Jonathan Tyler is traveling. The road is his home as he crosses the countryside with his band the Northern Lights, spreading his brand of southern blues rock & roll, entertaining old fans and winning over new ones. And although this makes him somewhat road weary, he is also relishing in the excitement that only an entertainer can understand.
Hailing from the Dallas area, the band is beginning to really catch fire via their latest CD Pardon Me
, which actually came out in 2010. But it is a young band’s rite of passage to keep humping the clubs and festivals 24/7 to get their music heard and Jonathan Tyler is no different. With a spirit and excitement to their music, it shouldn’t be much longer before they are raising hell high on the music charts.
So while rolling along another highway headed to another show, JT took some time to kick back and talk about life as a traveling minstrel with a rock & roll heart.Do you remember the first album you ever bought?
Yeah, actually I do (laughs). Well, you know what, I was buying tapes and stuff when I was really young. I was born in 1985, so I was buying tapes before CDs. When I was really, really young I loved Vanilla Ice. It’s embarrassing (laughs). The first CD that I got when they came out was Alanis Morrissette’s Jagged Little Pill. And then the second one that I got was Oasis, What’s The Story Morning Glory. I’ve really been listening to music my whole life. It’s hard to say but the first person I really liked was Vanilla Ice (laughs). I guess I liked the dance moves.I guess we all have that embarrassing little music in our closet (laughs)
(laughs) I swear to God, I was like five or four years old when I was into Vanilla Ice (laughs)Do you remember the first concert that you went to?
Oh man, that’s a hard one cause we went to a bunch. I went to Marshall Tucker Band. I believe my Dad took me; well, it was my family, we all went. I was young. I’m telling you, I was so young. I was around music from a very young age. I’m trying to think of the first one that I went to that I wanted to go to … I don’t even know, I’ve been to so many concerts. But I can remember the Marshall Tucker show.What did you think when you saw those long-haired rednecks up there?
(laughs) Well, I’m from the South, you know. I’m from Alabama, where I was born. So it’s kind of traditional, it seems like part of being from the south and being around those kinds of concerts. I like it, I still like it, still like all the fiddle and the steel guitar and all that stuff.You guys get compared to The Black Crowes a lot. Are you tired of being compared to them so much?
(laughs) It gets a little old but at the same time they’re a fantastic band so at least we’re getting compared to a great band. I like them a lot. But we always have the same comparisons to Lenny Kravitz and we usually get him or The Black Crowes. It’s pretty standard.Do you remember the first song you ever wrote?
Yeah (laughs) it’s not worth talking about. It was no good. I think it’s like anything, it gets better the more you do it. Songwriting is hard.How old do you think you were?
I was sixteenAre your songs primarily personal to what you see and feel or do you prefer to just grab something out of the air and make a story?
I would say it’s personal at the same time always watching and trying to pay attention to what’s going on. It’s like being in tune with the world so I can write songs that people can also connect to.you think people are surprised when they hear a song like “Ladybird” or “She Wears A Smile”, when maybe all they’ve heard is “Pardon Me” or “Devil’s Basement” and are expecting that to be ALL you are?
I don’t know. I don’t know how people react. I think that if they listen to the album I think they’re going to hear a lot of different sides of us and find out that we’re pretty in-depth to what we do. I think that’s what you have to do as an artist, to always try and write about a lot of different things and show all the different sides of your soul and be deep and let people see in pretty deep. The rock definitely makes the shows more exciting, bigger and more intense, but I think the slower songs, they’re more intimate and honest.One of my personal favorites is “Bright Energy."
It’s about a girl that I met that was (laughs), I don’t want to just come right out and say it, but it was a girl from the street and I was raised to think that someone who had lived a life like this would be like a bad person, you know. But after I kind of got out there and lived a little bit and met different types of people, then …You see not everyone is bad.
Yeah, that’s the main thing that it was kind of like I met somebody off of my traditional upbringing, would think didn’t have a good spirit or something, but I met and was impressed by and I just wrote that song. I was young when I wrote that song, like twenty-two I think or twenty-three, about four years ago. I really remained sheltered until I got out of the house and started seeing stuff for myself.Did you rebel because of your upbringing?
I just kind of saw it for what it was and just didn’t like it once I was old enough and started thinking for myself. I didn’t really like the way that I’d been fed religious parts and stuff like that, how I’d been raised. That album has a lot of songs written about that transition from the sheltered to completely uninhibited nothing-off-limits. It was a really crazy time. We changed a lot during that twenty to twenty-four time period. Kind of like when people go to college and go crazy.I read that you and Brandon Pinckard have been friends since you were teenagers. Do you think you guys have changed much since those days?
Oh yeah (laughs). We’re way older. We were suburban and we grew up in the suburbs and since we started traveling around and spending a lot more time in bars and at concerts and stuff like that, you see a lot more of the world than we did from our suburban neighborhood. I think all of us have grown up a lot and become a little bit more world-smart and at the same time, we’re just getting older and learn different things and change. I think we’re still the same people we’ve always been but I think that time has definitely aged us and taught us some lessons.Do you still have the same excitement that you did when you started the band?
Yeah, because we’re always creating and it’s always fresh. We write, we go play the songs for people and then we’ll go back and start all over again. Each album is starting completely fresh.Who would you say has been your biggest influence on you as a guitar player and musician?
My first memory of knowing a musician was my Grandmother. She played piano when I was really very young. I always remember watching her play with the family around the piano and stuff. That was my first memory at a very young age. As I got older there were different people that stuck out that did something for me. But my Grandmother was the first influence.So how is the tour going?
It’s going pretty good. We’re perpetually on the road playing and writing right now trying to get prepped up for another album and just continue kind of doing the same thing. It’s really consistent playing shows, taking a little time off here and there and writing. I mean, maybe I’m just used to it being so busy that it seems pretty average.Are you getting ready for a new CD?
Yeah, writing. I mean, that’s all I do is tour and write and play (laughs). That’s constantly. But yeah, we’re writing right now and I’m trying to get some songs together and get prepared for a new album.When do you think that could be?
I think it’s going to be next year, probably springtime again of next year. I think we’ll probably record this winter.Todd Kerns will the subject of our next weekly installment as he discusses his early days in Canada, his longtime adoration of KISS, and his current adventures playing bass with Slash and leading his own band, the Sin City Sinners in Vegas.