I've interviewed these guys at least four times over the years. Their love of their craft, writing good songs and then the execution of the music either on disc or live has always been superb. This album will be the last for Atlantic Records because King's X didn't feel any real support with them and asked to be let go. There's no shortage of label interest, so this band will live for some time to come on a new label. Hallelujah!
Q&A Ty Tabor
Sheila Rene': I loved the show in Austin the other night. Did you have fun?
Ty Tabor: I enjoyed it. It was about 50 to 70 degrees hotter than usual. You should feel what the heat is like under the lights.
SR: I know it's hell up there. What's the story on Atlantic Records. I don't think you guys are very upset to be off that label.
TT: The fact of the matter is we asked to be released from the label. We've had such pitiful support on this record. When it became evident that there wasn't going to be any support, we talked with the label about the support. We can now go to another label who is interested in us. We just signed a new deal with Atlantic last year. I think they were probably planning to drop us anyway. We didn't want to waste time so they gave us a verbal commitment that we could go. We celebrated because it has been some time since Doug Morris has been at Atlantic and he was the guy who's been behind the band all these years. When he left the label, we were deserted.
SR: That has to be the most frustrating happening in the world. The main man leaves a label and the band is hung out to dry with no explanation.
TT: Believe it or not that's the norm that I've encountered with bands and labels over the years. It takes having someone at the label really behind the band for anything to happen. It became obvious when Morris left that things were changing. We have some great supporters within Atlantic, who've been helping us, but they're not the major decision makers. We had bites from other labels while we were still signed to Atlantic. I've received e-mail inquiries and so has our management team.
SR: Ty, how's your health? It seems that every album has had you laid up with back surgery or your leg in a cast from a motorcycle accident.
TT: (Laughing) The truth is that right now, as weird as it seems, health-wise, in general I'm doing pretty good. I'm suffering now from a pretty severe tendentious in right elbow from playing guitar. The last few nights have been so excruciatingly painful there have been times I thought we'd have to stop the show. I couldn't even hold the pick anymore. We've only got about four more shows on the tour, so I'm just trying to make it through. Then I'll get to a doctor to find out what's wrong. My right arm feels as if it's going to fall off. I guess it's just getting older.
SR: Do you have your own web page up yet. As of this date, Atlantic still has your site up and running within the label pages.
TT: We don't have an official web page. There are several unofficial web pages that have come and gone. The main one is by a guy called Gary Sweden. He's the unofficial/official site. Just type in King's X on a search engine and it'll come up. He gets all of his information from CompuServe and America Online where we have fan club forums. We constantly update those sites with official info.
SR: I'm such a surfer. I just love being out there on the net.
TT: Me, too.
SR: This album is such a musically spiritual album. Even the chords and the feeling are in synch with that spirituality.
TT: Thank you. I don't know if it comes naturally. It's sometimes a struggle to write something and then to get it to actually represent what you're trying to feel. Sometimes it's actually impossible and then other times it just falls right into place. Certainly that's the case on Ear Candy. The challenge is to get whatever you're feeling into the music to not only be represented in the lyrics but also for the music to portray the emotion.
SR: You guys have always been known for your harmonies. They're more outstanding vocals on this one than any other time I can remember. "Mississippi Moon" is the first video and single. Yes?
TT: (laughing) The video for "Mississippi Moon" was planned until we asked off the label so it got canceled. We have a couple of movie opportunities out there right now. We're trying to get a song or two placed and if we can have that happen, it'll promote the album. Also, we're working on a video documentary about the history of the band. That's really fun.
SR: There are some wonderful Beatlesque moods and harmonies on this album starting out with "The Train," (Thinking And Wondering) What I'm Gonna Do" and "A Box."
TT: That's what attracted me to the Beatles, their vocals and harmonies. The whole sound of their voices together was so different than anything else I'd ever heard before. Jerry and I were talking about that last night. I just bought that Anthology video package with all the extra hours that wasn't shown on TV. Looking back at their early material, vocals were everything. It totally changed my life. For years there was no other band that mattered to me.
SR: "Fathers" comes out with a little industrial and tight harmonies. I think we're working on a new category there with grunge/industrial.
TT: It's really nothing new. The Beatles were exploring that avenue in the ‘60s. That's where I first heard telephony vocals with distortion. We've also enjoyed incorporating that kind of sound into our music over all our albums.
SR: I love "67 Channels" on this album. You really nailed me on that one. I'm such a CNN news freak.
TT: I think we've all been sucked into the black hole.
SR: What's a pianto as in the title on "American Cheese (Jerry's Pianto)."
TT: That's a personal joke actually. We've always called the piano the pianto because many, many years ago when Jerry was in his teens and dating his wife-to-be. They would go to church together and she played piano. One night the preacher's wife was saying a prayer and she said ‘Bless Grace on the painto." We've always had a laugh about. It's just an inside joke and we do a lot of those on records just for ourselves.
SR: The separation on this disc is excellent. I know that Arnold worked on this project with you. Did you all have that in mind?
TT: He was definitely an internal part of it, but I'll say in all honesty that it was what the band wanted. We co-produced the album with him. We wanted to do it all ourselves, but Atlantic wanted somebody else involved. So the reason we got Arnold was that we respected his work with Our Lady Peace project. We had a long meeting with him to let him know what our goals were regarding the album. We wanted to put out some material that we could be really proud of and that meant that we would have control. At the time we were thinking and talking that this project might be our last album. When we went in to record we had very specific ideas and that's exactly what happened.
SR: You recorded in several studios in Texas and California. Do you ever find that to be too much work picking up and moving into foreign surroundings?
TT: The way it was on this last record was definitely a thing of our picking studios for a reason over a long period of time. It was probably over a years time and spread out so it wasn't a cram fest. We did a couple of demo sessions that I produced at different studios that we ended up putting on the album that didn't have Arnold involved. We never intended to use them but after we lived with it for a while, but the songs fit the mood of the record so we used them. We're really into trying different things these days to see what it inspires in us in a different environment. Plus we were trying to find a studio in Houston that we can do some more work in later.
SR: You said playing "Woodstock '95" with all the butterflys was a wake up call for you.
TT: I believe that I was talking about touring with Pearl Jam right before Woodstock. We toured with them briefly and that whole experience was certainly a wake up call for me. I grew up in the '60s and early '70s going to see bands when there were real hippies the first time around.
SR: I was in my 20s when the whole Haight-Ashbury experience in San Francisco took place.
TT: Then you were in the right place at the right time to experience that movement. I was a bit younger but did experience it first-hand myself. I would go to any outdoor hippy-fest that happened when I was nine or ten years old. I was the only guy my age that knew every Beatle song on every album. I was huge fan of Alice Cooper's first album when no one else around me knew who he was. The early David Bowie albums before anyone else knew who he was. I was so into music. It was my whole life.
SR: Explain that a little more.
TT: Back in those days it seemed to be such a sincere and honest thing. It had a big impact on me and one of the things that subconsciously drove me to play music and be a part of the scene. As I got older and got involved in the music I started out with those same ideals and feelings. You really can impact society with music and it can be real art. That's how we started out as a band. We suffered through the '80s as a band where we saw en mass the death to all that meant anything to me. It became a corporate business and it became this machine, this industry and a thing that I despised. As we were coming through that time, slowly but surely my whole hope that you can make a difference died. When you're surrounded in plastic you can't help but get caught up in it. While you're trying to be real and honest the times have changed and you're just not going to have any impact. To bring all that around, it was the Pearl Jam tour that changed that for me. When I saw night after night a whole new culture of kids that seemed to have the same purity of trueness that I experienced in the '60s. I didn't think it could happen again, but that's what the wake up call was. It showed me that absolutely it can happen. It's just these day instead of rebelling against the establishment, they're rebelling against the family with the pain that they've grown up in single families with divorce or whatever. There's a huge unity of kids out there that are just as real in those feelings as the hippies were against the establishment.
SR: I noticed that you thanked Carmine Appice. What's the connection?
TT: We're just friends. We've known each other for years, we toured together when he was in Blue Murder. We did a tour with Blue Murder, us and Billy Squire around '89. I got to know him really well on that tour. Since then we've just stayed in touch. He did a project in Japan last year called Guitar Zeus with Brian May, Neal Schon, Ted Nugent and other mega-guitarists. He had me play on that project and Doug sang on one song on that record. This year we went out to Los Angeles to do a show in support of that album.
SR: You also thanked Sly & the Family Stone.
TT: They were the most innovative, creative funk masters of their time. We're absolutely into them. Doug was really into them.
SR: What's your goal now?
TT: It has always been our philosophy and intention since the first album, to make whatever music that's honest to us for where we are at that moment. I can honestly say that this last album was very refreshing. I didn't worry at all whether it would be successful or not. I just started focusing only on being happy with the work. I was real happy with the work this time and I can live with that. My only goal is for the future is to keep making music, which a great honor. I'm really happy with the way Ear Candy worked out.
SR: I'm happy that you're happy. 'Cause when you're happy, we're all happy. Please thank Wanda for all her help in setting up this interview. It's always exciting to get new music from you and the band.
TT: Thank you. It's been fun. I enjoyed talking with you.