Michael King 0:00
In the 1990s and early 2000s, the music genre called emo was taking the world by storm. Some of my favorite artists dashboard confessional Panic at the Disco just to name a few, but also one that is near and dear to me, a local band from Omaha, Nebraska. One that I happened to also produce names without numbers, solid rock and roll performances, great musicianship with high levels of intellect and great writing. Now, 20 years after the band was formed, they have had a resurgence just in time to catch some much earned attention. Welcome to the level up leader podcast. I’m your host, Michael King. I’m an executive coach and founder of teams that coach I work with sea level leaders to clarify and expand the vision, elevate performance and elevate their leadership. On today’s podcast, I’m joined by Ryan crew shake and Dave Owens of names dot numbers. One of the parts of this interview that I enjoy the most is diving into some of their lyrical content of some of their best songs. Ryan opens up about his struggle with social anxiety. So he decided to write a song about it. This hit home with me, not too many people know that I’ve struggled with social anxiety for most of my life. So knowing that we were going to produce a song directly talking about it was right up my alley. Everyone, please welcome names without numbers to the level of leader podcast.
Ryan Cruikshank Dave Owens of names out numbers, welcome to the level up leader podcast. Thanks for being with us today. So I’ll let you guys kind of choose who’s gonna go first on this. But tell me a little bit about just the origin story of names about numbers and who you are.
Ryan Cruikshank 1:53
I can start to want to fill in the hole. Yeah, we were in bands in Omaha back when we were just out of while I was still in college, just out of high school. And we liked each other’s music. So we decided to team up was kind of like a at the time for us. It was like super group, right, because we admired each other. And we kind of took some of the songs that I was playing and some of the songs that they was playing in his group. And kind of, you know, mashed it up into a band, we were sort of a pop punk type of type of feel back in the late, late 90s. Goodness gracious. Long time ago. Just say that. Well, yeah, we can we really edit that out. But yeah, like we were started with like a pop punk sort of sound. And that’s kind of what we’re listening to, like a blink 182 type style, or MX BX was was big for screen day, that sort of thing. And, you know, we also have influences and like Nirvana and that sort of thing as well. We got into Jimmy world around that time. That’s kind of shaped where we were going, but yeah, and then we’ve had numbers gonna change and over the years, but we’ve kind of, you know, stayed, you know, me and Dave kind of the core songwriters. And yeah, kind of evolved from there.
Michael King 3:05
Dave Owens 3:07
Yeah, that’s pretty much spot on. Like Ryan said, we were in separate bands. We liked each other. And I think Ryan span was, I think breaking up or on the verge of breaking up. And I just said to my guys, I said, Hey, let’s, you know, snag a couple of their members. Let’s perform supergroup and we did. And here we are. I don’t know. I don’t want to say out loud. How many years later?
Ryan Cruikshank 3:27
Yeah, a few. A few years later.
Michael King 3:29
It gives a lot of insight though. Because Dave, you’re kind of always thinking, aren’t you?
Dave Owens 3:33
Yeah, I’m always thinking
Ryan Cruikshank 3:34
he’s always hustling. He’s always hustling.
Dave Owens 3:36
I’m most thinking, what’s next? Right? I’m always about six to eight months out. Yeah.
Michael King 3:41
So we’ve been we’ve been good friends since? I don’t know probably 2001 2002. Somewhere there. At least so 20 years, plus. And I remember I remember back my first experience with names out numbers was I sold a music group was my was my label imprint that we just gotten up off the ground. And we were doing a compilation project working with a couple different labels. And I believe that you guys had submitted for the first unsung heroes project that we were putting together. And I remember listening to the track that you guys submitted. And at the time of kind of this indie music scene, some of the Christian some of it not, but there was this kind of this blast of that was very, very unique to the indie Christian scene of emo music that probably even had a little more popularity than was actually happening in mainstream and there was this band that I was hot on the heels but now it’s time I was traveling with a dynamic them and passing through I had some other projects I was working with, but um, but I remember hearing your your track. I believe it was off of your chasing ambulances record. Yeah, running marathons chasing ambulances. Yes, that one. And I remember thinking and going these guys kind of remind me a little bit like further seems forever, but they’re a lot better.
