Artists | Issues | CD Reviews | Interviews | Concert Reviews | DVD/Video Reviews | Book Reviews | Who We Are | Staff | Home
 
Progressive Rock Interviews

Ty Tabor

Interviewed by Scott Prinzing

Interview with Ty Tabor from 2012

MSJ:
Greetings Ty!  Thank you for your willingness to talk with me for Music Street Journal’s 15th Anniversary Issue!  For my part, I’ve chosen to review your own 1998 album Moonflower Lane.  So, it seemed like good timing to interview you!
Cool!  Thanks!
MSJ: So, in addition to talking about your current projects, I’d like to ask a few questions about King’s X and your solo work of that era, as well as touch on a few key releases and events spanning the past three decades.

One of my most prized possessions is the vinyl copy of Sneak Preview that I discovered in a dollar bin in the basement of Hymie & Hazen’s used record store in Minneapolis around 1990.

Oh wow!
MSJ:

For those who are unfamiliar with the King’s X’s genesis, can you share a bit about The Edge and Sneak Preview…and if I dare to go there, Sam Taylor?

That’s a pretty wide group of stuff, but I’ll try to condense it.  When we first originally got together, there were four of us.  We had another guitarist named Dan McCollam who was in the band.  So we had two guitars, bass and drums.  We first started playing together in 1980, and in ’81 Dan left the band.  He was just about to get married and we were living very poorly in those days…starving to death…eight people in a two-bedroom house. It wasn’t a real pretty scene and Dan at one point decided to go start his life with his lady and we all totally understood.  There were no hard feelings.  We love Dan – still friends with him.  He left, and I called an old friend from Mississippi - who was a great guitar player – named Kirk Henderson, and asked him if he wanted to come up and fill in…and join the band.  So he drove up to Springfield, Missouri, where we all lived, and he joined the band and he stayed with us until the end of 1982.  We were called “The Edge” during this entire time, and at one point, basically Kirk had the same feeling that he just felt that we three were more connected and that it just wasn’t working for him, and he decided to leave.  So we were left with a three-piece at that point, and we decided to change our name to “Sneak Preview” at that moment just because we wanted to differentiate between that band and the four-piece band we sort of had built up a name we were known for; because when we went three-piece. We started - we decided - we were limited somewhat in doing all the guitar stuff we were doing earlier, me and Kirk used to do dual leads, we would cover keyboard parts with guitars, everything – there was a lot more covered.  So, when we went three-piece, we knew that…it wasn’t…at first, it was just because Kirk quit.  I never had any intension of us staying a three-piece, mainly for all those reasons I just mentioned…’cause I didn’t think I could cover all this world of sound that we used to need two guitars to do.  First thing that happened was we had to change our music – change which songs we were playing…we were doing things like “Roundabout.”  Stuff that had very obvious separate keyboard and guitar parts that you can’t do with just one instrument.  So, we dropped that kind of more classic stuff and started doing more modern – at that time – kind of music.  Sort of underground alternative for that time, but that was also popular in certain college towns.  And that’s when we changed the name to “Sneak Preview” and made that album and it’s entirely different kind of music than what we were doing up to that point.  And so, that’s why the change of name and everything.  Anyway, after we played a few shows three-piece, Doug and Jerry were really digging it, and they wanted to keep it three-piece.  I wasn’t so sure, but I went along with it and we never really changed – still to this day.

MSJ: Another fun, but less cherished possession is my cassette tape by Morgan Cryar that you guys had a role in.  Weren’t the band that we came to know and love as King’s X close to signing and recording with Star Song?
No, we did not sign with Star Song, but we did work for them.  What it was, was they were big fans of ours.  They had seen us live a few times and just really loved the band and they wanted to sign us, but we told them, “No thanks, we’re not wanting to go that route, we just want to be a band.”  They said, “Well, I’ll tell you what, we’ve got this artist named Morgan Cryar, and we really believe in him, he’s a very good songwriter, but we need him to work with a band, a group of guys that really play together, we need him to work with somebody like that, and possibly back him up – as a band – on tour for a little while.”  And in return, they would pay off our debts on our PA and lights that we were paying for – and they would give us a salary for a year – and they would put us in the studio to demo some stuff to try to get a deal.  So that was the deal we worked out with them.  We helped out them with their artist Morgan – I actually ended up writing with Morgan the large majority of that Fuel on the Fire album, and we toured for a while, and it was a good experience, but it never was intended for us to continue in that direction or sign with Star Song.  What happened is Star Song introduced us to Sam Taylor.  And that’s how we met Sam.  And Sam just basically helped us to be more disciplined.  He just helped us work harder.  He helped us get on a schedule, and get real with it.  That was, in my opinion, the main thing he brought to it; he helped make us professionals, and we didn’t know what being professional was...even though we’d been touring and doing stuff for seven years at that point, we’d never done it at the high level of real professionals, so we were green still, even though we’d put in all those years.  So, Sam just showed us the ropes, basically.  He’d been working with ZZ Top for a while and he knew how the game was played.  He knew what went on with radio, the charts, with everything.  He just educated us and kicked us in the butt; made us work.
MSJ:

Are there any unreleased demos from that era that might see the light some day?

Possibly.  Yeah, there’s plenty of stuff that we have that nobody’s ever heard, that’s never made it out there in the underground.  I’ve got an entire VHS two-hour tape from my own personal camera of us recording the Gretchen album that no one has seen – I’ve not even watched it all.  I need to digitize it before it’s too old to even be usable anymore.  We’ve got all kinds of stuff that nobody’s seen. 

MSJ: I saw Phil Keaggy in the early ’80s, but I don’t know if it was when you guys backing him up or not.  Did you do the tour with Sheila Walsh opening?
Well, Doug and Jerry are who played with Phil.  We were playing together at the same time that they were playing with Phil.  At one time, they did a three-piece with him up at Wheaton College and tried to get me to come play and I was way too afraid to.  I mean, I was petrified of the idea of getting on stage and trying to keep up with Phil Keaggy.  So I actually never played with him, but Doug and Jerry were playing with him at the same time we were playing together.  I can’t remember if they ever did anything with Sheila Walsh opening – I saw them when they were playing with him and there were a lot of other bands I’ve seen them with, but I don’t remember Sheila Walsh – she could’ve been.  They played with him in 1980, basically.  They may have done one or two shows in ’81, possibly.
MSJ: Any other thoughts about Keaggy, whom I know you hold in high regard?  I know what he’s doing now is different than what he was doing then.  I also heard that there might be a Glass harp reunion in the works.  How does Phil Keaggy play a role in your development as a musician?

Well, he’s one of the big ones on the list for me.  There were several guitar players – about five or six – that had – and have – a big impact on me, and Phil is one of those.  I think the first thing I heard from him was the Love Broke Through album…no, I take that back, I heard stuff earlier than that.  Anyway, I was a fan of his.  I went back and bought What a Day after I heard of him.  That was the only other thing out, so I think Love Broke Through was the second solo album…I’m not positive.  Anyway, I bought that one, freaked out, and started buying anything he did with anybody, like albums he did with Paul Clark, with 2nd Chapter of Acts…that live album, How the West Was Won

MSJ:

I love that version of that song, “Time,” he does on that album.

Oh yeah, killer, classic all-time classic.  And just the solo he does on that too, just by itself…is just awesome.  But anyway, I saw him several times back then, in Mississippi when I was really young and actually met him…just completely petrified meeting at the time.  Ended up, become friends with him after all these years – because of Doug and Jerry.  Actually, we’ve gone to his house and he’s cooked for us before – it was awesome.  We were out there recording in Nashville and he had us over.  He’s come to shows and of course, I’ve gone to, countless of his shows and hung out with him.  As a matter of fact, I saw him in Kansas City with Paul Clark just last year, I think it was, and got to hang out with him a bit – that was cool.  But he’s huge for me.  He’s the first person I saw do volume swells, to do other things on a guitar to make it sound like other instruments.  It was just a new way of thinking about guitar when I saw him play.  At first, it made me want to give up.  When I saw him live, the first time I saw him, it was on the Phil Keaggy Band tour…the first time I saw him with a band.  I saw him on that tour and just wanted to quit.  It was so mind-boggling I thought, I’ll never be able to play guitar to any level that matters if people like this are out there playing.  It totally freaked me out.  But, of course, instead of quitting, I just went home and tried harder...and just kept playing.  But he is one of those big influences that caused me to want to play leads, mainly.  There were a lot of other players who affected me for rhythm playing, but lead playing-wise, he just dumb-founded me.  And is one of the all-time greatest guitar players I’ve ever seen live.  And also, one of his influences is Alan Holdsworth.  In the same way he also affects me, in the same way.  He like, makes it become a different instrument at times.  It’s just amazing what he does.    

