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Ralph Hinkley Syndrome found God, beat addiction, then rocked accordingly
Believe it or not, Jason Ogle of indie-rock duo Ralph Hinkley Syndrome is walking on air.
What's the Ralph Hinkley Syndrome story?
Wyman Gentry and I have known each other for many years. We went to elementary school together. He's the guy who inspired me to play guitar. There were a lot of things that happened between those days and where we are now. We got into a lot of trouble together. We experimented with a lot of different things that we shouldn't have. Ultimately, we started this project about a year ago. It's a reflection of where we are now, how far we've come in our lives, and the obstacles we've overcome. The first song that brought us together . . . the riffs were probably written 15 years ago. The song sat, and we discovered it all these years later. We've always had this musical connection.
You said that you and Wyman both overcame a lot of obstacles. What were those obstacles?
We went through some pretty crazy stuff. We were both hardcore drug addicts, alcoholics—you name it. We went through that season of life together. He and I were living in the same place during those times. I had a couple of overdoses. I really shouldn't be here now. It's all those things that brought us to questioning, "What is this life all about? Is this all there is to life?" We got to a place where it was connecting with God on a personal level. I tried the 12 steps, I tried the rehabilitation centers, and none of that stuff ever worked for me because there was still an emptiness in my life. I reached out to God, and He fulfilled that emptiness.
As long as you and Wyman have known each other, does that make collaborating musically easier than it would be with other people?
Yes. It really is like that twin-syndrome kind of thing, where you know what the other guy's going to say. That's kind of how we communicate musically. We pass songs back and forth. In fact, our past two songs have been like that, and we haven't even seen each other—the beauty of technology. We're kind of like a virtual band. Who would have imagined we'd be able to do all this on our laptops? And we're not afraid to experiment, to try something different. We don't feel that every song has to sound the same. We're not under the gun of a record executive telling us that we have to release a certain sound otherwise people won't recognize it's us.
You mentioned finding God. Is Ralph Hinkley Syndrome a religious band?
We don't consider ourselves religious musicians. We look at ourselves as a couple of failures who have found something greater than ourselves to cling to. It's something that has changed our lives radically. We don't see ourselves as religious people. Religion is a system in which you have to do certain things to make it work. Me and my buddy have found that we can't make things work. That's why we had to reach beyond ourselves. We love making music and love making art. That's really what we're all about. We're not CCM—the contemporary Christian music category. In that genre, you can turn on the radio and predict every chorus and every hook. But I know people are benefiting from that music in their personal lives. We're not hiding our faith, either, but we don't want to be stereotyped.
Do people ever ask if someone in the band is named Ralph Hinkley?
A lot of people don't get it, and I understand that. In the '80s, there was a TV show called The Greatest American Hero. His name on the show was Ralph Hinkley. He had really good intentions, but he was kind of a klutz and a bumbling guy. He was visited by aliens who gave him this special costume and a manual on how to use its powers. He left the manual in the desert, so he never fully learns how to harness the powers he has available to him with this suit. As a spiritual person, I probably overthought it, but I believe we all have that. We all have good intentions. We all want to do the right thing. But how often do we fail? How often to we fall along the way? I really see myself in that.
For more information, visit www.myspace.com/rhsrox.