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Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown

Tyler Bryant -Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown

Music City, also known as Nashville, TN is and has been home to many exceptionally talented musicians. Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown are definitely one of those bands as their exceptional, extraordinary talent has been apparent since their first album Wild Child released in 2013, through their EP The Wayside released in 2015, a self-titled LP released in 2017 and their third album Truth And Lies released in 2019. Now, their fourth album Pressure will be released October 16 and shows evidence of their amazing skills and raw ability with songs that sprang out of the oppressed situation that we all have been in.

Catching up with Lead Singer/Guitarist Tyler Bryant, he revealed details about the album, his inspirations, what fans can look forward to and how he along with Drummer Caleb Crosby and Guitarist Graham Whitford came together to create Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown.

SFL Music: What inspired the album? The first single “Crazy Days” is about coping with Covid (19) and everything. Is that how the album came about? It looks like there is a little bit of a theme?

Tyler Bryant: Yeah, you know “Crazy Days” was a song that was written at the start of lockdown. It was kind of like the tip of the iceberg. We didn’t really know what was happening. I honestly at the time I wrote that song, kind of suspected that everything would be back to normal pretty soon. So, I really had no idea. Then obviously, all of the shows everywhere got canceled and since I moved to Nashville at seventeen, I’ve been a touring musician. Like I live to play concerts. So, I think feeling like a fish out of water, I was kind of going, what do I put my energy into? What are we going to do? We were feeling a tremendous amount of pressure, I think creatively more than anything. More than like any of the other elements. You know, like the financial elements. All of that kind of stuff. It was just like, what are we going to make? We can’t play music, and so we just decided that we were going to get in the studio and make something. Some of the songs actually were written before lockdown, like the second single “Holdin’ My Breath,” (with guest vocals from Charlie Starr of Blackberry Smoke). Grammatically, it sounds like it was written for the times but, I think people had been anticipating better days long before the shit hit the fan, (he laughed).

SFL Music: It’s basically a feel-good type of album? Giving hope?

Bryant: Yeah, I think the whole point was to try and take something and make something beautiful out of it. This was sort of like, ok cool. We’re feeling pressure. Everyone we know is feeling pressure. What do we do? You know? Do we just cave or do we push back? I think this album was a product of us feeling like we were pushed into a corner and I love that! I think that’s what music’s always been for me, is a way of dealing with stuff and making the most out of something.

SFL Music: Is that why you chose music as a career?

Bryant: Well yeah. I fell in love with blues at an early age. I was just obsessed with old school blues and it made me feel good. I’ve always been an incredibly excessive person. So, whatever I’m into, I’m like really into it, and blues sort of led me to guitar and that led me to songwriting, and that’s one of the things I never got out of. I just kind of, I got sucked in hard.

SFL Music: Did you have formal musical training?

Bryant: No, I met a man named Roosevelt Twitty when I was eleven years old who was just a, like a real deal Texas Blues man and he said, do you like the blues? And I was like, I don’t know what the blues is. He was in a music shop at the time and he was playing some old Lightnin Hopkins style blues and he’s like well, this is it. So, I decided that I loved it, and he and I gradually became best friends. Started playing in a band together called The Blues Buddies. When I was seventeen, I moved to Nashville to start a rock and roll band and I’m still playing with that band, So, I was very lucky to have met him. He sort of set me on a path because music has brought me a ton of joy in my life. I’ve been very fortunate to tour the world with a lot of my heroes and make a lot of friends and kindred spirits all over the world.

SFL Music: So, you basically taught yourself?

Bryant: Yeah. Well, I mean, he set me on a path for sure. He would show me a few licks here and there, but he didn’t have any formal training either. You know, I never went to college. I barely graduated high school. Not because I had bad grades. Just because once I found music, I was like, I’m out of here. So, I moved out on my own at seventeen to Nashville and took my last year of high school online while I was on the road with the band I put together.

SFL Music: How did you meet your bandmates Caleb and Graham and a new bass player, right?

Bryant: We have a new bass player. He just hasn’t been revealed to anyone yet. I played all the bass on the new album. I played all the songs except for “Backbone.” Graham did that one.

SFL Music: You played bass?

Bryant: Yeah. That was another kind of element of feeling like we were backed into a corner. I think ultimately the limitations and the boundaries that you start to feel end up becoming very inspiring like not having a bass player, being down a man. You kind of have to find a way around the pot hole.

SFL Music: Can you reveal the new bass player or is that a secret for now?

Bryant: On October 16th the day the album comes out, we’ll be hosting an album release show on our website and it will be the first time anyone hears these songs live. It’ll be a ticketed show. I’ve been kind of working feverishly on it, putting the behind the scenes footage from the studio. From the album process. I think it will be a pretty cool thing for our fans.

SFL Music: That’s when you’re going to reveal the new bass player?

Bryant: Yeah. It will be his first show with us.

