It is a frigid Sunday morning, and Jordan Richardson is checking out of his hotel in Harrison, Ohio. Today marks day five of his band Son of Stan's two-week tour, and it is too early, even though it is noon. With a new EP set to drop on Tuesday, October 7, they're on their way to Chicago, having just played Cincinnati the night before.
"I swear to God, we watched five or maybe six actual brawls -- not just little fights but major altercations," Richardson chuckles, each detail seeming to him like just a regular night of the usual mayhem amongst the fraternity-type crowd. "I said it was like Cincinnati was a level in Double Dragon. It was just like, massive amounts of barrel throwing and cop cars."
Richardson has been immersed in music since he was a child, and has since established himself as a critically acclaimed drummer, touring all over the world and sharing the stage with the likes of Ben Harper and Ringo Starr. But it seems he has found his creative gratification in his solo work in Son of Stan.
"It's weird. It's like the amenities are nice of touring on that big level and all that stuff is cool,," says Richardson."But it's a lot more fulfilling to just be in a band and be with people that you're close to, and that you're in direct connection with musically and then play things that you've sort dreamt up and seeing that relate to people. Yea, I'd say it's a different kind of fulfilling, but in a way it might be more fulfilling."
And that type of fulfillment is resonating again with the release of Son of Stan's newest EP, Georgia. It's named, affectionately enough, after his mother.
"Mostly it felt like, 'Well shit my band is called Son of Stan, so I need something named after my mom,'" explains Richardson. "But she's psyched. She already knows all the words and I don't even remember the words."
Listening to Richardson compare Cincinnati's hand-to-hand combat to a classic 8-bit Nintendo side-scroller, to some extent, sums up his affinity for all things nostalgia. It's this attraction to pop culture's past, coupled with his own life experiences that gets funneled into his songwriting, as opposed to direct musical influences.
Georgia was originally intended to be a summer release. A five-track EP consisting of energetic summer anthems, Richardson describes its themes and overall sound as pool jams or Karate Kid vibes. Anyone born before the first George Bush's presidential term could probably pick up these references and easily identify the reminiscent quality that he's going for.
"I guess you have the hindsight to look back at music all made within one year," Richardson explains, going over an example of his inspiration. "And you hear a Don Henley song and he's like, trying to use drum machines and stuff like that just because that's what was happening at the time..."
"When those two things kind of combine," he continues, "you realize looking back, A, it's like super hilarious, and B, you realize that you can combine all of these things that you like and turn it into something."
Richardson's songwriting and production hasn't wavered much since last year's debut release, Divorce Pop, Son of Stan's effervescent throwback to late 20th century food-court pop sensibilities. But his lyricism on Georgia hints at more firsthand perspectives.
"I think I got a little more personal with what I was saying, and maybe a little bit more literal too," explains Richardson. "Where I would just write my situation and just talk about that versus being of being a little more impressionistic I guess."
He's also made some minor adjustments to his onstage lineup, performing more consistently with a full band in the last year since Divorce Pop. But his sentimentality for incorporating quirky elements from various pop music time capsules remains evident on Georgia, although that's perhaps not intentional.
"I think it became that kind of thing by accident. Maybe that's just because that's kind of what I do," says Richardson. "It's not directly on purpose. I don't wanna be like fucking, whoever those guys are, like Tim McGraw where I'm like, 'Man I'm just gonna set out, and there's a certain type of people I want to hear this music, and I want it to say something really stupid, and I want everybody singing it.' I think it's just what naturally happens and then maybe that just a little reflective of it."
Richardson spends much of his time these days bunkered at a studio on a ranch in Justin, near Texas Motor Speedway, producing music for a laundry list of local artists, which is where he recorded most of Georgia himself. He enlisted the help of Ft. Worth saxophonist Jeff Dazey and Samantha Villavert from Sealion to contribute backing vocals. However, as with his first release, a Son of Stan recording is pretty much all Richardson.
"I just really would like to know what I'm able to make, because there's a lot of stuff I'm not able to make, so that helps," acknowledges Richardson. "I'm somewhat limited in the kind of music that I can write, but in a good way."
As Son of Stan heads into the final leg of their two-week tour, Richardson speaks candidly on his experiences such as the events of the night before, which offers a somewhat brief summation of one man's musical interpretation of life's most relevant episodes.
"I'm mostly influenced by nostalgia and life stuff and references," explains Richardson. "Like those infamous brawls of October fourth, 2014 in Cincinnati. Just like those idiots, like frat idiots who could have just ran away but run right up to the cops and try to tell them their side of the story before the cop even knows what's happening and then the stupid frat idiot ends up getting arrested. And there's a cop there that looks like Bobby Hill grown up."
"That kind of stuff that just ends up being talked about and becomes legend with friends and stuff. That's more interesting to kind of formulate and write music on."