They’re back! Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown’s new record is finally coming at the end of the month. We got to talk with Tyler and Caleb about it!
Hey guys how are you?
Caleb Crosby (drums): Pretty good! I was extremely jet lagged when I woke up this morning but I’m like in a zone.
Tyler Bryant (vocals/guitar): Same but I’m ready to party.
Caleb: We had a great lunch in a van, like rockstars, eating on some trays on the way. We had a great day. The jam was fun.
Tyler: I got to play with Gov’t Mule tonight.
Caleb: Great! And you?
Tyler: Yeah, we’re actually interviewing you guys now. (laughs)
Your new album is out on June 28th. You released two tracks “On To The Next” and “Shock & Awe”. First what’s behind that title? “Truth And Lies”. Knowing that’s not the title of one of the tracks.
Tyler: We actually chose the artwork before we had a title. And just based on the lyrical content and the vibe of the record we’d like the way that holding the album in your hands and listening to the record, looking at the photo. The title is based on the cover. People are obviously getting married, their faces are covered and there’s music between them. You can read it however you want but everything is essentialy based on truths and lies. Whatever it is in your life.
Caleb: I’ve been today in interviews, it made me think a lot about it. I feel like nowdays, in our world, everything is up for interpretation. When you see things in the media you’re not really sure if it’s true or not. Or whatever, or maybe a bit of both. But I feel like the record speaks for itself through the music. That’s cool about the image. You have truth and lies represented and black&white. But then in the middle you have the radio. I feel like the record speaks for itself in between the chaos. That’s how I see it.
There’s a link between “Shock & Awe” and the cover. How did you come up with this idea/concept?
Tyler: We wanted to recreate the album cover and we were kind of thinking about just the overall feeling of “Shock & Awe”. That song has a little bit of discomfort to it. It’s a little bit edgier than a lot of our material. Caleb suggested we get snakes for the video because what makes you more uncomfortable than snakes?
Caleb: Not me but you.
Tyler: Yeah he loves snakes but for the majority of humans, they don’t like to have them around. So we just wanted to recreate that and make kind of a visual to go along with the album. There’s also something cool, I thought about, because we use the bird skull for “On To the Next” single, which is obviously one of our symbols. And tie that then with the album cover too. Like a bridge.
Caleb: And if you haven’t notice on the cover, if you see on the bottom part of the radio, the bird skull is there. Small detail.
Tyler: The ramblin bone symbol.
Caleb: It’s pretty cool. So it’s kind of all moving in together. We shot that video for 4 hours and we had a blast doing it. I love the way it turned out. We wanted to something artistic than just us playing but still. I like the fact that you don’t really know what’s going on and then all of a sudden the bird guys got a guitar on. I love that. It’s just kind of insane. It ties perfectly with the lyrics and the whole idea of “Shock & Awe”.
It’s the first time you didn’t record in Nashville/Tennesse area. You went to Brooklyn and worked with Joel Hamilton. Everyone is going to Nashville and you guys flew somewhere else. Why that choice?
Caleb: That’s why we got out from there. We wanted to get away from what we know, from distractions and from our everyday life. Basically fully immerse ourselves in the studio and that’s what we did. We got out from Nashville, took our gear and we rented an Airbnb and we were there essentially all day. And it was great because, I don’t know, that was something we wanted to do. Brooklyn was a great city to do that even though it was freezing cold. 100% of the time was so cold. But it was so great. The studio is beautiful. We needed to do something new.
You had 55 demos and have 13 tracks. You worked with Joel Hamilton, what kind of inputs did Joel suggest?
Tyler: I think that Joel’s biggest contribution to this record was to keeping it raw and dangerous. Helping us to staying out of our way. When you start to zoom in, so close that you can’t see, he was the fresh perspective. That was my favorite thing he contributed.
Caleb: I feel like when you’re doing this as long as we’re doing it, it’s very easy to have your perspective pretty narrow. He helped us to wide that whole thing and for us to approach things differently. Because a lot of time when you’re doing it alone, it’s sometimes nice to have a fresh look on it.
We feel already at home listening to the new tracks, even if everything is brand new. Any reaction?
Caleb: I like that!