SFL Music: How did you meet Caleb and Graham? How did you guys first get together to form Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown when you first moved to Nashville at age seventeen?

Bryant: I met Caleb through a mutual friend at a booking agency. This booking agency CAA (Creative Artists Agency) I’d been working with and they said, Oh, there’s this kid going to Belmont (University) and he’s just a hot shot drummer, and I was looking for someone to jam with. So, I convinced Caleb to come have coffee with me, and then later I convinced him to come jam with me and the rest is history. We’ve been playing together since, that was eleven years ago.

SFL Music: That’s awesome! What about Graham?

Bryant: Graham we met in New York City because Caleb and I had been playing around, and we were doing a radio interview at some Sirius XM station up in New York City and Graham was at the interview. This was in the days of MySpace. God I sound old, but Graham, he had become a bit of a fan of like the music that Caleb and I were doing, and came to a radio interview with a guitar and he was introduced to me as the guy who was going to put me out of a job. Graham, he’s a monster guitar player. So immediately Caleb and I were like, we don’t like this guy. You know, he’s our enemy. He’s trying to put us out of a job. Just young and cocky and kind of stupid. Then I ended up hearing Graham play. I was asked to be a judge at this Guitar Center King of the Blues thing by Joe Bonamassa, and Graham was one of the finalists, and I heard him play and was like, I have to ask this guy if he’ll join the band because I wanted to have another guitar player. Someone to like play off of. Fill out the sound. Most of my favorite bands had two guitarists. So, I convinced Graham to drop out of Berklee (College of Music) and move to Nashville, and his mom still talks to me, (he chuckled).

SFL Music: That’s too funny. Well, he made a smart choice. Who would you say are your influences since most of the bands you like have two guitarists?

Bryant: Yeah, my biggest influence of all time is probably Tom Petty. I love Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I love Muddy Waters. I love Johnny Winter. The (Rolling) Stones, Lightnin’ Hopkins. There’s a tremendous amount of them. Pretty much all the great blues artists. All the great rock and roll bands. I’m a huge, being from Texas, I love Guy Clark. I love Townes Van Zandt. I love all kinds of music. Country and western, rock and roll, blues, hard rock, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots. All over the place.

SFL Music: You toured with Guns N’ Roses, Jeff Beck, B.B. King, Chris Cornell, AC/DC, Aerosmith. What was that like?

Bryant: It’s very rewarding to get to play with your heroes. It’s kind of like the college I never had. You know what I mean? (he chuckled). Just trying to soak it all up.

SFL Music: So, do you feel like that benefitted the band? They had a positive influence on your band?

Bryant: Oh absolutely! All the time I spent on the road with Jeff Beck I watched every soundcheck he did. It was really important to me to try and learn as much as I could you know, because it wasn’t lost on me that I was kind of in the presence of absolute greatness. The same thing with the AC/DC tour. It’s like, you’re right here man. You get the opportunity to watch it every night. You don’t even have to buy a ticket. So, I was just trying to watch and learn as much as I could. It just deepened the well of inspiration. I’m still like trying to just get buckets in there and pull some of it out.

SFL Music: You mentioned Tom Petty as one of your greatest influences. I do hear a little bit of that in the song “Crazy Days” (with vocals from Bryant’s wife Rebecca Lovell of duo Larkin Poe). Do you feel that your influences lend something to the sound of this record Pressure?

Bryant: Yeah, absolutely. I think they’re all in there. You are what you eat and I’ve just been kind of processing those records since I was very young. They’re a huge part of my life, so I think those influences definitely come out. I’m actually really excited because Steve Ferrone, the drummer from the Heartbreakers started playing “Crazy Days” on the Tom Petty (Sirius)XM station, which is so cool that you know, an actual Heartbreaker put the song on the show.

SFL Music: That is very cool. Now a couple of the songs may be almost relationship oriented “Like The Old Me,” “Loner,” “Fuel,” “Fever.” Is that the case or what is behind those songs?

Bryant: There’s something different behind each one. For example, “Loner”, that’s a song, like I go through phases where I just love to be alone and I think a lot of times when you’re working through something on your own, people often want to help. People who love you want to help and you know, you kind of gotta find your own footing before you can sort of march to anyone else’s drum. That was sort of my inspiration for that song. “Like The Old Me” just happened. That wasn’t necessarily something that I was consciously pulling from an experience I was thinking of. The music sort of inspired the words and they kind of fell out. Sometimes, you don’t even know what’s happening. You know, you’re there and there’s a song. That one kind of happened like that. Which you know, who knows. Maybe I was pulling something from something unconsciously, and “Fever” that was, I was hanging out with Graham and Caleb and our friend Roger, he actually co-produced this album. A long time ago actually, when we locked ourselves out of a studio. We were waiting on a locksmith to come and we wrote a song called “Medicine Wheel” and kind of just accidently revisited it for this album and it became “Fever.” The inspiration for “Fuel” was, I signed a publishing deal a long time ago and as soon as I signed the deal, the company got sold and they let me go, and it hurt my pride. It made me feel insecure, and so I just decided I was gonna let it give me fuel. So, it’s just kind of that conscious decision of going, that hurts, so I’m going to use it.

