"I really don't know how we've stuck it out this long,
" Ty Tabor
details while pondering the longevity of King's X
. "I used to not think anything of itI would say that we really enjoy playing together and it's just that simple. But the older I get, the more I'm realizing just how very unusual it really is.
Minion Ty Tabor
, the loyal lead guitarist and songwriting subject of King's X
is at it again; this time it's personal. Embarking on yet another solo album (his sixth to be exact), Tabor
is liberating all musical demons in his upcoming March release, "Something's Coming
," inviting close friends and family to assist him on guaranteeing perfection for his latest masterpiece.
While King's X
is on break from touring, Tabor
will celebrate the release of "Something's Coming
" along with some possible solo dates yet to be decided upon. King's X
have announced dates in the coming months to promote their new Live in London DVD, and Tabor
hints of a probable upcoming Jelly Jam
record as well.
Jarrod Dicker spoke with Ty Tabor about the new album, his new signature John Guilford Guitar, King's X, Alien Beans Studios, the future of music and much more.
UG: Something's Coming is slated for a mid-March release, and will be your sixth solo record under the Ty Tabor moniker. What made you decide on the title, Something's Coming for the new release?
It's a song on the record. In a foreboding way, it encapsulates the majority theme of the album. A lot of the songs are pointing to things that should be warnings, things that we should be angry with and want to change; whether it is politicians or the environment. So Something's Coming is the only track that fits everything, and describes the general feel of the entire album.
What in particular makes this album unique compared to the five prior studio releases? Is it primarily the central theme of political and environmental awareness, or is there more?
I will say that that's probably the main driving force behind it that makes it different from the rest. I didn't intend for it to be like that. I really didn't do anything different as far as writing is concerned. I usually just write what's on my mind at a given time. The last couple of albums have had some political things said, especially on Balance. Lately I've been educating myself more about how our government works and specifically what I like and dislike about it. This sits on my mind a lot.
How is the chemistry in the studio when you create an album, particularly Something's Coming? Is it a long process or one cut and done on most tracks?
"A lot of the songs are pointing to things that should be warnings, things that we should be angry with and want to change."
All of the tracks went down strictly with me on guitar and Randy St. John on drums. We were the only people in the studio the original tracks were laid down. I would either play live with him, or go ahead and put a general idea down to a click track so that I could sit in the booth and talk to him, describing what's happening in each section. We have a real good relationship; he trusts me to know what I'm asking of him. Randy's great to work with. He would come in and we'd knock drums tracks out really quick. I love spontaneity and keeping the live danger on the record.
Special guests include Jimi Hazel, Rick Skatore, Ron Thal, to name a few. How did these collaborations materialize?
I asked Jimi to play on my record a while back. I'm a huge fan of his and we've been friends for years. I wanted to have him rip something on the album. He surprised me by getting a hold of Ron Bumblefoot Tal. When Jimi sent me several leads to choose from he also sent me a surprise one which was a lead from Bumblefoot. I didn't even know Ron was going to do something for me. Jimi knew I was a big fan so he surprised me with that, they're good buddies. Jimi did his parts for the album over at Rick Skatore's studio 24-7 Spyz, so I just said heck get Rick to play on it too; he did and laid down some killer bass stuff. My dad and brother are on the album as well. There are tons more cause I wanted to get as many people as possible to flavor up the album.
Will you plan a solo tour around the new album?
I don't know about a solo tour. There have been many opportunities to do shows over the past couple years and I had turned down all of them just because I don't have a band put together at the moment. I've been talking to Randy of course, he's on board, but we need to find some people that understand the music and represent it with the right attitude. Just this week I was talking about yet another offer to do a show here in Houston that would get good press. So I'm considering doing it and finally getting out there and tour some solo stuff--but I'm just considering it now, haven't decided just yet [laughs]
You are involved in a range of projects how do you choose between solo work, a side project, or King's X?
I usually try to do whatever it is that I want to be doing musically at the moment. If King's X has some time off and something comes up that would be fun to be involved with, I usually do it. I don't think too much about it. Everything has to work around King's X scheduling and that's my priority for the most part. But King's X has quite a bit of time off between albums, tours and stuff so I just keep making music. I have been writing a lot these days and need outlets to produce the work. I was also looking forward to doing another Jelly Jam album this year. It's very likely, but it's whatever falls in the holes that I could work out scheduling.
On that, what is the current standing of King's X? I know a LIVE-IN-LONDON release is scheduled for spring 2010
We're resting at the moment. We have a couple shows in April we're going to do--both really big shows. And then in May or June we're looking to go out in the States. At the moment we have a co-bill put together with another band but I can't announce it yet because it hasn't been finalized. We're also looking to do some more opening slots and go in front of as much new people as possible and do less of the club headline stuff this year. We will promote that DVD around June, which is why we're getting back out there. In the meantime we're just preparing for the next record.
