Published Oct 11, 2011Despite some hit-or-miss output and occasionally erratic behaviour, we can't help but be fascinated by Ryan Adams. From heartbreaking Americana to ridiculous joke bands to "legit metal," you never quite know what you're going to get from this prolific and eclectic songwriter.
Today (October 11) Adams is officially marking the release his latest album, Ashes & Fire, via PAX-AM/Capitol Records. To celebrate the release and Adams long and storied career, Exclaim! has published an in-depth Timeline exploring his many ups and downs.
Below, we've selected five noteworthy facts from the piece to get you started.
Five Noteworthy Facts You May Not Know About Ryan Adams:
5. Ryan Adams began his music career as a drummer.
Adams' mother and stepfather buy him an electric guitar around this time, but his first experience with a band finds him playing drums for Blank Label, an offshoot of Pumphouse, the band [friend Shane] Duhe had formed with Jere McIlwean, the source of Adams' new favourite music through his job at Jacksonville's indie record store. Adams drops out of school at the start of his tenth grade year and moves into the band house that McIlwean rents on the outskirts of Jacksonville where Blank Label put on regular free shows.
4. Ryan Adams prefers heavy music to country.
"Being from eastern North Carolina, country music was just there in the background when I was growing up," Adams says. "But there was also a lot of metal too. Rednecks listened to country and CCR, but the kids listened to Iron Maiden, which is what I did until I got into that mythical southern gothic sound on the early R.E.M. records. There was a time when I really liked country music, but I don't listen to it anymore. To this day, the more aggressive the music, the better it is for me. But what I create has to do with who I am culturally, which is why I've always felt comfortable writing in the country and roots music idiom."
3. Whiskeytown's Pneumonia originally had a much more profane title.
He and Daly start laying down tracks for an album Adams intends to call Fucker, bringing in ex-Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson and Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha to collaborate. Plans change drastically by early 1999 after Adams is introduced to producer Ethan Johns, son of legendary British producer Glyn Johns, who arranges sessions at an abandoned church in Woodstock, NY. They envision a double album variously entitled Go Bye Bye Music, Doing That (a response to Wilco's Being There), and ultimately Pneumonia.
2. His sophomore solo album, Gold, was released on 9/11.
With Gold's release set for Tuesday, September 11, Adams shoots a video for the first single "New York, New York" four days before in the shadow of the World Trade Center. The song and video both unintentionally become small beacons of hope in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, and Adams performs it on Saturday Night Live shortly after the show resumes production.
1. Ryan Adams isn't a fan of the similarly named Bryan Adams.
Adams also makes headlines for having an audience member at a solo acoustic show Nashville's Ryman Auditorium reportedly ejected for yelling a request for Bryan Adams' "Summer Of '69." Ryan later elaborates on the incident by posting on his website that he left the stage to personally hand the heckler money back for his ticket and asked him to leave, a move he says the rest of the audience unanimously approved. Adams couldn't help taking a few shots at the Canadian rocker though, writing in the same post, "I seriously could give six shits about Bryan Adams or that song. In my opinion he is not a serious artist. His songs have 'implied target market audience' written all over them and in fact he is quite embarrassing in general. Also a piss poor photographer."