Ten years have passed since Ryan Cabrera’s first hit single “On the Way Down” took pop radio by storm, with an equally popular music video all over MTV featuring his then-girlfriend Ashlee Simpson.
A decade later, Cabrera is still writing, touring, and recording. A still-untitled album is tentatively slated for a spring release, and he has been teasing fans with a well-received single, “I See Love.” But the music, he says — and his life outside of the tabloid/pop music bubble of years past — is very different now.
“I wrote like 60-something songs from 2007 to 2012,” says Cabrera, speaking from Los Angeles. “And then I wrote ‘I See Love’ … and I scratched every single song before that one. I thought, ‘I want to write songs that beat this song.’ And that sparked the rest of the record.”
Cabrera, along with singer-songwriters and actors Teddy Geiger and Tyler Hilton, will perform their best-loved songs and new material in an intimate, acoustic show at the Stockton Performing Arts Center 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31.
The 14-date tour kicked off Jan. 3 in Asbury Park and includes stops in New York City, Dallas and Washington, D.C. Several dates already sold out, proving fans still have plenty of love for the emo-rockers of the mid-2000s.
But for Cabrera, who was playing solo gigs by 16 and in the recording studio with Goo Goo Dolls front man Johnny Rzeznik by 21, the tour offers a chance to show fans his musical evolution.
“The coolest thing about doing some of these shows acoustically instead of full band is you can change it up on the spot,” says Cabrera, 30. “We let the crowd dictate what’s going to happen. You’re actually going to be a part of the show if you want. It gives us more free range (in a show).”
Geiger, known for hits such as “Confidence (For You I Will)” and “These Walls,” and Hilton, who also plays Chris Keller on the CW show “One Tree Hill,” and starred in the Johnny Cash biopic “Walk the Line,” will most likely be popping in and out of each other’s sets throughout the evening, Cabrera says.
“The highlight for me is when we all get on stage together,” Cabrera says. “That’s the most fun, and it’s always random. That’s the fun of being with two other singer-songwriters you get along with. Every show you can see something random and different. And you can tell we enjoy it during the show. One of us will pop up during Teddy’s set or Tyler’s set, or they’ll suddenly pop up in my sets.”
Cabrera’s latest single “I See Love” is a preview of the new album’s direction, he says, calling it the song that kicked off a whole new sound.
“I think this record is more just about the music,” Cabrera says.
“I came out in a different light, because at the time, people saw me on television, and I was maybe not known for the hit songs that we had. But for me, it’s always been about music. I just happened to be on television shows.”
Now, a more reflective Cabrera has spent the better part of six years writing dozens of songs — many inspired by personal experience — in the hopes of putting out his best album to date.
“I’m very fortunate to be able to spend the time (writing),” Cabrera says. “You know, it’s been six years. I took everything (I had written) and I said, ‘I’m going to make a better record than that.’ This record is very positive and upbeat. There will be a couple ballads, but for the most part, it’s fun. We’ll probably do EP first, let us work that, and give the fans a little taste, because it’s been so long.”
When he’s not writing, Cabrera is playing, whether on stage with his guitar, or jamming with friends in his living room. His Internet-only series, actually called “Live from Ryan’s Living Room” (RyansLivingRoomLive.com), features jam sessions with Cabrera and fellow artists who show up at his house to play.
But for Cabrera, life on tour is still a labor of love, he says.
“We played more than 200 (live) dates last year,” Cabrera says. “I think it’s important to stay live and maintain the connection with the fans.”