Interview with Ryan Scott Graham of Speak Low If You Speak Love | By Doug Nunnally
Last year, New York pop punk band State Champs added Ryan Scott Graham to their roster as a bassist and backing vocalist. While some fans may be wondering what the Michigan native will bring to the table as State Champs work on their sophomore album, there are plenty who already know just what Graham has up his sleeves. The same year State Champs released their debut record entitled The Finer Things, Graham’s solo project Speak Low If You Speak Love also premiered its debut album.
Everything But What You Need was self-released in 2013 by Graham and quickly gathered a strong word of mouth with fans across the country who connected with its emotional core. Almost two years later, the record got a re-release on Pure Noise Records (listen below). “There was some interest in the record especially after Warped Tour,” explains Graham, “but Jake [Round] from Pure Noise was really into it. I was already part of the Pure Noise family through State Champs, and they were very supportive about me making my own decisions, so it was an easy decision to make.”
The album got a good amount of exposure already, but there are still plenty of reasons to check out this rerelease, as it will feature a proper mastering, artwork, and four new songs. “I had four new songs that I was planning on doing an EP with,” Graham says. “[Pure Noise] were interested in it, but they really wanted to combine it with the full-length. It was the best of both worlds, because I was going to do the EP anyway, and now the full-length was going to get a proper release with some additions.”
While Graham is happy with how the original album came out, he does admit it “sounds like a living room recording,” as he recorded it in his hometown with a friend who handled all the mixing and mastering. With the record close to coming out, Graham is seeing the benefit of the new production, specifically for one song. “You know, ‘Eight Weeks’ really benefited from the production. The song has a more upbeat feel and now that it’s been polished up a bit, it’s really been brought to life. This is something you could definitely hear as you flick on the radio.”
For those new to the Speak Love party, the record deals with coming to terms with the self-doubt one feels in the aftermath of a breakup: thoughts of not being good enough and questions of what went wrong, then ultimately realizing that it just wasn’t meant to be or, as Graham puts it, “that’s just not where you were supposed to be right then.” While the record tells a story from song to song, “Knots” stands out as a centerpiece. “That song touches on a lot of different themes throughout the record, and it’s a very meaningful song to me. I’ve seen a lot of people mention how that’s ‘their song’ on the record and it kind of explains where they are right now. It’s a hopeful song, which is important because a lot of the songs on the record aren’t.”
Despite his side-project getting more attention, Graham is still “all in” with State Champs. “State Champs is my number one priority right now, and I’m going to stay committed to them for the time being,” Graham states. “It’s a really fun project to be a part of, and it’s allowed me to really blossom. I wouldn’t want to abandon that because these guys are my friends and I’ve found my place with them. If Speak Low took off, I would just keep doing what I’m doing now for as long as I can, because I’m really enjoying my time with State Champs.”
Despite his strong commitment to State Champs, and the fact that he thinks his solo project’s name “kind of sucks,” Graham is still moving ahead with Speak Low’s next album, which he’s “already got enough material for.” As Pure Noise has re-released Everything But What You Need, Speak Low is primed to get the most exposure Graham has ever received from new and old fans alike.