The great Wayne Gretzky once said, "You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take." Local singer/songwriter Tyler Tisdale has spent a few years working on his solo career. Now as we emerge from the pandemic, Tisdale has signed with fellow Mississippian Steve Azar's Ride Records label and this Friday will see the national release of his solo debut "If It's All The Same To You." Tyler took time out from gearing up for the continued promotion of his Ride/Redeye release to give us insight into his writing and just how he got here.
PBN: How did you get hooked up with Ride Records and Steve Azar?
TT: So before the pandemic, I had taken a hiatus from live shows to focus on writing for a new solo project. My dad is an avid listener of Steve’s radio show “In a Mississippi Minute.” Steve randomly advertised for his consulting company one day and my dad got on the website and sent me the link and suggested I send in a video and bio. I fought him on it for quite some time until I finally gave in and sent it in. Steve emailed me that night and we were on the phone the next day making plans for writing sessions, which basically turned into an audition for him to manage me. After we made the album he added me to Ride Records’ roster before we started releasing singles.
PBN: The singles are very Gregg Allman-ish - is he at least of your vocal inspirations?
TT: It’s an honor to be compared to one of the greats like Gregg; he’s absolutely an inspiration. It was probably Gregg and Joe Cocker that influenced me the most as performers. I always loved the wild, straight from the belly attack from Joe and Gregg was just so smooth with everything, effortless. My true friends from back in the day will tell you I was influenced by Dave Matthews a lot. I taught myself a lot about singing by playing his songs at shows in the early days. His songs can be quite challenging to sing and play at the same time so it was fantastic practice for me.
PBN: Your songs tell a lot of their story on how metered you are (“She’s The One” is slow, bluesy, and confident - almost a song of comfort?) or your lyrics in contrast with the music (“If It’s All The Same to You” is smooth musically while confronting the bumps of losing faith). Are you writing for yourself and multiple interpretations?
TT: The songs vary; I do pull from personal experience. "She’s The One" I wrote for my fianceé the night before we went into the studio. I have songs about mental health; there’s one about divorce, though I’ve never been married before. There’s one song, "Nighthawks," inspired by the famous painting by Edward Hopper. I just stared at the painting and plucked strings until a song fell out.
PBN: These songs are well crafted. When you are writing, when do you know you have something?
TT: I ALWAYS think I have something (lol), but seriously when a melody comes to you and that first verse or chorus falls out it’s almost like you physically can’t make yourself stop until it’s finished. But in my opinion, if you finish a song then you’ve “got something.” It may only be 3 people that dig it but somebody digs it so it was worth making right?
PBN: Who do you look up to as writers? Are you perhaps modeling yourself after anyone in particular?
TT: I definitely have writers that I look up to, but I wouldn’t say I’m modeling after anyone; I’m very much trying to be my own artist with my own sound. I have always really loved James Taylor, Jim Croce, Prine, and Seger… later I got heavy into Ray Lamontagne, Amos Lee, and Ryan Adams. Recently I think this wave of Isbell, Sturgill, and Childers has been fantastic.
PBN: Is there a song on the album that just came out of nowhere and surprised you?
TT: Honestly “She’s The One” caught me off guard, I don’t write a whole lot of classic gushy love songs but it came out of nowhere and just fell out in about an hour in the hotel room. And she definitely deserved a song.
PBN: When you wrote these songs and first played them for Steve Azar, were you already adjusting them to fit into Country/Folk? Or did you basically just say “take these as they are?”
TT: Honestly Steve didn’t change anything at all, just tweaked a few things here and there but he let me be myself. The songs on this record sound basically the same as the day I wrote them. Towards the end of my last band, the songs I was writing were just naturally taking me in this direction. So I just went with it and really feel I found my style.
PBN: The production lends a lot of depth to what you have written. Did it seem strange at first to hear these with instrumentation or did it just match what you had in mind?
TT: Adding in the extra players definitely gave the record some different energy than I originally anticipated but I fell in love with it immediately. I think what I love most is I could strip everything away from this album and feel just as good putting these songs out, just me and my guitar. I love both aspects; playing with a band is intoxicating, but I’m just as happy just plucking on an acoustic and pouring my heart out for whoever will listen.
PBN: Tell us about the players who accompany you; did you immediately lock in with them?
TT: On drums, we had Chad Cromwell (Neil Young); he was amazing to work with and really brought the record to life. On bass, we had Barry Bays, who played on all of Steve’s records and many others. On guitar, we had Mike Doussan from New Orleans. Mike is a dear friend and one of my favorite guitar players and it was an honor and a blast being in the studio with him. On fiddle was Rurik Nunan, who plays in Mike’s band and tons of other artists. He’s fantastic and was the last person we recorded and he just absolutely gave us the goods. On keys we had my dear friend Dell Smith, he toured and recorded with me in my Midnight Revel days and is my go-to guy in the studio. The dude is an absolute wizard.
PBN: Is there a song on here that you are specifically proud of?
TT: A song I’m specifically proud of…probably "Nighthawks;" just staring at a painting and writing a song was challenging but very rewarding. I’m also proud of “Unscathed;” it was a big song with a big chorus, which is kind of out of my comfort zone a bit as a singer, but it turned out great and the legend that is Shaun Murphy sang on it with me which was a real honor.
PBN: Coming the long way to a national release must feel like a dream come true. I know you thought about being here but it has to be a real payoff for all those years of hard work you did. What do you think you took home from the experience of the travels of songs that were just yours on acoustic to this album?
TT: I’m very grateful for where I am right now and the things to come. It’s been a grind but the grind is really only just beginning. I like to think that all those years I’ve spent on the road and working towards this moment are what make my songs good and worth listening to. You need that experience and trial and error to become good. I didn’t just come into the world with a good voice. I didn’t start singing until I was 19 so I had a lot of practicing and catching up to do. But it took that grind in order to have something to say today.
PBN: Anything you are really looking forward to like this release hits the streets and you hit the road?
TT: I'm just really looking forward to the whole album being out for everyone to hear. It’s been such a long process and I’m honestly just ready to be moving on to the next one. I'm really looking forward to hitting the road and playing shows though; I’ve missed it dearly and can’t wait to connect with the crowds again and meet new people.
PBN: Finally, what is the message you most want to convey to listeners with your music?
TT: I most want to convey that no one is alone out there, we all have to support one another, it’s okay to talk about things sitting heavy on your heart. I just hope people can find peace in these tunes and maybe crack a smile or two.
Tyler Tisdale's Ride/Redeye CD "If It's All The Same To You" will be released nationally Friday, May 13th, with the LP coming later this summer. Copies will be available at T-BONE'S Records and Cafe. For more info on Tyler, visit his website at www.tylertisdalemusic.com.
Mik Davis is the record store manager at T-Bones Records & Cafe in Hattiesburg.
New Music This Week
THE BLACK KEYS - Dropout Boogie
Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney celebrate their 20th anniversary as a band with a glossy mess of funk littered with their succinct hooks and driving melodies. The first single "Wild Child" is the most Seventies they have ever sounded. The serpentine "It Ain't Over" echoes classic War with another of their winning choruses. "Dropout Boogie" is strangely more sinuous and less showy than recent albums, one that will definitely please their legion of fans.
FLORENCE + THE MACHINE - Dance Fever
Having played all the major festivals and swept away everyone in her stadium-ready writing live, "Dance Fever" is a return to the soaring sound of "Lungs." Welch sings like she has been liberated on "Free" and even as her powerful voice is draped in effects, she always breaks through. Perhaps that is the lasting message of "Dance Fever" and Florence's music; you can always break free.
DELBERT MCCLINTON - Outdated Emotion
[LP/CD](Hot Shot/Thirty Tigers/The Orchard)
Most covers albums are like a wishlist of songs for the artist involved. McClinton's 27th album is entirely made of songs you can imagine he once did with a host of pickup bands after his first time on stage in 1957. This swinging set of John Lee Hooker, Lloyd Price, Hank Williams, and more echo his days in the Straitjackets where until 1962, McClinton had only released a few regional singles. His harmonica on 1962's "Hey Baby!" by Bruce Channel changed all that for the better. "Outdated Emotion" is a welcome journey through his past.
LYLE LOVETT - 12th of June
On his first album in ten years, Lyle Lovett returns to his Soulful Country circa "Joshua Judges Ruth" with bold, brassy songs that are bursting with warm backing vocals, hot guitars, and perfectly arranged horns. The big-band sound of his famous "Large Band" has since become more common on major recordings. So the "12th of June" shoots for intimacy (the title track, for example) and never lets one instrument stack up too far on the other one. What would once struggle on the Country charts now finds a home on AAA and Americana stations. It is fitting that Lovett, who chalked up Gold albums on his amazing live shows alone, would return to show them how to do it for the next thirty years.