The last time Ryan Bingham rolled through town, he was fresh off his Grammy, Oscar, and Golden Globe wins for “The Weary Kind,” his song from Crazy Heart, and touting a solemn new record with his longtime band The Dead Horses. In 2013, though, Bingham is singing a different tune. In the years since his big-screen success, the cowboy-turned-songwriter has ditched his label, taken a break from his band, and stepped into the producer’s chair. The result of all this? Last year’s heavy-hitting and hard-rocking Tomorrowland, which brings Bingham back to the Lobero this weekend.
“I was really just about getting back to normal life once all that stuff was over with,” Bingham recalled last week from his home in L.A. “It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences. It was awesome and a lot of fun; then after the dust storm settled, it was back to writing songs and playing for people. I was back to where I left off.”
As such, Bingham retreated to his Los Angeles home to hunker down and write new tunes. In the process, he found himself immersed in the L.A. music scene for the first time and surrounded by a slew of new musician friends. Among them was producer Justin Stanley, whom Bingham teamed up with to coproduce Tomorrowland, a raw, triumphant album that’s perfectly geared to the singer’s gravelly, road-worn vocal style.
“The last album was really stripped down and acoustic, and some of those songs were just really sad to play every single night,” Bingham said. “I wanted the next record to be really fun to play on the road.”
Thematically, Bingham sees Tomorrowland as a step in an all-new direction. Along with a new band and a more guitar-heavy sound, the songs find Bingham conquering his demons with a newfound forcefulness.
“Tomorrowland was about coming to terms with the things in my past and moving on,” he explained. “With a different band and a different sound and doing it on my own, it felt like a new chapter in my life. I’ve been through quite a few rough things growing up, so it felt like time to move forward and leave some of that behind.”
Ryan Bingham plays the Lobero Theatre (33 E. Canon Perdido St.) on Sunday, March 3. Doors open at 6 p.m. Call (805) 963-0761 or visit newnoisesb.org for tickets.