It's interesting looking at the longevity of King's X. It seems artists with one big band and smaller side projects eventually drift away and go on to make music is other musicians. With King's X over 20 years old, what is the secret formula that keeps you guy's together, making music?
You know, I really don't know how we've stuck it out this long. I used to not think anything of it and for many years people would ask us that. I would say that we really enjoy playing together and it's just that simple. But the older I get, the more I'm realizing just how very unusual it really is. I don't know how we've stuck it out. I know that when we play together and we tour, we really love doing it. And there are times when we're playing together that it feels like this is the pinnacle of my musical experience - this is the best thing I could be doing. There are nights when it feels nothing less than magic. You see it affect a mass horde of people to the point where a lot of them are crying. It's heavy what happens when we play together.
You have your own recording studio, Alien Beans Studio's. I know you had some issues with record companies in the past, is this why you ventured out to create one of your own?
"Something's Coming is the only track that fits everything, and describes the general feel of the entire album."
The main reason was to record my solo material. I wanted to record stuff at my own leisure whenever I wanted. Then it turned into something useful for King's X and other projects too. It became more of a big deal than I actually intended it to be, but it strictly came from wanting the freedom to do solo stuff.
Does Alien Beans record outside artists as well?
I do sometimes, but it's rare. I have so many projects that I'm involved in where it's enough to keep me busy. On a rare occasion I have done other recordings with other bands, but this isn't an open to the public kind of place. Matter of fact I'm making the doors tighter shut than ever these days because I'm spending so much time on personal projects.
You've used a Strat Elite and Gibson Lab series among other guitars in the past. What equipment and guitars were used on Something's Coming?
Well, I used two different amps. My main amp for rhythm and lead tones was an Egnater M4 which holds four different modules. I used an AG-5 module that was tweaked specifically for me. And then a couple of other Marshall and Ac30 type modules, and I use those for the main guitar tones. I started doing the album with one guitar and while recording the record I received my first John Guilford Guitar. It's a model that we worked on together to become my own signature model. The guitar freaked me out so badly as far as how good it sounded that I literally started over on the guitar tracks and re-cut 95% of everything I recorded. Totally re-cut the guitars with this Gilford which has these really cool P-rails that allow me with a flip of a switch go between a P-90 type of sound, to a single well type of sound or a full blown humbugger without having to switch guitars; three exceptionally good tones in all three situations. So I was using that exclusively through the Egnater. I brought out the Lab Series L5 for some overdub big power chord stuff and some chimey picking parts for coloration on the record. I did pull the Lab L5 back out on this one and the combination between it and the Egnater is huge, really vicious sounding compared to tones I've gotten in past years. I'm really happy about it.
I know you've been asked this a lot, and you say that King's X IS NOT a Christian and/or religious influenced band, but with critics and others donning that, was there a movement to stray away from anything that would hint this message while creating King's X music?
No, I can honestly say that as far as we're concerned in the studio, we would never let that kind of outside influence enter the door. When we record a record, the only reason we put ourselves through it is having that privilege to get to say what we want to say. As you grow and get older and life changes those things change, but the way you approach it doesn't. You just want to be honest. So the only way you could be honest is to leave that stuff outside the door.
I know that Shot of Love got its name from the CS Lewis novel Out of the Silent Planet. What other writers or artists outside of the music scene influence you while writing?
"I usually just write what's on my mind at a given time."
I've been getting most of my inspiration from politics lately. It's been that way for some time now. I've been listening to less music and doing less reading, which used to be the two main influences while I wrote. But the thing is, I am more selective with what I listen to musically and much more selective in what I do reading wise now. I guess the inspiration is just becoming aware of some trends and things going on in America that we just accept; things that Americans don't even think about or care about when they really should. There are a lot of trends going on that are going to break us financially if we don't do something about it right away.
Being a veteran in the music scene, where do you see the future of modern rock and roll and heavy metal heading? Do you listen to any modern bands?
I really have no idea where things are going [laughs]. Matter of fact, I don't even know where things are at the moment, I'm so out of touch. One artist that I really dig and have been listening to over the past few years is Billy Talent. I like those guys and I like the new Toadies record too. But as far as what's modern and out there, to be honest, I will turn on whatever TV channel is supposed to be playing what's modern out there and I can't even watch it. I'm just trying to make myself happy musically and rely on the roots and things about music that I loved growing up. I just hope that they're people out there that like it too.
Interview by Jarrod Dicker