Interview by Robert Cavuoto
King’s X guitarist Ty Tabor will release his new solo album Shades on March 4th via Rat Pak Records. Shades is his 11th solo album and features ten brand new songs with three bonus tracks.
Ty plays guitar and takes on lead vocals to deliver powerfully melodic songs with thought-provoking lyrics. The songs are groove-oriented and showcase his talents as a singer, songwriter, and guitarist. Shades is inherently personal and a testament to his primal spirits, which drive these finely crafted songs. Songs from the heart about love and heartbreak, where redemption is ultimately sought, and the power of the guitar is king. Shades is available for preorder in various configurations including, CD, vinyl, and digital download at: https://smarturl.it/TyTabor.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Ty to talk about the creation of Shades, finding his voice as a solo artist, which songs were the most personal to write, and insight into the making of the new King’s X album due out in 2022. Please be sure to follow My Global Mind on Facebook and Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube and Spotify channels.
Robert Cavuoto: After eleven solo albums and all the King’s X albums, when you are creating music and coming up with riffs, do you tend to hear your voice or dUgs voice in the back of your head more often?
Ty Tabor: I don’t hear any voice, just the melody. When I end up singing the melody, it sounds so different than what is in my head. It’s weird, and I have to get used to it. It doesn’t sound as good [laughing]. On the other hand, when dUg sings songs that I write, I hear and love the vocals with its melody. I prefer that dUg handle if he feels comfortable with it for King’s X.
Robert Cavuoto: Do you feel you have established your solo sound, or do you think it is still evolving?
Ty Tabor: I don’t know. I don’t think about it as I’m not trying to establish a sound. I have veered off a few times only to come back to basics. With this album, I’m more back to basics again. I like to move in different areas continually. If I make the same album two times in a row, I tend to get bored. For me, I slightly nudge myself in different directions all the time. After I have done that a few times, I just want to come back to playing Rock & Roll. I have never thought about it or analyzed it; it just seems to be my pattern.
Robert Cavuoto: I felt that this album had more of an alternative vibe. Do you think that is the case?
Ty Tabor: I know that I didn’t want it to be like any other album. I wanted to explore some different places. At the same time, some of the songs are more straight-ahead and immediate. There is an element of surprise on the album, with parts not being necessarily predictable. I love that.
Robert Cavuoto: Are you more comfortable as a songwriter now than you were younger?
Ty Tabor: Probably, I don’t know that I ever felt comfortable as a songwriter. I have always wanted to be a songwriter and write something good. I just keep trying and trying. When I was young, I was a bit too naïve and not overly critical of the ideas I came up with. I would just get excited about what I created. As you go, you realize that everything you are doing is something somebody else has been doing. It seems that way at first unless you are incredibly original from the get-go. Thinking about U2’s first album. It sounds like a bunch of guys who can barely play but were creating something of their own that I never heard before. When I write, I’m always searching for that type of thing, but I miss it by a long shot on most of my stuff [laughing].
Robert Cavuoto: With that said, what constitutes a good riff for you that you can sing a melody over?
Ty Tabor: A good riff for me is one that makes me smile. Something that makes me want to move or turn it up. You never know what it will be; sometimes, it can be really simple with one note or, other times, a progression that you feel lucky to have come up with. The song “Dogman” made me smile when I came up with that! On Alien Beans, it was the song “Freight Train,” I like that riff for some reason as it makes me want to rock! [Laughing] They are a lot more difficult to come up with than it seems. They seem simple when you come up with a good riff is very elusive.
Robert Cavuoto: The lyrics on some of these songs seem very personal and almost autobiographical, particularly “Best Day in a While.” Was this a personal album?
Ty Tabor: These are all some form of real life. I lost my Dad right before I wrote that song. That is what it is about. I got to spend a good amount of time with him before he passed. We canceled the entire European tour. A lot of people thought Jerry Gaskill was sick, but the reason was because of my Dad. It was some of the best times I have ever had with him and the most time I have spent with him since I was a kid. It was a beautiful and heart-wrenching time, and a few songs came out of it. They were tough to write.
Robert Cavuoto: Were they tough to sing?
Ty Tabor: Very, you can hear my voice breaking in a couple of spots, and it’s not fake.
Robert Cavuoto: How much time do you spend on the sequences of the tracks on the album as the songs flowed so nicely?
Ty Tabor: I spend a lot of time sequencing everything I put out. King’s X does, too, and that is where I learned it. On our first album, sequencing was everything. We found out that changing one song made an entirely different album because of how you perceive it. Sequencing is one of the most important accepts of the entire process. If you want to make it where you start the journey and get somewhere by the end, you don’t think about it; you just go; it is like a movie. That is the way I like to think about sequencing. Shades did not sequence itself; it took a lot of work. Moving one or two songs on the album made it have a totally different vibe.
Robert Cavuoto: Tell me about the importance of finding your own voice as a solo artist?
Ty Tabor: The toughest part about it is that I have to sing [laughing]. I have never been comfortable singing and still not comfortable with it. I have almost the majority of another album written musically and ready, even before Shades is being released, but there is not one note of vocals on any of it because I dread doing vocals that much. I can’t stand doing vocals. It is something I have to force myself to do. I don’t like hearing my voice. Talk about a buzz or creative kill when I have to put my voice on something. It’s drudgery to get my vocals done [laughing].
Robert Cavuoto: You have a great voice.
Ty Tabor: Thank you. All I know is what comes out of my mouth is not what I want to hear [laughing].
Robert Cavuoto: In speaking with you, I hear a bit of an accent, but I don’t hear it on your singing. Where did you grow up?
Ty Tabor: I don’t hear it when I’m singing, but when I hear an interview like this, I cringe and have to turn it off [laughing]. I grew up in Mississippi in a town called Jackson; it changed when I was 12 years old. It got incorporated into its own city called Hurley. When I was born, it wasn’t part of the Jackson, Mississippi, area. I went to the same school and graduated high school from there. It was called McLaurin Heights up until it was 12.
Robert Cavuoto: I spoke with dUg Pinnick a few months back, and he said the new King’s X CD is completed and mastered; when can we see it released?
Ty Tabor: There is an actual date, but it will be up to the record company to say when they are ready to start promoting. Unless something happens that none of us can foresee, it will be out in 2022. We went out and recorded in California in 2019 at two different times. We were there in April for a few weeks and then for a few more in August. Then we came home and discussed a lot of stuff while dUg stayed out there recording. We brought in some extra things like strings. We also felt one of the songs needed more vocals with different melodies. They sent me the tracks to my studio, and I came up with some new vocals and recorded them with similar gear that we used in California. Then Jerry and dUg added more vocals, and even Wally Farkas added some. We finally got everything done and sent it out to be mastered. We even mastered several times to have different options. Michael Parnin [producer] really left no stone unturned. He went way above the call of duty on every level of this to make it the highest quality album that we could. I’m really happy with the way it turned out.
Robert Cavuoto: Do you all get in a room and jam out ideas, or do you each bring in ideas and proceed from there?
Ty Tabor: Because we all live in different places, I’m in Kansas City, Jerry is in New Jersey, and dUg is in Los Angles we wrote stuff on our own, and played tapes for each other. Then we would jam on the ideas. Sometimes we would change the entire outlook of a song or play a different drumbeat. We would be working on the song at that point. Everyone brought in individual ideas, and we started from there.
Robert Cavuoto: Previously, dUg mentioned affectionally to me that King’s X is are a complicated marriage of love, hate, jealousy, difficulty, dysfunctionality all wrapped up into one band, yet we are all the best of friends. How would you describe the band?
Ty Tabor: I would ditto that! [Laughing] That is a very good description. We are brothers and brothers who have been stuck on a bus for nine months. We have been around the worst of each other and still love each other. That’s the amazing thing after all these years.
Robert Cavuoto: He also mentioned that Jerry is the glue that keeps it all together. Do you feel the same that he is the voice of reason?
Ty Tabor: Yeah, he has always been the voice of reason and, at the same time, the voice of insanity! He is both spectrums wide open with no in-between. He is one of the most unique human beings that I have ever met in my entire life. There is nobody like him. He is one of a kind and priceless.
Robert Cavuoto: Will you tour as a solo project before the King’s X album comes out?
Ty Tabor: We will defiantly tour for King’s X this year as we have things booked. I had a slight setback with a broken finger. It has been going slower than I wanted, but I have full confidence that I will be back to normal or close enough to tour this year. That is the goal. I don’t have a solo band because I played everything myself. Over the last two years, I didn’t want to get people together. I would like to tour for my solo stuff at some point, but I think that King’s X is about to get very busy.