Ryan Cruikshank 4:55
Well, that’s high praise. We really ended them to
Michael King 4:59
Ryan Cruikshank 5:00
We’re good that’s that’s that’s a long time ago do you remember what track it was that we submitted?
Michael King 5:07
The one that was the one that has a lyric I think say from home or far from home something like that.
Ryan Cruikshank 5:12
Yeah starts with train stations.
Michael King 5:14
Yeah started between stations still fantastic track we got it well, we’ll put a link on that in the in the bio this but still still killer even at live shows now it’s like that would still answering. Well,
Dave Owens 5:24
we still had if you want to find those cops, apparently I found out the other day that they’re on Discogs for about two or $300.
Ryan Cruikshank 5:30
So you’re speaking a different language. What do you mean comps?
Dave Owens 5:33
The compilation CDs that were on Sunday?
Ryan Cruikshank 5:36
Oh, got it. Yeah, they’re out there. They’re sold out. Pretty a prized possession, I guess. But you can find them on Discogs. What was it like about two or 300? bucks?
Michael King 5:45
Yeah, it was like 285 bucks or something like that for a compilation project we put out and I’m like, I think I saw? I don’t think so. But when you look back at some of the people that were on that first, we had, we had bands like Moxie bliss, we had mainstay we had Caitlin Smith is on that project. And now look at who Caitlin Smith is. I would love to be able to say that I had something to do with that career. But I had nothing to do with it. He was our manager for our season. But But Okay, so now it’s you know, 2022, we’re heading into 2023. And, actually, so somewhere around 2018 You guys decided or maybe even before then, but you decided, Hey, let’s go ahead and have a part two to this. What does that look like? And tell me a little about how that happened?
Dave Owens 6:30
I guess for me the deciding factor, if I remember if math serves me, right, I think it was 2016 when Jimmy Eat World kind of came back, they came out with their integrity blues record. And so that came out. And I was like, Man, this is just such a fantastic record for a band kind of of the same era as us. And I know for me personally, them kind of having this big comeback. And a great record inspired me to really kind of fanning the flames again, if you will. And so I called you know, got a hold of Ryan and we never quit playing music even while we were not a band, you know, none of us stopped playing music. We were always doing something whether it’s for church or side projects, but that record in particular, and having Jimmy Eat World back kind of like on the bow, I think is what really sparked hey, let’s let’s do this again. And let’s have fun with it.
Ryan Cruikshank 7:19
Yeah, there was a period of time, like I was going to school, I was getting my master’s degree and and had was having kids. So they were really young. So that’s kind of what where we took the break is like I just don’t have time for this anymore. And around 2016 Like Dave said, we were we were still playing in bands, for churches and kind of special events and sort of things like, you know, at that point, my kids had grown to where they were self sufficient again, like it was it was less burden on you know, my wife when I was gone. So it was like, Well, I obviously been playing with you now, you know, every week in churches, why don’t we just start playing in a in a real band again. So right now I’m using
Michael King 7:57
absent Yeah, I love it. And so you guys got together and you just you in my opinion, you became a writing machine of just absolutely. Just pouring out song after song and just really locking in what was what was kind of the catalyst that you get, Dave, that you and Ryan, that you guys decided to do it a little bit differently this time around.
Dave Owens 8:15
I don’t know, if it was like anything intentionally different as much as it was. Ryan and I have been friends and musical partners for so long. We just have like a natural chemistry, I feel that I can write kind of like a chunk of a song and I just bring it to him. And I already know what he’s going to do here. He knows what I’m going to do. But I think the biggest thing this time around is we just want to write songs that we like, that are fun. And even, you know, slightly out of the box. And you know, we have some songs coming down the line that I think will be slightly out of the box for us but still true to who we are. But yeah, Ryan and I just have the chemistry of guitar playing that just really works well and was just, why not? Let’s do it again. And let’s just have fun with it.