Tyler: I mean it’s still the Shakedown. Just a new snapshot of where we’re at at the moment. We’ve been working so hard to cultivate a fanbase that’s willing to experiment with us. Because they know our influences are so varied and they know it could be blues, it could be heavy and even more. I think we kind of set up people to expect different flavours from us and now we’re just introducing new ones.
The first single “On To The Next” is basically about the band. What was the detonator to create this song?
Tyler: The song started with just Caleb playing a drum groove. He had this sort of syncopated beat that he was playing and then I remember we looped guitars because we needed something that was just driving. And we just started lyrics around it like “singing in yoghurt” as you say in France.
Caleb: “Singing in yoghurt”. I love it! (laughs)
Tyler: And the next thing, there was some words there. But we haven’t sat down and wrote about the band at the first place. It’s a badass rock song at first, something that felt empowering the scene and had a simple chorus that people could catch on to and sign along with us, because we like it when people show up and sing during our shows.
Reading the lyrics for “Ride”, it looks like a personal song, or kind of a statement? Is it something you feel, getting older, that life is more valuable that just making plans whereas we’re here and sometimes we don’t live it up right in the present?
Tyler: Yeah absolutely. I mean it’s one of those things that a lot of time, when you’re so worried about where you’re gonna end up, you forget to take in where you’re at. That’s song was kind of written as a reminder to myself to take life not so seriously and just enjoy the ride. Because a lot of the time, looking back on the time we had in this band, some of my favorite memories were the times where everything was going wrong, because you’re forced to deal with it and whenever trouble comes your way, you’re forced to figure out what you’re made of, whatever you can overcome and things.
That’s always something I look back on and feel proud of and yeah you just got to stay positive. For us, how many time we had buses or vans broken and we had to figure out something quickly and make it work. All kinds of fun, hilarious things too, just trying to take it all in. Also after the songs on the last record, we needed some positivity in our music so. We needed some light to enlighten the set.
“Shape I’m In” kind of relates to self confidence right? Having hard times. You said that self confidence and anxiety are key players behind lyrics. Even if it’s useful to drive us creatively, do you think that it could be dangerous at some levels?
Tyler: I use music as a medication. I started to make music for myself, never thought about monetizing it until someone handed me a 100 dollars to play, like at a steakhouse or something. Then I thought: “Oh I can make a living doing this?”. So a lot of the anxiety probably comes from everyone trying to monetize something that’s sacred to me. Songs like “Panic Button” or “Shape I’m In” that’s just me leaning hard to what is really really important to me and getting out of it what I need to get out of it. Also hoping that somebody can relate to it too.
For example after “Shape I’m In” was written, I put it in my car and went for a drive. I was listening to the demo and on my way I went through homeless people holding up signs. What humans hasn’t felt judged whether it could be a girl in high school or someone who got fired from a job. And to me the most important thing in that song is: “I’ll find a way to shine again”. It’s finding that hope in yourself despite what anyone else might think of you. And I think that it’s not dangerous to be vulnerable in the lyric writting process because I think I gravitate towards some writters who kinda sing their truths and I want to be one of those sort of artists for ours fans. That we’re not putting up a facade for them that we’re giving something that’s important and very true even if sometimes it’s hard to look at. Because I think that a lot of people have hard stuff to look at in themselves and I know so many people dealing with anxiety, panic disorder and all these things. If you can find hope in music rather than in a pill, then why not doing it.
“Drive Me Mad” is a cool rock song. But in the end, isn’t it a declaration of love? Tell us more!
Tyler: Yeah maybe it’s more a declaration of lost than love. I don’t know about. (laughs)
Yeah that’s just one of those songs. Graham and I wrote that song and he actually played drums on the original demo and then Caleb came and played and showed him up a little bit. (laughs) That song was written so fast, we thought we just need one of those. A song for the girls.
Caleb: Yeah it’s just also like a heavy rock song. You didn’t really need to think about it. It’s a typical Shakedown, just rocking, opening ourselves and it was so fun. Graham comes up, drums are in, like a big intro and we’re just having a good time. We didn’t think too much about it but it’s just fun.
Tyler: You gotta have one for the girls man. You gotta have one. (laughs)
“Out There” is also a very deep, personal song. I felt like there’s a connection with “Ride”. Like planning stuff, life, people. But you never know what’ll happen in the end.
“Enjoy the moment” is kind of the guideline on many songs on the record right?
