500 Miles To Memphis

by Mike Huberty
April 2010

500 Miles to Memphis

500 Miles to Memphis

Continuing in the great Ohio cowpunk tradition of artists like TWO COW GARAGE and DAVID ALLEN COE, Cincinnati’s 500 MILES TO MEMPHIS (named after the distance from their home city to the birthplace of rock n’ roll)  blends roots, punk, and country with influences like Green Day and Ben Folds to Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard. They just released their newest record, We’ve Built Up To Nothing on Valentine’s Day and are touring the country to support the release.

“It was Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen”, says main songwriter and frontman, Ryan Mallot, is the first song that inspired him to be a musician. “I had a fake microphone and would sing Queen all day long and it just grew from there.” So he got the bombastic rock in right away, but started into Americana early as well. “When I listen to country it’s a lot of older stuff. When you first learn to play guitar it’s just way easier to play.”

And that combination of genres served him well as the inspiration for 500 MILES TO MEMPHIS. “All of the songs, since day one, have come from the heart and personal experience,” he says, “All of the albums are basically an audio journal of my life. Somehow my songwriting just lends itself to the country/punk genre. It’s no coincidence that my favorite styles of music are outlaw country and all forms of rock. I like it loud and fast. But if you break it down there’s really not a huge difference between country and punk. Three chords and the truth. That’s why it was easy for me to make up my mind when I first started the band, ‘Should I start a country band or a punk band?’ It didn’t take long to figure out the only difference is instrumentation and volume control.” And for a while, even though the players shifted, he said he “didn’t want to call it the Ryan Mallot Experience, I wanted to do a band name.” And now the present lineup has been together for about two years.

Mallot describes their new album, We’ve Built Up To Nothing, as the artistic achievement that he’s most proud of (as he says “the best music I could make without sacrificing anything) and in particular, the song “Everyone Needs An Enemy” as the crowning moment. “That’s the song on the album, it’s our rock opera,” he says, “that song kind of defines everything that we’ve been through. Drugs and alcohol, being on the road all the time. Just the guilt of being the bad guy. I know I’m a good person but there’s people out there who don’t like me. It’s the transition, the sobering up. You move on, you accept that a lot of people don’t have to like you.”

But for people who are brand new to the band, he recommends the rowdy, boozy track about life in the fast lane, “Six Foot Hole”. “It’s the pop song, it’s pretty straight ahead”, he says. “We’ve been categorized as country-punk. but basically we’re a rock n’ roll band that holds onto the roots of country.”

For the next year, 500 MILES TO MEMPHIS will be out on the road and that includes stops in Rockford, Minneapolis, Platteville, Des Moines and Chicago during the first week of April. As for beyond that? Ryan says, “More touring, go overseas. Get my music to more people’s ears. Out on the road playing to packed houses.” And on tour is where he feels most comfortable. “I’m proud of every member of the band for sticking to their guns and believing in the music enough to give up their lives to be on the road.” he says. “Straight up good rock n’ roll, loud and fast. Guarantee you’re going to have a good time. Hell, if you like our music or not, you’re going to have a good time. The live show is definitely our home.”

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