When we got together with NYC-based songwriter Ron Pope
in Austin, there was a lot to talk about. Here, in conversation after his heartfelt session with us, Ron dishes on hi collegiate baseball career, how the discipline it required has fed his career in music, his super-successful, independent streak, and his love of all things Austin.
It may seem shallow to compare Ron Pope to the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon or Jackson Browne, with their decades worth of platinum albums, but it feels honest to describe his potential that way.
As a quiet teenager, Ron was listening to The Band, Stevie Wonder and endless hours of Bob Dylan, artists who would influence his writing depth, vocal style and marriage of pop melodies with bluesy guitar riffs and folksy grit. Ron outgrew his quiet personality about the time he left his childhood home in suburban Atlanta to pursue his first love, baseball, at Rutgers University. He played for two seasons, but the road to collegiate athletics is paved with sprains and fractures. After a career-ending injury, he transferred to NYU and chased a new dream in New York inspiring people through his music with soulful songs about love, loss and redemption, as well as heartfelt tunes about growing up and finding your way back home.
Ron was rapidly become the vibrant front man of The District, a band he started with classmates Zach Berkman, Paul Hammer, Chris Kienel, Will Frish and Mike Clifford, who he met in a songwriting circle. This wasn't just any college band not the kind you'd find in a garage, vibrating the shingles off your neighbors roof. The District became a New York household name in its own right, selling out popular venues, as well as playing a vital role in defining Ron's style as lyricist.
Ron's solo career evolved out of his individual sense of exploration. He was compelled to try new sounds, use various instruments and write more songs to produce something original yet lasting, something resonant for his listeners. He hit one out of the park in 2008 when he was asked to perform on MTVs TRL in a review of unsigned, up-and-coming artists. His 2006 song, A Drop in the Ocean was already an online darling. When the song was featured on hit shows such as The Vampire Diaries
and So You Think You Can Dance
earlier this year, Ron's fans took to Facebook and Twitter to spread the word, and it showed when the song became a top 100 download on iTunes. A Drop in the Ocean received so much positive feedback that Javier Colon, season 1 winner of NBC's The Voice
, recorded it as the first single off his premier album, Come Through for You
With more fan-made videos on YouTube than most Top 20 radio hits, you're just as likely to pull up a video of a fans version of one of Ron's songs than his original one users video of A Drop in the Ocean has more than 20 million views. And Ron loves it; hes just as likely tweet the link to a fans video as he is one of his new singles.
Ron is much more than the labels and stereotypes hes acquired during his budding career: Recording artist. Musician. Rock star. Guitar player. Songwriter. Vocalist. Performer. Ron is a musical Renaissance Man, writing, composing, recording, producing, managing, and igniting his own career. Hes stood at a crossroads where so many musicians find themselves at the intersection of record label and independence. In an ever-evolving industry filled with rejection and compromise, Ron has plotted a new course for his music to reach loyal listeners, taking the industry-road-less-traveled in exchange for the ultimate payback, a league of devoted fans the world over.
Five independent studio albums on iTunes later, Ron is still showing us all of us another layer to his talent. With his last album, Calling Off The Dogs
(released worldwide January 6, 2014), he is exploring new territory and pushing boundaries even further. The first single, "Lick My Wounds", is the first taste of this new exploration. As one critic so kindly stated: "'Lick My Wounds' is catchier than a mousetrap and a billion times more pleasant to get all wrapped up in."
When you're pleasantly surprised to find yourself humming one of his tunes on the subway, you cant stop yourself from sharing his music with a friend, a coworker or even a stranger. That's the story to be told about Ron Pope music that moves its listeners, stories that touch their lives, songs that see them through.