The Road Home

Words: Sean Moore/ Photos: Madeline Rheaume

As I walk into the virtually empty Port City Music Hall on a Thursday afternoon, Spose (aka Ryan Peters) and his crew are loading their gear on stage and hooking up a banner decorated simply with Spose in lime green in the background above the stage. Ryan jumps down from the stage and greets me halfway with a handshake. I spend some time hanging around, listening to him and his crew while they get everything set up, and even chatting briefly with several of them at different points- including the elusive Dave Gutter, who ends up disappearing after sound-check, which the rest of the band does not seem surprised. With everything set up, Ryan and a few of the crew are sitting on the stage joking, “This tour was like the beginning of the end of my life, man. My body has been like, ‘Oh! Hey, did you know you could be injured here, and here, how about here?’”. 

Ryan and I chat briefly while the rest of the band goes through sound-check. Standing near the bar, he admits that this has been “the best tour of my whole time in the business. It has been the most fun.” And when I ask him why he thinks that is, he says very matter-of-factly, “the guys in the band, man. They’re veterans. They know what they’re doing. And we all got along so well.” He goes on to explain what it means to be a rap artist on the road. “It can be hard to get respect as a rap artist. When I was just starting out, it was just me and a DJ. Often times, the bar has been set so low by/for rap artists that it feels great to hit the stage every night with this band and change people’s minds”. I can tell from his enthusiasm and smile while telling me these road stories that he loves to challenge himself.

The self-managed rap artist from Wells, Maine is setting up for his long-awaited home show after playing 23 shows in 24 days all around the country. With the summer tour set up around specific dates: the 4th of July and his wife’s birthday (August 3rd), both of which he wanted to be home for. The tour started on July 10th in Chicago because, according to the rapper, “historically, Chicago has been one of their best responses.” They ended the 24 days on the road with a show in Minneapolis, MN on August 1st, before making their way back home to Maine. The Portland show would occur after a week-long break from performing.  

“This tour was like the beginning of the end of my life, man.”

Spose has been in the music industry since 2007, when he self-released his first album Preposterously Dank. He’s self managed his whole brand for over a decade now, and we talked about what that meant for him, personally and artistically, during our two hour conversation upstairs in the green room at Port City.

About an hour into our conversation, the rest of the band (Jon, Dave, and Derek, but not Dave), along with his buddy Cam Groves, join us. Ryan sits casually on the tabletop in the middle of the green room as we chat. When I ask him why the musicians he picked, he says, “They make every song sound better,” and admits that “Dave and Jon really paved the way, by doing it first, with their band Rustic Overtones. They were out there playing shows, putting Maine on the map, years ago,” he continues, “It’s a relationship built on trust. I told them, just do your most awesome, every night, and they all bring it. And it’s an honor to have them playing on stage with me.” When I ask about Zach Jones’ contributions to the band, Ryan admits that “he just brought it all to a different level, and his personal vibe of maturity was welcoming.” He has a moment of honesty while talking about the band, saying that “the Spose thing is lonely sometimes, but with a band, there’s a brotherhood, traveling around together and playing these shows.” The drummer, Derek, says it’s been a great experience to “sort of be a hired gun, but to not feel like one at all.” When I ask Zach for his reasoning for joining the band on this tour, which meant he’d have to leave his home in California, where he’s been for seven years, he simply states, “I couldn’t think of a single reason to say no.”

At this point in our conversation, Ryan’s barber shows up to give him a trim and we continue our conversation like this is nothing out of the ordinary.

I ask him what it’s like being a dad and on the road, away from his family. Aside from giving credit to his wife for really holding things down and taking care of everything while he’s away, he also says she’s been very supportive of his career. They have four kids together.

He tells me a funny story from the tour that involved his kids back home where the doorbell has video via an app on his phone.  While he was on the road, the kids would ring the doorbell just to get to talk to dad. One time, the kids rang it just to inform him that they wanted popsicles, “But mom won’t let us have any.”

Stories like that showcase just how down to earth Ryan is. He’s like an ordinary guy, who just happens to be a well known rapper. It stays true to the brand Spose built for himself over a decade ago: “I’m one of you”. He makes sure to connect with his fans before and after all his shows, talking and taking selfies with them.

After being on the road for about a month and hearing feedback from fans, Spose feels content and ready for what’s next, possibly, recording an album with The Humans, which would be a change in his approach, a much more democratic approach, he tells me.