Intervju med Danny Vaughn i Tyketto!
Jag har ett svagt minne av att jag köpte Tykettos debut "Don´t come easy" till min bror, men han menar att han själv köpte den. Hur som haver är det väl det närmsta jag kommit till att lyssna på bandet.
För några veckor sedan fick jag ett mail av en glad norrman vid namn Geir, som skriver för Norway Rock Magazine, och han undrade om jag skulle vara intresserad av en intervju med Danny.
Eftersom jag tycker alla former av intervjuer är roliga tackade jag ja. Någon dag senare mailade Danny mig och sedan blev det dags för ett snack.
Han var självfallet ännu en trevlig bekantskap och samtalet kom att handla om kommande plattan med Tyketto, bandets historia, turnéminnen, låtskrivande och en del annat.
Hola Danny, how are you?
Danny Vaughn: Not too bad! What´s going on?
Not too much, just sitting around drinking coffee in a pretty dark Stockholm.
DV: Yeah, it´s getting to be that time isn´t it?
Exactly! It´s darker in the mornings and it gets darker earlier in the evenings. Winter is just around the corner.
DV: Somebody told me that Denmark is expecting snow in the next week.
Yeah, and the last couple of winters here have been horrible.
DV: Yeah, I´ve got some good friends in Finland and they had a rough one, but they had a great summer as well. It´s been kind of extreme.
True! What´s up with Danny Vaughn? What´s going on at the moment?
DV: Well, it´s turning into a busy time that´s for sure. The biggest thing is all the stuff that´s going on with Tyketto now, which has kind of been happening quietly and now of course all of a sudden when you´ve got your travel plans in your hand and the new schedules are up and it´s like “Oh shit!”. (laughs) This is really going on. I don´t even know how widely it is known that we´re actually doing an album, because we just kind of approached it so quietly initially. We really kind of started talking about it almost two years ago and it was just a thing of “Let´s get a few of us together first and see if it´s even gonna happen!” because people had been asking. You just wanna make sure you can still write songs and whether or not you´re gonna get along and all that stuff, so that was in February of last year and we got together and shelled out some ideas and then everybody went home feeling pretty good about it. That´s leading us up to… I guess we´re in the studio at the end of this month, about the 20th or 25th of October and we´re recording in Millbrook, NY where I did two of my slolo albums, so I´m really happy about that because I know the studio well and more importantly we know the owner and the producer and all that and he knows exactly what where after and how to do it, so it´s gonna be fairly stretch free, I think. It´s gonna be for Frontiers and probably released… I don´t have a date, but we´ve made them promise a spring release, so I would think April, May. We´re gonna be looking to do a full on European tour if we can, sometime in the summer and of course we´re gonna be banging on Sweden Rock´s door again and see what we can find out from them. They´re getting a bit harder to get answers out of them. I used to know more people over there, but they´ve changed personnel around, which was kind of a shame because the people I knew aren´t with them anymore, but none the less, we´re gonna have good reasons to be out there playing. It´s the first new album and it´s all done with the original line up. It´s kind of bizarre. We have this strange relationship, in that Brooke would´ve been involved before but he was in a position where he couldn´t tour because of his job and so we got PJ and Brooke and PJ are great friends and in fact Brooke recommended PJ and PJ had already played in my band, so it was real easy. Now he´s got all this stuff going on and it´s a little bit sad, because PJ is on the backburner at the moment. It´s just a fact that the fans really would like to see Brooke, so basically the new album will be him. We´re gonna do four shows in the UK and the last of which is Hard Rock Hell on December 3rd. We´re gonna play a few new songs and that´s just because we got the offer to do Hard Rock Hell, but that´s really an event we should be part of. If you´re gonna take a band over from America, it´s just crazy to do one show, so we threw in a London show and Sheffield and Southhampton and that will all be with Brooke as well. First time for everybody to see him since 2004 and then the big thing and the original reason that I contacted you and which I´m trying to make as many people aware of, is that we´re trying something new. This live show webcast and that is November the 26th.
From New York, right?
DV: Yeah! The trick is figuring out what the time frame is, but it´s 3 pm New York time, so that´s gonna be roughly 9 pm in Sweden. We´ve kind of designed it so Europe would get the better time. Hopefully some people in Japan will tune in, but it will be something like 3 in the morning. (laughs) We´re doing that and basically the way for people to find out about it and to get all the proper information, is to go to our website which is www.tyketto.de and there´s a banner right there about the webcast and if you click on it it´s got all the information. We´re doing it through PayPal, so when they sign up through PayPal, within four or five days they´ll get a special code that gets e-mailed to them and then that´s what they use on the day. You´ll need a pass code to get in. What I´m trying to do is to avoid everybody getting it done 20 minutes before the show starts and it´ll be overload. It´ll be a full show with the original band plus our keyboard player, who´s been playing in my solo band and also with Tyketto, so we´ve got really strong sound and it´ll be a full 90 minute show and it´s gonna be interactive so people can write in and ask questions, request songs and stuff like that. It´s scary, but it´s exciting! (laughs)
Well, you´re embracing the latest technology, I guess.
DV: Yeah and kind of out of necessity. I´ve heard of one or two other bands at our level trying this. For instance, and I didn´t even know they were doing it, but Chickenfoot just did it so obviously it´s something pretty damn big if a band that size is doing it! With us, it was more along the lines of… it´s frustrating that there´s so many places that we can´t get to play. In America the situation is… let´s say, we´ve got plenty of fans in the Chicago area and we´ve got fans in the Dallas area and it´s a long, long way in between and unfortunately it´s all logistics. You can´t sustain a band and a crew and travelling and gear, so you´ve got to find places in between and if those don´t exist, that means I can´t get to those places, so for me it´s exciting because people who are scattered all over can see us and the same with… we haven´t played in Germany for a long time and Scandinavia, it´s kind of slim so I´m really hoping we´ll get people… I´ve got a good feeling we´ll get there, but it´s very difficult to find the right promoters and somebody that doesn´t disappear on you and also South America, that´s another big one for us and they´ll be able to watch as well, so we´re really gonna give this a shot and see how it goes!
It´s pretty cool! It´s kind of like going back to what music videos were really about in like the early 70´s and late 60´s when bands made videos for those countries that they wouldn´t visit, so they would get a glimpse of what the band looked like. It´s kind of the same, but updated. You really don´t need a video these days, like you did in the 80´s. A really cool way to reach out to people that you might not get to see for a long time.
DV: Yeah definitely! The thing is, that as it becomes more of an idea that bands are getting into, I think the cost of doing it is gonna come down and hopefully it will mean a lot more opportunities for people to see the bands that they love. I mean, I hope it doesn´t stop people from going out to see live music, but the internet has changed so much and we´re entering a generation now where people are now coming out of being teenagers into their 20´s and they´ve never paid for anything! It´s been around long enough where… my generation, I still buy cd´s and I like having them and the artwork and reading ever damn word, but people who weren´t brought up with that, they don´t feel the same way. It doesn´t mean as much to them. It´s a mystery where it´s all going and the only thing I do know is that nobody knows! Record companies are clueless and they don´t have an idea what to do.
Signing with Frontiers Records, was that the obvious thing to do? They´re getting big!
DV: Overall what it comes down to is that there´s only a couple of labels that we would be talking to, for the music that we´re doing. There´s a couple of others and they´re also very good, but to be perfectly frank with you, they don´t have the budgets and that was kind of important to us. One thing I´m a little frightened of is making a record that sounds like it cost five grand. You don´t wanna do that after you´ve not made a record together for 16 years. This is how much things have changed. The first Tyketto album cost… I think it was $250.000 when it was all done. Something mad like that. It´s the typical story, you´re a new band, they go “We´re gonna put you in A&M studios!” and you go “Great!”, but you don´t think “Yes, but you´re paying for it!”. (laughs) It was a wonderful experience! A&M studios was $3000 a day back then! I remember later on, we got sort of a look in at some of the bills that we had. We paid Richie Zito´s (producer) assistant´s salary for the entire two months that we made that album. Her salary was $700 a week and while she was lovely and occasionally made nice sandwiches, she didn´t do anything for the band! Her job was looking after him! It was that kind of mental bending that was going on and you just sit there now and then everybody assumed that in order to make a great sounding record, you had to go with the best of this, the best of that and now of course, everything has changed. You can make a great sounding record on a laptop, which I think is great because that means that there are so much more possibilities for even guys who don´t have record deals, to be heard! You at least stand that chance. There´s websites that specialize in unsigned bands where you can listen a bit and download it and that´s great! The other side of course that´s worrying, is that nobody´s paying for music and how can anybody afford to make it? It´s a bizaree double edged sword.
You signed with Geffen Records back then and they were a major label. How come you signed with them?
DV: Back then… well, I´m proud to say that we kind of had the choice of the litter. We had done several kind of key shows and the last one was a full on showcase, we basically opened up for Skid Row in New York City at the Cat Club and there were at least three or probably four labels there. I think Capitol was there and Atlantic was there, so we were one of the last of the lucky ones that had that kind of thing going on. Geffen was there and they made a very strong pitch and seemed genuinely excited and we kind of looked at what they were doing and we really liked what we saw of Geffen records over all, as a company.
Gerry Gersh, do you know him? (Gersh is a good friend of some distant relatives of mine. Editor´s note)
DV: By name…
Was he involved in Geffen back then?
DV: I don´t know, you know! I´m not sure! We were under John Kalodner´s wing, eventually. We were signed by Mary Gormley and when we were in LA he took over. We were moving with the big boys.
Back then, were you based in New York and then you wound up in LA or…?
DV: Yeah, we were based primarily in New York and New Jersey. We recorded in LA, but yeah, we always stayed in New York. New York and people from LA don´t get along! (laughs) It´s two entirely different worlds. The way I generally describe it to people who don´t know, is that I say “When a person from LA shakes your hand, his other hand has got a knife behind his back. When a person from New York shakes your hand, his other hand has got a knife right where you can see it!”. (laughs)
That´s a good one! Were you born and raised in Cleveland?
DV: Born yes, raised no. How did you find that out?
I don´t know! I just read it somewhere and I just thought of Gilby Clarke and Eric Singer and Derrick Green are from Cleveland as well. I asked Gilby if he ever came across Singer, but he didn´t and then he said that he later found out 20 years later that they lived on the same block.
DV: I can add another guy to that list which is Pat Torpey. I met him last week and we were just chatting and he goes “Yeah well, I´m originally from Cleveland!” and I go “Get out of town!”. (laughs) A lot of music from Cleveland, historically speaking too. I think I had early on hippie sort of parents because I was born there and my dad worked for General Motors at the time and not long after that, because he´s a painter and still is, he decided that he needed to see all the great museums of Europe, so they just packed up everything that they had and we left for Europe when I was two years old and he dragged me all over Europe for about three years. Living half the time in a Morris Mini. I don´t remember any of it! (laughs) Too early! But it definitely had a contribution to who I am now and probably why I feel very comfortable in Europe.
But prior to Tyketto and all this, at what age did you get into music and singing in bands? The early teens or…?
DV: As far as music in general, I think that started pretty young. My mum said I was singing Beatles songs before I came out. I used to sing Beatles songs all the time. My parents listened to a lot of music and my father played piano for a little while, so there was music in the house. At some point, when I went to a particular school in New York City that had a really good music and choir program, I was obviously a lead singer from the start because they really couldn´t control me. It was like “We gotta do something with this kid! He´s driving us nuts! Stick him in chorus and at least he´ll make noise constructively and it kind of stuck from there. They had a music program and like most kids I started playing recorder and that kind of took too and I ended up doing that for several years and doing proper quartets with it. I just kind of fell in love with that and my first band… I think I was about 15 and probably one of the most powerful record executives in the world, Jason Flom, was the guitar player. It was his band and we knew each other from school. Our first school band had… let´s see, our drummer´s still playing and he works with a lot of jazz artists and the bass player was a classical guitarist and we´d hand him a bass “Go with that!”. They´re all still out there in various forms or another. It started there and I´ve had a few breaks, but it hasn´t really stopped.
Where did the name Tyketto come from?
DV: Oh, the question! It doesn´t mean anything. We saw it spray painted on a wall and it happened in one of those weeks where we had spent the previous months trying to figure what the hell we were gonna call ourselves and it comes to the point where you get so punch drunk that you´re just naming shit in the room, like “Let´s call ourselves Guitar stand!”. I think Brooke had spotted it and it was just spray painted on a wall and he said “I saw this word and I don´t know what it is!”. We looked it up to see if it was something Spanish and we never did find anything. There were things that sounded like it and the more we kicked it around, “Yeah, that´ll do!” and it sounds kind of cool. Every now and then someone comes along and I think “What a great name for a band”, but not too often anymore. I think they´re all done. As great as the band is, but Def Leppard! What kind of name is that? I couldn´t even imagine these days… the band that´s opening up for us on tour, Fighting Wolves, not bad!
Back then when the first album came out, did you do a lot of touring where you were sort of the main act or did you do a lot of support slots?
DV: I think it was about half of each. Probably the best supporting tour we did was when we supported Nelson I the States. They had “After the rain” going and it was number one in America.
They never made a splash in Europe, as far as I can remember.
DV: Yeah, not so much. I think the UK a bit, but not at that level. We were playing 15.000 a night and it was… I´ll tell you what! You ever meet any of those old road dogs who are roadies that have toured with everybody? They usually don´t have all their teeth and they´re rough guys. When Nelson would hit the stage, there were a couple of those guys in the crew that had been there, done that and they´d worked with Motörhead, with Zeppelin and whatever, but when Nelson hit the stage, the sound of 15.000 girls all in the age of 12, these guys would just hold their hands over their ears and scream “I can´t take it!”. It was this unbelievable high pitched sound that was so loud, but the tour was made like that. It was a little strange, because you were playing to them and their mums. They were fantastic guys and we´re still friends. It was a great double bill and each band made the other work harder. The great thing about Nelson, which people didn´t know unless they went to their shows, was that those guys were smart. They put together the most kick ass live bad! Their guitar player was Brett Garsed and he´s the legendary best guitarist out of Australia. Bobby Rock was on drums and Matthew is an exceptional bass player as it happens and all the guys sang, so all the vocals were live. I used to watch them rehearse and go “Man, these guys have got their shit together!”. We just had to go out there and work as hard as we could. It was a great tour! The first band we opened for was Blue Öyster Cult and that was before we had a record deal. We opened for Skid Row and the Bulletboys and we opened for Yngwie. Most of these are just one offs.
How was Yngwie?
DV: Hhmm! (clears his throat)
The talk about Yngwie is that he´s kind of a dick.
DV: (laughs) I gotta remember I´m talking to Sweden! Well, he isn´t kind of a dick, he really is. (laughs) He didn´t like us because his wife liked us, that´s what I was told. I just heard stories, but the show was fine, no problems there. We did a lot of stuff! The White Lion tour, that was the big one, because they were quite big at the time. It was the first time we went overseas and we did seven shows in the UK opening up for White Lion and that really cemented Tyketto´s reputation in Europe and thank god! European fans have a much longer memory and attention span. Americans, I don´t know what´s wrong with us? It just goes out the window quickly, but I´ve always been able to come and play and it doesn´t matter if it´s big or small numbers. It´s people that know that when they come, they´re gonna get their monies worth and they´re going to hear what they wanna hear. That was our strength, that when you came to see us live you went “Wow, ok!”.
Ted Poley recently played here and I talked to him and we talked about the old New Jersey scene and your name came up.
DV: Now, Ted and I go so far back it probably scares us both! He was in a band called Legend and I was in a band called Allied Forces and actually I was in a band before that, that opened up for Legend. We were in an area called Rockland county, upstate New York. We all knew each other from then and I always kid Ted about that. I never forget opening up for him. For one thing, he was a drummer back then and he played this very bizarre drum company called North Drums and instead of the tom tom coming straight down, it scoped, so the tops of the heads were where they normally were and then you had this tube shape and suddenly the bottom of the drum was in your face and he played these bloody things. That´s where he started out, as Legend´s drummer and a good singer as well! We go further back then we really wanna remember. You had Skid Row, you had us and Kip Winger and Reb Beach were working on an album in New York and these were all people that I knew, they were all our peers and we all worshipped Twisted Sister, who got there before us.
Cool! This new album of yours, it is all new stuff or are there fragments of stuff that´s been lying around since way back?
