Interview with...TYKETTO 

@Hard Rock Hell XI

LINDSAY SMITH-BOAM

(Photos: Lindzrs Media Photography)

 

Formed in 1987, Tyketto exploded onto the international music scene in 1991 with their acclaimed Geffen debut, “Don’t Come Easy”, which introduced the iconic hits, “Forever Young”, “Wings”, “Seasons” and “Standing Alone”. The album produced a #1 MTV request video on both sides of the Atlantic and two AOR breaker singles. Fast forward 26 years later, a new line up , still touring and only one year after releasing their fifth studio album, REACH on Frontiers Record, we caught up with the much loved hard rock band at HRH XI.

 

DTF LINDSAY: I’m chatting today with Tyketto, at the moment we have Mike and Chris Green, not Chris Childs, as he isn’t here yet today and Ged is here as well. Chris (Childs) is just mad busy isn’t he, it’s absolutely bonkers and to be honest, you guys are one of the hardest working bands there are. You’re everywhere all the time.

 

T: It’s been a very busy year for us. I think Mike was saying earlier we’ve been on about 50 dates already this year, and today is the first date of our fall tour, so yeah, we’ve been very busy.

 

DTF: Yeah it is very busy! ...So you’ve played Hard Rock before, the last time you were here you did ‘Don’t Come Easy’ – in reverse.

 

T: That’s right.

 

DTF: You absolutely blew the roof off I was here that night; I’ve never seen so many people in a room sing.

 

T: You wait until tonight; we are firing on all cylinders at the moment.

 

Yes it’s not an ego thing; I think we are just very competitive. I think when we see a crowd that’s ripe for the picking we just go for it, and it’s always easy in the UK for some reason for us, we make a great connection with UK fans.

 

DTF: That’s good! So will you be doing a mix of songs tonight, or predominantly from the new album?

 

T: We’re doing a whole catalogue tonight, nothing from Shine, but there’s something from everything else.

 

DTF: Ok, that’s going to be really interesting then, so you can see how many people actually know the new stuff as well.

 

T: We’ll be checking, we’ll be looking.

 

More importantly, band included, was which ones we want to play. I won’t give the setlist away, but Ged was like, I think there’s a typo on the list, this one’s missing and I’m like, no, we’re not doing it, and he’s like what??. There’s only so many songs we can do in a night, so we had to pull some.

 

DTF: Not one of the classics!!!!

 

T: Well, that would be telling ... *Laughs*

 

DTF: The thing is here, the crowd is very upbeat aren’t they, so you have to keep it fairly upbeat?

 

T: You’ve got to keep it up. Danny actually got that going more than me, cos for so many years, obviously when Danny and I first came back before the ‘Dig In Deep’ tour, we weren’t doing anything on ‘Shine’, all there was, was ‘Strength in Numbers’ and ‘Don’t Come Easy’ to choose from. You can do 80% from ‘Don’t Come Easy’ and still do a full show, and I think it was right after ‘Dig In Deep’ was out that he says, you know, I love these songs just as much as everybody but now that we’re getting a bit of a catalogue, we’ve always been very conscious of not being a retro band where you go to hear the same five songs and they go home. Some of the ‘Dig In Deep’ songs are now staples in the set already, some of the ‘Reach’ stuff from last year is already popular, we think it’s time to spread that spectrum out a little bit.

 

It’s great as well like, when you play tracks off the new album and you see loads of people singing the words and you’re like, ah thank god for that, they get it, they like the new stuff.

 

DTF: Yeah I’m hoping for ‘Circle The Wagons’

T: Oooooo *Laughs*

 

It’s gonna come to a point, when we did the first tour, earlier this year, we chose the songs we thought the audience would want to hear, the obvious ones, and it’s really strange because the feedback we got from the audience, the fans were like, why didn’t you play this song, why didn’t you play that song? I was like, oh ok; they really took to the new albums!

 

And, we actually changed what we were doing didn’t we, cos we actually put out a little poll on Facebook. We kind of garnered that interest, so that this time around, we were kind of doing different tracks from ‘Reach’, so we’re still doing new songs, but we’re doing slightly different songs than we did on the first tour.

 

DTF: You like to tour a lot. You always seem to be coming around with the new albums, and then you just seem to like touring.

 

T: We’ve got a bunch of songs that we have never played live before that we’re doing on this tour, so there might be 4 total new ones that they have never seen us play live. So for the hardcore fans, it’s going to be a really good set for them.

 

DTF: I’m really looking forward to it now....hardcore fan (*laughs*) That’s absolutely wonderful and it would really nice to hear some of the stuff we haven’t heard before. Your social media presence is amazing as well, you seem to be everywhere.

 

T: That’s large in part, due to our fan base, and reverts back to the UK; some of these people have been with us for what has now been two decades! They’re really like part of the team with us.

 

They’re family! That’s really what they’re like.

 

DTF: Is there a reason why, do you think, that the family in the UK is so huge for you guys?

 

T: It goes back to Danny, I think when Danny was in Wasted because I saw at our first Tyketto show that, they really embraced him in Wasted, and they really considered him a British artist, so he brought that to Tyketto, and we just clicked with them, and they took Tyketto into the fold, and now that Chris Childs is touring with us, there’s more Brits in the band than there are Americans these days! *laughs* We’re a British band these days!

 

The Brit take over! We’re back and this time we’re not bringing tea!

 

DTF: Yes, because I think he brings in those Thunder fans as well doesn’t he, they want to come along and have a look?

 

T: Yeah Chris and Ged brought fans from their respective projects as well; a lot of fans are their stuff too.

 

DTF: Yeah so it’s a good mix of people and a good mix of talent too.

 

T: It all works! It’s like any relationship, like you can get 100 wrong in a row and you don’t know why and then you get one right and it just makes sense, and you just accept it.

 

DTF: You had a big break where Tyko was not there, and then when you came back, whose idea was it to actually come back?

 

T: The very first call I think came from Danny for the reunion tour thirteen years ago, and they’d come up in the past, and I was always aversely against it, as they were more pain in the ass than anything else, and then something in my head just said, give it a shot, something interesting may happen. 4000 miles away in Holland, my then future wife, was sitting in her office and heard on the radio that Tyketto was going on tour, she said, I can’t wait to go see them play! I think something interesting is going to happen! And that’s how we met. We’ve been married for 11 years now and I’ve got an 11 year old boy. It all came from that reunion tour. I always equate bands to relationships with men and women, we got back together and then we decided to do the record in 2011 and that’s when we realised it wasn’t the old relationship. Danny and I were here, and Brook and Jimmy were here, and I think ‘Dig In Deeper’ was good but it just sounds like a bit of a forced relationship, it did its job it was ok, but it didn’t have that special x-factor that ‘Reach’ had and you can hear the solidarity and the unification in the bond and friendship on ‘Reach’ as it just screams off of that CD in addition to the quality of the music... So I think Danny and I just thought, this line up isn’t working anymore, and that’s when these lovely gentlemen stepped into our life.

 

DTF: ...and I suppose that’s changed the writing as well, the way you actually put the songs together, as I guess you all get involved in that? Or is it predominantly one or two of you that do the writing?

 

T: It was an extremely different process to what I think any of us were used to and considering Danny lived in Spain, Mike was in New Jersey, I was in Atlanta, Ged is in England, it was challenging, but the bottom line is, what came out of it, was something that we are all incredibly proud of.

 

If you’re in a room together and you’re like, let’s try it slower, let’s try it in this key, or let’s cut that, that’s 30 seconds of dialogue. We would have to actually go physically record it to sell our ideas to the other guys. That 30 seconds of dialogue that happens 200 times in the making of a record, was an hour of recording and selling.

Some of the guys would say do it in this key and we would literally have to go and record it in that key to see if it would work or change tempos and stuff it was a very lengthy process, but the bottom line is we had this solid sonic body of work that we can all be extremely proud of. So the hard work was worth it.

 

DTF: Yes absolutely it’s wonderful. So are you thinking about more new music?

 

T: Thinking...

 

DTF: Just need you all in one place at one time this time

 

T: That’s never gonna happen. We need to find a way to do the process differently, it was a bit daunting and there’s something about the process of how it came out, there’s something about being together, we just bounce ideas off each other, so if and when another one happens, there may have to be different ground rules on how to do it. That one pushed our limits to be honest with you. But the results speak for itself, it’s wonderful.

DTF: How long did it actually take you to put it together in its entirety?

 

T: Over a year. This very first demo I did, I am the least techiest person you will meet in your life, I had these four ugly old rubber drum pads that I just had to play, I can’t edit, I can’t tune on them, and I think I called it drum noodling..

No, drum idiocy!

 

Yes, drum idiocy, so I just played rhythm ideas with him, he and I started the whole process. First time I did it, I didn’t know how to record the drums, so I had the phone in the other end of my basement, I had bronchitis, and his son called it the cough song, as I’d finish the song and I’d just start hacking, playing and that was the drum beat for the ‘Fastest Man Alive’

 

...and ‘Big Money’. Basically he sent me two 15 minute long drum solos, loads of different beats, and I basically just put those on in my car, and drove around and if I liked a beat, I’d make a note of the time it was on. I would conjure up riffs in my head rather than with my guitar in my hands. Then I’d go home, make a note of where those drum beats were, and try and transform those riffs from my head onto it, and that’s how we came up with ‘Big Money’ and ‘Fastest Man Alive’, it’s a bizarre way to write, but it worked, I don’t know anyone else that does it like that, that’s for sure.

 

The way my wife puts it, I’d be screaming into the phone, and then I’d run down to the basement, with an idea, and my wife witnessed this madness for seven months, and she was like, this has been the most deranged thing that I have ever seen, but if that is the result then do it all over again.

 

If you get the chance to see the Tyketto tour book, it’s basically got exchanges of emails during that entire writing process about the different songs, and some of it is hilarious. Some of it we kind of blocked out like a bad relationship, like I don’t talk about it anymore. But it was hilarious!

 

I was clearing out my hard drive on my computer where I save my texts and my emails and I just started reading them and I forgot, cos we almost got lost in the process because it was so complicated looking at these exchanges, and something, I think it was, ‘Circle The Wagons’, I was like, I can take, if you hate it tell me, it’s alright, I’ll understand if you don’t like where I am going with this, he was like Dude, that’s amazing! Like being able to review that process in print, it’s absolutely hysterical. We were flying by the seat of our pants; we had no idea what we were doing.

 

There’s a track on there called ‘Fastest Man Alive’ and the morning that Danny sent us the lyrics, because we had the music for that one already, and we called it Stripper. But when we write songs we just have to come up with names for songs as working titles, there was the Cowboy Song for ‘Remember My Name’, Stripper for ‘Fastest Man Alive’. The morning that Danny sent back some vocals and the lyrics, my son was running around my lounge, like he does like a wolverine, or a Tasmanian devil I suppose it is, and he was saying, I’m the fastest man alive, I’m the fastest man alive! Two minutes later I get an email from Danny that said, I hope you like the working title, it’s called ‘Fastest Man Alive’

 

DTF: Can you believe that? Wow!   

 

T: ..I think I messaged back and I was like, if this is a premonition then I am sure our next one is going to be called ‘Penis’ because that’s all my son is shouting after ‘Fastest Man Alive’ *laughs*

 

The first time, Danny said ‘Reach’ was an acoustic ballad. I think I was listening to ‘Raise Your Hands’ by Bon Jovi that day, it came on the radio, and I was like, let’s do a song that you open a concert with, so we worked for two or three days on this and then sent it to Danny like, if all of us hate it then all of this work goes in the garbage. Cos he sent us a ballad, an acoustic balled, and I said Dude, just listen without prejudice. Like George Michael said so many years ago, put it out and give it a shot, he’s like Dude, I love it.

 

We turned it into this Queen-esque extravaganza and thought he’s gonna hate it, he’s gonna hate it.

 

DTF: Cos it’s a big song!

 

T: It makes sense when you listen to the song and how it drops down to the verse, that’s exactly how it was started.

