Band: Hiram Ring
Members: John Haughery (percussion), Cliff Lewis (bass), Tony Guyer (electric guitar), Hiram Ring (vocals, acoustic guitar)
Who we talked to: Ring, 24
You have a pretty interesting name. Were your parents hippies? My parents were hippies, yeah. After they got married, they became Bible translators. They moved to Ghana in West Africa. That's where I was born. My great-grandfather on my mother's side was named Hiram, so it's a family name, and it's also a name in the Bible.
How did your childhood in Ghana influence your musical style and sound? I think it's given it a rhythmic quality. Ghana is very well-known for its excellent drummers and drum patterns. It's also given me a sense of being able to create music just by ear and to feel the music as I play it rather than just create something and go through the motions.
How long have you been performing live? I started writing when I was 16 when I learned to play the guitar and never really had anything worthwhile to present to people until about two years ago. I had written a few songs, which had a bluesy, soulful sound to them. . . . Finally, I was able to say what I wanted to say without sounding cliché.
Who are your influences? African tribal choirs is a big one, but when I first started playing guitar, one of my biggest influences was Simon and Garfunkel. I'd listen to their music bit by bit and learn how to play it back. I'm also into blues and really into B.B. King. There's a style of music called highlife from West Africa, which is very upbeat and rhythmic, but also has horns in the background and has a brass and jazzy feel. It predates ska a little bit.
Who is your biggest musical guilty pleasure? I guess silence. I really like silence. Whenever I'm driving in the car, if there's nothing good on, I'll just turn it off and listen to the sounds around me.
What songs do you or would you like to cover? Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven." The writing and the music, they fit together, and I love it when a song fits. It's a complete package, and they both combine to create this emotional force.
Who would win in a fight: Simon or Garfunkel? I'd have to go with Simon because he continues to make great music. He did this album called "Rhythm of the Saints" and traveled all around the world and got different ideas for his music. And that's really what I'd like to do myself is travel more.
Shoutouts: Thanks to my parents, to all the folks in York that have encouraged me and to all the open mics that let me play.
- JASON COX, FLIPSIDE STAFF