I'm not interested in debating the rights and wrongs of some of Tyla's choices for album releases nor am I interested in what others think of his solo stuff because, for me, he's been one of the best songwriters I've ever had the pleasure of meeting and seeing live on dozens of occasions; whether it be in the heyday of the 'Classic' line up of The Dogs D'Amour or on his lonesome with his acoustic guitar.
One thing I can say is the newest ensemble of players he's got in the Dogs camp excites me and they have the potential to be a superb live band and, if it works, I'd love to see and hear what they could come up with in a studio.
There was so much I wanted to ask him about both past and present, sadly there wasn't enough time but we had a good chat and below are some of those words for your reading pleasure. Hopefully it will whet your appetite enough for you to go and check out one of the tour dates and also get you to check out the superb new album he just released: can I get a woof woof for the one and only Mr Tyla J Pallas.....
If we kick this off with the new album - was it always going to be mainly you with the live drums and a few bits here and there from Simon and Lezard or were Dave and Timo, Gary and Danny Fury ever a consideration?
No, no, it was already done before I made contact with Dave. I've only just got together with those guys and we've only had a few rehearsals. Dave's been busy with the Sham 69 stuff and only now are they all free to do stuff; so I'd already gotten the new album finished by then. You're talking about 'Quinquaginta' I'm assuming?
Yeah, we'll cover that one first.
I'd done all the drums the same time I did a guide guitar and vocals. The way I recorded was I'd go in with Simon and put down his drum parts either with acoustic or electric guide and get all the drum parts done, yeah? Then I'd go over to France and do the bass and start from scratch basically and do all the parts there, but I also used a place in Deptford by Greenwich.
Do you always go in with a strict plan of what songs you're gonna do or is it a bit more ad hoc than that, nothing written on the fly so to speak whilst in the studio?
Pretty much so; you know when you're paying for studio time you don't want to be going in there scratching your head or having songs half done or just an idea. I've pretty much always had it planned for what I'm going to do. Forever I've done that. I don't believe in the going in and writing a song while I'm there type of thing.
Do the songs change much from when you originally write them? They're pretty traditional rock 'n' roll songs but the melodies or structures change a lot?
Yeah they do, quite drastically sometimes as well. An example; I've just been given a tape of some demos I did in Chicago about three or four years ago, 'Bloody Hell Fire' and there were some songs I'd even forgotten I'd written and the guitar parts are totally different, so I'd demoed it over there and come back to England and such and such went on and I went into the studio and all I could think of was the melody and some chords to the songs but I'd forgotten about all these guitar parts I'd put in.
Do you prefer the way you work now to when there was others in a 'band'? Is it easier, less pressure or expectation?
Yeah, I kinda do. With the Dogs it was like; the worst thing was hanging about a lot not doing things - I think I got better playing pool than I did playing the guitar. You'd go in and we'd always set up live in the same room and we'd try and record as much as we could and, back in those days, it was a case of trying to get as much out of us as a band in the studio because it was so expensive whereas today studios are really cool because if I said I want to record 50 songs in a day they wouldn't go, "Oh that's impossible."
Money was tight then going into a big studio. I always think about the Beatles recording their first album in a day and mixing it so it was like, you know, it can be done. You've just got to go in there, don't fanny around and just get on with it. So today I just like to get all the parts done and I can get on with putting all the bass, acoustic guitar parts and get on with it. I usually work that way with an electric rhythm then an electric lead and then the solo or Lez will do his bit and it's like done. I've had people in and sometimes it just seems to take forever - either they say things like "I'll do a few takes" or "Maybe I could do it better"; sometimes it's like, fuckin' hell how many times do you want to do it you know, just get it done. When it's just me I get on with it.
Obviously the response has been really good to the new album and the quality of the songs shines through...
Thanks. I came across your review of the album by accident. I was looking at some Tom Waits stuff and that came up in the search - that's how I found your review. Nobody had told me. I thought fuckin' hell didn't anyone think to tell me, ha ha.
Were there any particular songs you were really pleased with when the record was finished? I know most artists say they're all their babies and they couldn't choose but we all know there must be songs that stand out for one reason or another.
Yeah, I do love the way 'Bess' came out and 'Story Of My Life' and 'Just Another Love Song' turned out really well I think.
I'd say 'Bess' and 'Just Another Love Song' stood out for me and still do, some of your best work I think.
Well 'Bess' was written in France on the acoustic so that's why it comes out like it does, sort of still acoustic led but the drums give it a lift, yeah? Have you seen the videos I've been working on?
I have, yeah.
I've got into to doing all that since I got the Mac and I can do the music and that rather than just fannying about. I've been making a load of videos for the songs and obviously the ones that I put up on the Internet on You Tube for free because if somebody bought the bloody things as soon as they do they'll go up on You Tube for free anyway. So I'm working on that as well to go with the music; I've also been getting into the visual side of it and animations and stuff.
It was watching the videos you'd uploaded that I recognised the faces of the people you were playing with and got quite excited seeing Danny [Fury] and Dave [Tregunna], Gary [Pennick] and Timo [Kaltio] on there.
Well, it all came together by coincidence really. I bumped into Dave in the pub over by me in Hampstead and I hadn't seen him for years and obviously we go back years as he played on 'The Un Authorised Bootleg Album', then I got in touch with Timo and he said he'd just moved up the road from me. Then, when we arranged to meet about asking him to do the tour and stuff, he said shall I bring Danny, Gary and Dave and I said who's Danny and he told me and I said yeah then when we met in the pub and we're talking about going on tour Danny didn't know what was going on and he said does anyone want to tell me what's going on so I said I'd been offered a Dogs D'Amour tour. So then we agreed to do some rehearsals and it sounded cool and we've got a bunch of songs together - we're doing 'Archie Leach' which sounded great and I think is one of my favourites, as well as some of the old songs and stuff like 'Supreme Creator' and it all sounds really good at the moment. We've got some more rehearsals before the first show.
With putting a whole new band together and having such a vast catalogue of material to pick from is it easier or harder to select songs for a live tour?
Nah, it's easier isn't it?
Do you think so? More chance of missing out this one or that one that people would consider 'must play' songs. Songs like 'How Come It Never Rains' or 'I Don't Want You To Go'; people will expect to hear those.
Yeah, but I want to pay songs from across the board that I haven't played for years; obviously 'Last Bandit' but we've been rehearsing songs like 'How Do You Fall In Love' which I don't think I've done since '86 or something.
Do you have any plans to take this line up into the studio? Would they be players you'd use on something like the rework of 'Graveyard of Empty Bottles'?
I've already started doing that one, all the drums are done and I've put the bass on and stuff but it sounds quite different, rather than with 'Dynamite' I moved tracks around like I wanted because the record company would move tracks around and separate them up and stuff. I've done all the original ones off 'Graveyard' and there are another four that we did but weren't on the album because, at the time, I had a big argument with China Records and they were going "Why are you doing an acoustic album when you're a rock band?" and "How are we going to market you?" and all this kind of bollocks. I'd laugh and say it is what it is, we play rock 'n' roll. I mean Guns N' Roses did that acoustic record - 'Lies' wasn't it? - and China said, can you believe this, they said "Who are Guns N' Roses?!" Ha ha ha. So that was what we were up against and what we were dealing with in '88. That was before CDs and stuff and I fought for it to come out on 10" and I'm looking to do the same again
That would be good.
Yeah, I like to do things on vinyl if I can and 'Quinqaginta' is going to come out on vinyl as well - you know, I always feel like it's a real record when it's on vinyl, it's not quite the same on CD all compressed up and small.
They'll say that's progress for you. Before long we wont be able to buy CDs or vinyl in a shop, it'll all be gone or only available from the artist if they can put it out themselves - it'll be all digital downloads.
Yes, people seem quite happy to buy my stuff digitally....which is alright ha ha!
I was going to ask you about using the internet: I suppose the good thing is you can get your information far and wide in an instant and reach people who possibly had stopped buying Tyla or Dogs stuff since record shops have vanished off the high street. I guess the net isn't all evil as there would be no Uber Rock, ha ha!
Yeah, the internet is fantastic. I mean I know there is loads of stuff up there for free but if people want to have stuff for free knowing they're breaking the law good luck to them - it's like you'll end up getting a virus on your computer eventually so you have to buy a new computer anyway which isn't cheap. I just think, go and buy the bloody film or CD, it's not like they cost much these days anyway. With downloading maybe you can listen to a bit of a song and just buy the tracks you like for less than a pound. I was worried at first because record sales dropped fantastically when people were just nicking it for free but now luckily I think people are buying legitimately and I sell more records than I do through the shops.
Don't you think though with your work it's never been just the music? It's the artwork and the whole package, like the gatefold collectible 12" with the story - if you go to iTunes you miss out on all that.
Exactly, that's what I always strive to give. I try to make it all really nice. Some people complain I want my music and my art separate, I don't want them bloody together so they might be the ones who will go to iTunes and buy a few tracks for 79p or whatever which is fine. I've always tried to make it special which was always the beauty with vinyl; I can get me artwork bigger and make it more value for money really.
You always have something a bit different like the 'All or Nothing' postcard box or the 'Unchartered Heights' video box and the 'Dogs Dinner' or the 'Treasure Chest' - clearly a lot of time and effort went into those ideas which made for a more memorable band. For me music is an emotional investment and if I can have something that is visual as well it's a win win.
I think it goes back to when I was a kid and vinyl would be like you'd pull the record out and there would always be an advert for other bands on that label so you'd buy like a David Bowie album and you'd get an advert for the James Last Orchestra and I'd be so pissed off with that I'd always want to read stuff and see pictures while I listened and I've never forgotten that, every time you look at it you might see something different, do you know what I mean?
With the music we'd always try and put something here and there and with this line up now I've got the two guitarists apart from myself which means I can get all the guitar parts in and do the bits that might have had acoustic as well and some of the stuff had three or four guitars on it and just being a four piece it's hard to get that across live but now we can.
We'll stay with the live stuff for a bit then. When you put this tour together did you want to add more dates or weren't they available in the same regions to fit them in?
Well I knew the Academy group were interested so I thought I wanted to do around the weekend like Friday and Saturdays originally so that most people can get to go, you know? I appreciate that today it's changed and it's hard to get people out on a midweek - I was thinking about the fans because these days we've got less money but more things to buy, you know. It's like having kids these days and it's hard. I remember Christmas when that was when the ads would come on the tele now it's like 24/7 and it's Xbox, Playstation and stuff, bloody hell, iPhones and this and that.
What better way to get away from it, go and watch the Dogs playing?
Well yeah, I s'pose but we ended up getting Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the end. It was a case of this one's booked up or not on that day blah blah blah and you have to work out how to get people around - it's just not always possible these days. There are 66 cities left in the UK so we'll get round to them next year. Obviously then you got people going you're not playing Scotland or Wales and this time we just couldn't fit it in. We could get Glasgow but not Edinburgh next to each other, it would have been say Glasgow to Bristol then back up to Manchester then London then Edinburgh and it's just not possible.
Have you pencilled any in for next year?
No, we have to look at it and do it next year; places like the South West, Wales, Scotland, Scandinavia - you know, not just England. Sometimes it's quite a feat to put that all together.
Do you do all that yourself now?
No, I've got an agent now. There still seems to be so much involvement to put everything together. We put the London date in and then found out that there was some Hell festival in North Wales the same weekend and they said can you move your gig and I said no we've said we're doing it now and it's almost sold out anyway so it just goes to prove that people still want to see live music which is great
We'll be there for Hard Rock Hell, the Quireboys and Michael Monroe band are there...
I know, we all seem to be out on tour the same time. I said to Spike we should have gone out and toured together but there we go, maybe we'll save that for another time.
Aren't The Quireboys out the week before you?
I'm not sure, hopefully I'm out first and everyone will come and see us and then have no money left to buy their shirts because they'll have got mine, ha ha! No, me and Spike have talked about going out because we never really got to do a tour, the both of us; there are all sorts of ideas going 'round at the moment, keeps us busy and out of trouble, ha ha.
Is touring more enjoyable now or since you went solo? Apart from dealing with a band not having all the suits poking their noses in and meddling?
Oh yes, I got out of that straight away. I don't miss all that I think maybe 1990 or, even 'Graveyard...', I sort of won that battle because I was right - it went in the charts at number 16 so I was right I think, ha ha. I don't think they liked that at all though really. Maybe sometimes if you piss the boss off you've shot yourself in the foot, haven't you really. I think I managed to piss all the bosses off at some point but I didn't like the way they were doing things anyway. It does help these days having all that stuff behind you, you know rock 'n' roll was always about not conforming and doing it the way others did it but looking for the same route to get some money doing the thing you love. Now I've got my King Outlaw record label and I'd like to give bands who can't perhaps get deals anymore a chance. They could put them out on my label and do them digitally and put them out there and with me they'd know they'd get their money because I've been there.
I was going to get onto having your own label; would it interest you to have a roster of good bands on there with you?
