This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
After 20 years in the music industry, Ryan Shupe has become a Utah staple. He and members of his Rubberband found initial fame in the country music scene when they signed to Capitol Records in 2005. The band has since been dropped from the label, but Shupe and company are still going strong. The fiddle-slinging singer-songwriter is spending his summer touring in support of "We Rode On," his eighth studio album due in August.
"It has the signature acoustic jam sound we have been known for, but it also has more of the rockin' side of things," said Shupe.
Currently playing shows on his national Make America Shupe Again tour, Shupe is working on getting fans excited about his newest album and spending time sifting through songs that swim in his head.
The father of four talked to The Tribune in between cycling and preparing waffles for his kids about making "rockin' newgrass" music in Utah, the sound of Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband and forcing himself to focus.
I think our group has always tended to defy some description. Capitol kind of knew that we weren't the run-of-the-mill "country band." I would describe us as rockin' newgrass. We are a rock band but we use more traditional acoustic instruments and highlight those instruments. That's the weird thing about our band: I play fiddle and mandolin, but the music sensibility isn't bluegrass or even country so much as a little more rock. The landscape of music has always tended to change and seeing as there is a lot of emphasis lately on that kind of instrumentation in the rock world, I think it puts us in that world more than ever before. There's Mumford & Sons and American Authors. A lot of these bands have acoustic guitar, banjo and mandolin and they're fusing that together with a rock sound.
Isolation in Utah
Playing here has been a benefit because in some ways it's a little bit of an island. Our band developed in its own unique way because it's isolated. If you grow up playing music in a music town like Nashville or Austin, you tend to gravitate toward that community and your music tends to sound like it is in that sphere. That's not always the case, but if you're a band in Austin, then you might have that Austin vibe. Being in Utah, it's its own little world. You develop independently of a certain type of sound. That's why I think it is more unique than a lot of bands would be. The other thing that I think helped us out is being as we didn't have a lot of radio support early on in the band, you have to sell your show based on the merit of the show itself. Of course you have to have good music, but if you don't have a hit everybody knows, you have to be able to catch their attention. We've had to adapt and learn to entertain and get people on board and get them to believe in us without ever seeing us before.
A scene has ebbed and flowed and developed here. It's stronger now than it ever has been. You find a lot of diversity coming out of Utah. We're not particularly known for any one genre. I think it's a pretty supported music scene people want to see the bands here succeed. It ebbs and flows and the scene here is healthy as it ever was. The culture kind of promotes art and music and so we have a lot of kids who learn to play music and instruments. I have always felt pretty lucky and blessed to have such a great following here. I have seen bands in their hometown where they don't receive the support as they would out on the road. I feel like here, locally, everybody has been very supportive.
The Shupe feeling
I've always had a goal to make music that had a good vibe and message but that was also well-crafted. I've always strived to have it be positive. I hope people will be able to come to the show and forget their worries. All of my CDs have that message in general. [Past albums have] almost been like five CDs in one: a gospel CD, rock, a little bit of humor; but this time I thought I should focus in and not have it be so ADD. This [album] I wanted to pick my favorites of the vibes. I feel like what we do best is combine traditional instrumentation with a rockin' sound. I focused in on that vibe.
Make America Shupe Again
Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband will be busy this holiday weekend in Utah.
Richfield Independence Day Celebration
When • Saturday, July 2, 7 p.m.
Where • Richfield City Park, 75 E. Center St., Richfield
American Fork Concerts in the Park
Fund-raiser for veterans, with Voices of Hope.
When • Monday, July 4, 7 p.m.
Where • American Fork Amphitheater, 851 E. 700 North, American Fork
Tickets • Free; bring donations of personal hygiene items for veterans