November 19, 2009
Interviewer: Grant W.
Tyla isn’t one of those people in the music industry that needs much of an introduction. Most people will associate him as frontman for the Dogs D’Amour, one of my all-time favorite bands. When the Dogs put out a new single during their peak, I had to have every format it came out on – the coloured vinyl version, the picture disc, the poster bag or the limited edition part one of two cartoon gatefold story special – I was the record company’s dream punter! Twenty odd years down the line, I finally get to catch up with Tyla and ask him about his music, art and finally ask him something I’ve been wondering for years.
Sleaze Roxx: Tyla, thanks for chatting to Sleaze Roxx. Your new album, Bloody Hell Fire, has just come out and you’ve done a few album launch gigs on the back of it. How have they been going?
Tyla: Tyla: First off ….’allo Sleaze Roxx, hope yer Dandy.
Ok, the double album Bloody Hell Fire was officially released in the shops of the UK on Monday 16th November. The first record launch will take place at the ‘Old Crown Coaching Inn’ in Faringdon (located between sublime Swindon and ornate Oxford) on Saturday 28th November. Fitting for any Highwayman don’t you reckon? We will be playing mainly tracks from the album but I’m sure we will fit in a few old favorites. If we can get a reception we will also attempt to broadcast it on the web, failing that it will be filmed and released at a later date, weather permitting.
Sleaze Roxx: I see you’ve got an art exhibition coming up at the Resistance Gallery in London from the 30th November to the 4th of December. What sort of art is it that you produce and in what kind of mediums?
Tyla: I’ll be showing various works which date back a few years right up to the present, including a 6 foot x 5 foot oil painting guitar man. Some will be acrylics, some watercolours, pen and inks, that sort of thing. It should mix good with all the other guy’s works. All are welcome and its free entry!! Every night.
Sleaze Roxx: Will you be performing any music at the event?
Tyla: Yes, there is live music every night. Again, all free, no admission charge and there’s even a bar…which unfortunately isn’t free. I will be playing the opening and the Thursday 3rd and maybe even the closing night, it’s all very open. All we ask is to reserve places as it’s not a massive venue, merely email the Resistance Gallery at [email protected]
Sleaze Roxx: What kind of art do you buy?
Tyla: I’m more of a creator than a collector. The art I like is probably not even for sale.
Sleaze Roxx: At this point in your career, if your career as an artist took off big time and promised to put you on the map as an established name, would you still continue to record?
Tyla: I don’t have a career, I have what I’d like to think as, as a lifestyle. I was painting long before I picked up a guitar, and I was having art exhibitions long before I was singing and playing the guitar. The art world and the music industry are just about as far apart as you could imagine, apart from the fact that the people who are so called in charge really don’t have any talent except for that of making money. I will record and play music and write as long as I am blessed with the passion and the luck that enables me to do so.
Sleaze Roxx: I’ve heard a few samples on your MySpace from Bloody Hell Fire. Would you say that it’s a departure from the traditional Tyla sound or will fans recognize it instantly?
Tyla: Obviously I’ve done a lot of dodgy things in my life, be it in my music, my art, and my nights out on the town, but that’s all part of living. If I did the same thing day after day I would simply die. I do what I do, people either dig it and think its cool, or they don’t. Simple as that really.
Sleaze Roxx: The album says Tyla and the Dogs. Who are the Dogs now in terms of the other artists on the album?
Tyla: It took me years and years to get the Dogs into the limelight, then the gaslight and finally electricity bless it. The Dogs was my creation and along the line I’ve left some rather bitter dogs in the Battersea dog’s home, none though I add have yet to be put down. If I had not have had this burning desire, and the ability to not give a shit what people think, I would have given up in 1985 when the whole band, bar one, left me high and dry. You would never have had the ‘Unauthorised Bootleg’, ‘In The Dynamite Jet Saloon’, ‘Graveyard Of Empty Bottles’, ‘Errol Flynn’ and ‘Straight !!?*#’. Again, I never gave up and two years later…’Uncharted Heights Of Disgrace’.