Tyler: Actually it was written seven years ago I think. Just been sitting on it. Yeah it’s one of those feeling where you’re dealing with loss. Figuring how to navigate through it, taking hits as they come and learnin how to incorporate it into your life. I like the line: “Every stumblin’ block is just a steppin’ stone”. It’s definitely meant to have that same kind of hopeful messages.
And the last track “Couldn’t See The Fire”. Which fire? What’s the image? Why ending the album with this track and not “Out There”?
Caleb: I like that question.
Tyler: Actually the label wanted to have “Out There” being the last track.
Caleb: I like that question for that reason! Because I think it’s typical right? I think that’s why we didn’t do it. But I don’t know. Tracking “Couldn’t See The Fire” in the studio where all of us were that close to close the record. I think it’s just a combination of everything. Lyrically maybe it’s a little bit different but that song was written in a completely different vein. Like the song was more laid back and more. It turned in our “November Rain”, you know what I mean? (laughs) I don’t know, it just felt right.
There’s like this whole journey thing and I like the record to end like here rather than here. There’s pics and valleys over the whole thing and that’s one of the reasons we put it at the end. With the guitar solo at the end, just kind of a statement. Everybody tends to put the ballads at the end but we’ve already done that. We didn’t want to do the same this time.
Tyler: It’s still a kind of ballad, just a big loud one. Sort of anthemic and it’s also thinking about the live show. Because we want to go out with the guns blazing in the live show so this will be a perfect song to end the show with. It’s gonna be epic. We already have an idea for it too.
We have a surprise for you guys. We met Jared James Nichols last week and he was a special message for you Tyler.
Caleb: Oh Jesus!
Tyler: Oh my God! Is Jared talking shit?
Jared James Nichols: Hey Tyler it’s your buddy Jared and I have a question for you my friend. Why should everybody play a TB Drive and get their hands on a Stratocaster, just like you. Let the kids know what tone they’re getting.
Tyler: (laughs) I’ll tell you why Jared… because it sounds awesome! I still want to get one of his guitars. He said he would give me one. Put that on the record: Jared give me one of those Old Glorys. And get a flight case for yours too so the airlines won’t throw it, bro!
Tyler & Caleb: (laughs)
And finally, we are “RockUrLife”, so what rock your lives guys? And be careful, we still have the answers from last time.
Tyler: There are quiet a few things that rock my life. One of those things is seeing people faces when they’re having fun at our shows. That always feels good. Also… catching fish! I really like fishing!
Caleb: I’ll second that. I think this tour that we’ve been on, rocked all of our lives. To see these news songs, because it feels elevated that’s really cool to see. First hand, especially because why we’re on stage. That’s pretty special. Also, light hearted, the thing that’s rocking my life right now is my new grill I got for Christmas.
Caleb: No kidding, I’m using it every day that I’m home. It’s awesome and yeah, I love it!
Tyler: Also, airpods rock Caleb’s life.
Tyler: We make so much fun of him wearing those.
Caleb: Hey you have to look at Graham wearing that.
Tyler: I’m just mad because I had some and lost them.
Caleb: So he feels like he can give me hard time for it. But it’s funny because I own a pair. They’re convinent but they’re also just very douchy. Every time you see someone wearing them I’m just like: “I should just throw mines away”. Because I’m that guy when people see me wearing them.
Tyler: He turns around and has two cotton balls in.
But at least you can hide them with your hairs.
Tyler: But he doesn’t. So it’s worse! (laughs)
Caleb: Dude, imagine I said “what rocks my life is airpods”, they’ll be like “what?”
Tyler: There’s so many thing that rock my life.
Caleb: The new record though, it’s pretty fun to play! And it’s in the same vein. The one we played are great and the one we’re saving, only during soundchecks, it’s been extremely fun. Just to have this new outlet of creativity live and it’s fun to see how the songs are taking shape on stage.
Actually dude (looking at Tyler) you know what’s a good thing to say?
For us, what rocks our lives, is our new in-ear rig. That’s been rocking us! Because we’re not on monitors anymore and we can hear, save our hearing. We dropped a lot of money last year but man! It’s like night and day.
Tyler: And Caleb can use his airpods on stage.
What a conclusion! (laughs)
Tyler & Caleb: (laughs)