Rocksins was lucky enough earlier this week to be able to catch up with one half of US alt pop rock duo People On Vacation in the shape of the always charming Ryan Hamilton, backstage at London’s Koko venue prior to People On Vacation’s show supporting Blue October. For details of house parties, Nando’s, the band’s new album and a very special event in Ryan’s life, read on for more details! (Jamie’s note – Ryan was part of the Bowling For Soup farewell tour in the UK last month, filming a documentary about the tour for Bowling For Soup – if you didn’t know that the first question wouldn’t make a huge amount of sense).
Kicking off, it must have been quite an experience for you to be able to be part of the Bowling For Soup tour last month and to get to document all the proceedings while some of your best buddies were having an awesome time for two weeks.
Ryan: It was cool and they’ll be the first to tell you that the response was amazing, just to get to experience it on the small level that I did was really, really cool. Definitely a special tour that I’ll never forget and I’m not even in that band! So it was pretty incredible.
As everyone who was at the Hammersmith show knows you had your own very special moment (Ryan proposed to his girlfriend Holly on stage mid show), how long had that been in the pipeline?
Ryan: Actually for awhile. When Jaret first asked me to come on the trip and the farewell tour became public knowledge my parents decided they were going to fly over for the very last show just because we’re all close at home. Then it turned out Holly’s Mum and Dad were going to be there too.
Ryan: So once I realised our families were going to be in the same place together for the first time, it was the last show of the farewell tour, Holly and I had been together for long enough for it to make sense, I kinda went “OK”. So I brought it up to Jaret and he said “Why don’t we do this: Let’s play a People On Vacation song” which he kinda wanted to do anyway and of course so did I. That way she doesn’t know anything weird is going on, so on the last show after we did the People On Vacation song then you can just do your thing. I mean, if you’re gonna do it, why not in front of thousands of people, it was incredible! Apparently I’m going to say incredible about four hundred times *laughs* about that whole tour, but it just was!
Jamie: She seemed very surprised, I think you pulled it off very well.
Ryan: *laughs* Thank you very much, she was very surprised, she was not ready!
That tour only finished about three weeks ago and you guys are back already. Lots of us know how the whole BFS / People On Vacation / Dollyrots family love the UK, and you kicked off this tour by doing some house parties which looked huge fun. What made you decide to start the tour in that way?
Ryan: They were great. The truth is it’s very different to be starting over again as an opening band…
Jamie: Of course.
Ryan: So, we wanted to do something cool and we also wanted to fund this trip, because we’re an opening band and we needed money, we’re still a baby band at this point. So we were throwing around ideas trying to make it all make sense to do it and once that idea came along it was like not only would that help us out and make the trip possible, it would be so much fun and they were. You just can’t really duplicate that, it’s just so special. Sometimes you get on tour and you do the same set a few nights in a row or whatever but you’re never going to re-create a house party with that group of people that close and everyone is drinking and joking. If someone heckles you you can reach out and touch them on the top of their head because everyone is right there.
Jamie: I saw someone even made you guys an awesome People On Vacation cake.
Ryan: The girl who made that was 16 years old and it was unreal, and it was delicious thank god because there’s not a whole lot scarier than eating stranger made food. You just never know!
Do you guys know the Blue October guys from back home? Is that how this tour came about?
Ryan: So we share managers but Jaret’s known them for a really long time. As you know I’m still fairly new to this whole family scene but I’ve known them for a few years now, not as long as Jaret but we’re all great friends. It’s super cool to have two Texas bands here touring together even though it was a short tour.
Jamie: I noticed the flag hung up downstairs (a Texan flag was hung near the stage door)
Ryan: *laughs* Yep! There is a Texas flag here. But yeah we share managers and we’re all great friends.
You’ve currently got a PledgeMusic campaign going for a new album at the moment and I looked earlier and it’s at 70% or something like that which is pretty cool, you must be very pleased with the response to that as the campaigns not been going very long.
Ryan: The response has been really great and the album doesn’t come out until April and we just started this thing and it’s November now. What did you say it’s like 70% now?
