Wooden Wand Interviews William Tyler Interviews Wooden Wand

It was somehow agreed upon during my conversation with William Tyler that he would do the transcribing — the difficult, tedious part — and I would write the intro. This is consistent with William’s character: he is the classic overachiever. Add him to any band — even great ones, like Silver Jews, Lambchop, or Yo La Tengo — and that band’s music is instantly made greater by virtue of his virtuosic guitar playing and heavy spirit. I write as a beneficiary of his talents: William has joined Wooden Wand on a couple of tours, and performs brilliantly on the just-finished Wooden Wand album, due out next year. In person, William is affable, intelligent, quirky, brilliant, and kind; much like his playing, the man himself is a veritable fount of imagination, generosity, and positive energy.

I’m not sure when, or if, dude sleeps: in addition to a constant touring schedule, most recently in support of his magnificent new album Impossible Truth (Merge), he is co-owner, with his sister Elise, of the great Nashville music venue and restaurant The Stone Fox. The music he releases under his own name stands above fashion; indebted to no one scene or sound, it also belies a familiarity with country and rock and roll fundamentals cultivated by years of detailed, deep listening. He loves Suni McGrath and Roseanne Cash, and doesn’t seem to find anything particularly strange about that.

As an instrumentalist and solo performer, he is first among equals.

It was a pleasure to speak with him for Aquarium Drunkard. - JJT

James Jackson Toth: So…you’ve been really busy!

William Tyler: I’ve been real busy. I got home two weeks ago from a three-week tour and before that I had only been home for a week after another three-week tour. I’m having the ‘home for a while letdown’ thing. You know how it is.

JJT: It’s like inertia.

WT: It is like inertia. It’s kind of like, “Wow, real life is complicated! All I used to have to do was drive eight hours to play!”

JJT: Yeah! That’s so easy! (Laughs)

WT: Yeah, no big deal! How bout you?

JJT: Kind of laying low. The Three Lobed LP (Wooden Wand & The World War IV) just came out, and the new Wooden Wand record, which you are prominently featured on, will be out early next year. Have you been recording?

WT: No, I’m trying to write. Now that I am back home I’m trying to finish stuff. I’m not very prolific, but I haven’t had a lot of general discipline about being creative in the last few months, since the touring cycle has started.

JJT: I know it’s something we’ve talked about before, but it’s so funny how uncreative most of the time being on tour can be, unless you’re like the Grateful Dead or maybe Comets on Fire or something, but if you’re playing the same thing more or less every night, with nothing but driving in between, there’s not a lot of time to be creative. Writing is creative, and recording is creative, but after that...

WT: Well, for me, sure, I have been touring most of the time completely by myself. There’s plenty of time to reflect and ruminate--probably too much--driving around, taking trains. I really value that time alone, that calm, but it’s not musical alone time, it’s travel time. When I finally get to play a guitar at the end of the day it’s essentially a fixed set. I’ve been playing the stuff from Impossible Truth and (previous album) Behold the Spirit so much that, at this point, sometimes it feels like I am covering (these songs), that I am almost a cover band. I don’t like the feeling of being comfortable enough with knowing what you are playing, to where you can almost think about other things going on in your life while you’re playing. Your consciousness drifts a bit; you might even say something to yourself like “I wonder what I’m going to eat for dinner tonight?”

Only the good shit. Aquarium Drunkard is powered by its patrons. Keep the servers humming and help us continue doing it by pledging your support.

To continue reading, become a member or log in.