In middle school, Ryan Kinder had baseball on his mind when life threw him a curveball. The Birmingham native heard John Mayers' 2001 debut album Room for Squares, and felt in his bones that he needed to learn how to play guitar.
Kinder ended up switching his middle school class schedule around so he could take the one guitar class offered. "I thought maybe I could learn a couple songs of this new artist I found, and it ended up just taking over my life", he said.
Kinder has translated that early love of guitar into heat-laden Southern rock. Take the slow burn of 'Tangled Up' for example, which you can listen to below. Kinder's electric guitar weaves seamlessly around his voice, which rises to a pained falsetto as he sings about the way love has changed him.
After tussling with an independent label and later a major label, Kinder ultimately decided to stick to his own path. He's an independent artist who knows to follow his voice.
Kinder's debut album Room to Dream is out July 30. Ahead of its release, he spoke with Holler about how his Birmingham hometown influenced his sound, one day collaborating with Bonnie Raitt (fingers crossed) and what else he has planned for this year.
Where are you from and has that influenced the type of artist you are?
I was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, but I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. I think it definitely influenced who I am today as an artist. I was inundated with country, pop, soul and rock with the music scene in Birmingham. It was pretty great growing up at that time there.
Speaking of influences, what were you listening to growing up?
I listened to a lot of [Eric] Clapton, [John] Mayer, Marc Broussard, Jackson Browne, The Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, Sam Cooke, Freddie King, Garth Brooks, Keith Urban, Bonnie Raitt...the list goes on and on!
Did you ever want to do something other than music?
I grew up playing baseball as a kid. I wanted to be in the majors but as soon as I got a guitar in my hand I knew that was my true love.
Are you more creative when you’re happy or when you’re sad?
I think the product produced is directly correlated to the mentality at the time. I feel more creative when there's a little morose in the air, but that may just be a facade of the feeling being more intense and having noticed it more.
What drives you the most?
Connecting with people who are fans of the music the way I connected with my heroes is a big factor. To be able to give someone the feeling that I get when I listen to the music I love, that's what its about.
In general which comes first for you, the title or the song?
It's a toss up. One leads itself to the other. A title may end up just being a part of a line once you get down the road with the song. It's a living organism. It's always changing and leading you to where it needs to go.
Who would be your dream collaboration?
Bonnie Raitt has always been one of my favorite voices of all time. She's a great player, too. That one would be fun.
We will continue to release collaborations on the Ontology album and start to work on album number two! We're getting back on the road as soon as possible.