With a DittyTV Concert Series Premiere at 8 p.m. CT April 3, his new album releasing April 5 on Fantasy Records, and a tour launching April 10, Tyler Ramsey is a busy man. He took a few minutes from his schedule to answer a few questions for DittyTV.
1) For the Morning is your first solo album since 2011. Obviously you were busy as a member of Band of Horses for much of that time in between. What were your reasons to give up the band life and go back to a solo career?
I needed to be on a creative path and one that felt like it was also moving forward. That is the reason I am drawn to music to begin with. Also, after a decade of basically living together the communication between all of us broke down and the lifestyle choices we were making were at odds. Pretty normal band problems.
2) You live in rural Western North Carolina and are known to do your songwriting in the woods. What can you tell us about how nature and solitude play a part in your songwriting?
I live in a rural setting and seek solitude when I can get it. I have always needed space to be able to connect with myself and get grounded enough to write things that I feel are true and honest.
3) What changed in your songwriting process and the recording process between the making of The Valley Wind nearly a decade ago and your new album that releases April 5?
I’m not sure a lot changed about the writing process other than I learned a bit more about keeping ideas and pieces of songs from traveling and touring and incorporating them into finished work when I found the time. The recording process started out the same—Seth Kauffman and Kevin Ratterman and I in the studio working out the songs and doing all the basic tracking. The only real difference this time was that I wanted to have a lot of extra people involved. There were a lot of folks that added the parts that give me goosebumps on the album: harmony vocals with Joan Shelley, Molly Parden, and Thad Cockrell; pedal steel from Russ Pahl and Matt Smith; Scott Moore on violin; and two of my favorite guitarists, Gareth Liddiard added an electric guitar on “Firewood” and Nathan Salsburg played a beautiful acoustic guitar part on “The Darkest Clouds.”
4) You’re touring now and even have some European dates coming up in May. What are you especially looking forward to on this tour?
I am excited just to have the chance to play these songs for people. When The Valley Wind came out I had no time to tour on it and I feel like it was lost pretty quickly. I love interpreting the songs in different ways each night as well. I will be doing some solo shows (opening for Strand of Oaks!) and a solo Europe run, full band tours, and more shows as a duo with Carl Broemel are in the works now. It’s been extremely satisfying to dig into the songs on stage and stretch them out a bit or try and play them in different ways.
5) Finally, I know you moved around a lot growing up, so do you remember the first album you ever bought with your own money and in which city you were in when you bought it?
We lived outside of Chicago when I was little and I had just started taking piano lessons. I was learning jazz piano from an amazing teacher named Bob Zaun. The first record I bought was at his recommendation. It was Oscar Peterson Trio The London Concert at Royal Festival Hall, 1978. I still have it and I am still blown away every time I listen.