Ryan: Wow, I didn’t realise it was that close! I knew it was past 50! That’s incredible, again! People bought the craziest stuff. We put some stuff up there thinking “oh maybe somebody will buy it” and people bought it straight away and we went “holy shit, I guess we’re more popular than we thought we were”, which is good obviously.
Even with the campaign for the new album you still have lots of stuff going on from the previous album like new music videos and lyric videos on a pretty regular basis so you don’t seem finished with The Summer And The Fall yet either?
Ryan: We’re not, and the funny thing about that album was, as you may know, Jaret and I just got together to write some songs for other bands and other people. We wanted to be like those Nashville guys making all the money writing songs for Taylor Swift *laughs* or whoever. But the songs turned out so great we wanted to keep them and this band happened. We ended up recording more and that became The Summer And The Fall and we ended up putting it out probably way before we should have. But the plan has been to get as much out of that record as we can because we’re still building and building and building and the response has been so good. So, I know it’s a little strange to have an album out for a year and still be releasing new videos but that was kinda the plan all along.
Jamie: Well people are obviously responding to it and you’re still picking up new fans all the time so why not?!
Ryan: The thing is to us it may seem a year old but to a lot of people it’s brand new so I’m proud of us for sticking with it. A lot of people would have moved on to something new.
Jamie: Did you actually end up giving any songs to anyone else or did you just keep the lot?
Ryan: We kept them all. There were a few discussions about “is this for us or…” but we just kept them all.
People On Vacation will be back in the UK in April with Patent Pending who are another member of this massive family of bands, is it right that Jaret still manages them?
Ryan: Yeah he manages them.
Jamie: So does that mean he was basically able to order them to come on tour with you guys?
Ryan: *laughs* well sorta….*laughs* but there are definitely different channels and booking agents and that kinda stuff. But he’s calling the shots on a lot of different levels. He also manages me as a solo artist.
Jamie: That must be quite interesting to be equals in this (People On Vacation) and have him slightly on your shoulder in another capacity.
Ryan: It’s interesting but he’s really good at delegating and not making anybody feel awkward or weird like “what is he now? Is he my friend or my manager or what is he?” It really works. How it works I’m not sure but it really does.
Jamie: Sometimes it’s best not to question how or why just know that it does.
Ryan: Yeah, totally agree.
One last question, The love of Nandos. Does that also apply to yourself as Nando’s is a well known thing for the BFS guys.
Ryan: It does, but I had to be convinced because I didn’t have a good first Nando’s experience. I was pretty brave with the sauces they have there…
Jamie: Did you go for the black extra hot one?
Ryan: I did! I was like “I’m from Texas I can do this!” Anyway, I do love it now, we all do. You can’t help but eat there when you’re on tour with this crew because you’re there ten times!
Jamie: How many times have you been there on this tour?
Ryan: Ironically, and it’s funny you ask this question, we haven’t been there once on this trip.
Ryan: We drove past one earlier on the way here and we were like “oh my god we haven’t been there one time” but we don’t have a bus because we did the house parties and we needed the freedom and we don’t really need a bus right now. So it’s a lot of stopping at services and things like that.
Jamie: I also saw your tweet about going hunting for Banksy t-shirt in Camden market earlier, did you have any luck?
Ryan: I think I have them all! When we were in Bristol, that’s where he’s from right? When we were in Bristol on the Bowling For Soup farewell tour I walked round Bristol trying to see as many as I could and there were a couple of new ones. So I was hoping to see them in T-shirt form here but I didn’t see any. It’s alright, I’ll be back in April.
Jamie: Only six months to wait for a T-Shirt.
Jamie: Thanks very much Ryan!
Ryan: No problem, thank you.
People On Vacation are currently finishing up their UK tour supporting Blue October. As mentioned in the interview they have a Pledge Music campaign ongoing to raise funds for their next album, which can be accessed on the following link —-> People On Vacation new album Pledge Music Campaign page. A review of their current album The Summer and The Fall can be found on this website as this location.