The Return Of Ricky Montgomery

“Not even a supermassive black hole can slow me down at this point in my life,” announces Ricky Montgomery, proud and loud from the road playing his biggest Northern American headline tour yet, leading onto a sold out Europe tour next month.

The Los Angeles native stands tall and certain about his career after an on-and-off relationship with music and his artistic calling. Ricky Montgomery embodies a real-life tale of life’s timing and trusting the process. Though in moments of fear, Montgomery called it quits, today, his fans believe in him more than ever, with 2 billion Spotify streams and 8 billion TikTok vies to show for it.

More importantly, Ricky Montgomery believes in himself. Music has always been the answer since his days on the social media app Vine. After a seven-year career hiatus, Montgomery found his way back to his captivating, emotive storytelling about life, which is more familiar, messy, and unfiltered with a tingle of emo.

Released in 2023, the latest album ‘Rick’ marks Montgomery’s official return to stardom. Back on the road and in the studio, he is where he belongs: on the stage in front of his fans, who have been championing him even when the stage was empty.

With the New Year, Ricky Montgomery shares new material, ‘It’s OK To Cry’ and the fresh-off-the-press single, ‘Unknown Phantom.’ For Noctis readers, he opens up about his turbulent journey, rediscovering his artist persona and mainly reconciling with his past self.

No matter the app, whether it is Vine or TikTok, Ricky Montgomery is an artist with a true calling to entertain and resonate with people who are willing to listen. The music arena is better with Ricky Montgomery in it. Welcome back!

What’s on the agenda for this week for you?

Making these new things called “TikToks” for my music, and then I think I’ll probably also play some shows at some point too. 

We’re slowly approaching the third month of the year, what did you want to focus on this year and how is it going so far?

I wanted to focus on making new music, and so far all of that time has gone to making  TikToks. So pretty good! 

On March 15th, you will share a new track ‘Unknown Phantom’. It feels very angst, what did you want to get off your chest on this track? What inspired you to write this song? 

It’s funny you say that, because there’s actually nothing I’m trying to get off my chest in that  song. After an entire album of oversharing, I think maybe that’s what I’m trying to get off my  chest: the pressure to let anybody in. It’s all just vibe and aggression. Back to my emo boy roots, but not trying to prove anything. Just making noise. 

Your new single ‘It’s Ok To Cry’ pays tribute to your childhood dog Lily, how did writing this song help you with your grief?

Escaping into songwriting has been the only healthy way I’ve ever really dealt with grief. I  don’t know if it helped, but I’m glad I did it anyway. 

Are you working to release a full-length project this year? How is the material you’re working on at the moment different from previous records? What’s the creative direction this time? 

We’re right at the beginning stages of the next one so I don’t think I should answer of these  yet. I will only end up contradicting myself later. I know myself too well 🙂 

Big congratulations on the successful release of your latest album ‘Rick’. How long have you been writing material for this record?

I’ve been writing the new record since around the middle of 2020, but a few of the songs that ended up on the record were begun much earlier. Ethan’s Song is by far the oldest one, which was written and finished (on paper) in 2012. Unfortunately, that is not a typo!

What were some conclusions on what Ricky Montgomery the musical artist represents?

Great question. I’m not sure if I have a satisfying answer to give, but I can at least say that I know myself more than I did when I started the record. Over the 2 years I spent writing the songs on this album, I fell back in love with simple lyrics. I disdain lyrics that try too hard – and I loathe lyrics that don’t try hard enough. I realized that maybe I do actually like writing pop songs after all, as well. Which was an important realization for me as a lifelong tryhard.  

You picked up the guitar when you moved from L.A. to Missouri to flee the culture shock. What were the most challenging things about the relocation?

I had a full album already recorded and in the process of being mixed by the time I made my move back to LA in 2015. So, once I moved, it was all about figuring out how to get eyes and ears on it ahead of its release. To make a long story short, I learned quickly that I couldn’t afford to go on tour. And I decided to make what I called a lateral move and jumped into the local scene in Los Angeles (after already being in the St. Louis local scene for 7 years). It was a slow and brutal but ultimately successful strategy. Shout out to The Honeysticks. Even so, I do not recommend doing the local band grind in two different cities in one’s life. Just do it once. Or, better yet, don’t do it at all.

How did you find your way to music in this time?

Trauma and theater kid parents.

While at college, you also turned to comedy to turn your anxiety into a creative medium. How did that come about?

When you are truly building up from zero, you will try anything to get eyes on your content. For me, the comedy part worked a lot better than intended and it led me to dropping out of college to work at Adult Swim when I was 20. It worked for 3 months until all of my bosses got laid off, and then it was just… sad. Although probably an important lesson in the consequences of capitalism.

How did things pick up since your popularity on Vine?

I think this answer is best summed up as: I had almost run out of unemployment money when my songs started going viral, and I am damn lucky I knew how to be an influencer when they did. 

Could you elaborate on how  ‘Rick’ compares to ‘Montgomery Ricky’? What do you feel when listening back to your 2016 material?

Rick is the response to Montgomery Ricky. I am not the same person I was when those songs came out. I think I feel the same way that any other artist feels when they listen to their old stuff; they hear things they may have done differently, or wish they could do as well again. Some things, you love and listen to fondly. Others, you might hate and wish you could forget. For me, I can finally listen to that album again and enjoy it. Mostly because of the fans.

Would you be able to open up about the backstory of ‘Black Fins’?

Black Fins is the story of my dad’s suicide in 2009. His body washed up on a beach in Mexico, and there was a period of about 2 weeks where I didn’t even know he was dead. As you can imagine, it was the single most impactful moment of my life. I wouldn’t be surprised if nothing ever has that kind of effect on me ever again. Black Fins was a song I wanted to write ever since; I may not have had the words or the melodies written down 14 years ago, and yet the content is the same to me. This song was always going to be written. It just needed to find the right moment to exist. That became track 13 on this album.

After your turbulent journey of making music on and off, what’s your relationship with music as of now? 

I’m back, baby. Everything’s coming up Rick. I was on the news the other day. Do you know that? You can’t stop me. Not even a supermassive black hole can slow me down at this point in my life. God help us all.

What were the biggest lessons you learnt along the way when changing careers and coming back to music at last?

The universe is big and cold, and time waits for no one. Move to California; we have OK semi-public health insurance and our state laws are okay relative to the rest of the country. 

You’re set to play your biggest North American headline tour yet. How do you usually prepare for tour?

I’ve got a vocal coach named Dave Stroud who is in the process of molding me into a better vocalist. He’s got me on a strict vocal two a days regimen that is really helping me out but it can be very tiring if I’m not good about keeping up with it every day. 

What is the most important thing for you when performing? What do you want your fans to take away from your live shows? 

When I think about what I want my fans to take away from my live show, I always say the same thing: “The best night of their life, and 2 or 3 items of high quality fairly priced   merchandise.” 

How would you like to expand your craft in the future? Are there any plans already in the books? 

I wanna make a podcast where I’m driving a big rig truck or a jumbo jet and interview really boring guests on Twitch. I think that would be fun. Nobody would watch it but I think I would have a good time. Also I’m making a lot of music and working on 2 potential side projects (one of them completely new). But that’s not important. I might get a whole set up in my garage where I’m driving a big rig for Arco or something. I want to interrupt Noam Chomsky in a live interview while I’m making a really complicated left turn in a semi truck. That’s my dream.

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Words: Karolina Kramplova