Ryan Hoffman is a multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter from Pittsburgh who has performed around town for years in such bands as Pocket Chapter and Road Runner and is striking out on his own with the release of his debut EP entitled The Pines. I want to thank Ryan for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.
The first album you ever bought?
My first 2 CD’s were Bush Sixteen Stone and Rancid And Out Come the Wolves. I listened to both every night while playing “F-Zero” for Super Nintendo… then I bought a guitar. Before that, it was mostly mix tapes – I used to pick the parts of songs that I liked and make mix tapes of chorus’ and verses… kind of like a mashup… but using cassettes, and made by a 10-year-old. They weren’t very good.
Your last album bought?
Hmm, probably Andre Costello and the Cool Minors The Rattling Arcade or, Creature People Triple Angel Rainbow / West Cozy. I haven’t bought many albums besides Pittsburgh stuff lately… with Spotify and all.
Favorite album of all time?
That’s a tough one, obviously. In terms of impact… The Mars Volta De Loused in the Comatorium and Bright Eyes I’m Wide Awake its Morning were both game changers. So many others make the list – but these were the two that changed the way I listened to music.
Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Ha-ha… I’m not sure that I want to pinpoint one.
First concert attended?
Less Than Jake with Anti-Flag at Club Laga. It was a great show.
Andrew Bird at the Byham Theater. If we’re counting smaller local venues, then Acoustic Brunch at Hambones.
Favorite concert ever?
In terms of fun, I’d go with Shaky Knees Music Fest a few years back when the headliners included the National, Modest Mouse, Local Natives, Alabama Shakes and Edward Sharpe. It was basically my indie-rock playlist. In terms of sound / mindblowingness, Grizzly Bear at the Carnegie Music Hall of Oakland was amazing. I’d heard their albums so many times but never got into them. After seeing them live, they became one of my favorite bands — such interesting, well-written, beautiful songs.
Least favorite concert?
Years ago, my friends and I drove to Columbus to see The Mars Volta open for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. They played for 35 min and we only caught the very end of it. The whole crowd was disappointed because they only played one song… for 35 minutes… like The Mars Volta would do. Rather than watching RHCP… three 19-year-olds with too much vodka and confidence spent the whole night convinced we’d get backstage to meet them – it didn’t work out.
Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I grew up in Pittsburgh, moved for a few years, and then came back. When I moved back at 23, I lived in a rundown house in the Southside with a few of my friends. We’d always have people over / play music / hangout and have a great time. The first few shows I played with Jake Edwards and our band are some of my best memories — so excited to be playing out and meeting new people. Then playing in Pocket Chapter and Road Runner — really enjoyed all of it. I’m excited to see what’s next… barring some apocalyptic scenario.
Thanks, Ryan. That Grizzly Bear show was a defining day in the way I deal with people in the small music community here in town. It’s a long story but there was an (non) incident outside the venue which showed the true colors of a particular set of people who thought they could use influence to be a total rotten circle of scumbags. I’ll have to tell you about it sometime.