We had the honor of interviewing William Ryan Key of Yellowcard on his solo tour at the Roxy!
“Sometimes a step sideways is the best progression forward. After the breakup of Yellowcard in Spring 2017, vocalist/guitarist William Ryan Key did just that with his solo debut EP, THIRTEEN which will be released on May 25, 2018 via The Lone Tree Recordings.
Both a sonic redirection and a rediscovering of his muse, THIRTEEN finds Ryan in a brand new headspace with a sound that moves away from the pop punk genre that Yellowcard helped create and into new uncharted territory that’s equally introspective but not as anchored in convention.
“It took a long time to find my own focus and direction after 17 years in a band,” Ryan explains. “However, once I found it, the music felt like coming home. There was new freedom and creativity that I channeled into each of the songs.”
Acoustic and emotionally raw with a spacious and pristine hi-fi sound, Thirteen kicks off with the haunting “Old Friends”, with its un-nostalgic look at past mistakes (“I’m sitting on a mountain of guilt that I finally started chipping away”) and realizing that he’s ready to move forward. The epic soar of “Form and Figure” combines the tender introspection of Elliott Smith with the atmospherics of Hammock as filtered through the knowing eyes of Ryan Key. The first single “Vultures” retains a hint of his past sound in Yellowcard but decidedly switches up the chorus in a way that he could never accomplished in the pop punk paradigm. “‘Vultures’ was the first song written and recorded for ‘Thirteen’,” he explains. “I feel like it is the right song to help fans across the bridge from old to new, as well as introduce people who are new to my music to the sound.”
Coproduced with Arun Bali of Saves the Day (who also mixed the EP) at his own studio TheLone Tree Recordings, THIRTEEN is a pivotal mark in Ryan’s life. “2013 was a really difficult year for both me and the people I love,” he says. “When writing, I was looking back on the journey from then until now.” Another noticeable change was re-adding “William” back into his full name. Followers on Twitter are already accustomed to it (his handle is @williamryankey), but for many who know him simply as “Ryan Key,” an additional two syllables will need to be added when referring to him and his solo career. “William is my first name that I carry from my maternal grandfather,” he explains fondly. “He was always a huge inspiration to me so it’s an honor to use his name.”
With a new direction in life and a whole new sort of independence as a solo artist, Ryan is feeling the freedom of expanding his personal songbook. Still appreciative of his fans now as he was with Yellowcard, Ryan is always thankful to his fans who have supported him through his musical journey. As much as this EP is a new beginning for him, he sees it also as the beginning of a new relationship with his fans. He concludes, “I can only hope that this release is the beginning of a new chapter both for myself, and for the fans that have supported me for so very long.”
“Visualize all the good sh*t you want to do.”— William Ryan Key