‘Sun Goes Down’ sounds like a greatest hits. Ten songs and it’s all good, very good. The same quality you heard, for example, on Paul Kelly’s early records.
Sweet Sweet Music spoke to singer-songwriter Tyler Asay.
Your music reminds me of Paul Kelly’s earlier records. Are you aware of his music? If so, makes sense? If not, who are you influenced by?
Yes, I know Paul Kelly! I’ve yet to go deep on his music but I bought a used copy of his greatest hits at the record store I work at (Main Street Music in Philadelphia) because “Love Never Runs On Time” came on and immediately fell in love with it. I definitely know what you mean, The Tisburys and my songwriting are influenced by artists like Kelly, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, and anyone who can deliver a message within 3 minutes with a beautiful melody.
Other influences include indie-rock from the mid-2000’s such as Wilco, Sharon Van Etten, and The National. I’ve always been drawn to the artier side of rock, and lyrically there’s a lot of abstract themes that are intended to be dug into to pull your meanings from. Also, I love cool guitar solos so there’s a lot of those on the record played by our lead guitarist John Domenico.
‘Sun Goes Down’ has that Greatest Hits feel. You didn’t accept any fillers?
It’s not that I don’t accept any fillers but I believe that with all great records, every song could be a single. That’s how I treat every song we work on. If it doesn’t have a memorable hook or something to say, then it most likely won’t go further than the initial writing phase, or I will keep working on it until a hook reveals itself. That mindset goes back to my first favorite band (The Beatles).
Going forward, I believe in building a catalog of great songs that in turn create their own world within the music. All the artists I look up to are constantly trying new things and referencing their older work while pushing forward so I’m looking forward to doing that ourselves.
How did ‘Sun Goes Down’ came about?
It originally started as an EP that we began recording late in 2019 after we finished our previous record (Wax Nostalgic), but the pandemic gave us extra time to take stock of what we were doing, adding more songs, and flesh out the arrangements. We recorded most of the album remotely by emailing tracks back and forth with our engineer and mixing via Zoom, but I think it turned out pretty well regardless.
The song that sparked this whole album was “Fading Light,” which was written when we were finishing up Wax Nostalgic, and I originally wanted to put it on that album but it felt more like the start of a new era for us. “Fading Light” ended up becoming the pseudo-title track and the rest of the album was built around it. For this record, we tried to replicate our live show as best as possible (which is funny because we weren’t in the same rooms when it was recorded).
The meaning of success has changed over the years. What would success look like for the new record?
Success can look different for every artist, but for me, I think it comes down to staying inspired and creating connections with people. As long as we keep making records, each one will be better than the previous one, and hopefully, more people will connect with the songs. My favorite thing to do is write songs, so for someone else to hear a song I wrote and sing it while they’re driving with the windows down the way I have with the songs I love, then I know I’ve done my job.
Recording music. What’s all the fun about?
While I do miss playing live, the aspect of music I love the most is songwriting and building an album in the studio. We recorded it all with our friend Justin Nazario at his home studio (Sound Splitter Studio in the suburbs of Philly), and we have such a good relationship with him that making music was laid back, relaxed, exciting, and fun. After quarantining for a while and we knew we were safe, I would go to Justin’s to get final mixes together for the album. We would be mixing in John or Doug’s parts and jumping up and down with the musical surprises that kept jumping out, especially on songs like “Young & Decent.”
Playing music in front of a crowd. What’s all the fun about?
The pandemic halting live music has been tough, but it has given me time to rethink how to go about performing. I miss playing for crowds and all of our friends singing along to our songs, so I’m going to appreciate it when they come back, but I’ve been able to take stock of what we had and how to improve it going forward. Our shows have always been about just going up there and having fun, whether we’d been well-rehearsed or not, but I am looking forward to really dialing in the live sound and sounding tight on stage. There’s still going to be some antics, and we do enjoy jamming quite a bit, but we’re going to tighten up the ship. But to get back to that feeling of playing music with my friends again, I can’t wait.