Ralph Hinkley Syndrome, that’s an interesting name for a band. Tell us a little about who you are and the story behind the name.
Yes, thank you for noticing. Wyman and I (Jason) have known each other since “Webster” started airing on TV. Wyman was born into a musical family and his family had a band that was pretty popular in the late 70s (with rockin white-people afros) which explains his heightened musical prowess. Wyman can play pretty much any traditional instrument quite well. As for me, I started playing piano as a kid and was actually doing recitals and reading music until sadly I lost interest. Now, I’m kinda Eddie Van Halen. I don’t really read music, but play entirely by feel. So, it wasn’t until I saw Wyman in fifth grade at the school talent show singing the immortal chorus, “Who ya gonna call…Ghostbusters!”, that I was inspired to play guitar. He actually taught me my first licks on guitar in seventh grade.
Now, as for the unique band name: Wyman and I have played in numerous musical projects together but went our separate ways musically for a number of years. After unearthing some early recordings of a really cool song we started working on many years before, it inspired us to come back together in early ’07 to form this music project. That song consequently ended up becoming our very first track “Lombard Street” and ended up going six weeks in a row to win the New Release Tuesday (NRT) contest.
As far as the name of the project goes. I was sitting at my workstation one day banging my head against the monitor thinking there must be a band name out there for us in the vast sea of musical groups, and I bet it’s right in front of me. I then picked my head up, looked at my desktop wallpaper and there it was. A “Greatest American Hero” wallpaper in all its diffused glory. I then started picking it apart. I thought what about the name of the guy who played him? His name is William Katt. Pretty ordinary and uninteresting right? So, I went on to to look up the character’s name and saw that it was “Ralph Hinkley”. Eureka! That was a really different and catchy name and so I dug deeper into the show storyline to try to come up with some more meaning or inspiration behind the name. I found out that the character “Ralph Hinkley” was a teacher of special needs students who wanted nothing more than to reach his students, but didn’t really know how to accomplish this. He then gets visited by aliens (friendly ones) who gave him a ridiculous costume with special powers, yet he never really learns how to use the suit because he loses the instruction manual in the desert. So, he learns how to fly, but never learns how to land and comes crashing down every time. I looked deeper into this and realized that we are all “Ralph Hinkley’s”. All of us have this incredible and life-changing instruction manual available to us, but how often do we “lose” it and keep it on the shelf to collect dust? We all have good intentions, but honestly how often do we fail and come crashing down again? The prefix was there, the story was in place, now we just needed a suffix to wrap it up. Ultimately I realized that what we all have is a “syndrome”. A condition that we are unable to help or control that we inherited from the first man Adam. Thus “Ralph Hinkley Syndrome” was born.
Your latest single, Only Then, seems to have a different flavor than some of your previous music. What inspired this more worshipful, emotive song?
We’ve all got struggles. Some are nagging and require lifelong battles to overcome. This is a song of admittance of helplessness and gratitude for the spiritual freedom that comes through believing in the sacrifice of the Savior. Not sure the feel of this theme would’ve translated quite as well if we did it in the same aggressive vane as “Hi-Fi”. And you are very correct, this vibe is definitely different than pretty much all of our other songs other than “On Fire” which has some similar characteristics. This my friend is the beauty of being an indie band. Nobody telling us what to do or who to sound like in order to sell more records. We continue to explore and thoroughly enjoy that freedom.
Is Ralph Hinkley moving in a new direction and planning to write more music along these lines or will you continue to stay true to your original, unique sounds?
We’ve always tried to write songs that go far below the surface and address issues that are truly honest and meaningful. We’re very aware that we could easily do our homework and conform our sound and image to match the popular bands and probably arrive at that place that so many bands strive to reach for years and years. However, our musical integrity and passion would get lost in the fray. Our conviction is that our time is so limited on this earth, shouldn’t we be using our gifts and talents in a manner that’s genuine and has an eternal weight attached to it? Especially with the unchurched youth who are seemingly looking around every corner for hope only to come up empty because no one has showed them the way to the only living hope, our Savior Jesus.
What’s the next step for R.H.S. and how can people get in touch with your music?
We are in the midst of remastering our songs and are planning to get our songs on iTunes by this Christmas so definitely keep an eye out there!
Other than that, we plan on continuing to write, record and share our music with the world using the Interwebs and social networks. We think this is the next big thing. We love connecting with fans and have a few ways for peeps to do that as well as listen and hopefully be blessed, encouraged and especially moved by our music.
Make sure to listen to Ralph Hinkley Syndrome’s latest single, Only Then, right here on Rethink Radio.