MSJ:

He’s another one that the world needs to hear more of, I think.

Yeah, yeah…that first UK album…it just messed with me the same way it did the first time I saw Phil Keaggy.  But, it made me go stretch out and try to do something a little bit different, you know?

MSJ: That first UK album was one of the first albums I reviewed for Music Street Journal.  They were a great band even without him, but they couldn’t replace him, so they went on without him.
Yeah, to me the magic was him in the middle of what they were doing.  
MSJ: “Pleaides” has been cited as the genesis of the King’s X sound.  How would you describe the process that led to its development – both before you brought it to the band and after collaboration?  And, was a recording of it attempted for Out of the Silent Planet?  I know “Moanjam” was recorded for the first couple albums, but held off until faith hope love.

Yeah, you know, I seem to recall that we gave “Pleaides” a try and held off on it ’til the following record, initially.  Because it just wasn’t…I don’t know…any time we try something in the studio, it doesn’t matter if we like the song or not.  It has to feel like we captured something or we let it go and try it again later.  And we’ve had a lot of those.  And I’m pretty sure “Pleaides” was one of those because it was the first real King’s X song we had, so it obviously was in the pile of songs being considered.  The way that the song came about was, I had an apartment, and I had a couple of my best friends living with me, Dale Richardson and Marty Warren – friends from Mississippi.  And we are all musicians and write music and everything…and one of the reasons we were living together…this was during the time that we were working with Morgan Cryar and getting paid to be his band and we would be off the road for weeks at a time and I’d still be getting a pay check. So basically what happened is, I called up my friend Marty first. He moved up; and said, “look man, let’s write some music together, I’ve got a lot of free time…come out to Houston, get to know the place and let’s just see what happens.”  Me and Marty started writing stuff initially and then Dale came and joined us, too.  And all three of us started writing, so “Pleaides” is one of those songs that came from this year-of-writing frenzy.  We wrote countless songs.  A lot of which, parts and things have been used on King’s X stuff.  But, I was writing “Pleaides” and I had the song basically done as far as the lay-out of it, but I didn’t have all the melodies and stuff on it yet and I was singing the part to it that I was hearing and Dale just started chiming in, doing like the answer line and just helping make decisions like why don’t you do this or that, so we both together collaborated on “Pleaides” until it became this cacophony of insanity at the end on the original demo, which actually, I released that on something called Tacklebox, which was all my original demos of early King’s X stuff.  Anyway, I released that original version.  What we did when we finally did it in the studio, I went home and recorded all that noise and craziness off of the original 8-track cassette that we did it on and we flew that onto the record…and it’s actually the real thing on the record, too.

MSJ:

Oh, cool.  Thanks for giving that back-story to it.  That name you mentioned, Marty – is he listed as a co-writer on that song?  I seem to recognize his name from an album early...

Dale Richardson is a co-writer on it, but Marty is co-writer on several other songs that are on the first couple albums.

MSJ:

I thought they sounded familiar.  So, by the way, since I listened to Out of the Silent Planet, have you ever heard the song by Iron Maiden called “Out of the Silent Planet?”

No, I have not.

MSJ:

It was on their Brave New World album when they got back with Bruce Dickinson a decade or so ago.  But, it’s obviously from the same source.

I have so many questions I’d like to ask, but if I could first ask about your recollections of 1998, which might be a point of departure, as King’s X moved to Metal Blade, as well as solo albums and side projects.  Tapehead was the first album for the label, which also released Moonflower Lane and Doug Pinnick’s Massive Grooves… as Poundhound.  Could you reflect a bit on that period for King’s X and for you as a new solo artist?

