ORLANDO – It’s called “11:59,” and as Ryan Star is quick to note, it’s about so much more than just a time of day.
“There is a clear message, which is kind of cool for me,” said Star, as he talked with Freeline Media about his debut album, which had a soaring chart debut, coming in at #10 on Billboard’s “Top Rock Albums.”
The title of the album, Star noted, has a special symbolic meaning for him — and, as it turns out, for his fans as well.
“The album, when I was writing it, was about living in the moment, now, and not letting moments pass you by,” he said. “For me, I realized I was singing so much about that. Growing up, in music you’re always looking for what’s coming next. I wasn’t appreciating the moments that reflect life.”
The album, he added, “says take notice of who you are, right at that moment.”
As it turns out, the rocker’s fans picked up on that.
“When the album came out, fans started pitching ‘What is your 11:59?’ “ Star said. “It’s been pretty amazing.”
After spending last year touring with Bon Jovi and the Goo Goo Dolls, Star is now on tour with Andy Grammer throughout Feb. 24, and the final stop on the tour, as it turns out, will be here in Orlando at The Social on Thursday, Feb. 23.
Following the tour, Star is heading back to the studio to record new material for his next album.
“I don’t believe I’ve been to The Social before, but I have been to Orlando, and I’m super-excited about coming down there,” Star said. “We have great fans in Orlando. I promise a passionate set that you’ve never seen before.”
The New Yorker said he spent his early years growing up in the sleepy suburbs of New York City, always longing for life in the great urban metropolis of the Big Apple.
“I grew up on Long Island, right outside New York,” he said. “Growing up in Long Island, your dream is always to get to the city, the Mecca of culture.”
Although Star has since come to appreciate the beauty of Long Island and its many beaches, he said the slow pace of suburban life was one of the things that got him interested in music.
“You’re still bored enough to get your four track in the basement and learn to play,” he said. “Boredom creates creativity.”
He recalls developing a passion for grunge bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, which he said were early influences on his musical development.
“It was a great time in the music industry,” he said. “I think it’s the only time in my life when I’ve seen fashion and music and attitude all in line with the same thing. I feel like when I got exposed to music that way, everyone liked it. I found that to be a powerful thing. I’m assuming that it was closer to the way it used to be in the 1960s. Now you can be very closed off into your online networks because it’s all so spoon fed. If you Google the word Disney, the next time you go on your Google account, you’ll see a Hannah Montana ad. In a way, we’ve lost that independent freedom. As much as you can find online now, you’re not hand picking as much as you did before.”
Part of the reason he became a musician, Star said, is that he loved performing before an audience.
“My oldest sister is an actress, and I grew up going to her shows,” he said. “As a kid, you start doing that, and I started putting one man shows on. I was always performing and always had a love for the stage show.”
When Star was 15, he put together a band called Stage, that performed together until he was in his early 20s.
“We had some success,” he said. “My first instrument was the saxophone, but when I found rock music, I never looked back.”
Star still loves connecting with an audience while performing before them.
“As far as how far I’ve come, I don’t even know what to say,” Star said. “When I was coming up, it wasn’t about fame — it was about the music.”
He recalled one of his earliest gigs with a nostalgic laugh.
“It was probably a Monday night at 5 p.m.,” he said. “We had our parents drive us to the club — and we performed in front of them. I think for me, as you get more experienced and put more miles under your belt, now what you have is passion. What I’m putting out there is what the fans give back to me. It’s not bubblegum, it’s not lighthearted, it’s heavier things to talk about. That’s why I do this, to feel people and touch people. It’s passion. If I can sum up my fans in one word, they’re passionate.”
Star has tried to reward that passion. His fans recently got an opportunity to hear new songs recorded for the first album that didn’t make the final track listing. So he made a special EP called “The America EP,” and those songs can be downloaded for free on http://www.mediafire.com/?53bps1oknokkpvf.
“I did this completely on my own,” he said. “I clicked on my Twitter account and released three songs to my fans. In these days of having corporate filters between you and your fans, I thought why shouldn’t they get these songs for free? I was like, you know, press click, and I’m not asking anyone’s permission, I’m just going to release this. Everyone has re-tweeted it.”
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