Messed!Up

Tyred Eyes on a changed sonic landscape and speeding up the songwriting process: Interview

J.N. September 26, 2020

If you spent much of your time at venues to watch great garage punk bands ten years ago there’s no way you would have missed a Tyred Eyes gig. Wherever there was a venue, there was a Tyred Eyes show, and it didn’t stop at the Swedish border, the band brought their rowdy garage punk shows across Europe as well.

Ten years after the band started, after a break for a few years of family life and with a new band setup, Tyred Eyes released their third album “Destroy Everything You” last year, but a decade of sonic evolvement has left the garage punk vibes in the past and brought the band onto the indie rock scene.

Messed!Up met up with Erik, Johanna, Oscar and Joel in Gothenburg and chat about new music in progress, working faster in the studio, and how the death of rock music may lead to a techno record in the future.

Morphing into something new

It was a while since I came across anything about Tyred Eyes although you released “Destroy Everything You” last year. Much has happened since those years around 2011 when you toured quite much, but after “Elevator” it turned a bit silent. What happened?
Erik: Yeah, what happened really? It’s quite a long time ago, but if I remember it right life changed and at the same time it became harder to get gigs. Rock music in general has problems to reach out to an audience, young people don’t listen to rock music today. And we didn’t have as much time to tour when people started families.

Joel: Martin [Toresson, one of the founding members] moved from Gothenburg to Stockholm and the band suddenly had to deal with being divided between cities.

But for me it doesn’t feel like we’ve had a break although it may look like it. We always had something going on in the background.

Oscar: Just after I joined the band we started to write new music. The songs we already had when I joined wasn’t made for three guitarists and it was difficult to do something with it, and we changed direction with a new band setup and recorded new songs.

Erik: But we did stuff in between that people tend to forget about, especially a short film about the band that we released when we did a show at Folk [venue in Gothenburg], just after “Elevator”.

The whole project was quite ambitious and was equally time-consuming as doing a record although it was a completely different process, especially how you worked with the material. We really wanted to do something different than just a record and had a great time doing it. I would suggest everyone who reads this interview to watch it (laughs).

Oscar: And don’t forget about ”Arms”. We released a single in 2015 which was a bigger project at the time, but people forget about it as well.

Johanna: That’s how we usually work today, to have an ambition or a goal as long as it’s fun to do it. It doesn’t have to be a tour in Germany – it could be many different things – but it’s important to have an ongoing process and something to reach for.

Joel: You can also compare us to other bands. Many bands could have been just like Tyred Eyes but they’ve quit and sold their gear as soon as the first child was born, but that’s not us, it’s not how we are.

Oscar: We just continue doing our thing. Some people play football while others play music. What’s important is to keep your interest alive and continue doing what is fun in life.

But I remember you as a touring band. Whenever you watched the gig calendar there was a Tyred Eyes gig. How is it to not be a touring band anymore?
Erik: I find it kind of nice. Or am I wrong about it? It was fun to tour as much as we did, but not always. But I still have at least one tour left in me (laughs).

Joel: It’s a sort of momentum. It’s fun to tour when you get great feedback from the audience, you just want to play more and look forward to the next gig, but if you have a break for a few years and expect it to be like usual when you’re back, you will be disappointed. Quite much happens when you’re away, you just need to accept that you have to restart and work on the comeback.

It’s nothing unique for Tyred Eyes, all bands in the same situation have to go through it.

But did it felt like you had to restart after you released “Destroy Everything You” last year? Expectations from fans have changed the last years and many fans expect something new to be released every month.
Johanna: Tyred Eyes exist because we like to hang out and play music together, everything else is secondary. It’s a lot fun to tour, but it’s even more important for us to keep this project alive because we like to hang out as friends.

Joel: Yeah, that’s very important for us because we’ve been through a musical adventure together. If our focus would have been on touring as much as possible we probably wouldn’t have evolved for every new record we released. It would have been more important to release music as quick as possible and then tour on the back of it. But we made it more difficult for ourselves because we’ve changed quite much and today we’re doing indie rock, not garage punk.