It was definitely a transitional time for us.  I think maybe that we were not quite sure where we were going or what we were doing, but the fact that Metal Blade just basically gave us freedom to do whatever we wanted felt really great, so when we went into the studio to do Tapehead, I remember feeling no pressure at all.  That’s one thing I remember about the time.  We weren’t sure what we were going to do, but I remember there was just no pressure.  It was like, you know, they just want us to do whatever makes us happy.  They loved the band and they don’t want to…they just want us to keep doing whatever it is we do. So we locked ourselves into Doug’s studio at the time, for the first part of the album, and just started writing stuff together, and we had never done it that way before.  In the past we had just brought music in, either my demos, Jerry’s or Doug’s and we would sometimes rewrite, rearrange or change them or whatever, rework them and all that; sometimes we learn things the way they were originally written, it just depends on the song.  But we had never gone into the studio with nothing, just to see what would happen.  And it turned out to be, you know, no pressure at all, like I said, and just a lot of fun.  It was scary because we were out on our own. We didn’t have a producer in the studio with us; we were hoping it was sounding okay and all that stuff, doing our best.  We were scared about those things – or at least I was, because I was doing the production.  But, as far as the music part, it was a blast!  It was very fun.  And I just remember it as a good time.
MSJ: Well I remember that Doug never used to enjoy working in the studio, so that must have been a more pleasurable experience for him too, because he obviously spends a lot of time in the studio – or has since then.
Yeah.  I think he really enjoyed Tapehead compared to how we do most albums.
MSJ:

Moonflower Lane, that was your first solo album, and I believe you played everything on that album, in contrast to Naomi’s Solar Pumpkin, technically your first solo album, but maybe not as widespread in its release.

When I made Naomi’s Solar Pumpkin, I made it as a demo to get a record deal with, truthfully.  It was just something I did without really worrying about if it was ever gonna be out for real or not.  I just thought I would record some stuff and see what Metal Blade thought and if they would want to do a solo album.  So, I did that first and it actually did really, really well for just, back in the old days when you didn’t have the ease of iTunes downloads and all that kind of stuff.  It was just people basically people sending checks in the mail to me for their CD kind of stuff.

MSJ:

That’s how I got my copy.

Oh did you?  Really?  Wow.  We sold a load of them!  We sold more of them than I sell these days, even with all the convenience and stuff.  It did really well, so I was surprised by that…  I let Metal Blade hear the record and I said, “what if I do a real one where we put it in stores and I might use some of these songs on the real one, but promise to put new stuff on it too that’s not on this one.” And they said, “Sure, let’s do that...because I didn’t want to have to write a whole new album.”  So I used some of the songs, and the ones that were on Naomi’s Solar Pumpkin, I played everything on that record, but on the Moonflower Lane album, I played most everything on that one, but Alan Doss from Galactic Cowboys played drums, and I can’t remember for sure – I’d have to look at the credits - but possibly Wally Farkas is on that one somewhere, too, I can’t remember.

MSJ:

It says he does something like Snake Charmer or something like that.

Yeah, he probably did some weird noises on it.  And actually, Ben and Monty came in and sang on it too, come to think of it, so it was all of the Cowboys.  Cool.

MSJ:

I know Jerry played some on Doug’s Poundhound albums.  Any news on Jerry’s current health and the loss of his home to Hurricane Sandy? 

Well, first of all, he’s doing great, as far as health and physically.  We went out and did some shows with Kansas a couple of months ago – or so – back in August and September.  He was just feeling fantastic and getting better all the time.  We did kind of a short opening thing with them, just not to push it too hard and test things.  But he felt great.  And we enjoyed playing together.  He’s eating more healthy and feeling better than he ever has in his life right now.  So, that’s good – as far as health.  His home, with Hurricane Sandy, got devastated.  Just massive flood waters just went through the town that he lived in – it was several feet high in the house - just swept things like couches and refrigerators like they were nothing…just swept them away…just ruined everything in the home – including the home.  The home is not livable.  So he got displaced by the hurricane and he’s living somewhere temporarily now.  There is a fund set up online where people are contributing to help him out – to help him to get set back up.  He lost all of his possessions, basically - he and his wife – other than what they had with them.  It was a serious loss.  Anybody who wants to contribute to help can go to KingsXrocks.com, and on the front page of King’s X Rocks, there’s a little widget where you can donate or give a gift to Jerry.  So far, last time I checked, donations were over $20,000 and we were trying to reach $25,000 by Christmas, so it looks like it’s doing real well and it’ll be helpful for getting back on his feet.  Jerry always has a great attitude.  Jerry is always the one who says, “It’s gonna be okay,” and things like that, so…Jerry and Julie both are exceptional people, and they’ll get through all of this.
MSJ: And isn’t there also a download of a live recording that has funds that go to help them?

Yeah, that actually was for raising money for Jerry’s medical expenses.  When he had his heart attack, he was in a coma, pretty much, for three weeks on breathing help and they had to do the thing in his throat to help him breath and he was on a machine; assisted breathing; so it was a lot of hospital expense.  He had physical therapy for a while after that, when he finally did come out of his coma.  Several different procedures and things, so as you know, that kind of hospital stay is just an astounding amount of money, even if you have insurance, unless you have 100% insurance, it’s a devastating blow of countless thousands of dollars.  So we did release this live thing that, we’re really proud of it.  It’s not just something we threw out there.  Wally did a really good job on it and Molken Music released it.  It’s a very exciting – I think – album.  And we’re using all funds that come in from that to go toward Jerry’s medical expenses.  So, we have two different fund raisers helping Jerry for two different things right now.  It’s been one heck of a year for him.

MSJ:

Well, I’m sure it’s been a challenging for all you guys, but it’s nice to hear that King’s X fans have helped in ways they can.

It’s been amazing.  It’s been amazing.  The fans…are just…I don’t even have words to say how awesome King’s X fans are.

MSJ: It’s a pretty hard-core following, I’d say.

I’m embarrassed to say that I only have your first three solo albums and was really unaware (until yesterday) of your three most recent.  I do, however, have at least one album by each of your three side projects, Platypus, Jelly Jam and Jughead.

Yeah, and we released a new one after something like six or eight years off... we released a new one last year.  And it’s by far our favorite thing we’ve ever done together.  We love that record.  It was so much fun and we enjoyed it so much we decided to go ahead and get on with another one.  It’s largely done…I have yet to do vocals and write some of the lyrics still.  But musically it’s pretty close to being done.  It’s yet another very different album than the one we just did, it’s like, I can’t ever know where we’re going to go and it’s always exciting to see, ’cause it’s just unpredictable…this is an entirely different beast.  But I’m digging it big time.

MSJ: While I was compiling questions for this interview, I was listening to my MP3 player on shuffle yesterday and “The Oath,” from Kiss’ Music From “The Elder,” popped up.  Earlier in the day I read the recent interview you did talking about that album.  So, I thought that was very serendipitous.  My wife and I were very impressed to find that you hold that album in high regard, like we do.

 Cool...cool…yeah, I love that record.  I don’t care what anybody says, I love it.  I know it’s not for everybody, but I think it’s fantastic.

MSJ: Yeah, it’s great all around.  My wife was thinking it might be because of the Mythopoetic themes on the album, which we identify with in our own music (we have an acoustic progressive folk duo called Earthshine), but I told her you said it had more to do with the music itself.  I see some Mythopoetic themes in King’s X music as well.  Are you familiar with that term?

I’m not familiar with the term, but I can guess what it means.  I am attracted to that side of it, too.  I guess I was just saying in the interview that initially, the first thing that got me was the music.  I wasn’t even caring if it was a story or what at first, I was just like, what’s the new Kiss sound like, you know what I mean?  That was as much as I was thinking at the time.  And so, on just the musical aspect alone, it was such a departure, but at the same time, interesting to me, to see them doing that.  Then later, the album started drilling on me and I find myself attracted to a lot of stuff like that, so I guess I do like that element after all.  When I was a kid growing up, I was more concerned with music than anything else…music and melody, and really didn’t care about lyrics at all.  At the time The Elder came out was around the time – and I know this is ridiculous…to be that old and to be saying this – but it wasn’t until about that time that I even began caring about lyrics at all.  So that album was probably one of the first ones that I started following the storyline…the way I tried to describe it in the interview was it reminded me of Tommy.

MSJ:

Totally…I like the way that you referred to “I Am Just a Boy” having a theme that’s ethereal above the music.  It’s too bad that Kiss hasn’t embraced that album the way that some of the fans have.

It was just the timing of where the world was at musically; it’s just unfortunate when that came out, it would have been very difficult to have been given it an open ear, really, I think.
MSJ:

 (As a little aside, I just picked up a used copy of Double Platinum on CD a week ago!  And you mentioned having that album, too.  But, I encourage you to give Dynasty another chance – especially being a fan of Ace!)  I think the three songs that Ace does on that and the one song that Peter does are for me, the best half of the album.

The thing that I don’t like is the vibe of the album, because it’s not Peter on drums.  Nobody knows that, but Peter didn’t play a note on that album.  It’s Anton Fig from Letterman Band on that album, so it has an entirely different vibe and feel because of that.  That’s my main thing.  I just knew it wasn’t really Kiss; that turned me off.

