Ryan Adams’ 14th studio album could have been an entirely different beast. A couple of years ago he wrote and recorded a different record with producer Glyn Johns, who worked on 2011’s ‘’Ashes & Fire’. Then he sat down and listened to it. “It was just slow, adult shit,” Adams remembers now. “I’m just over that.”
So he scrapped the whole thing, leading to an awkward dinner with his manager and distributors. “I had to say: ‘By the way, I just spent $100,000 dollars or more on this record, but I’m shelving it,’” he laughs.
The thing was, his mind was elsewhere. While he’d been recording at Sunset Sound’s famed Studio B, construction had finished on his adjacent personal studio Pax Am. He says: “The whole time we were recording at Studio B I was thinking ‘I should be next door. I should be experimenting. I should just be writing for a whole year.'”
So that’s what he did. “They must have thought I was completely fucking mental. More than normal,” he says. “But I did it. 75 songs and numerous bags of weed later I have a record and enough singles to last me forever. I’m on the writing streak of my life. Things could not be cooler.”
The resulting self-produced album is scrappier and punkier than much of Adams’ previous work. “The records I like sound more like this record,” he says. “I love bands like The Wipers, Homestead Records bands like Antietam and New Zealand bands like The Verlaines, The Chills and The Clean.”
It still retains traces of Los Angeles AOR like Tom Petty and Fleetwood Mac, although Adams credits this to geography. “Well, I do live in LA. It would be weird if it sounded like a North Dakota album. I’d be like: ‘Damn, I gotta change what kind of weed I’m smoking.’”
The album’s eponymous title reflects how personal it is. “This seemed like a less pretentious way of saying that I recorded it myself at my own studio, rather than calling it ‘On My Own Time’ or ‘Both Sides, Now, Both Of Them Me’,” he says. “Eventually I just said ‘Let’s put a picture of my face on it and call it my fucking name.’”
Adams is adamant that whether or not people like his new direction is none of his concern. “I’m too old to care who likes my records,” he says. “It’s all bullshit anyway. People make judgements about records but the music is eternal. I like ‘Be Here Now’. I don’t even care if Noel Gallagher doesn’t like it because you know what? I will take two bong hits and that record will blow my mind. I’ve never spent a day hating something. You don’t get a do-over. If you make it to 80 and you’re dying they don’t say: ‘Remember that day you spent blogging about hating Pink Floyd? We’re giving you a 24 hour rebate. It’s a special on life. You get the time back you spent being a useless fucking computer blogger.’ I haven’t heard about that happening. I don’t give a fuck what somebody else likes because I’m busy being passionate and being creative. I will say though… it is funny as fuck when Noel Gallagher doesn’t like something. He can really sum it up, man.”
Originally published in NME, 16 August 2014.