SFL Music: It sounds like you write your songs from everyday life experiences?

Bryant: Oh absolutely.

SFL Music: Roger Alan Nichols (co-producer/engineer). He’s like the fifth member of the band? How is he involved with the band? The songwriting?

Bryant: Well, I met Roger when I was seventeen, when I moved to Nashville, and you know a lot of people, they would just blow smoke my way because I could play the guitar. I’ve always kind of been a bit of an entertainer you could say, and Roger was like, hey man. You gotta have a good song man. Who cares if you can play the guitar, you need a good song. He was always pushing me to dig a little deeper in myself and never blowing smoke, and I always really appreciated that. We started writing songs together and just kind of became really, really close friends, and over the years I’ve sent him probably a thousand songs and he’d always shoot me straight with why don’t you write a bridge? Dude, every song isn’t an excuse for a guitar solo. That kind of thing. We knew that, especially since we were going to make this record in my home studio, kind of in isolation. We knew that if we were going to be locked up with anybody, it had to be somebody that we really loved and someone that was going to be willing to work as hard as we were, and we’ve kind of just been building a really strong relationship with Roger over the years as a writing partner. As an engineer. As a producer, and we wanted him to just be involved with it.

SFL Music: Tell me about “Hitchhiker.”

Bryant: That was a song that we wrote in the studio. We started this project with 37 songs you know, that everyone thought kind of had potential, and we wrote them all down and we were kind of going through making lists of which ones we wanted to do, and then before you know it, we were like writing songs in the studio and “Hitchhiker” was one of the ones that we actually wrote in the middle of the process.

SFL Music: There’s that blues and rock. It’s a really cool sound that you guys have throughout each song, and I noticed that “Coastin’” was a little more mellow?

Bryant: Yeah, “Coastin’” was another song that was inspired by everything that’s going on and it was just, I think me trying to stay positive and write a song that kind of evoked a positive feeling because I think that’s really needed right now, and that one wasn’t even in the discussion for songs to go on the album, and one night we were working on the song “Loner” and It had been a long day in the studio. We had been burning the candle at both ends and everyone decided we were going to call it a day and just start fresh the next day. As Caleb was getting ready to leave, I just said, hey would you play this blues song with me real quick and just try it? And we played through “Coastin’” once and that’s the recoding that’s on the record (he laughed). He never heard it. Was in a different room and couldn’t see anything. We got a moment and just decided not to tamper with it.

SFL Music: Was that the way “Hitchhiker” came about too?

Bryant: Yeah, “Hitchhiker” came about the same way. It was very much improv and just kind of following whatever inspiration showed up.

SFL Music: “Backbone” you’ve got that megaphone on? Really cool!

Bryant: Yeah, Isn’t that a cool sound?

SFL Music: It is a very cool sound. What’s that song about?

Bryant: “Backbone,” that’s a song that Graham and I wrote and Graham played bass on that one because he wrote the bass line which is a sweet bass line, but you know, that’s just about wanting someone to be real with you. Shooting straight.

SFL Music: What would you recommend for up and coming bands? You moved to Nashville because you thought that was the best place to start your career?

Bryant: Yeah, I moved to Nashville because I’m a southern boy you know? So, I had gone to L.A. I had gone to New York. I always got a little Closter phobic in New York and I just didn’t feel like L.A. was my spot. When I came to Nashville, it felt like a big, small town. I think my biggest advice for someone who’s looking to start a band or chase down music as a career is, you just have to be relentless, you know. You have to be willing to stay at the table when there’s no food because that’s just kind of how it goes, and you can’t get discouraged whenever you, you know, bang your head against the wall. There was a year not too long ago where Shakedown had 12 shows in one year. We were kind of going, what is, this is actually around the Wayside EP. We were going, what are we doing wrong? Why is this not working? Then the next year we did like over 200 shows and the better part of ‘em were in stadiums. So, it’s sort of just like you got to be willing to stay at the table until you get fed.

SFL Music: That’s a cool quote. Great advice. Was there anything else coming out besides the album and live stream show for fans to look forward to? Any new videos?

Bryant: This album release show is going to be pretty intense. It’s got a lot of information in it. Everything. Music, interviews, behind the scenes studio footage, and then we’ve put together lyric videos for every song on the album. Sort of like a digital liner notes if you will. So, there’s going to be quite a bit of Shakedown content to digest. It’ll all be on our website (tylerbryantandthe shakedown.com).

SFL Music: Was there anything else you want to add for fans to know?

Bryant: We just can’t wait to get on the road as soon as we can.

In the meantime, fans will have some wonderful music from Pressure to enjoy until then.

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