MSJ:

 Peter does play on one song, and that’s the song that he sings.  Anton Fig plays on all of Unmasked, but all but that one song on Dynasty.  The reason was, Peter had broken both his hands or wrists in a car accident and he played the drums with his sticks duct taped into his hands.  So, that’s kind of an amazing feat.

Wow!  I didn’t know that.

MSJ:

Well, I haven’t picked up his autobiography yet, which just came out, but I read that in an interview or two, so we’ll see how he addresses that…

I had a friend text me yesterday who’s sending me an autographed copy of that.

MSJ: Cool.

Yeah, I can’t wait.

MSJ:
I read Ace’s last year and Gene’s a few years ago and I though Ace was much more generous with Gene than Gene was with Ace.

(Laughs)

MSJ:

Obviously, Bob Ezrin’s role at the helm left a big imprint on the three albums he did with them.  With that in mind, is there a producer that you would really like to work with on either a King’s X or solo album?

I sort of have worked with my dream producer.  I think that Brendan O’Brien is awesome.  He’s really fun to work with and he’s just a good guy.  We very luckily did Dogman with him…that was a great experience.  And we worked with Michael Wagener – another one of my favorites.  So, I don’t know…I would have to really think about it. I would have to really think about that…I don’t know.  I don’t know who works with us, that’s the problem…we never know what’s the right thing for us, because we’re not even sure what we are.

MSJ: It’s always finding that right combination.  Dogman’s my favorite…if I had to pick a favorite King’s X album that’s my favorite one.  I hadn’t planned on asking this question, but it just occurred to me that you’ve done a little bit of production and I really loved the production on the Rez Band album that you did.

Oh cool.  Thank you.  I appreciate that.  That was a lot of fun.  A whole lot of fun.

MSJ:

I think Glenn Kaiser is one of the greatest vocalists in rock music of all time.

He is awesome.  And in the studio all he has to do is walk out there and sing.  I mean, there’s not a lot of punching and changing this or that, he just goes and does it.  It’s amazing.

MSJ:

So, that was kind of an aside there, but we were just talking about Kiss a little bit, and I know that Gene Simmons was an early enthusiastic supporter of King’s X.  I recall a full page ad when Gretchen came out with quotes from Gene; perhaps Scott Ian and Vernon Reid, Kip Winger; it seemed like everbody was a cheerleader for King’s X; and when Jeff Ament wearing a faith hope love T-shirt during Pearl Jam’s debut on SNL…that was awesome.  I’m just wondering, is there a rock star who is not a King’s X fan?

(laughter) I’m sure…I’m sure there are plenty.  We are very just blown away and thankful for the amazing support that we’ve had from people in the industry throughout the years…it’s an honor.

MSJ:

You should be honored for that, because that’s pretty cool.  I should mention by way of a disclaimer, that King’s X are probably my favorite band and have been since 1988.  Others that have shared that distinction in my life, include The Beatles, the Jackson 5, Kiss, Rush, U2 and Kansas.  You recently did a short tour with Kansas.  I can think of Ty Tabor and King’s X connections for each of those bands, but one - thoughts?

We were actually a band touring when we first heard of [U2].  They came out right after us.  We were actually playing in Houston and they played some club called Cardi’s for about 30 people the night before we played there.  And Doug went over to see them…and I didn’t even go see them – like a dummy.  I didn’t know who they were.  Nobody knew who they were – they were totally unknown.  So, Doug was floored by them.  He was the huge U2 fan in our band and I was basically forced during every single day of setting up our own gear in our clubs and this-and-that to hear the one and only, or maybe two, U2 albums that existed at the time…over and over and over forever.  I knew every single utterance on those first two albums because of Doug.  He just was so floored.  By the time Unforgettable Fire came out a little while later, with Jay Phebus, our soundman at the time, and we were out there doing some skiing, and we found that U2 were playing at McNichols Arena, and of course it was sold out – this was like a year after their Red Rocks live thing that had become a phenomenon – so at this point they are getting really big.  And so, we just drive down to the arena, just in case, we just walk right up and somebody goes, “I’ve got seats, like four or five rows from the stage.”  And we took them, got in, and it was one of the most amazing things I had ever seen in my life.  I had no idea how magical they were.  So from that time on I became a huge U2 fan, too.  But it took seeing them to get it.  They’re a big influence on our band; and of course the Beatles are huge.  Rush was a massive influence on me.  I’ve been very fortunate to meet them on occasion and hang out – I got to hang out with Alex a couple years back and it was just one of the best times ever – just to get to sit around talking guitars with him after all these years.  I’d met him before, we knew each other, but we never had the chance to just sit and spend time rapping and that was fun, to ask  him a bunch of cool Rush questions and guitar questions.