Yeah, of course. I was told like with iTunes that I couldn't deal with them because you have to have over 20 albums to but I found out I can and, yeah, I'd be able to do that for other bands, put them out on my label because these days you've got more chance of winning the lottery than getting signed to a big label and getting paid properly and given the time to develop. So I would be interested; maybe put it up digitally first because that way enables a band to get out on the road using places like iTunes because the money comes in then you can get out there and prove yourself and sell the vinyl and CDs that way. There seems to be a lot of great bands out there today - rock 'n' roll hasn't died, it just seems harder to get hold of somewhere to put the music out and get paid.
It doesn't seem fair for musicians to have to give it away for free all the time because there isn't another way to get heard.
Yeah you're right, it can be really harsh as well; people get promised things that never materialise and it's harsh to tell someone that they only sold three records. I know how to get the music out there and I won't bullshit because I've been doing it most of my life. A lot of places try to rip you off - I got offers where they wanted 25% just to get it available online the, you find out there are much fairer deals to be had but it's knowing all of that, isn't it? It was all new to me, especially the digital thing, but I'd thought about it before and thought it was too much, you know, but the only way to do it is to get out there and bloody well do it. I saw quite a few gigs when I was in America where they'd put the guitar case down, open it up and it was only there because it was just me travelling round and if I busted a string it was there but people used to come up and put money in even if they'd paid a few dollars to get in and at the end of the gig I'd sell my CDs from the stage which was great, nobody else to deal with just me.
Must be a less stressful way of doing it but you couldn't do it playing big venues like the Academy shows....
Well, to start off it's much easier, it's a way of getting it out there. There are people like the Holmes Brothers who've been doing it for years like that, no need for a merch stand just a guitar case and a bag. But it's definitely something I'll be looking at, getting bands on the King Outlaw label. I think if a band is going out and playing and earning the money then that should be theirs, that's their business, they earn it. As soon as I get finished with 'Graveyard...' I'll be getting into it having bands on the label. That's another good thing about the internet, you've got things like the website and Facebook and Myspace and whatever and the best thing is it's free, use it.
In the old days - hark at me, ha ha, "in the old days" - people would go to a gig, see a band, buy the shirt and maybe a programme then the next day go to the record store and pick up the album. Today it doesn't work like that; if you're lucky enough to have a local record shop and ask for something outside The X-Factor they haven't got it, it has changed a hell of a lot.
I guess these days the bands have had to get savvy and become everything by themselves; touring to sell records, CDs and merch which they all print themselves, and the good bands have the music for sale there and then rather than hunting down a shop the day after. Maybe it'll come back around, they say life goes in circles....
Maybe, use the internet, buy it online. I did an interview the other day and this guy was surprised I was English, ha ha. He didn't know, he must have thought I was American or something - oh well, did his homework.
Ha! We'll get onto the book you're working on if we may.
Yes, me book. What it is it's an audio book with the 'Graveyard...' album; you can't sit there and read along with me telling the stories because how I tell them is nothing like reading the book. What I'll do is sort of speak my stories then work on getting them onto paper later, also using the Kindle as well as digital downloads of the book, places like lulu.com you can have it digital and buy it and they'll print up the book and send it to you. I'll try and get a load of books done up - they're just stories of the shit I've done from years ago up until like last Thursday. As I remember more stories it's not like a biography starting at me childhood, it mixes them up; you might get one from me childhood then a Dogs story from '89 to a solo tour in the '90s, you know whatever - it's a bit bish bish and some bash. Also some stories that other people have told me like Alice Cooper and stories from stories.
Sounds good. I love reading autobiographies and tour journals like the one Alvin Gibbs did from touring with Andy McCoy, and Iggy Pop's was a particularly great read as well as Ian Hunter's autobiography. People always want to hear the stories of how and why bands did the things they did. A lot of bands or musicians write nowadays like Michael Monroe, Cheetah Chrome, Steven Tyler. Nikki Sudden did it. It's always interesting I find to read or hear their side of things.
Well I was shocked to see how small Lemmy's autobiography was, it was like Jesus Christ that guy spending three or four hours is more interesting than reading his life story with some of the things he's done and says. Maybe he should rethink that one but then he's his own man and does what the bloody hell he likes, ha ha. Like Rick Wakeman, who isn't someone I would normally read or listen to, but someone got me his book and it was a great read, really honest and some great stories. I know I used to get pissed off when people wouldn't come to some of our gigs but imagine going from playing arenas and to tens of thousands of people one night to 70 people the next - it's like all the stuff that goes on can be absolutely hilarious and things you think are a nightmare back in the day can be the funniest stuff looking back. If you sold to a million people a night it would be a boring book the same page after page, you know? I've done gigs to just one person with a jazz band playing behind a curtain behind me and the one person couldn't even hear me but it's stuff like that, the funnier stuff.