DV: Not since way back, no. I would say it´s almost all new. There´s a few things that might have been floating around in our separate briefcases over the last year or two, but it´s not like “You know this idea we were working on for Don´t come easy?”, those ideas I think have been exhausted. I don´t think there´s anything left over from that. As a matter of fact, the last of them probably went on my solo album “Traveller”, where we had a song called “Restless blood” that Tyketto came really close to putting on an album and then it just didn´t quite make it. There´s a few personal ideas that´s been floating around for a little bit, but overall we´ve been really sort of creating under pressure and it seems to work for us. The closer we get to actually having to be in the studio together, the better the ideas are getting. Some of the stuff that we were enthusiastic about at the very beginning, a couple of those might end up not making it because now everyone´s in a really creative mood. It´s so bizarre, because the thing that I thought was fairly unique about Tyketto in the beginning, is that we all lived together. We´d work on songs, like a rock and roll boot camp. We get up, we scratch together something to eat and then we´d go next door because we rehearsed in the same building. Everybody would just play and play and play until something happened. Occasionally you´d actually need to buy food, so you had to go off and work a job or something for a few days, get some money and then back we´d go. Now we don´t even live in the same country anymore. (laughs) The other day was the strangest experience. Brooke and I were working on some stuff via Skype and he´d play me stuff and say “Then I change it to this!” and I say “What´s that?” and he has to hold up the guitar so I could see what his fingers were doing.
The age of technology!
DV: Yeah, I guess we just gotta use it! If you´ve told me this is how you´re gonna make an album, I would´ve said no! But luckily I´m wrong.
Writing songs, does it get easier getting older or…?
DV: No, it gets harder! I´m very passionate on this subject. I´ve got this huge book of songwriters on songwriting and you read about people like Paul Simon and Burt Bacharach and heroes of mine like Tom Hiatt and Tom Waits, guys that I think are real artists, for me what gets harder is that you´ve got to learn to shut off the person inside you that says “That´s been done!”. For one thing, say I´m widely in love and I´m gonna go write about that, what possible angle can up with for that? It´s only when you write very unusual songs, that you can gain a little uniqueness and that´s when you go to somebody like Tom Waits. Nobody writes songs like that! That´s very hard, because I´ll sit down and write and stop myself cold because everything I´ll play, “Ah, I´ve heard that! I´ve done that!” or so and so did it. You gotta shut that voice up because there are no more notes and there are no more combination of notes. The only thing unique that can happen, is what happens when you kind of put all the personalities together with a band and then maybe you stand a chance. Some people, if they´re truly gifted can write a song, and I´m thinking more from a lyrical standpoint, where they can say something in just such a way that you´ve not heard said before, but there aren´t many! The guys that do that, I hate to say, are normally not rockers. It´s gonna be… well Frank Zappa was pretty damn unique so there´s an exception to that rule, but he had to go so far in that outward direction to be unique, so songwriting gets hard from that aspect. I´ll give you kind of an image that I always keep, because for some guys it seems to come easy. Some guys are very, in a way, smarter than I am about it because I´m one of those people that doesn´t like to write unless I´m starting to feel something. There are other people that I think actually have a better attitude where they do it as business, like Gene Simmons who said, “I don´t understand people who say I couldn´t write today, the spirit wasn´t on me. Fuck that! This is your job and I´m going in from this hour to this hour and I´m gonna write something! Some of it´s gonne be crap, but not all of it will be and that´s the stuff you keep!”. He´s got the right idea, so I´m trying to take that aspect, but life doesn´t work that way. (laughs) Unless you´re independently wealthy. (laughs) What´s funny is… do you know the old steam trains?
DV: The ones that have these massive wheels and the first five to ten times, those wheels have to turn and take unbelievable amounts of energy and then the friction starts to kick in and it smoothes out, that´s to me is what it´s like. That´s what´s happening to us now. My wheels are greased basically, so I´ll be walking down the street and without realizing it, the gremlins in my head have been working on an idea and they kick it forward and a couple of lines will come to me and that´s the great part of songwriting. You get an idea and you know where it´s suppose to go. You don´t know how to get there yet, you don´t know what words are involved, you haven´t got a clue what your guitar is gonna sound like, but you´ve already got the idea sort of from beginning to end and that´s the good stuff. Another thing that I´ve read from songwriters of all kinds is that they all feel that their best songs were like taking dictation. Some people feel it´s a religious thing and I don´t really know, but it is as if the song was already there and they just wrote it down. I´ve heard that from just about every songwriter that I admire, so I think there´s something to it.
Cool! Excellent talking to you Danny!
DV: Yeah, thank you so much for doing this!