Ryan Star is taking matters into his own hands.
“I’m running and gunning,” says the Dix Hills native, who recently decided to leave Island Records and release his music himself. “It’s open season now.”
Star signed with the major label earlier this year, after he managed to get his single “Stay Awhile” into the Top 25 on the adult contemporary charts on his own. But when faced with potential delays that would push the release of his new music to early next year or later, Star decided to go it alone with his new EP, “Animals” (Ryan Star).
“I mastered the album last week and it’s coming out Monday,” says Star, adding, “I don’t have the time to wait any more. I have too much to say and I feel like I’m in my creative prime.”
The EP, featuring the single “Impossible,” shows off that creative energy. “I just wanted to do me,” he says. “I know I can do that better than anybody.”
However, it’s the lead-off track, “Bullet,” that shows off Star’s new style most and may be his best song of his career so far, as well as one of the best songs of the year. (Watch out, Kanye!)
Star stretches more than ever before, creating a stunning anthem that calls to mind Pearl Jam and even the Afghan Whigs with its epic scope, while keeping the raw, emotionally direct storytelling he mastered on his major-label debut album, “11:59” (Atlantic).
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“I wrote the song as a valentine from heaven,” he says. “Some songs will take me two years to write, or a line can take me months, because I choose my words very carefully. I like creating these pictures. This one, I just sat there and wrote it in one sitting – just a minute or two to write all the words out… This is the most organic song on the whole album.”
Star says the recording of “Bullet” was emotional for him because he was able to share his creation with his band and producer IdoVsTheWorld.
“These are my best friends – my musical collaborators – we’ve been out on the road for four years,” he says. “They are my E Street Band. So I’m talking to them about the story and we’re going over the arrangements, and for the first time ever, I just started crying. I broke down. I realized how truthful and intense the idea of the song was to me. So that energy is in the room as we do one live – very live – take.
“You can hear the band playing it for the first time and capturing what it meant for the first time,” he adds. “You can hear the crackling of my broken guitar. You can hear the notes that I’m giving the band. It was the most magical musical experience I’ve ever had in my life. And that’s the recording that you hear. You can hear the intention. You can hear the experience. It just happened. In a world of samples and manipulated computer music, this is real.”
[Star agreed to give Backstage Pass readers a jump on hearing “Bullet,” before its Monday release. You can listen to it exclusively here.]
App users, hear the song at newsday.com/music.
Star says he will look to fans to help him spread the word about his new music. “I’m thinking maybe if I just let it out into the real world in a real way, believers and lovers of real music will get it,” he says. “That’s what I want. And I’m gonna fight for it. ... If people get sick and tired of Selena [Gomez] and Justin [Bieber], maybe there’s room for me.”
Star plays Joe’s Pub on Tuesday, Rockwood Music Hall on Wednesday and Piano’s on Thursday and Mercury Lounge on Friday. “Animals” goes on sale at iTunes on Monday and is available for pre-order now.