Ryan MacDonald is the lead singer and guitarist of anthemic rock band, The Honest Heart Collective. When he isn’t listening to old Springsteen cassette tapes, he spends his time at local bowling alleys & collecting Fender Telecasters.
Q: Hi Ryan, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
A: The weather is looking a lot more like spring here in Thunder Bay, so needless to say I’m doing pretty good.
Q: Can you talk to us more about your latest Single “Liar’s Club“?
A: It tells a story of someone becoming something they’re not and how they progress down this new path they’ve stumbled onto. Eventually that person comes to the realization that they’re hurting the people they care the most about and tries to become the person they were always meant to be.
Q: Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?
A: After I dropped out of university, I found myself going through a ton of dead-end jobs, and being more miserable as time went on. It was a slow progression but the tipping point was when I moved away to college a few years later. I became that person in the song. I wasn’t being true to myself, or the people around me. I was cutting ties with people I loved back home, I’m not quite sure what the exact moment was but I managed to get back on track.
Q: Why naming the record after this track in particular?
A: To me, “Liar’s Club” represented this period of time in my life perfectly. It was the fall, the comeback, and the sentiment wrapped all together. I just couldn’t get the phrase out of my head, so it just made sense to name the record after it.
Q: How was the recording and writing process?
A: Grueling. Haha. I had gone to Algonquin College for audio engineering so we built our own recording studio above a bar in our hometown. We really tried our best at making a record. We’d write songs, scrap lyrics, rewrite parts, then we’d repeat. The first half of the record came easier than the second that’s for sure. There’s a bunch of ideas that we shelved or did nothing with. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make this record the best it could be. It was our “this is who we are” moment, and we were desperate to make a great first impression.
Q: How did the experience you went through the record get to inspire the songs and lyrics?
A: It felt relentless, it was this day in day out process at the studio, and none of us had ever made a real record before, so as much as I thought I knew about recording, I realized how little I knew about making a record. But that’s what songs like “Peace for the Weary Soul” mean to me. Longing for rest and never getting it because of the dream you’re chasing. Coming to the studio every day and feeling like the thought of not being good enough to finish the record had punched me in the face. Looking back there’s these key moments in the studio that really reflect lyrics in the songs. In general I believe the process made the dark parts sound darker, but it made the light parts sound hopeful.
Q: I see you are covering lots of Johnny Cash songs (pretty awesome btw!) – what role does he plays in your music or you randomly choose to cover him?
A: Thank you! We really didn’t start to dive into Mr. Cash’s music until a few years ago, but it all started by choosing Folsom Prison Blues as the first song we’d cover live. That got me hooked. He just had this way of telling stories that very few songwriters had at the time. It’s made me become a better writer, to him a song told a story, and I’ve adapted to that way of thinking when I write songs. I don’t believe I’ll ever be able to quite do his songs justice, but I just can’t help but try. I have a vinyl copy of “Live from Folsom Prison” hanging on my wall. It was a gift my parents found when they were in Memphis. They go for $34 on ebay, but it’s priceless to me.
Q: Any plans to hit the road?
A: We’re heading down to Toronto for Canadian Music Week in a few days to play some pretty cool showcases, and then we’re hoping to get on a few summer festivals. There might even be a cross Canada tour this fall before heading back into the studio to record our next album. You can follow our Facebook page for the latest updates.
Q: What else is happening next in The Honest Heart Collective’s world?
A: We just bought a new tour van and it’s pretty rad. I think we’re going to hold a twitter contest to name it soon, so keep an eye on @honestheartco for that. Van Wilder, Vandalf the Grey, & Vanny McVanface are all in the running, tweet your ideas to us!