© 2023 KMUW
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Cy Rogers: ‘Artists, Musicians Are Facilitators For Other Peoples' Appreciation’

Matthew Dover

Lately, the music that Cy Rogers, who performs under the name Cy J. Hamilton, has been writing has been much quieter than the loud, aggressive music he played in bands such as Arms For Hands, Concrete Cleaner and Truck or Dead Horse. The change in musical styles, he says, came down to one simple thing: Being a solo artist is far easier than navigating the complicated schedules of a band.

“I got tired of interacting with other people,” he notes, “and having them say, ‘I’ve got work,’ or ‘My girlfriend wants to do this,’ ‘I want to go see a movie.’ I do the same thing, I realize, when I’m in a band, but this way it’s, ‘I have half a spare hour, I can do this’ rather than, ‘Can you meet me there? Can we do this?’ It’s simply being practical.”

With nobody else’s schedule to work around, Rogers began writing the material that forms the Cy J. Hamilton catalog.

“I took a songwriting course in college, and I really liked it,” he says. “I had an acoustic guitar and continued to write songs—it started as a project for school—and it’s something I actually enjoy doing. I found a different sort of release from it than going and being loud.”

Rogers says that once he started writing songs, finding lyrical subjects wasn’t difficult at all.

“I like to read, and I like interesting turns of phrase. I like to open up and bleed kind of ideas,” he says. “But I also don’t think anything should be taken too seriously.”

On that not-so-serious side is a new, as-yet-untitled song that begins with the line, “You tried to bite me.”

“That song's about my cat,” he says. “My cat had to have a bunch of her teeth removed. I remember trying to get her into the carrier, and she bit my hand. I thought that there was some interesting irony to that. ‘This is the last time you’re doing this, I suppose, you’re getting one more awful attack on my hand out of you before they’re all gone.’”

But, he adds, what inspired the songs he writes is of less interest to him than what the listener takes away.

“It’s way less interesting when you find out what the person meant. It’s way more interesting when you build your own narrative for it. I think that’s fun for people to hear and for people to appreciate that concept of constructing what you want from art or constructing what you want from music. If I tell you what it’s about, well, who cares then? But if you hear it and think, ‘I want to be part of that,’ then that’s cool.”

He continues, “Artists, musicians are almost facilitators for other peoples’ appreciation. You’re like a guide for somebody to want something. Then you get out of the way for them to like it. It’s hard to create something and then say, ‘OK, get out in the world and exist.’ But people have kids every day. It’s the same kind of thing, I suppose.”

Jedd Beaudoin is host/producer of the nationally syndicated program Strange Currency. He has also served as an arts reporter, a producer of A Musical Life and a founding member of the KMUW Movie Club. As a music journalist, his work has appeared in Pop Matters, Vox, No Depression and Keyboard Magazine.