Ryan Cruikshank 8:57
Yeah, it’s a lot like Dave said, it’s just making ourselves happy. It really is like what am I? What do I need to be signed to a label or to what what do I have to accomplish? Right? Like, for me, this is all about just enjoying it, enjoying the moment enjoying what we’re doing, making things that make us happy. And if other people like it, I mean because if we like it like there’s probably some other people who are gonna like it as well. But it should be first and foremost something we’re passionate about. And we like to do
Michael King 9:24
Yeah, absolutely. And you can you can feel it you can feel it. I always I’m David I’ve we’ve been we’ve been close friends for a while but kind of circuit 2018 You guys invited me incredibly honorable way to just kind of step in to be able to help produce your projects. At the time. That was the was the name of your the last silos and smokestacks silos and smokestacks I can remember the name Illinois that the state of Iowa want to sue you so
Ryan Cruikshank 9:51
not to be confused with the smokestacks Heritage Area in Iowa. Yeah, we’re not affiliated just just putting that out there. Disclaimer. So
Michael King 9:59
you So, so I have been I’ve produced quite a few artists and have worked with them and in just different ways, the things that I that I absolutely love about working with you will be on just friendship, but I love the fact that it almost feels like I’m conducting an orchestra because the level of excellence and the level of just absolute precision and passion that the guys bring to the table. So when we were talking about Jay Blaney, he could be probably one of the most like underestimated killer drummers within the region. And he’s just absolutely flawless. Joel and bass like Joel is the guy that he’s he’s kind of the sleeper like he you don’t really necessarily always know what’s going on in his brain but every time that he shows up, he’s absolutely spot on. And then you have you got and then I love that I feel in what you just said Dave, about you and Ryan playing together as guitarists. It is it’s like conducting an orchestra that way you guys work together. I have not seen that type of dynamic before so I love it.
Ryan Cruikshank 10:45
But sorry to interrupt I think that you’re spot on with the the supporting cast and it’s not really supporting cast them because we’re foreign one Jay and Joel with I mean, they always have it on lockdown and they are two of the best rhythm section players in Omaha that’s a my opinion. And I I don’t like when Jay hears this because I feel like he’s gonna want to look for another gig. Because he’s he’s too good for us. And yeah, Joel is one of those like, I feel like he you know, to me because I’ve we’ve been playing together for maybe 15 years or so he’s like, my underachieving kid brother. Right? Like, you could like, he’s so smart. And he’s just so unassuming. He could be an electrical engineer if you wanted to. He puts together his own pedals and stuff. The dude just shows up and Roxette. I appreciate both of those guys.
Dave Owens 11:33
Yeah, I always say that Joel is super sneaky. Sneaky, good.
Ryan Cruikshank 11:36
Yeah, he’s sneaky. Everything like he’s so unassuming. Yeah.
Michael King 11:41
So good. So good. So. So Ryan, when we talk about just unassuming, I’ve said this to you. And I think that you kind of at times, I feel like you might feel like I’m blowing smoke up your butt or something like that. But I think that you’re the most underestimated lyricist I’ve ever worked with, which makes it fun as well, I always look forward to finding out like, what you’re going to put on the piece of paper, when I’m getting ready to go into production just to see what’s going to come out. At times I find us talking about puppy dogs and rainbows. I mean, you’re not even on drugs. So I think that’s pretty fantastic.
Ryan Cruikshank 12:08
Not starting with anyone.
Michael King 12:10
Talk to me about your approach and your just your inspiration behind how you do what you do.
Ryan Cruikshank 12:14
It’s sort of what I was saying before, it’s like, we’ve gotten to the point now where I don’t give a crap anymore. Like, you know, you. There was a time where you tried to contrive things. And we tried to like, What would people think about this? What do people think about this, like, I’m past that, like, I just don’t, if people don’t like it, okay, you know, but I’m going to speak my truth. And I’m going to put things down that are that I feel are going to inspire others. So I try to hit on universal topics a little bit like are things that are going to be relatable, but from a perspective that’s unique. And again, like not if it doesn’t, doesn’t land, it doesn’t land, but it’s sort of my voice and I, I really tried to to look for things that are things that I know, are close to me, you know, I’m not just like making up stories, because I think that’s fake. And I think people can hear that, when you make things up, and you don’t speak from your own experiences. So it’s, you know, I tried to be authentic and genuine about what I’m talking about, but sort of be in left field, because that’s where I am is in left field. But you know, it’s I’m kind of my own person. And I try to try to speak that into the into the literature a little bit.
Michael King 13:18
So that your last single that came out, I believe was last was it last month you do the talking?
