Bill Ryder-Jones: 'Working with other artists is one of the times when I feel a real sense of pride and get quite energised'

Bill Ryder-Jones: 'Working with other artists is one of the times when I feel a real sense of pride and get quite energised'

credit: Ki Price

Worried that audiences might get fed up with his 'moaning', the Merseyside singer-songwriter tells us that there's a line of positivity that artists should never cross

Bill Ryder-Jones released his fourth album Yawn last November to critical acclaim. A follow-up to 2015's breakthrough success West Kirby County Primary, it continues that album's appeal of darkly confessional lyrics underscored with transcendent alt-rock. A founding member of noughties hit-makers The Coral, Ryder-Jones splintered off to start his solo career in the mid-2000s.

'It was quite daunting,' Ryder-Jones tells us about the process of starting to write Yawn. 'I am always writing, but when it comes to the point where you have actually got to focus on what you are doing, I find that part daunting.' It is understandable, as his music deals with weighty themes and dark lyrical content, a difficult headspace to keep yourself in. In West Kirby County Primary, Ryder-Jones spoke openly about his own past, referencing a brother he lost as a young child.

Yawn is equally divulging, although less direct and more concerned with the ever-changing present, looking outward to shared stories that sit just below the surface. The approach to melody was different, which in turn had an impact on the lyrics' directness. 'I tried to rethink the way I write melodies, and in doing so not be talking at people quite so much. It makes me feel less self-obsessed, despite being more self-obsessed than ever.'

The album has a grungier feel than his previous works, akin to Dinosaur Jr or Pavement. Tellingly, Ryder-Jones admits that he was listening to lots of 90s garage rock at the time. 'It just colours your world and when that's all your listening to, it would feel odd to then make an acoustic or orchestral album.' For his current listening habits, he tells us that, awkwardly, it's 80s Australian pop, full of positivity. When asked if that is for the next album he chuckles 'you have to draw the line somewhere: I'm not sure I can get away with that!'

Alongside his own album work, Ryder-Jones has produced records by younger musicians and bands, such as The Wytches, Our Girl and Hooton Tennis Club. 'It means I put more thought, and more pressure, on my own record,' he says. 'Working with other artists is one of the times when I feel a real sense of pride and get quite energised.' His work with Our Girl led to that band's lead singer, Soph Nathan, featuring on Yawn.

The album title comes from Ryder-Jones' self-awareness at his own openness, and his questioning the audience's capacity to listen to him. He tells how he began to question 'am I really doing this again? Moaning about myself again?' and his worry that the album would be seen as one big yawn. This dichotomy shines throughout this chat with Ryder-Jones, a unique voice who is equal parts mysterious and confessional, amusing and devastating, weary and energised.

Yawny Yawn is out on Fri 26 Jul on Domino. Bill Ryder-Jones tours the UK from Aug–Oct.

Bill Ryder-Jones

The alt rock singer-songwriter from Warrington.

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