Broncho's Ryan Lindsey on How to Pen a Viral Hit
Broncho: Just enough hip to be cool.
Photo by Rozette Rago
We can't tell whether Broncho’s Ryan Lindsey is joking when he explains the success of the band’s ear-wormish hit “Class Historian,” which has clocked nearly 9 million plays on Spotify. “There’s an online course that’s not as expensive as the number I'm gonna give you when you think about it, but yeah. It’s $19.95 a month,” he deadpans. “I just wanted to make sure I got my money’s worth with my viral course I took.”
As the lead singer and guitarist of the freewheeling, melody-driven indie-rock outfit, Lindsey’s part-sarcastic, part-earnest, fully shameless attitude shapes Broncho’s identity. Formed in 2010 out of the small college town of Norman, Oklahoma, the band gained traction over the past couple of years, releasing 2014’s well-received Just Enough Hip to Be Woman and earning a notable spot over the closing titles of HBO’s popular series Girls.
"I quit college; I’m just not that good of a student," Lindsey admits, though he grew up in the small college town of Stillwater, Oklahoma, before relocating to Norman. "I don't know, there’s something I've always liked about it," he says, noting the transient quality of those places. "I don't think I really thought about that until recently. I just felt comfortable."
Currently based out of Tulsa and fresh off a touring leg with Billy Idol, Broncho might be growing into their own more matured form, but unlike many of their peers, they haven’t found the need to transplant to alt hotbeds like Brooklyn or L.A. to break out. “It’s cheaper to live in Oklahoma, and it’s centrally located, so it’s easy to get to either coast,” Lindsey says. “I like it here; I've got a lot of friends here. It’s easy, you know?”
There’s something easy about the music of Broncho too. Regularly quoted as a guy who enjoys “the hits,” Lindsey's jangly tracks like “NC-17” show Broncho knows how to lean back and have a good time, while "Class Historian" and "What" offer some straight-up masterful hooks.
But what exactly distinguishes a catchy tune from a certified hit? “I just like hearing a good song,” Lindsey explains. “Sometimes, it could be a hit as far as it’s a huge song, but it doesn't always have to be. Because sometimes a huge song doesn't make you feel anything.” He lists off “Palaces of Montezuma” by Nick Cave side project Grinderman as one such example of a “total hit,” along with Lana Del Rey’s “High by the Beach." Lindsey takes pause to sing out a line from the chorus of the sad-girl songstress’ summer single, then muses, “Maybe I should start my own Billboard, you know. Have my own charts, moving stuff up, moving stuff down. It’ll have a limited run in print — my mom might want it in print.”
As for what’s next after two years of relentless touring wraps in November, Lindsey says Broncho is “pretty far along” on a new record. While the latest project is as yet untitled, like Just Enough Hip and 2011’s Can't Get Past the Lips, it will likely be "gender neutral" and have “a little ambiguity in it,” as Lindsey tends to prefer. "We’re all-inclusive," he says, and laughs at himself as he begins to suggest a title, "Just Enough Tip..." before cutting himself off. Whatever the name — "it usually it ends up just being the one that gets remembered” — Lindsey generously describes the forthcoming album’s sound as “slow head-bang." And of course, he says, "It’s chock-full of hits.”
With the Growlers. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, November 3, at Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $15 plus fees. Call 954-564-1074, or visit ticketmaster.com.
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