Ryan Cruikshank 13:23
Oh, yeah. Yeah, that’s, that’s a, that’s a pretty personal one. Actually, I’ll let you
Michael King 13:28
Well, you did the talking is probably one of the favorite ones that you guys have written in that. That’s pretty sweet to you. In fact, like I actually grabbed and as we were putting together this podcast, I was like, I really want this to feel like even though it’s a lot about leadership, and just people kind of coming into their own a bit in the way that we impact the real world around us. Something about you do the talking to submit. It’s like it’s hook centric from like, get go. So that’s actually the theme song on actually like so the underbelly in the underbed Music Bed of this podcast is the backing track of you do the talking. But the lyrics on the song, it really kind of dives into social anxiety and some of the things that people experience with that. Kind of a quirky, interesting, cool way. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Ryan Cruikshank 14:06
Yeah, I mean, it’s a very personal song. Like I said, I’ve tried to be like, Okay, these are my problems and I know these things the best and I think some of them are our universal right there. A lot of people deal with that. And a lot of people that aren’t do they don’t talk about it, right. Like I never talked about it until just started recently. Like, okay, you know, yeah, I do have some I have stage fright. Which people are like, Why don’t you get up and sing and you’re on stage and you’re in front of people and speaking your voice and like, yeah, that takes a lot. Like that’s not something that’s, that’s natural for me. Like, I get stage fright. I get social anxiety, like being in a room with a lot of people makes me really nervous. I like to be a wallflower. And, and again, it surprises people. So like people need, you know, just getting that out there and talking about it, I think helps others like oh, yeah, I have that too. Like and I put on a facade and they never talked about it. Like I think it’s healthy for people to talk about, you know, their their issues. And I think that that like, you know, it promotes this connection with other people, right? Like I’ve had other people like you say like, Hey, Hey, I worked with I worked through that too. And people just don’t talk about it. Like, it’s cool to see that other people are going through that too. Anyway, yeah. So that’s, that’s kind of my experience is like, I get really nervous and and you do the talking is like, I kind of wrote it with, you know, Dave in mind, like, we go into a lot of places, and he’s the confident one that like, does all the work, working the wheels and spinning the things and, you know, getting things logistically in place for our shows and for things when we, when we go into a situation and have to play. And I just basically, like when you do the docketing, I’m gonna stand back and let this happen. So that’s kind of where that the title comes from. It’s like going into it going into a party with your friends and you telling them like, look, this isn’t my jam, like, you guys do the talking? Like, I’m just here.
Michael King 15:41
Yeah, and, but I think there’s a little bit of that, I think maybe a misconception or just the idea of like, okay, Ryan’s the frontman of a band. And so therefore, he’s going to be this high level, charismatic guy that loves the attention. But you know, the one thing you and I have in common beyond music is that I feel like I’m an introvert that plays an extrovert on TV. And so people just assume that it’s like, okay, I want to be, and there’s a little bit of like, okay, I actually have to fight through this a bit and actually put this out and be intentional, with kind of psyching myself up to do the public moments, right?
Ryan Cruikshank 16:11
Yeah, I mean, it’s like, I’ve had some of my friends from work. And most most people know me. They know, I don’t like attention at all. They’ll come to the shows. And they’re like, you’re like Hannah Montana. Like, you’re all professional during the day. And often, like you got this alter ego, and you’re just like, you know, on stage.
Dave Owens 16:26
It’s Chris. Ryan, he’s just like Hannah Montana. Yeah, it’ll catch on.
Michael King 16:33
We have to get you a healer.
Ryan Cruikshank 16:36
I need my own Disney show?
Dave Owens 16:37
Yeah, we need a mini TV show. Yes.
Michael King 16:40
Fantastic. So lots of really cool things in place. If people haven’t checked out the silos and smokestacks album, I highly encourage it still. I was actually driving home from a road trip a couple weeks ago. And it popped up on my Apple music is like one of my, one of my things, listen to you. And I was like, you know, I really listened to that, that whole thing over a couple of times through and talking about just consistency of craft and songwriting. It still holds up. And so just I just wanna congratulate you guys are just really finding your TrueNorth and sticking to it and becoming really, really, really good at what you do. Dave, I want to talk to you here in a minute about Florida. Your next your next single day you’re dropping, but before I do that indivision music, put out an article on December 16. And just to kind of give a heads up about Florida, and here’s what they said. They said names love numbers are back in a big way on January 13. Their new song Florida will drop on that date. And we’ll have a little teaser to offer you and there’s a link to the video there. He says this this is without a doubt the band’s strongest song to date. And for the reminds me of just how good they are not just in regards to any music, but rock and roll as a whole. There’s a whole lot of content floating around out there, passing off as a legitimate music but really lacks the meat and substance. This is not just a good song. This is much more much more than great and writes closer to spectacular indepedent music has a heart and that heart beating you feel in the chest is the band’s names, not numbers dropping in. And it all goes down on January 13. So how do you feel about that?