MSJ:

And he seems like he’s just hilarious, too.

He’s awesome - the most friendly guy in the world.
MSJ:

I’m so glad that they did that Beyond the Lighted Stage documentary, just to see Alex doing something other than playing guitar – feeling like you got to get to know him a bit, was just really something.

Yeah, and Neil, too.  Because you never hear anything about Neil, and it’s great to see him laughing and doing jokes or whatever.
MSJ:

Exactly.  Well, looking back on those early, days of King’s X, my band at the time, Wedlock, was a also a trio.  I dragged my guitar player at the time, to a small club in St. Paul, Minnesota, to see you guys on the Out of the Silent Planet tour.  I told him I’d pay his way to go (it was like five bucks or something).  There were five other paying customers in this club.  After the local cover band finished, all their fans left with them.  We were amazed to be treated to what seemed like a private audience.  We soon incorporated “Goldilox,” “Shot of Love” and “Power of Love” into our set.  I’m just curious if you are aware of any other bands that covered King’s X material in 1989?

I don’t know for sure…I remember being tickled by it. Thinking, wow, that’s really super cool that someone’s playing our music.  I don’t remember exactly when it was…it was pretty early on, though.  Because “Goldilox” seemed to kind of get out there real quick and be a part of peoples’ weddings and stuff like that.  People were sending us videos and cassettes of their versions.  So, it was early on.  But it wasn’t like, en masse…we just heard of a few people here and there doing it.  We were just blown away. It was just so cool to hear other peoples’ interpretations.  I remember that “Over My Head” was covered by a lot of people right away when we put that out.

MSJ: We added “Over My Head” later as well.  An interesting thing about the quality of your guys’ music is that we also covered songs in my band by Queensryche and The Call and other less-than-popular stuff at the time.  We opened a show for that band, One Bad Pig, do you remember them?
Yeah, they played with us!
MSJ:

Well, we opened for them in Minneapolis and Dez Dickerson - who was in Prince & the Revolution – was at the show.  He came up to us afterward and was interested in producing some demos for us.  Until, through conversation, we realized that the songs he was most interested in were “Shot of Love” and “Over My Head.”  And we had to tell him that they weren’t ours, that they were your songs!

Oh wow!
MSJ: And he’d never heard of you!  So we tried to turn him on to you.

So you introduced him to us...because he came to a show to meet us up there, too.  And we got to meet him…that was so cool.

MSJ:

Very cool.  Well, nothing ever became of it, but it was kind of cool that he was interested, but it was more the quality of the material I think than the musicianship, as I’ve been made aware of when I dug out the old videos of us and thought, “Oh, I should put this online,” then I just cringe and think, “boy, do I really want to expose my inadequacies like that?”

Oh yeah.  I know the feeling.  When we put demos out it’s always exactly that way.  It’s like, “Oh god, I can’t believe I’m doing this.”

MSJ: I have made many King’s X compilation tapes/CDs over the past 24 years, trying to turn people on to the band.  Several of them became huge fans!  If you were trying to introduce someone to the band who didn’t know who you were, could you pick one song from each album, but that might take too long…

Plus, I’m probably the last person who should make that decision because I’m too close to it.  I’d probably recommend that somebody come to a live show if they really want to get the idea of what we’re about.  Then they could pick up any album and hopefully kind of get what the deal is.

MSJ:

Right.  Live is where you guys really shine.  I had a friend who went down to see you – did you ever play at Red Rocks?

Yeah.
MSJ:

Was that with Dream Theater?

No, it was with Primus and X and Gogol and a whole bunch of real wild bands.

MSJ:

 It might have been just another Denver show.  A friend of mine went to see…he’s a big Satriani fan, so I think it was Satriani and I don’t know if you’ve ever been on the bill with him, but I know it was Dream Theater, and I asked him what he thought of King’s X and he said, "well, they played that one song that goes on and on with all the syncopated starts and stops that just blow you away. " And I said, "you mean 'We Were Born to Be Loved.'"  And he goes, “I don’t know what it’s called, but that’s worth the price of admission right there.”

