Ryan Adams: Demolition

BETWEEN HIS spare solo debut Heartbreaker and last year’s swaggering Gold – the one where he sounded like he’d swallowed a jukebox of Stones, Who and Band singles – Adams recorded demos for a double album’s worth of new songs. (Its title, The Suicide Handbook, will do for a review.)

Once Gold was finished, he went back in the studio and made another new album (48 Hours; more uptempo, sometimes countrified), then yet another with his touring/Gold band Pinkhearts. Then he took a vacation, in Scandinavia – where he recorded more new songs with a Swedish cellist and a guitar player who used to be in Roxette. Any younger and they’d have put him on Ritalin.

There was talk of a box set of out-takes, but even Adams found this “a little egotistical”. So Demolition is a selection. Depending what side you take in the Heartbreaker Gold debate, you’ll like some tracks more than others – in my case, intimate, one-piano-note ‘Cry On Demand’, heartbreaking acoustic ballad ‘Dear Chicago’, country romp ‘Chin Up Cheer Up’, subtle, downbeat ‘You Will Always Be The Same’, rather than cocky rock ‘Gimme A Sign’.

But together they make for a fine, multi-faceted album with very little surplus.

Ryan Adams talks to Sylvie Simmons.

You’ve been very prolific. How so?

“I just really love playing guitar and coming up with these funky songs. I like it the way people like sex and food. That sounds boisterous, but I enjoy it and it’s something I need to do.”

Did The Suicide Handbook scare the record company?

“They don’t mind what I do; it was more wanting to make sure I made the right decision for me. I think I need records like Gold, a little bit more optimistic, to break up downbeat ones like Heartbreaker and the one I’m working on now, so it’s not all one way. It’s like Venom – all their songs would kick fuckin’ ass and then they’ll have the one little classical song which makes the big metal part so much better. With me it’s all quiet songs then a couple of loud ones.”

What did the success of Gold do for you?

“I went from somebody no one really cared about to being someone MOJO called “over-hyped” – which I thought was funny because they were the ones that did it! And my touring schedule doubled. I think that Gold will seem less like a [career] landmark, more like a mile-marker.”

© Sylvie SimmonsMOJO, October 2002

Leave a Comment