Dave Owens 18:00
Yeah, I mean, those are strong kind words. And sometimes it’s, you know, I’m not sure how to read how to react. I always say like, I’m our biggest fan. By far. I love I love everything we do. But this new materials, definitely, not to sound cliche, but it’s definitely our best material. And it’s more mature, you know, with Ryan’s lyric writing, it’s super smart, and witty, and relatable. But the music, you know, is on point and, you know, we’re just super excited to get it out let people hear it. And I’m just glad people like it like Brandon, you know, running a division music for so long. He has a pretty special voice and a place in the in the indie music scene. And then we appreciate any positive press that we get for sure.
Michael King 18:49
Yeah, and that’s I kind of wanted to get you guys on this, you know, so this will be dropping the first week of January. And you know, so we’ll have plenty of time to to to kind of push this out so people can hear your guys’s why of it. I’ve always felt this way about names and numbers is that the sometimes the city and sometimes the local music scene can hold back original music. And I know that there’s other there’s other cities too original music really seems to be kind of like a key identifier of the city culture. How do you guys find yourself in the place of like a city like Omaha? In trying to be an original band amongst kind of like a Music City scene, in my opinion kind of really thrives on cover bands.
Dave Owens 19:27
Well, funny thing is we have a little cover band side project. So we are government and we dabble in the cover band world slightly. Because honestly, that’s where the money is at. So, you know, for us to make a couple grand and play for three or four hours. You know, that helps us fund writing new material as names without numbers. So yeah, so getting ahead with original music. I think we’re doing a lot better now than we did back in the day when we are like an active, fresh band, you know, through the early 2000s. Maybe I embellished my memories, but I remember us like actually having a conversation as a band of, hey, maybe we should relocate to Minneapolis. And these you wrote down remember that Ryan has that right?
Ryan Cruikshank 20:16
Yeah, we were talking about getting locales, or at least hitting another city like super hard.
Dave Owens 20:21
Yeah. Because we we started having a bigger fan base in the Minneapolis area, more than we did in Omaha. And so I remember having these loose conversations with girlfriends and wives, you know, becoming wives at the time of like, hey, maybe we’ll just move to Minneapolis, because we do really well there. And we go there. Were there. Like every two months, were just there all the time. But now as far as like, you know, fast forward to now and the local scene and names specifically, I think we’re picking up steam, you know, picking up people are starting to notice more, but it’s still slow. The Omaha entertainment Arts Awards, that helps a lot. We’ve been nominated. You know, it was one of the best rock bands in Omaha for four years now. Four years in a row.
Ryan Cruikshank 21:04
Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s so great. Like, you know, it’s I love the, it’s great that like people, I love that we’re making connection with other people. Yeah, I feel like it’s good that we’re getting some traction and people like it. But that’s true. Like I was saying before, for me, that’s not the point. Like, the point is, we’re having a great time, and we’re writing stuff that we love. And it’s going to be lasting memory, right? Like for for us 20 3040 years, we may still be playing 40 years now. To like, look back and like have this thing, like we’ve got this album of songs that like back 40 years ago, we created and, and our kids can look at that and have like, Oh, this is something that’s a lasting legacy. Right. It’s cool. And that’s why I do it. I think that’s great. Like the accolades and people liking it. I do feel like, there are more people that I respect that respect us now than we ever have before. And that’s awesome. But that’s just gravy on top. Yes,
Michael King 21:57
so good. So good. Talk to me a little about Florida. It’s coming out on January 13.
Dave Owens 22:03
Friday, the 13th. Easy to remember, remember, Friday, the 13th January 2023, Florida, worldwide release via small band music.
Ryan Cruikshank 22:12
And he’s hustling, he’s screaming everywhere.
