BRONCHO's Ryan Lindsey on Touring with Billy Idol, Glam Rock and Writing a New Record

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BRONCHO have captured our hearts. From the title of their new record, Just Enough Hip To Be Woman, to their insanely catchy single “Class Historian,” they’re a band whose music will be stuck in your head for days, and your friends will be talking how “legendary” their show is. That’s due in large part to frontman Ryan Lindsey, who’s known just as much for penning monster hooks as he is for his onstage persona. We recently caught up with him to talk about the band’s brand of glam, booze-soaked nights, and, oh yeah, touring with Billy Idol. How’s that going?

Ryan Lindsey: It’s great. Their whole crew has been really awesome. It’s been great to play with a legend. To think of my growing up in Oklahoma, I was into Billy Idol for sure. Generation X. I was pretty young at that moment, but I always heard the stuff. I was very aware of all of it, and I came to appreciate everything the older I got. Having this opportunity means a lot to us.

Paste : Have you had a chance to do any talking with him to get career tips?
Lindsey: Yeah, I’ve met him, and we had a great conversation. I hope to have more. I really hope I get a solid Billy hang for sure. We’ll see. Steve Stevens is really nice. I’ve had some really great conversations with him. They don’t have to take time to watch our set, but the fact that they did definitely means a lot to us. Makes us feel more comfortable. Being on a big tour like this, it’s easy to feel out of place.

Paste : Jumping from small bars to to the big stage?
Lindsey: Yeah, it’s a really crazy leap. That’s also part of the thing that’s been nice about this tour, getting to a place where you can feel comfortable in a really large room, because we’re so used to the tiny claustrophobic club. We know how to make sense in that world. It sounded scary to try to make sense in a huge theater. There’s a lot of times I thought, “I don’t think we necessarily make sense there.” But we’ve gotten comfortable there. It’s been nice.

Paste : What’s the differences for you, working a crowd in a small club as oppose to a theater? What are you finding are the real challenges?
Lindsey: The first couple nights, when I’m talking, it’s definitely different being able to understand someone in a huge PA. There’s probably a speed and a tone thing when you talk to a crowd that big that you try to figure out, and I think I’m making more sense of that. I’ve gotten previously just enough to know what I want in a monitor mix on a big stage, and that’s a huge thing. In a small club, it’s just so loud that it doesn’t matter. You can turn up and it feels great. It gives you instant energy to be in a tiny club and really loud. On a big stage in a big theater, things can sound really quiet, and I think figuring out what each of us individually really want out of our monitors and really knowing how to get the most out of that has definitely helped me energy-wise. Because it’s like, if the monitors are loud, that shortens up the room a little bit and then you don’t have to think about how big the room is.

Paste : This is a jumping point for a lot of bands where it starts to affect their songwriting, too, because once you start playing bigger rooms, you almost by instinct start writing for bigger rooms.
Lindsey: I could see that. For sure. Luckily, I’ve already stayed writing for our next record, so I don’t have to think about that.

Paste : I noticed you all played some dates in between the Billy Idol shows, too. At this pace, because you all have been going for a while, does it ever feel like it’s starting to take a toll on you?
Lindsey: There’s definitely times, but our sets are pretty short and if anything, it ends up being the thing that gets me over my hangover. It’s like a little aerobics set. The first tour we did on this new record, it was five weeks, and there was a period on that tour where we played like 23 days in a row and that was the first time that I actually was feeling any type of physical…like, my left leg hurt. Stuff like that which I had never had to deal with previously. I was like, “Alright, I’m tired, but I’ll get to it.” That was a time when I was actually like, “I really want a day off.” Typically on tour, I don’t want a day off, but now I appreciate days off.