Are there any stories you remembered and was going to put in or would be a great story but decided to leave out?
Oh God there were quite a few things that cropped up that I wouldn't or couldn't put in because I 'd end up in jail or worse, ha ha ha! It's like self confession saying out loud certain things then thinking can I still get done for that in this country let alone another countries set of laws. We used to do some of the dullest things. I remember we got a set of air pistols when they came out and we always use to have things like that and catapults in the van. I don't know what it is when you get a load of guys together in a band, we're still like a bunch of 7 or 8 year olds and nothing seems to phase you and there are very few boundaries. I can remember going up the motorway and flinging the doors open and we'd have stuff like flower bombs and stuff and all sorts would be going out the van doors - it seems ridiculous but at the time it was hilarious; taking bets driving across America and someone would open the skylight and climb over the roof of the bus like they were Charles Bronson or something not thinking that this is like the most ridiculous thing people can see.
But it was a good idea at the time....
Oh yeah yeah, the best, you just don't think. It was like what can we do today and it was like climb out the front skylight and walk along to the one at the back and if you bottled it for a bet you'd just have another shot of jack Daniels and try again on this great big tour bus; we'd do it at night as well you know, daft things. You don't realise you're drunk when you're so drunk sometimes. You go past all the giddiness and sickness whatever but you keep on going and doing that every day you don't even think about it in the end.
When you were looking back writing the book what particular milestones struck you? Top of the Pops? Having an album in the top 20? Headlining Hammersmith Odeon?
Um.....things like the charts were so strung out there would be like this big build when lots of people would get paid and go out and buy other stuff so you'd always be up and down thinking you might go top 10 maybe stay at number five only to find you've gone down to something like number 25 and it would be "arhhh." Then three months later it would all start again; play the gigs, release a single and so on. That was like when 'How Come It Never Rains' but with 'Graveyard' it was different because the record company had said they wouldn't promote it or do any promo for it and it ended up being our highest charter. I was in the pub with Steve [James] at that time we found out where it was in the charts and we're playing pool and we'd stuffed beer mats down the pockets to stop the balls going down because we didn't have enough money to play let alone buy another round and I can remember going to the bog and there was 20p down the bog and I was like I ain't putting me hand down the bog so I eventually thought if I have a piss and flush it and the 20p is still there then I'm 'avin it. There it was, clean water - back up to the bar with enough for a Guinness and a lager and the radio was on and I could hear them saying "Straight in at number 16" and I went to the bloke behind the bar, this old bloke, and said "Hey, that's us" and he was like "Yeah and I'm Frank Sinatra and while you're at it you can take them beer mats out the pockets otherwise you're both barred." Ha ha ha. So he'd been watching us fiddle the pool table but we were broke and we'd take everything with a pinch of salt. You always think oh okay, well the next one will be number five then number one but we never stopped - one month we'd be touring like mental then no money left and nothing to do. You know I can remember our roadies lending us money because they were making more than us! Can you believe that?!
Still to this day one of the best gigs I ever went to was one you did at the Astoria where you were swinging across the stage on the curtain cord - it was incredible night, almost unstoppable, as well as the early Steve, Bam and Jo days playing Bristol Fleece or the Square Club in Cardiff; those gigs were mental.
I was writing down a list of gigs the other day like the Astoria when the Black Crowes came out with us and the Marquee, Newcastle Mayfair, all sadly gone. I was thinking it's bizarre; I dunno, they should still have somewhere like the Marquee, they should have held onto that place, that's what I think anyway. So much history in some of those places gone forever. In years to come kids will be saying Buckingham Palace? Oh where's that? Oh you know, where that block of flats are now by the roundabout.
Or a trendy yuppie wine bar...
Yeah, Buckingham House wine bar. Shouldn't laugh.....
So everything will be available through the website as and when it comes out and for people to check in for tour dates, etc etc?
Yeah, all the info will be on there; Only I could pick the longest name in internet history but it's on there - the CDs, downloads on iTunes and even the book will be up there on the website soon - even one made from trees.
Cheers Mr T and catch you on tour and look forward to hearing the new band.
That's enough for now peeps but in the meantime why not pop over to http://www.justanenglishoutlaw.com/ and tell him the Ubers sent you...and while you're there why not pick up the new album?