to an end and starts to really fall apart.
The first time I went on the road with The District, in 2005, we listened to Death Cab for Cuties album, 'Transatlanticism', and we listened to it all every single day, so for me when I hear that record I don’t think about the stories in those songs. Although they're really compelling, I think about my friends under the stars in the south, feeling young, free and having fun and I hope that people feel like that with my music.

SG: In that single you collaborate with Hannah Trigwell, so if you could collaborate with anyone who would it be and why?
RP: If I could be in any band I would take Robbie Robertson's place and I would sing in The Band. That would be the job I would try and take. I would like to go back in time and front that band because the thing I think is the highest level of evolution with a pop/rock artist is that kind of ensemble. There were 3 lead singers they were all multi instrumentalists and they all did a lot of things ,where most bands there's a guy who can sing, a guy who can play an instruments and do backing vocals but this is a band that could all sing and were all monster players. Richard and Rik could have fronted a band, but instead they were all in one band together and there was no real front man. So I would have liked to have been another voice in that choir and another multi instrumentalist. Although I wouldn’t have been good enough to play!
Although currently who is alive now it would be hands down Jay Z. He's been dominating and killing it for 20 years or something in a genre that turns around so quickly. The people he came out with at the beginning are now nowhere to be seen. He’s still topping the charts, selling out stadiums, blowing peoples minds and he's done so many things that I'm sure people would have been like "you can never do that" and he was like "watch me, I can do anything I want". I think that’s incredible, that’s the kind of man you respect.

 SG: One of your songs from the Atlanta album is called 'I do not love you' so can you name 3 things you don't love and why?
RP: Nobody likes wasps, they’re horrible. Bees have a job, they do such wonderful things and wasps just kind of have no purpose. You feel bad when a bee stings you and they're kind of fluffy. What I don’t love, is when I get on an aeroplane and the seat in front is super super close to me and the passenger reclines their seat. In addition to that I don’t like sitting next to someone on an aeroplane that smells bad. I don’t like going through security at airports. As you can tell I travel a great deal! Those are three things I hate about travelling.

SG: What advice would you give to someone wanting to write their own music?
RP: One of the things that’s happened in the last 15 years is that there's been a great deal in democratisation in the process of making good quality and in the distribution of music. So a person can get an interface and a laptop they already own and an inexpensive microphone use a program that comes with their computer and make a very clean, good sounding recording. Like some big time hip hop are recorded in little tiny rooms because they don’t need a big band or a lot of room so as the recording democracy has become more the distribution has. So there's websites like tuneacord where I distribute my music. I upload it and pay a one time fee and then my music comes out and that’s that!
Every piece of music will be out forever now. You HAVE TO BELIEVE IN WHAT YOU'RE doing. Be comfortable with what you put out. Stuff you’re proud of. Remember you’re competing with everyone. It's everyone in the world. You are competing with BeyoncĂ©.

SG: You've toured a whole lot so you must have some funny stories or mishaps whilst on tour. Would you like to share one or two? Perhaps from when you first started performing.
RP: I’ve been on tour for such a long time now. One of the guys in my band, not one who is currently in my band but a long time ago. Three minutes before we were about to go on stage just pooped his pants and then he was like "I don’t know what to do". We were like "go and change your pants dude, you’ve pooped your pants!" I never thought id have that discussion with a grown man. Like a lot of things that happen on the road, at the time are horrible or gross or miserable. But you put enough years between them and they become funny. So actually the other day we were in Wales and I woke up 100degrees inside the bus. "What's going on in here, is it on fire?" So I went to the front and they were like "we don’t have electricity to plug the bus in for air conditioning" and so I get off the bus and its super hot outside. We get to the venue and they don’t have any airconditioning and its super hot in there and where we go to get showers they don’t have any, a restaurant, they don’t have any and its super hot. Sweltering and miserable the whole day but so miserable its hilarious just not at the time.













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