It's difficult to keep up with Ricky Hamilton. At any moment the former Useless Eater is at home in Cleveland, Ohio, in Nashville playing with BlackBear and the Surf Bums, or Oakland hanging with Warm Soda. The latest developments are the results from a recent East Bay stint where songs recorded on a four-track tape recorder begat the project, Ricky's Heart. Like in Blackbear, Ricky lays on that understated pained delivery over a shambling DIY jangle pop.
On “Holiday in Purgatory”, the Oakland-recorded Ricky's Heart sessions begins a series of described scenes of the places in-between. Entertaining the dramatist persona of a certain familiar Mancunian patriarch, a floodgate of “why me” anguish hits with the following (but not limited to) lamentations: “I dove into the icy sea with your arms wrapped around me,” “you should run into the burning building just to see how much you love me,” “light a cigarette, put out your sickness,” “there's blood all over the floor,” “don't slip,” “shouldn't we just go around in circles,” and so on. This combined with the rambling, jangling, and sometimes off key/pitch/time swings between an elaborate joke or some of the best word-cramming since “Reeling in the Years”. You decide. Stay tuned for our discussion with Mr. Hamilton, following the stream of, “Holiday in Purgatory”.
What brought about your Ricky's Heart vehicle?
I needed something to do. I was waiting to leave for tour and thought I should probably do something to occupy my time. I can get restless.
How's the Oakland life treating you, and what's shaking these days as well in Cleveland?
I'm just in Cleveland now. Oakland was great but Cleveland has a lot more of what I'm looking for.
The shamble-bliss bop over the dramatic-Moz-ish vocals that goes on a kind of over-drive, that allows the instrumentation to sort of flourish to their own accord. How do you feel that the approaches to the whole music craft are different for you here as compared to your host of other projects, current, past, future, etc?
I think that with Blackbear there's a connection between Carter, Jared and me that's different than our individual visions of music. Ricky's Heart is more my vision after experiencing a lot of touring and moving around.
Take us into the seasonal in hell, or purgatory as it may be, that is “Holiday in Purgatory”?
I think the season in purgatory is like a day when all you want to do is mellow out under a blanket and listen to records and the world doesn't understand or give you the time to indulge your feelings.
Is this like your own kind of personal, “Holiday in Cambodia”, or “Holiday in the Sun”, etc?
No. I think Ricky's Heart is just one way I'm expressing my vision of art and my experiences. I have a lot of songs recorded and I'm hoping that people might give them a listen and if they like it a lot maybe it can morph into something completely different.
If Ricky's Heart was the name of your own Ann Landers/Dear Abbey/Doctor Ruth/Oprah-esque column or program, what sound advice would you leave all of your listeners and viewers with?
I would just say to rock out and give life a chance.