Ray Nelsen, vocalist and guitarist of The CRY!, a power-pop rock band out of Portland, Oregon, founded the band in 2011, with their debut, self-titled LP dropping that same year. The band followed up their first release with their “Dangerous Game” LP coming three years later in 2014.
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Sean Ritchie: Coming from Portland, Oregon, describe the city’s atmosphere. What do you love about it?
Ray Nelsen: One of the cool things about Oregon is there’s so much stuff. You can drive one hour west and go to the ocean. Then drive another hour the other way and go to a mountain. Then there’s downtown Portland that’s cool. The atmosphere in Portland is pretty easy going. It’s always been a pretty liberal place, and with that comes music.
SR: What about the rest of the Pacific Northwest, any destinations stand out?
RN: I like it out here. Most of the area is the same weather-wise. It’s a lot of rain and gray skies. This is actually been like the hottest summer — so hot; it’s crazy.
Photo courtesy | Diana Robinson
SR: What would you suggest a first-time visitor to see?
RN: In Portland, you should go downtown, there’s a store called Another State of Mind. It’s a really cool, local shop. There’s another one called 2nd Avenue Records. There’s also a strip on Hawthorne Boulevard. On that street you can find so many shops, venues and haircutting places — whatever you want really.
SR: Is there a specific restaurant you like in that area?
RN: There’s a bunch. There’s one called Zach’s Shack, which does hot dogs. I like Mexican food, and in Portland the best place to get it is Mister Taco.
Photo courtesy | Matt McGee
SR: How does music and travel fit together?
RN: You have to travel to go play music. It’s one of those things that you can’t avoid. Not only that, it’s really fun to bring the music to people that wouldn’t be able to see it otherwise. Last year we did a Pacific Northwest tour — our first one. We hit a bunch of small towns. Some of these people would have never gotten to see Rock and Roll if it wasn’t for us coming there — that was cool.
SR: Absolutely. It bridges the gap, brings people together.
RN: It does.
SR: What does it mean, when you travel, to get past the touristy destinations and get engrained with the locals?
RN: That’s what I do. I like to hang out with people — go into the clubs and into the streets.
SR: A lot of artists have said that they pull inspiration from traveling. Being in transit gives you time to think and regroup. Is that true for you?
RN: Not necessarily, no. I write a lot of songs. It’s what I do. When I’m on tour though, it’s not really the place to do that, because we’re constantly moving and in the van.
SR: When you get to a new city, what’s the first thing that you try to do?
RN: It depends. Usually checking out the club we’re playing. Definitely freshen up and do a sound check. Then wait a bunch of hours and play. The best part is playing.
Photo courtesy | Barcex
SR: Have you traveled anywhere internationally? Is there a destination that stands out?
RN: We went to Europe for a month and a half or so. All the shows were great, but my favorite place we played was Madrid. The show was sold out. The kids were crazy — loved it. They all knew the words. It made us feel good, made us feel at home.
SR: Everyone has a bucket list. Are there three destinations on yours that you’d like to visit?
RN: Man I’ve never even thought of that before. For The CRY! I want to go to Japan next. I want to go to Brazil and the Philippines as well.
SR: What about Japan that stands out?
RN: For The CRY!, they put out our record before anyone else did. It was out in Japan before America for sure. Germany and Japan put our record out first. I’ve always wanted to go there and we sell quite a bit of records over there. I think we would have a good turn out.
Photo courtesy | Edward Dalmulder
SR: When you’re looking for a personal getaway are you more of a beach guy or a city guy?
RN: I’m a city guy for sure. You don’t want to see my hairy legs out on the beach.
SR: Lastly, what’s the next trip? Do you have a tour or shows coming up?
RN: Yeah, we’re currently on our Dangerous Game United States Tour. It’s two-months long.
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For more on The CRY! visit their website: