via The Pop Break
Sometimes words cannot fully do a musician justice.
Tyler Ramsey, the former guitarist for Band of Horses, is a musician that my words cannot do adequate justice for. His unique, innovative style of guitar playing, his resplendent voice — all creates this magical sound. It’s a sound that would find itself comfortable amongst a sea of vinyl from the late 60s/early 70s, yet still has the immediacy, and importance of being set today.
It’s hard to fully summarize, except for this, Tyler Ramsey is creating something special, and it’s time to put him on your musical radar.
We sat down with Tyler Ramsey as he gets set to perform tonight at The Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, NJ.
I’ve seen a few videos of you performing your solo material, and I really dig the way you play guitar. Can you talk about why you use your fingers to play guitar instead of using the traditional pick?
Some of the first guitar music I was really drawn to was the country blues. The way you can hear the melody and the bass and rhythm in that music coming from one person really hooked me. I love the guitar as a solo instrument and when you play with your fingers it opens up the possibilities and the potential to create pieces that stand on their own.
You’re known for your time in Band of Horses, where you were an integral part of the band’s most popular work. How do you feel your time in the band has helped you as a solo artist?
The main thing I would say is that my voice got a little stronger- having to sing in a larger band setting, whether it is harmonies or lead vocals, you get used to trying to project more. I’m a pretty quiet singer a lot of the time so I think the control I gained helps out. I was also constantly checking out new guitar pedals and sounds and that is something that continues to feed my electric playing.
You’re a multi-instrumentalist. So with your new album coming out are you performing all the instruments, or did you have other musicians record with you?
I had a lot of folks play on this new record. The Valley Wind record was a core group and not much else, so this time around I had a lot of fun asking the right people to play the right parts. It’s awesome to be in the studio and peck around on a pedal steel or something and try to play a part, but then when you hear a real pedal steel player like Russ Pahl actually lay down a part, that’s mind blowing stuff! I’m all for experimenting and I love playing instruments I don’t fully grasp, but there is definitely a time when you call the real deal. I had some amazing singers and string players and other guitarists come in as well.
Speaking of the new record, can you talk about the central themes of the album?
This record was written over a wild period of time- it started when my daughter was born and I wrote a lot on the piano in my old house when she’d be asleep or when things would calm down- usually late at night. Some of it came from the heartbreak of having to be gone a lot when she was so small. There’s a lot of trouble and heartbreak in it.
How do you feel this new record stands out from all your previous solo records?
I think the fact that I had a lot of folks involved in it makes it stand out a bit from the others. Also the intent feels different. I put a ton of energy into the recording and I plan on putting that same energy into the shows and the touring of this music.
You’ll have a new quartet on the road with you when you hit the road for your new tour. Can you talk about the band you’ve assembled, and why you chose them to go on the road with you?
I’m not sure I can convey how excited I am to head out with these three gentlemen — i will have Brian Landrum, who I’ve been good friends with for years, on pedal steel and guitar, David Macinnes will be on bass and has an amazing voice and ear for harmonies, and another old friend who I’ve wanted to play with for years, Kevin Rumley on drums, who also happens to have a heart that is made out of pure gold. They are super keyed into dynamics and I’m excited at the potential to really play to the rooms we will be in and make the shows unique.
If someone was coming out to see you for the first time, and had never heard you before (say because they enjoy your work in Band of Horses), what song of yours would you recommend they check out in order to really get a sense of who you are as an artist?
I would probably say “a long dream” or “1000 blackbirds”- those both have a lot of weaving in and out of vocal sections and guitar movements. In that way they kind of capture a lot of what I try and do.
Outside of the new record, what are you most excited about for in the next year?
I have to say I’m excited about traveling and touring. Im looking forward to that feeling of connecting with people and playing a show that feels honest and dialed in. Also more recording! I built a studio last year at our place out here in the country and I’m just now settling into it!