Sister Hazel Blesses Ryan Newell And The Rest Of The Band

TEN QUESTIONS WITH Ryan Newell – Sister Hazel

We are getting the chance to interview SOOOO many cool Masters artists lately. It is really fun and we are sharing the experience with other members of the team now. Watch for several new interviews coming soon.

This interview was with the GREAT Ryan Newell who is among the first number of artists we connected to. Big thanks to Ryan and SH for their continued support

Rob – Hey Ryan, it’s great to meet you after being a fan of the band since your first album. I won’t identify as a “Hazelnut”, but a fan, nonetheless. Tell us a little bit about the band got its name?

Ryan – Sister Hazel Williams was a nun that ran a homeless shelter in Gainesville, FL. Our lead singer, Ken, grew up seeing her commercials on tv and it had a deep impact on him because of the way she helped people in need.  Our music is created to make people feel a little bit better after listening.  When Ken was contemplating a name for the band, he remembered Sister Hazel Williams and how it is very similar that she also made people feel better with her shelter.  He named the band Sister Hazel and down the road we actually got her blessing to use her name.  We have played for her charities and donated to her cause all the way up to her passing.

Rob – The music industry has really changed since you guys released your first album. I read in the band bio that you sold 30K copies of that album which then would have been okay, but today would be something any major band could even hope for. What number of sales make a release a success for you guys now?

Ryan –We put our first two records out on our own.  We funded them ourselves with the help of family and friends that believed in the band. We sold them on the road and out of our van and trailer all over the southeast.  The 30k number is closer to what we sold on our own without major label support.  That is one of the reasons major labels took an interest is us.  Once we were signed to Universal Records, our second record sold over a million copies and our first record sold a lot as well.  As you said the record industry has changed and the days of selling millions of copies, whether on a major or not, are gone for bands that aren’t in the upper 2% of the game. Now we don’t even look at actual sales as an indicator of success. If we can get streams up along with sales, we create a connection with our core fan base.  It’s really about the live shows these days.  New records create new material for our live set to grow. If the new record makes of set better and our fans connect to the songs, we consider that successful.

Rob – Your style was credited, by you, to have influences from some of the greats, Hendrix, Page, Clapton, Van Halen. Is there a certain song you can pinpoint that you always wanted to obtain a level of success with, in your own music?

Ryan – I would say it isn’t any specific song.  We still try to make records that take people on a journey from start to finish.  Much like the artists you mentioned above.  We want our music to stand the test of time.  We don’t follow trends.  We just try to be honest and write from the heart.  We try to make music that we would want to listen to and hopefully that means other people will connect to it as well.

Rob – I should have saved this question for DeLonge, but I’m going to ask you. Let’s say NASA is launching a probe that includes an example of music from earth on it. What five songs would YOU want to include?

Ryan – Well, I would want to show the diversity of music the whole world has created.  Not just a certain genre.  I would say 1. Any symphony by Beethoven. 2. John Coltrane 3. Ravi Shanker. 4. an EDM song to show our technical advancements and maybe Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Of course, I would want to send more but you only gave me five.  Ha-ha

Rob – Now, as a stupid follow-up, please forgive me Dan Rather, let’s continue with the space scenario. The ET’s found the probe and wanted to know more, landed in your backyard, and wanted to meet some artists from Earth. Who do you introduce them to?

Ryan – As far as musicians go, I would say: Bono, Paul McCartney, Brian May (not only for music but he also has PhD in astrophysics), Pat Metheny, and Rick Beato.

Rob – Now, enough of my silliness and shout-out to Ancient Aliens, which is on in the background while I’m writing these questions, and Brian May because if anyone would know about ETs I would start with him.

If I talked to your bandmates, how do you think they would define you?

Ryan – Oh I’m not sure about that. Ha-ha. I would hope they would say loyal, thoughtful, creative, kind, and talented.  I know I’m flattering myself and I left out all the bad things they would say.  Ha-ha.  We’ve been a band for almost 30 years, so they have seen it all.  The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Rob – It sounds like they would describe you as a Boy Scout! Now we MUST hear from them for the truth!

We have heard some interesting road stories from our artist friends. What is the wildest thing, that we can print, that has ever happened to you touring?

Ryan – This question begs to get into debauchery, but I would rather reminisce about a “wild” experience I had playing at the grand opening of the Hard Rock Amusement Park.  They had me play a guitar solo in front of the park and at the end it looked like I blew open the gates with TONs of pyrotechnics.  What made it “wild” was that they had me fly in on a helicopter.  I choppered in and then walked a red carpet with hundreds of people going “who is this guy?” Ha-ha.  Played the solo and massive explosions opened the gate.  I’d say that was wild.

Rob – Next, is there a song that you have heard that you thought “damn, I wish I had recorded that?”

Ryan –I’m going to change it to “I wish I wrote and recorded that.” There are way too many of those songs for me.  Here’s a short list: (lots of Beatles) Hey Jude, Let It Be, Yesterday, Something, Maybe I’m Amazed (Paul) I’ll stop on Beatles. Lean On Me, More Than Words, True Colors, Elephant (Isbell) No One Ever Is to Blame (Howard Jones), War Pigs, Black Page (Zappa), Fire and Rain, Hotel California, More Than A Feeling, Stairway To Heaven, the list goes on and on and on….

Rob – Your last offering, that I can find, was released three years ago. Do you guys have plans to release anything new? If so, would you consider releasing it first with a small, up and coming, great company I know?

Ryan –We put out a live acoustic record with a string quartet in 2021.  It was all new arrangements so I guess you could say it was relatively new music.  We are currently preparing to go in this studio this summer.  We have over 40 songs written, and we are trying to see how the pieces in the puzzle will fit into a cohesive record.

Rob – We will dig that record up and put a cut on the stream this month then.

My last question, and thank you for having fun with this, if you had a chance to nominate five artists for the Hall of Fame, who would they be?

Ryan – I don’t keep up with the Hall of Fame so excuse me if these artists are already in.  1. I would say Willie Nelson tops the list.  He’s more of a country artist but, as far as his contribution, no one is more rock and roll than Wille. 2. Boston 3. George Michael 4. Joe Cocker 5. Johnny Winter

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