DTF: That’s really interesting. I have never heard about an album recorded in the way that you have.

 

T:Scream was originally titled ‘Louder’ and he was nicknaming it Longer and said if we work on this song another day, I am going to shoot myself. So we nicknamed that one Longer.

 

DTF: Wonderful, that’s amazing. Ok, well it should be interesting to see how you do the next one and what title you give that then. You recorded it in the UK as well didn’t you?

 

T: Right here in this wonderful country.

 

DTF: Wales, yeah

 

T: Yeah we came off the back of three shows, three or four shows, and we went straight in yeah.

 

We were doing a show in the general vicinity, Chris Childs had recorded a show with Thunder there, and I was completely against it, and I was like it’s too far away, it’s in the middle of nowhere, no. Then we had a day off on that previous tour a couple months before, Chris said, just do me a favour and go look at it, we’re about twenty minutes away, we’ll take a drive, and we were like, we are definitely recording this record here.

 

DTF: It’s in the middle of nowhere isn’t it?

 

T: Oh yeah, that’s the beauty of it. If you want some milk, you have to walk 4 miles.

 

There’s nothing, you can just be a full time musician; there’s beautiful housing, with a little walk through the woods to get to the studio.

 

You open up a little window to your little studio room, and there’s cows and horses. Or there’s the guy that owns the place driving around in a tractor or an old Rolls Royce on a farm or something, bizarre but amazing.

 

DTF: I should imagine that was absolutely lovely actually. It must keep you focused.

 

T: I mean we were recording backing vocals in the room where Bohemian Rhapsody was done. I mean, there’s the piano, the piano that Freddie wrote and recorded Bohemian Rhapsody, and you look out the window whilst you’re recording and there’s a weather vane there and that’s where he wrote the lyrics, ‘any way the wind blows’ at the end of Bohemian Rhapsody, and you’re surrounded by all of this rock n roll heritage, and we were all like, ah man, there’s this real buzz going on.

 

DTF: Wow, well it sounds ideal, like the perfect place to be, to be able to focus on what you are doing and just get it done.

 

T: Even Danny said to me about a year and a half ago, he said I don’t remember when we were this harmonious, and I said that’s because we never have been. There’s something about these guys and the way we are lately, and the last two or three years of the bands history, I’ve always got to keep reminding myself that it’s almost not that easy. Somehow or another we end up on our feet. Things go that way, and there’s been this nice guiding wind blowing us the whole way. I’m not even going to question it anymore, it’s crazy. The studio, the guys joining, the way the record came out, everything.

 

DTF: You all seem incredibly happy, actually with the whole thing.

 

T: I always get compliments from people that saw the DVD as well as the quality of the songs and the quality of the musicianship on the performance, and they’re like you guys genuinely look content up there.

 

DTF: You do!

 

T: Yeah people ask us a lot, when you’re smiling up there are you genuinely happy. I mean if I don’t feel happy I ain’t smiling man. The reason why we smile on stage is that it’s enjoyable. That hour that we get on stage is the best part of our day.

 

DTF: Yeah that’s something you can’t fake. I mean being a photographer I have been on four of your tours now, and covered many dates, you can tell that the gel is there and that you are genuinely happy and comfortable in what you do. Whereas sometimes you look down the lens of a camera sometimes at some bands and you just think *winces*.

 

T: I realise how lucky we are the last four or five years where we’ve got on this type of festival circuit, where I can see other bands, and see from a mile away who’s phoning it in, who doesn’t even enjoy being in the room.

We change the set every single tour, there are bands up there still running the same set every single time and they’ve been doing it for years and we’re like how do we change that, how are we gonna make sure the fans are, how do we still surprise the fans, how do we make it a little more interesting or exciting?

 

We push ourselves, I mean there’s one, again I’m not gonna give anything away, but there’s one track that we do on this tour, that when we recorded it, we were like pfft we’ll never play that!

 

DTF: And you’re playing it!! Wonderful, it’s been really lovely to meet and chat with you all! Really enjoy it, really go for it!

 

 

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