Johanna: And that makes it even harder of for us to play venues we used to play because those venues won’t book indie rock bands.

Building a legacy on album releases

From Axl Rose thirteen years to write and record “Chinese Democracy” to Bob Dylan recording “Bringing It All Back Home” in just three days, the time it takes to write a record an album can vary wildly. In comparison, Tyred Eyes two years of writing and recording “Destroy Everything You” doesn’t seem to have been a long and hard process, but for the band the combination of family life and writing moments made it a painful and creatively exhausting process.

However, four new songs are in the final stages of mixing and mastering and this time the new formula for writing music has paid off in a much quicker workflow. And maybe there will be a new album, at least if the band want to continue building their legacy on releasing albums.

When we planned for the interview you said, Erik, that there’s new music on the way. Are you evolving in another direction from “Destroy Everything You” when you consider that your sound has changed quite much between albums?
Erik: We have recorded four new songs but if it will be an album or another type of release we don’t know yet.

I do hope we continue to evolve and don’t stop, it would just be too boring otherwise. Bands I love to listen to myself are just like that, continuously changing their sound for every record they release. For a bigger and established band in the scene, it doesn’t matter if you change much between records, but if you’re a smaller band like us we may get fewer bookings, which is what happened when we left the garage punk scene.

We had a great booker in Europe but after we changed our sound he told us “Sorry, but I can’t sell it to the venues”. As Johanna said, we’ve made it a lot harder for ourselves by continuously changing our sound, there’s nothing to build on, but it’s not made by purpose, it just happens. We don’t have band meetings and decide “Tomorrow we’ll start doing indie rock”. It’s just that when we get better as musicians we also get closer to the vision on how we want to sound like, and we’ve just started on that journey.

If the day arrives when we can’t evolve anymore maybe it’s time to stop, but we’re not even close to that point yet.

Oscar: These new songs are the first ever where we listened to demos of what we already had recorded to sort out what we wanted to continue with.

We usually just did it like “Hey, I’m done with a new song, let’s record it”. Today we have a chat about “Is this something we should continue doing? Is this how we want to sound like? Or is just a good demo but it won’t work on record?”. That’s a huge leap forward for us, to take control of the overall process from the beginning rather than recording everything we write.

Erik: ”Destroy Everything You” is a studio product. Quite much was written in the studio or was rewritten when we recorded it, some songs were even completely remade, and it all ended up to be a very long album process. What we did this time was to rehearse four songs that all of us thought were awesome and then recorded them in the studio. That had quite an impact on our sound.

We also worked faster in the studio and recorded the songs in just one and a half-day and had half a day left for experimenting with our sound, and we could try out things like “What happens if remove the bass guitar and use electronic basslines instead?”. We never had any time for experimenting or changing anything in the studio before.

Kalle, our co-producer on the new songs, claims it sounds like a comeback and that’s a good way to see it because we have a new band setting and a new sound. But to answer your question on how it will sound: you will have to wait and see!

But your goal is a new album? Or will you start doing like many bands today and release EP’s and singles instead, just to flirt with the social media algorithm and reach through the buzz of bands easier?
Oscar: We already been advised to do it like that (laughs). It wasn’t sure at all that our last record was to be released as an album, we had a discussion on splitting it up in singles and EP’s and release music more often. But in the end we wanted it to be an album.

It’s much about a legacy, a physical legacy, something that you can feel with your hands. When I’m old and it’s all over I want to have the opportunity to show my children, like “This is what I did when I was young”. There’s much more to it than just releasing music, the legacy is important and a digital legacy may disappear.

Erik: It’s quite hard to build a legacy on Spotify lists (laughs). I really can’t let go of physical records but maybe it’s time for it.

Joel: It’s also hard when the whole album process is very long, especially for us where it can be weeks between us meeting for band practise. We just have to deal with family life as well. When you work with songs for a very long time you want something more to come out of it than just an EP, something that makes you visible, and for us that’s an album. You can’t really get that satisfactory feeling when you release a new song with a few weeks in between.

Just like Johanna said, we’re doing this for us, and for us to have fun as a band we want to release albums.

Oscar: And we pay for it, there’s no label taking care of the recording costs, and when you pay yourself you can do what you want (laughs).

Joel: I can understand the point with releasing singles but that would only be fun if we would have a faster workflow and release music as soon as it’s done, get back into the studio, record another song and release it directly. But when the conditions for writing and recording music is like “Ok, can all of us take time off and record some songs this weekend?”, then it’s pretty boring to release just one song at the time.

Erik: To get back to our legacy; for me it’s important to have a theme or some sort of context and you can’t really have that when you release one song or a four-song EP. But maybe it will be different with these four new songs we picked from our collection of demos because they were the best and the most fun to play.

Many bands in the same position as you claim that the reason it’s hard to reach out today is that rock music is dead or dying. Young people listen to electronic music and hip hop.
Erik: That’s the problem if you ask me, especially in Sweden. The kind of bands that usually played the venues ten or fifteen years ago don’t do it anymore. We played here one night, at Skjul Fyra Sex, and people turned up when we were done because there was a techno club after the show, but I guess it’s just how tastes in music evolves. We’ve had the thought of starting doing techno (laughs).

Oscar: I’m already there and have a techno project as well (laughs).

Joel: But we won’t give up. It’s not that long ago you could watch loads of indie rock gigs at small venues. It comes in waves and will definitely be back someday.

But the idea is to release music in some form at the beginning of next year?
Erik:  We just had a chat about it before you arrived here today, but the final mixes aren’t done yet and we can’t say when or how it will be released yet.

Joel: This time the whole process has been so fast that I don’t remember all songs (laughs). It’s all happening faster today because all of us live in the Gothenburg area which makes it a lot easier to meet up more often than we did before. When you get more time, you will write more music and you will write better music.

Oscar: It has been a superfast process, and we’ve even had time to meet for band practice most the Tuesdays the last year.

Joel: And we booked a studio slot before we were done. Maybe we need some pressure, a point in time when we have to be done with stuff.

Erik: Yeah, it’s better to have a bit of pressure and not do it as on the last record. It was a way too long process that drained me creatively. Two years isn’t efficient at all although it wasn’t all about us. We released it on Welfare for the first time and recorded it in their studio when there was time over for us to do it. That also had an impact on the overall process.

Oscar: But I have a comeback feeling at the moment. For the first time in years it feels great, especially since we started to speed things up a bit.

*****

If you allow yourself to reflect on the future and touring: is there a tour in the works for Tyred Eyes?
All: Yes!

Joel: But it’s not the most important thing at the moment. Family life and lots of children stopped us from touring a few years and when that’s behind us a pandemic just popped up (laughs). You can’t really plan for touring at the moment but if it changes and we get an opportunity in the spring, why not?

Erik: Don’t take this out of its context because it may sound too cocky, but there’s too much legacy to quit now. Tyred Eyes have done so much great stuff and you can’t just throw all that great music away. If indie rock doesn’t work out anymore, why not try something else. If we want to do a techno record we’ll do it. What’s important is that what the four of us want to do will be the sound of Tyred Eyes.

We will release something in the near future but because of the pandemic we’re not in a hurry. Maybe it’s better to wait and get something out when it’s possible to tour again just to get attention enough to play the three major cities in Sweden. But we would love to tour, that’s for sure.


Photographer: Björn Vallin
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About The Author

Music researcher with an unhealthy passion for music and music festivals. Former studio owner, semi-functional drummer and with a fairly good collection of old analogue synthesizers from the 70's. Indie rock, post rock, electronic/industrial and drum & bass (kind of a mix, yeah?) are usual stuff in my playlists but everything that sounds good will fit in.

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