for Oklahoma Gazette
Ryan Lindsey hasn’t been himself for almost two years.
The local musician and songwriter has kept busy in the interim — jaunts with Starlight Mints and pop-punk band Broncho have more than helped him fill the hours — but it’s apparently high time for an accidental and slightly premature comeback.
“I’ve been working on my new record and thinking about doing some really stripped-down shows,” Lindsey said.
When friend and former bandmate Beau Jennings approached Lindsey about opening a series of shows for him, Lindsey took the bait.
“It just made sense. I put together a set, and after that, I’ve said ‘yes’ to other offers I would have normally turned down,” Lindsey said. “I’m saying ‘yes’ because I have some songs together that I feel comfortable playing live.”
For fans of Broncho’s raucous shows and listeners of Lindsey’s first album, 2006’s “White Paper Beds,” this is a welcome announcement, despite drastic differences in sound and staging. Gone are the loop pedal, piano and full-band accompaniment that marked many previous performances. Also gone, at least for the time being, are the songs fans are used to hearing. Although tracks like the standalone single, “Let’s Go Out,” found commercial success from use in advertisements, television shows and film soundtracks, don’t expect to hear them onstage anytime soon.
“Those songs made it hard to play just a guitar live,” Lindsey said. “I have a new record, and with these songs, it’s easier to pick up a guitar and convey the general idea.”
With that in mind, recent shows like Tuesday’s at Opolis, include only Lindsey, a microphone and an acoustic guitar.
“I knew the shows with Beau would be quiet environments, and that guitar setup worked great, so when I played (Norman Music Festival), I did the same thing,” he said. “But it’s a festival, and people were loud. I just closed my eyes and tried to get through it. It was awkward.”
Fitting, since awkward humor is part of Lindsey’s shtick, both onstage and off. His self-deprecating and attentive crowd interaction is the one constant of his shows, despite that much of his new material is more somber and certainly slower than previous work.
“I feel like that makes it easier to be funny. I can relax and be calm, and it makes it easier to talk to people,” he said. “For a while with Broncho, it was hard to talk to people because the energy is so different, but between those songs, I still try to make a connection with the crowd.”
However Lindsey’s new material is received, it’s best that listeners don’t get too anxious. His sophomore album is, as of yet, unfinished, although he said things are progressing quickly on this leg of the production process.
“I already had an entire record, but I felt weird about it,” he said. “It didn’t make sense the way I thought it was going to make sense in my head … so I cut half the record — it felt like a different album — and started writing new songs that made sense with the other half. I’m in a better place.”
With that record on the horizon and a full-length Broncho album nearing official release as well, Lindsey’s plate is full and his future bright, if still a little uncertain.
“I have a lot of material I’m just ready to get out there,” Lindsey said. “I have a goal somewhere in mind, but I live my life without a direct plan. Things change so much. It makes more sense for me to do what I’m doing and see what comes out of it. I’m all right with it. I make sense of it, at least. I’m happy.”