By ERIC SCHELKOPF
Chicago musician Ryan Joseph Anderson wears his heart on his sleeve.
That is evident on his sophomore album, the passion-filled "City of Vines," which was released on June 30. To celebrate the release of the album, Anderson will perform Aug. 4 at The Hideout, 1354 West Wabansia Ave., Chicago.
The show starts at 9 p.m. and tickets are $10, available at www.ticketfly.com. I had the chance to talk to Anderson about the new album:
Q - Great talking to you again. "City of Vines" is your sophomore album. Did you feel any pressure in following up your first album, "The Weaver's Broom"? What were your goals for the album and do you think you accomplished them?
I didn't really feel any pressure, but it did take some time to get all of the songs together. "The Weaver's Broom" was made up of a lot of story songs...that's an element of this record too, but "City of Vines" is more personal than anything I've made before.
I spent a lot of time tweaking the lyrics. Other than that, I wanted a bigger sound: more layers, more electric guitar, horns, etc. I definitely think we accomplished that.
Q - You released the album on three different formats – vinyl, CD and digital streaming. It seems like many artists are following that route these days. Which format do you like the best?
Definitely vinyl. I've been collecting since I was a kid and have a pretty big soft spot for records. I like everything about the format: how it looks, how it sounds, and how it demands attention.
I know that if somebody buys a vinyl they are going to sit with it. CDs are becoming more and more obsolete and digital doesn't seem as tangible.
Q - How did you go about choosing the musicians on the album?
I've been playing with the core band on this record since 2014. They're some of my favorite players in Chicago.
When I was writing for "City of Vines," I was writing with them in mind: Brian Morrissey (guitar), Dan Ingenthron (bass, keys), and Mike Holtz (drums). Dan and I have played in a ton of projects together (including my old band Go Long Mule) and he's easily one of the best musician I know. He can play anything.
Brian Morrissey is an amazing guitar player and songwriter in his own right, and Mike Holtz seems to always play the perfect part on drums...he's super creative. Nick Broste put the horn section together and arranged the parts.
Chicago legend Gary Scheppers came in to play some tuba. Gabriel Stutz put down some beautiful pedal steel and my partner-in-crime Jen Donahue sang harmonies.
It was really just a great collection of friends working on this together. It was a ton of fun to make.
Q - You produced "City of Vines" with Brian Morrissey, who also plays on the album. What do you think he brings to the table?
Brian has a great ear for production and is a killer songwriter...he really knows how to make production serve the song. For me, it was really important to have somebody to bounce ideas off of and vice-versa.
I like hearing different ideas and trying different approaches. The song "Diamonds" is a really good example of what Brian brought to the table. The feel changes significantly from verse to verse, while the chords and melody stay the same. That was Brian's idea.
Then, along with the band and the wizard like skills of Nick Broste, we figured out how to make it work . Brian and Nick really helped me get the sound that was in my head out. I can hear their contributions in every song and feel really luck to have had them working on this.
Q - You will be actively touring around the country in the fall, including playing several dates in Oregon. Are there any areas of the country you like playing the best? What do you think of the Chicago music scene and how do you think you fit into it?
I'm pretty excited to get back to the northwest. We have some great friends out there and it's always a blast. Honestly, I really like touring around the Midwest.
There are a ton of surprising things happening around this region of the country - a lot of people are starting venues or festivals, and truly supportive musical communities are popping up where there used to be none.
As for Chicago, there's so much talent here it's mind-numbing. I think my favorite thing about this scene is how collaborative it is.
Also, Chicago musicians love taking risks. It's great to be surrounded by that kind of community.