Dave Owens 22:13
But prior to that one, earlier, January, the sixth indie vision music will have the exclusive exclusive release of the lyric video. So lyric video only getting an exclusive release, January the sixth. We are super stoked about the song. It’s, it’s fast, it’s fun, it’s gonna be fun to sing along to and it’s got great lyrics. And
Ryan Cruikshank 22:36
it’s about living in the moment being just just learning to be okay with the way things are because you don’t have control over anything. I mean, honestly, like, do you think about the things that you have control over? It’s very, very small. So this song is just about being okay with that, like, you know, things are gonna happen and you won’t like a lot of it, but you can’t control it. So why try to find it? Why try to just be okay with it. So that’s what it’s about. And the name is sort of a dad joke for me because it’s Florida. It’s writing the writing flow. Flow writer. Yes, I giggled, finally, yeah.
Michael King 23:11
I see what you did there. So good. So, alright, and then what is it? What’s your next show? In the area or regionally that you have coming up that you’d like to get some people?
Dave Owens 23:19
Yeah, Omaha, Nebraska, we’re playing January the 14th. So the day after our single release, that we’re playing at the reverb lounge in Omaha on January 14.
Michael King 23:31
Ryan Cruikshank 23:31
It’s such a great venue to so if you’re around and you’re free, we’d love to say,
Michael King 23:36
I’ll be there. Let’s see, we can get a bunch of people there and to hang out, do a meet greet with you guys and just be able to hang out. So we got a couple of really big things coming up again. So this podcast will I think this is actually airing on the fourth of January, that we have January 6, you have your individual music, lyric video, worldwide premiere, and then Friday the 13th through all digital music distribution channels, we have the debut of Florida, distributed by by our imprint, small music group. And then January 14. Live in Omaha, Nebraska.
Ryan Cruikshank 24:08
That’s right. Yeah, exciting things going on.
Michael King 24:11
So good. So if you want to get a hold of you guys, how can they do that?
Ryan Cruikshank 24:14
Again on social media, Facebook, Instagram, names without numbers.com Check us out Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, wherever you listen to music, we’re there. And you can find us and you can check out music and merchandise and Bandcamp as well.
Dave Owens 24:32
check us out on MySpace page. We have a MySpace page.
Ryan Cruikshank 24:35
I haven’t looked recently. I’ll ask Justin Timberlake because I think he owes that
Michael King 24:42
could be the new Twitter.
Ryan Cruikshank 24:44
We have that’s one thing we don’t have. We don’t have a Twitter. I don’t have. I don’t have time for that. We have tic tock but I don’t use it. But we’re there.
Dave Owens 24:52
I’m not very social. I don’t have any other socials.
Ryan Cruikshank 24:55
Right. Alexa, stay off the grid.
Dave Owens 24:57
Yeah. Oh man. We’re living in the mountain in the woods. To say completely off the grid, it’s so much more peaceful and stress free that way.
Michael King 25:07
Alright guys, well, I look forward to our to our time together and in hanging out and we have some new music coming out as well. You have a pretty active release schedule coming up in 2023. So I’m excited for people to be exposed to the men behind names without numbers. So thanks for being with us today. Thanks, Mike. Yeah, thanks again. Thanks, guys. We’ll talk to you soon. Thank you for joining us today on the level of leader podcast. If you enjoy this episode, consider leaving a review on Apple, Spotify, YouTube, or wherever you get your podcasts. It helps us to get the word out. And make sure to like, subscribe and follow so you get all of the episodes. I really liked the fact that these guys are doing something to bring them joy. That is a measure of success for them. It’s not about how much money something is making. It’s about creating memories and doing something that they love. What are the key factors that leads people into depression and into burnout is the lack of joy in their life. I have a lot of respect for these guys for doing something that not only fills their buckets, but also spreads a really intelligent message of hope. Please take a look at the show notes and check out their website for the upcoming release of their new single Florida and also their upcoming shows. And also, as always, thank you guys for allowing us to use your music on this podcast. We decided we only wanted to feature music that I’ve produced as a music producer. So that is pretty awesome. To find out more about everything that we’re up to please check us out at www dot teens dot coach and don’t forget to join our Facebook group at WWW dot teams dot coach slash level of leaders