Paste : It’s amazing what musicians will put their body through more or less to go play some songs. And we were talking about what you could learn from Billy Idol a second ago—have you read his bio? Because it seems you could take a lot of that stuff, like how to do the touring and how to still party. You have those older rockers who’ve figured out that this is how you party and survive. To not die night after night after night.
Lindsey: That is definitely something I’ve been figuring out over the last—well, really since I started touring in any band. But yeah, the guys like Billy, they’ve been in it so long you know they’ve got all the tricks down. And it is the fun thing, like I’ve learned what benefits me, what helps me, what I can do to feel really good going into it like right before we play, and also the next day. What’s going to hurt me. One of them is avoiding shots. It’s really hard to avoid shots. Like when someone is like, “Here, take this shot,” that’s really hard to not do. But I have declined two shots so far. I’ve said yes to probably 10 or 12, but that was a big moment for me, to be able to say, “I’m not going to take that shot.”

Paste : The general rule, like for me it might be an Old Forrester on the rocks and then a water afterward. You chug the water to get it out of the way and then head back to the bourbon.
Lindsey: Totally. That is something that I have known. It’s like those things that you learn and are like, “This is something that I need to do,” but you don’t do it. I’m glad that you are reaffirming that again to me. I’m going to play that in my head today when I take a drink. I’m going to think of you and also drink some water.

Paste : I’m now somehow a small part of the ultimate artist creation.
Lindsey: You are!

Paste : When I listen to a lot of the songs on the new record, you take a song like “What,” it’s almost like you’re carrying the great glam torch. Bands like Sweet, Slade and some of that Ziggy style of Bowie. But I wouldn’t call you all a glam band. With glam you had the costumes and everything.
Lindsey: We don’t have the money for the hair and makeup.

Paste : Beyond the clothing though, it seems you pay way more attention to your lyrics than a lot of those bands would have. For the style of music that you do, it could be very easy to get lost in the “doo-doo-doo”s of “Class Historian,” but there is some real beef to those lyrics.
Lindsey: When I listen to a song and get really into it with the melody and everything, the biggest letdown can be the lyrics when I figure out what’s actually going on. So I think sometimes it’s maybe having something to say or maybe saying something that doesn’t necessarily make sense. That can actually be better than saying something that makes sense just for the sake of it. Sometimes that bums me out. There doesn’t actually have to be any meaning to this. Maybe there’s a way to portray an emotion for something lyrically rather than actually making real-life sense out of something. For me it’s a mix of making a point and sometimes not making a point. The ambiguity of that can open things up for me personally.

Paste : Does it ever become a fun game to watch fans try to decipher lyrics that didn’t have meaning to begin with?
Lindsey: The only thing that I’ve heard [of] was someone trying to make sense of something that didn’t really have to do with lyrics. It had to do with a recording. We did this recording for this thing called Audiotree in Chicago, and that whole session ended up becoming a really cool thing, and a lot of people liked it. And then they ended up using it for the show Girls. But then the version of the song that we put out, we actually used our recording of it rather than using the Audiotree thing, so there was a big mix-up online of people saying that some band recorded BRONCHO’s song. And so there was this little online fight of who was right. That was pretty entertaining.

Paste : You can leave that stuff a mystery, you know? You can wait 10 or 12 years before you ever come clean on that stuff. Let the mythology build. You need the myth of rock and roll to survive.
Lindsey: That’s right. Forget I said it.

Paste : I brought up “Class Historian.” With that song, has it got to a point where you wondered why you wrote that specific chorus? Because you’re doing that one note over and over.
Lindsey: Yeah, like do I feel like I’m annoying people? Anytime someone says, “God, I’ve heard your song like crazy on the radio,” my first instinct is to apologize.

Paste : Do you get tired of singing it?
Lindsey: No. I always welcome it because we play it last in our set. I’m like, “Good, we’re almost over. If I can make it through this, then night over.” Or night begins!

Paste : And you’re already working on the next record?
Lindsey: Yeah, I’ve been writing. There’s a lot of songs that got left off of the first record. There’s a number of songs I thought just didn’t make sense for that record, and I thought these would make sense on the next record. And then since then I’ve been continuing to write stuff. Those are really my favorite times in life for me, when a song comes about. Those are the things that keep me going. If I have a period of time where I’m not really writing anything, I try not to force anything. It’s been really good for me because we’ve been playing shows, so that takes my mind off of it, but lately there’s been some more songs that I’ve been writing and coming up with that I’ve been excited about. Hopefully when we get a little break, I’ll at least start demoing stuff. I’m getting antsy for that.