Ryan Scott Graham talks travels and new LP Nearsighted

In case you didn’t already know Ryan Scott Graham from pop-punk band State Champs, you will now for his solo project Speak Low if You Speak Love. His second solo album Nearsighted is set to release this month. 

He released his debut album Everything But What You Need in 2015 with Pure Noise Records where it quickly gained popularity. The album deals with the emotions one goes through relative to a break up. 

Graham will also be touring in support of pop-punk band Neck Deep this February. 

We had a chance to chat with Graham about Nearsighted and his travels before the tour kicks off. Check out the interview below!

Kailey Howell: How did Speak Low if You Speak Love come to be?

Ryan Scott Graham: Speak Low was a project that started in my bedroom after the breakup of my first band and the time in between joining another band full time. I wrote a bunch of songs on an acoustic guitar over the course of 2-3 years that came to be Everything But What You Need. Initially it was just something to pass the time and to try my hand at being completely vulnerable lyrically. 

KH: Your debut album Everything But What You Need, deals with a lot of raw emotions following a break up. So far, ‘Enough’ and ‘Contrasting Colors’ both contain a similar theme of love. Is this a theme that will convey across all of Nearsighted?

RSG: The theme may be love, but it’s never approached from the same angle as the first record. I’ve grown a lot in the 4 or 5 years since I wrote Everything But What You Need, and although Nearsighted may ask some similar questions, my reaction and attitude toward the answers I received is different. Whereas EBWYN felt kind of brokenhearted and hopeless lyrically, Nearsighted feels confused but confident in the future. I’m still searching for that piece of mind, but in a new way; in a way that recognizes something else is out there if you’re willing to keep searching. 

KH: I really enjoy the unperfect picture of love that you paint in your songs, and how the feelings resonate with listeners. What inspired you to follow these themes more commonly as opposed to just the happy points of love?

RSG: I think recurring themes of unperfect love was what came naturally to write about because it was all I had experienced at the time. Even when you are in love, it’s never perfect in the way you see it in books and film. I think one of the reasons people are drawn to Speak Low is because of that truth in the storytelling. They’re all looking for a fairytale too, but along the way you have to strike out because it’s part of the process and it’s part of life. Nobody is really alone in that, and it’s comforting to hear stories and songs that resonate with you on the same emotional plane. 

KH: What’s your favorite song you’ve written for Nearsighted, can you tell me a little about it and the writing process? 

RSG: I have a lot of favorites from Nearsighted, but I think one of the more fun songs to make was ‘Enough’. We were sitting in the studio listening over to what we had accomplished over the past 8-9 months of recording and realized that an upbeat, driving element was missing from the overall feel. Our producer, Aaron Marsh, left me alone in the studio for the night with my drummer, Drew, and we just sat in the live room jamming for hours. The bass line for ‘Enough’ just poured out – it was groovy and fun and we played it over and over until we had a structure built around it. The next day when Aaron came in, we showed him what we had come up with and I could tell he saw the vision unfolding because he was eager to get to work. I think ‘Enough’ was the song that actually took the least amount of time to complete from start to finish. 

KH: You begin tour this month with Neck Deep, a band that you’ve toured with before with State Champs. What are some things you’re doing to prepare for the tour? Some things you’re looking forward to?

RSG: Not only is this tour exciting because it’s the first time we’re playing the new songs, but it’s also the first time we’ve put some real effort and energy into the production of the show. It’s nothing crazy, as we’re the opening band, I don’t really want to give anything away beforehand. I’m excited to tour with friends I’ve known for years. Sometimes it takes a few days to introduce yourself to a new band, but we’re already well acquainted! 

KH: What’s your favorite part about traveling the world?

RSG: My favorite thing about traveling is the people, always. There is no cooler feeling than making a friend across the globe. It’s comforting to know there are likeminded people out there who grew up in completely different areas and cultures, and traveling allows the opportunity for your paths to cross. Even something as simple as that has challenged me to approach life with an absolute open mind. 

KH: Favorite place you have been to? What’s one of your bucket list places to go to in the future?

RSG: Japan is my favorite place I’ve been to. I was interested before my first visit, but was enthralled by the time I left. I’ve been back a handful of times since and plan to move there at some point in the next few years, even if it’s a short stay. Egypt, India and Norway are all on my bucket list for places to visit next. Let’s see if I can knock those out in 2018. 

KH: What’s the craziest food you’ve had in a foreign country?

RSG: I am massively into food, but I don’t eat meat so I don’t have the chance to go for many of the strange things my friends are trying around me. In Manila, I watched a handful of people something called “Balut” which turned out to be a fertilized duck embryo, maybe 15-16 days developed. I couldn’t get behind that one. I did eat a fried grasshopper in Thailand, however, and it tasted like a potato chip.

KH: If you could only listen to three records for the rest of your life, what would they be?

RSG: This is always a cruel question. I’ll probably change my answer tomorrow, but as of today I would say:

Death Cab For Cutie – Transatlanticism
The Posies – Frosting on the Beater 
Third Eye Blind – Out of the Vein  

KH: Lastly, what is your favorite meme?

RSG: Without question: The Surprised Blinking White Guy. 

Nearsighted comes out January 19th, and can be purchased/streamed on all major distributors. You can follow Speak Low if You Speak Love on Twitter here to keep updated! Check out the complete list of dates on where you can catch a set!

Jan 18 – Santa Ana, CA – The Observatory
Jan 19 – Tucson, AZ – The Rock
Jan 20 – Phoenix, AZ – Marquee Theater
Jan 22 – Dallas, TX – The Bomb Factory
Jan 23 – San Antonio, TX – Alamo City Music Hall
Jan 24 – Houston, TX – Warehouse Live
Jan 26 – Atlanta, GA – Center Stage
Jan 27 – Tampa, FL – The Ritz
Jan 28 – Orlando, FL – Plaza Live
Jan 30 – Norfolk, VA – The NorVa
Jan 31 – Baltimore, MD – Ram’s Head Live
Feb 1 – Philadelphia, PA – Electric Factory
Feb 2 – New York, NY – Playstation Theater
Feb 3 – Worcester, MA – Palladium
Feb 5 – Rochester, NY – Anthology
Feb 6 – Montreal, QC – Club Soda
Feb 8 – Toronto, ON – Phoenix Concert Theater
Feb 9 – Detroit, MI – The Majestic
Feb 10 – Cleveland, OH – Agora Theater
Feb 12 – Chicago, IL – Concord Music Hall
Feb 13 – Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
Feb 14 – Kansas City, MO – The Truman
Feb 16 – Denver, CO – The Ogden Theater
Feb 17 – Salt Lake City, UT – The Complex
Feb 18 – Boise, ID – The Knitting Factory
Feb 20 – Calgary, AB – MacWwan Ballroom
Feb 21 – Edmonton, AB – Union Hall
Feb 23 – Vancouver, BC – The Vogue Theater
Feb 24 – Seattle, WA – The Showbox
Feb 25 – Portland, OR – Roseland Ballroom
Feb 27 – San Francisco, CA – The Regency Ballroom
Feb 28 – Hollywood, CA – The Henry Fonda Theater
Kailey Howell can found on Twitter @kailey_howell, and for continuing music coverage, make sure to follow The Pit on Twitter at @ThePit_SE
*Photo courtesy of Pure Noise Records