Georgia-born, New York City-based singer-songwriter Ron Pope is a passionate guy. He’d have to be, to be a college athlete, or to survive a “starve-to-death tour,” or to write the kind of emotive love songs that he does, including “A Drop In The Ocean,” which became a viral hit a few years ago. Of course, all successful independent musicians probably share his devotion to their songs — it’s just that most of them aren’t quite so successful.
Pope grew up outside of Atlanta, where he was usually a part of a band — he started playing because his step-dad had guitars at home — and he “always played a little, but I got more serious about it in high school, and a lot more in college,” after an injury led him to transfer from Rutgers and a baseball scholarship to NYU and a songwriting circle in the city. Since then, he’s been building “grassroots support” that’s taken him from those bare bones tours to something a little more manageable, including dates in Europe earlier this year and in Australia this summer.
A prolific songwriter (he had three full albums come out in 2009 alone!), he’s forced himself to “not write” for the time being and focus on his new album, Atlanta. “I subscribe to the theory that writing allows you to access some kind of fundamental — elemental — thing that’s a truth for all people. The human experience is pretty universal.” On the album, he “had a clear cut idea of what I wanted it to sound like. It was co-produced with a friend and I brought in a bunch of great musicians.”
That vision and belief about how things should sound has, in turn, created “little pockets” of fans “in a community of people who really believe” in his music. “It has spread a little like fan fiction,” bringing bigger crowds to his shows. He’s fascinated, and appreciative of, the way people “take ownership and want to share what they enjoy. It’s a part of my story now.”
“If there’s one thing that proves it’s that people believe in my band and thought I was doing something good. But if I had put it out there when I was 15,” before he had that vision in place, “it wouldn’t have worked.”
He encourages young musicians to “learn to play your instrument and work on creating something worthwhile — you’re competing with everyone in the world,” interested in doing this, especially now. “I wasn’t the most talented person, but I was the most motivated. I made some sacrifices, and took the lumps. And that counts for everything you do that’s worthwhile — playing ball, brain surgery,” whatever it is that you want to do.
“City in Motion”
“One Grain of Sand”