I then turned my back on the music industry and did it my own way from then to now with some damn fine music throughout I’d like to think. I was traveling the world as Tyla…from The Dogs D’amour, as I always will be labeled, and doing fine. I wrote and released ‘Happy Ever After’ in 2000. The Alice Cooper tour came along in 2002, again the members walked away from me after that tour and I created ‘The Bastards From Hell’. I then chose to let ‘Sleeping Dogs Lie’ return to the UK from a self imposed exile of several years in Scandinavia and Europe via India and the Americas over which time I wrote and released ‘XIII Shades Of Black’ and ‘In Life, In Love, In Dreams’, and for two years wrote and recorded ‘Bloody Hell Fire’ with some beautiful, caring and talented musicians, all listed in the albums credits.
Sleaze Roxx: I see you asked your fans for obscure locations to play gigs at? What were the most bizarre ones suggested and what ones did you eventually do?
Tyla: Yes, what a great idea eh? Not that I really had to ask, I have after all been playing obscure shows for years. I did a few of those living room gigs, one was very interesting over in Boston, and one was a bloody nightmare in the UK, but I love those nightmare situations as they make for good stories later down the line. I mean who else get to drive through a deserted village on a Sunday morning only to see and un-manned, live and kicking horse standing outside a betting office, which was open by the way! Is nothing sacred? So yes, I did some very obscure gigs in Bavaria, almost castle Dracula scenarios. Brilliant eh?
Sleaze Roxx: I was always curious about the people mentioned on the Dog’s album covers. For my benefit, can you explain the story behind “Hellfire, Brimstone and the Preacher met the Kilburn Kick and the Texas Drawl” and who they all were? It’s been bugging me for decades now!
Tyla: You will have to use your imagination there, but I will give you a clue. The answer is staring you in the faces.
Sleaze Roxx: Ah right, I thought that but had to ask as I wondered why five names. Anyway, of all the material you have recorded, with bands and as a solo artist, what’s your favourite release and why?
Tyla: ‘Bess’. Its happy, its positive, its simple, it’s the best.
Sleaze Roxx: There’s an infamous moment in the Dogs history, that night where you cut open your side on stage in L.A. I’ve read other people’s accounts of that night but I have never heard your side of things. Can I ask what happened that night and what drove you to do what you did?
Tyla: I had my reasons, lets just leave it at that for now.
Sleaze Roxx: I remember asking you a while back, on behalf of my friend’s band Alleycat Scratch, if you would be alright with them putting out a cover of “I Don’t Want You To Go” and it got greeted with a mixed response – I think it was to do with royalties from memory. Do you still own the rights to the early Dogs stuff?
Tyla: The publishing for most of those early Dogs tunes is with Universal. Yes I own the majority percentage. I have no objection to anyone covering any of my songs as long as they pay the MCPS (Mechanical Copyright Protection Society) and they in turn pay me and my publisher.
Sleaze Roxx: Do you think that record labels now take better or worse care of artists on their label and what’s been your experience of them throughout your career?
Tyla: I have no idea how they treat their artistes. It’s more the question as to how does the artist allow the label to treat them. I think people in general seem to want instant gratification on all fronts these days anyhow. I really have not had to deal with labels as the ones I deal with basically work for me for a percentage. Keep it simple. Don’t give anyone a long leash. Don’t sign away your rights until you know what you are signing away. Choose a licensing deal. Or if you ain’t too sure, after all it’s your life we are talking about, I will give good solid advice for nothing at all. Trust your instincts.
Sleaze Roxx: What made you decide to move to Barcelona for a while and base yourself there?
Tyla: > I initially moved there around 1999 for a better quality of life. I have not lived in Barcelona since early 2006. It was way cheaper to live there before the Euro arrived. People may knock the UK, but trust me, I’ve been about a bit, and it ain’t that bad here compared to other gaffs.
Sleaze Roxx: Your love of certain authors has been well publicized and you’ve written poetry too, have you ever thought about writing a novel, biography or maybe your memoirs from the Dog’s D’Amour days?
Tyla: I have knocked out the odd poetry book since 1990. ‘Cynosure’, ‘Responding The Auditory Hallucinations’ and there was a short 100 page autobiography in with the ‘Treasure Chests’ in the early noughties. ‘Beautious And Bedevilled’ which was short stories, poems and song lyrics came out in 2004. I’m currently working on, besides other things, a project called ‘The Accident Book’.
Sleaze Roxx: Do you see yourself ever retiring and enjoying the fruits of your labour, maybe staring a vineyard and sitting back supping vino?
Tyla: No not really, I don’t think blokes like me ever retire, I mean what would I do? Sit around, play guitar and paint pictures…..
Thanks to Tyla and Grant W.