Not one to stay at home, nursing his wounds, newly single singer Ryan Cabrera — a.k.a. Ashlee Simpson’s ex — has set his green eyes squarely on the future. At the moment, that includes his forthcoming second album and his burgeoning plans for a sorority-house tour.
Although the 21-year-old Cabrera and Simpson had involved each other in their careers (Ashlee stars in the video for Cabrera’s “On the Way Down,” and Cabrera is the subject of Ashlee’s first single, “Pieces of Me”), they decided it was time to go solo. The two had broken up once before, and although Cabrera noted that they’re still friends, it seems this split is more permanent.
“We’re kind of going for good this time,” Cabrera said. “We’re going in our own directions: She’s going to concentrate on her career and I’m going to concentrate on my career, ’cause it’s just too hard to keep people together when you’re both new artists and you’re both trying to keep your careers going.”
Take it All Away, the singer’s debut album, was co-produced by Goo Goo Dolls frontman John Rzeznik and hits shelves on August 17. Cabrera, currently on a mall tour, performed at college fraternities across the country last year and hopes to make the sorority rounds next. “It could be quite the time,” he said.
The singer recalled promoting his fraternity-house tour by serenading neighboring sorority houses. “I sat, like, 40 or 50 girls down in the living room,” he said, “and I would sing them one song, and they’d be like ’Sing another one!’ I’d be like ’No, you gotta come to the show.’ And then I would leave.”
The Dallas native has been making girls swoon over his music for years, with his high-school punk band Caine, his later rock band Rubix Groove (which opened for Cheap Trick, Ben Harper and Third Eye Blind) and eventually, on his own when his self-released 2001 solo album, Elm Street, sold out in Dallas stores.
Cabrera dropped out of college to pursue his music career. Joe Simpson, father of Jessica and Ashlee, signed on to manage him and helped land a recording contract. But it was Cabrera’s publisher who really got the ball rolling when he lined up songwriting sessions with Rzeznik and the young singer.
Within a month, Cabrera and Rzeznik had put together the songs that would comprise Take It All Away, an emo-leaning album with pop hooks and a strong focus on Cabrera’s voice. “We were like brothers at that point,” Carbrera remembered, “to the point where we looked out for each other, we fought; we loved each other, we hated each other. We went through it all.”
Cabrera’s first single, “On the Way Down,” which went to radio in May, is the song he credits with securing his record deal. Despite Simpson’s starring role in the video, the track is not about Cabrera’s former flame: It was written two years ago, before the two had met.
Cabrera is focused now on touring and getting his music out to as many people as possible and ensuring his staying power.
“I play guitar. I write my songs. I want to play longer,” Cabrera said. “I don’t want to be something that just comes in and goes out. I want people to see that I can actually play and I want to do this forever, not just have a couple records, you know?”