Q&A: Former member of Band of Horses to perform in Athens as a solo artist

via Red and Black

Tyler Ramsey often finds himself inspired by the beautiful things he surrounds himself with at his home, infusing parts of his daily life into his music, particularly his new record to be released in April, “For The Morning.”

Ramsey is the former lead guitarist and co-writer for rock group Band of Horses, but after many years of tours, he was ready to get back to his family, his roots and his hometown of Asheville, North Carolina.

We talked to Ramsey about his up-and-down life experiences that come with being a musician and a father.

The Red & Black: Have you been to Athens before?

Tyler Ramsey: Yeah, I’ve been there a bunch, actually. I’ve played there solo a few times; I’ve played there with the band a few times.

R&B: Are you more into intimate venues, like Hendershot’s, or bigger ones?

TR: You know, it depends on the night and depends on the tour. I love that kind of experience; I think it makes a really cool night when it’s up close and personal.

R&B: You’re about to drop your new record, “For The Morning,” so are you mostly going to play songs off of that, or can listeners expect older music?

TR: I’ll be doing stuff from all my records I think, even the self-released one. I usually throw in some that ended up on Band of Horses records. I cover everything I’ve done and occasionally play a cover song, depending on the mood.

R&B: Reading through your bio, there’s a big emphasis on the intertwining of nature with your music. Could you talk about that?

TR: I just think that whatever a person does in their life kinda influences their heart or music or whatever. I think just even as basic as me spending a lot of time hiking in the woods has a pretty strong impact on what I do musically. Even if I’m just trying to finish a song at my house, I get stuck sometimes and go out walking in the woods, and then ideas kinda come to me from that. There’s a lot of imagery, too, a lot of visual imagery.

R&B: You were the guitarist for Band of Horses. What is life like on your own as a solo artist?

TR: I took a break for a while, and now it’s just really getting started with the release of this album and the tours that are accompanying it. It was a decade of heavy touring with them, so it was pretty fantastic to be able to be at home with my family and my daughter. That was all incredible, and now I’m gearing back up again. It’s exciting to have this record and have the backing that I have.

R&B: It sounds like you’ve had a lot of big and necessary change come from separating yourself from tour life. Is that reflected in the new record?

TR: Oh yeah, there’s definitely a lot of that in the songs and the feel of the record. Yeah, I think it’s gonna come across too live. It’s undoubtedly a part of the fabric of the record.

R&B: What are the challenges of being a part of a band versus being solo?

TR: I think the main challenge of being in a band is that you have to figure out ways to keep communication open with people. It’s like any other relationship; it just gets bad if you’re not talking to someone and not letting things go ... sometimes things just don’t work out.

R&B: What was the hardest part about being on tour with the band for you?

TR: It’s the same thing every night. It kinda becomes a questioning of “What am I doing with my time here?” And then you start questioning what it’s about when it’s not feeling like an exciting thing and you’re dealing with weird dynamics. It makes you want to go home. It’s like any job, I’m sure. If you’re not feeling like you’re doing the right thing, you’d rather not be doing it.

R&B: We’ve talked a good bit about the struggles of tour life, but what do you like about tours?

TR: I like playing music for people. I like seeing the people that come out; it kind of affirms that there’s any meaning at all to what I’m doing musically. It’s like, “Alright, there’s a room full of people that made an effort to come see a show and want to hang out and talk afterwards (sic).” That’s what I like about it … There’s amazing things that can happen on tour if you allow yourself the time to do those things.

R&B: When you play a show, what do you hope the audience is going to take away from your show?

TR: I hope it’s more than what they expected. I hope they have an experience that’s more than just, “Oh, I just went to a show.” I want it to be memorable and something that affects people. That’s what I’d like my music to do — I want it to connect with people, hopefully some of it on an emotional level. Those are my goals: to connect with the people that are there.

R&B: Do you have any musical inspirations that helped you connect like you want to help your listeners to connect?

TR: Oh man, I think that’s happened so many times I can’t even really narrow down who it would be. Although, I will say it happens a little bit less nowadays. I haven’t seen a lot of shows just because I’ve been busy doing stuff, like living out in the country and having a daughter. I don’t think I would have an understanding of what the possibilities of playing live music are if I hadn’t been affected by it deeply numerous times throughout my life. I think everyone finds their own thing that they connect with, and for me … there’s too many to even list.

R&B: You’ve mentioned your daughter a good bit. Could you talk about her and how she inspires you?

TR: She’s the best. I think becoming a dad was something that for most of my life I didn’t think was my path or whatever. And then when it happened, it just changed everything. All of my intentions and goals were shifted towards making sure she’s okay and making sure that I’m as big a part of her life as I can be. She’s changed my entire outlook on everything.

R&B: Has she been to any of your shows?

TR: She came to my last show that I did in Asheville, but we’re not at the point where I’m gonna take her on tour yet. Someday I’d love to. She wants to put on shows all the time; she’s got a couple of little instruments that she plays, and she’s constantly making up songs so … I can definitely see the family band later on in life.

R&B: What can the audience expect from this tour?

TR: They can expect a really good band, first of all. I’m so excited about the guys that I got together. They all came from different places, and somehow magically it’s been such a good group of guys to play with. We’re creating music that I didn’t even expect to have happen. The weird blend of the four of us is getting me excited about the bands I was super into over the years. We’re capturing some kind of cool energy that I’m excited to take to different towns