Texas native Mike Ryan finds solace in a case of Rolling Rock on his new single, “Can Down,” out now. While Ryan wasn’t inspired by a recent breakup when getting in the room with Smith Ahnquist, Brent Anderson and Will Weatherly in early 2019 to pen what would become “Can Down,” he says he knows the feelings following a split well.
“It wasn’t anything that I was going through at the time,” he tells Sounds Like Nashville over the phone from Texas. “It was just an emotion that I was familiar with.”
On “Can Down,” Ryan sings, “So here I am on our back porch/ It’s looking like I’m stuck/ Between a case of Rolling Rock and a heartache/ It’s gonna be the end of one of us.” It’s his favorite lyric in the song, and Ryan says he and his co-writers were playing off the saying between a rock and a hard place.
“There’s all kinds of situations where you can find yourself needing to have a drink. Sometimes it’s at the bar, sometimes it’s out with friends but in this case it was on the back porch, which I feel like is arguably the most important phase of a difficult period,” he explains. “That’s when you’re by yourself and usually in the wee hours of the morning and there’s time to reflect. … Rolling Rock has certainly found its way into my fridge plenty of times.”
No stranger to breakup anthems, Ryan knew “Can Down” would make the cut for his upcoming fifth studio album. He began performing “Can Down” while on the road in late 2019 and it was a song that fans instantly gravitated to.
“I’ve been getting great response,” he says. “It seems to be moving the needle so that was a natural choice. It was one that we recorded early in this record process, so it was ready to be released too. That was key.”
“Can Down” is the second song he’s released independently from his fifth studio album. It follows 2020’s “Ghost Town.” Ryan began recording the project in Nashville early last year before the pandemic forced the closure of local recording studios. The prolonged time off the road and out of the studio has given Ryan more time to live with the songs and get a better feel for the way he wants to sing them live.
The pandemic has also allowed Ryan to spend more time with his two young sons. He says it’s the most time he’s been off the road and is grateful to be able to watch their milestones. Since his children had his attention all year, Ryan was left with little room for writing. So, the singer-songwriter recently began building a rehearsal studio where he can go several times a week to be creative.
“I have plenty of inspiration. It’s going to take a little bit of time for that inspiration to turn into creativity and turn into songs,” he admits. “It’s been nice living with these songs the past year. I really enjoy taking the time to sing them down and figure out exactly how I want to do it.”
Since Texas has lifted its COVID-19 restrictions, Ryan has found himself on the stage more often the past month. While he’s enjoyed the added time with his family and bettered his golf game, he says he’s optimistic about returning to the road and to the stage.
“I didn’t realize until I couldn’t do it how much I needed to be out doing that for my soul, making connections with folks and traveling,” he says. “I’m looking forward to doing more of that.”