(Laughs) Cool.

MSJ: Music Street Journal pretty much focuses on covering prog and metal.  You guys have a real unique sound.  I don’t know where you see yourselves fitting in, or you probably don’t even like to be pigeonholed, but I know people have talked about your influence on the grunge sound, the early Seattle scene.  You once shared management with Rush at one point.  You have side projects with members of Dixie Dregs and Dream Theater.  I’m just wondering, other than just rock ‘n’ roll, if you were trying to explain to someone what King’s X was like, what do you think would be a likely genre or description?
I don’t think there is a genre that exists yet, but there is one that could exist that would sort of nail it, I think…because I’ve always thought of us…and I can’t remember who first said it and coined it…but for many, many years – since the beginning – we’ve thought of ourselves as Heavy Melody.  And there is no Heavy Melody category, but that’s what we are, a combination of Beatles meets super heavy.
MSJ: Very cool.  I remember in an early interview, probably the first or second album, someone had said to you that…you guys sounded like a cross between U2 and Metallica.  And you said, “well, that’s interesting, but since we’ve been around as long or longer than those bands, it’s probably more fair to say that maybe we’re more like a combination of The Beatles and Black Sabbath than anything.”
Yeah, yeah, we have been around longer than either one of those bands – at least as we knew of them.
MSJ:

You’ve survived for over a decade without major label support.  As a band that has experienced hard core support from a long-time fan base, have you felt much effect in the digital era from illegal downloading?  Or does it seem like since you guys do so much touring and have such a die-hard following, has it affected you much?

I think that it’s just a matter of average.  In general, sales are down for everyone.  Because it used to be when you put out an album, they print up 35,000 of them and throw them in every single store in every mall everywhere, every Best Buy everywhere; and when product is out there like that; and being reordered every week; and it’s that easy to find and buy; you obviously sell a whole lot more.  So, the digital age has changed…basically, that world has collapsed, it’s gone away. The world of record stores everywhere is gone, it’s over.  So, the whole venue that used to be our outlet of sales doesn’t even exist anymore.  So, now it’s more about doing it yourself, mostly, and online sales.  That’s something we’ve been investing in and build an audience with and trying cultivate that whole online world thing for some time now.  What we find is that for everyone…including bands that are huge, like…oh man, I’m totally blanking on their name now…there’s a band that usually sells millions of albums that the last couple of albums they do their own thing…selling it on their own…and they’ve experienced the same ratio of less sales by doing it themselves.  But what tips the scales and allows you to be able to do it is that you no longer have all these other people in the middle collecting everything before it ever gets to you so that you never get anything.  These days, if you sell an album, you actually make a profit on it, so even though the numbers are smaller, you’re actually getting something for the album.  There’s a trade-off; it’s a different world; and we’re learning how to live within that world as best we can, but that’s a trade-off everybody’s going through, basically, unless you’re a superstar.
MSJ: Is it Radiohead?  Is that who you’re thinking of?

That’s exactly who I’m thinking of.  I’m sitting here blanking on one of my favorite bands in the world.

MSJ: Well, we’re both getting up there.  I think I’m about the same age as you are.

What?  What?  You’re 30?

MSJ:

Yeah!  Can’t you tell by my grey beard?  I’m 48.

Well, I’ve got you by a few years.  But, that’s okay.

MSJ:

Well, we’re still young compared to Doug.

Yes, yes.

MSJ:

What is Ty Tabor’s biggest Spinal Tap moment?

Oh god!  Oh man, there’s way too many of those to name and they’re all terribly painful.  But they usually have something to do with me sticking my foot in my mouth or saying something ignorantly and being wrong.  There are too many to name, but put those together and there’s my Spinal Tap.

Audio of this interview is available in our members' area. Log in on the main page or sign up today - memberships start at just six bucks.

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.
You'll find an audio interview of this artist in the Music Street Journal members area.
 
More Interviews
Metal/Prog Metal
Non-Prog
Progressive Rock
 
Google

   Creative Commons License
   This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

    © 2021 Music Street Journal                                                                           Site design and programming by Studio Fyra, Inc./Beetcafe.com