Ryan Kinder Redefines Breakup Misery In Thunderous ‘Hell Is’

The song's genesis all began in a YMCA locker room?!

Written by Jeremy Chua
Ryan Kinder Redefines Breakup Misery In Thunderous ‘Hell Is’
Ryan Kinder; Photo credit: Robby Klein

Ever wondered if locker room talks can inspire new songs? The answer is found in Ryan Kinder’s brand breakup anthem, “Hell Is.” Slated to officially drop tomorrow (April 23), the singer is giving Sounds Like Nashville readers an exclusive first-listen of the track below.

Penned by Kinder, Clare Dunn and Kevin Bard, “Hell Is” brings to life the raw, agonizing emotions that follow a heartbreak. With its genre-blurring arrangement, Kinder’s soul-crying delivery is augmented as he recounts his insufferable emotional state.

“Hell is that summertime late night long way alone drive home / Hell is that empty house not a sound screaming in my head you’re gone / Yeah, I’ve seen the worst, felt the burn, met the devil when you said goodbye,” Kinder sings on the roaring chorus, illuminating the bottomless chasm he’s been thrusted into. “I see him in the mirror, everywhere, now I’m just a man on fire / Cause hell is anywhere without, anywhere without you / Hell is anywhere without, anywhere without you.”

While “Hell Is” doesn’t mirror the happily-married singer’s life, the track was actually inspired by a real-life dissension Kinder “overheard in a YMCA locker room.”

“Two men were getting pretty heated about something and one yelled, “Go to hell, Frank!” The room got silent, and everyone heard Frank say, “I’ve been there, man. My wife left me,” Kinder recalls. A case of pure happenstance, the Alabama native was at the right place at the right time. 

“I began writing on my Notes app on my phone immediately and brought what I wrote into the session I had that day with Kevin Bard and Clare Dunn,” Kinder tells Sounds Like Nashville. “I really loved this stripped-down production Kevin Bard started building around this idea I was throwing out. It was country, but really pop at the same time.”

Also accompanying the release of “Hell Is” tomorrow is an electrifying new song, “Blame.” Both tracks are slated to feature on Kinder’s long-awaited debut album, Room to Dream.

On the upcoming record, Kinder reflects, “I had a lot of time to figure out what I wanted to do after a certain time in my life, and all these songs came together with different aspects of who I was when I wrote them. It was a beautiful realization that some of the bad things and not-so-fun situations led to the opportunity for me to have the room to dream, and to really be myself.”

Room To Dream will be released on July 31. While you wait, be sure to check out “Hell Is” and “Blame” when it drops on all digital platforms tomorrow, April 23.