I had the privilege to sit down with the Country Icon and Superstar and chat about what’s on his mind. And, boy, he’s got a lot!
The Historic Oil Can Harry’s in Studio City hosted TY’s recent live concert to an overflowing and exuberant crowd.
The man knows how to engage his audience. Knows how to pump up the volume, motivate and energize and explode on stage. Though he may be labeled Country, his talent dramatically overlaps into ROCK, R & B, SOUL, POP, MODERN JAZZ and GOSPEL. He is the perfect example of today’s multi-genre singing artist, and he does it with fluid ease!
TY’s guitarist, Eric Halbig, turned the club upside down with his brilliant fingerwork. You’d swear he was channeling the legendary Lindsey Buckingham when he lost himself in the flow. Turns out, Fleetwood Mac is Eric’s favorite Rock band! It shows.
The beautiful Anita Cochran assisted in the hour long set with clean and smooth vocals that stunned the audience. She is a genius songwriter, drowning the lucky listener in deep emotion.
TY was born May 2, 1962, in Butler, Alabama. His close friends are Wynona and Tanya Tucker; he loves to reminisce industry stories about the two. When he made his official ‘coming out’ announcement to the press on November 14, 2015, they were right there by his side.
The Mr. Herndon has sold over 4 million albums, earned 2 Grammy Nominations and is a huge GOSPEL fan.
We sit at a small bar table at Oil Can Harry’s as sound crew and tech (Rick Dominguez) do last minute checks before TY hits the stage for that final rehearsal. We only have a short time…
Waide- The sound of Country is changing dramatically. It’s not your grandfather’s Country anymore. Where do you see Country evolving to?
TY- That’s an interesting question… Country to me is like the rat in the wheel. It keeps running around, going ’round and ’round and ’round. It’s a fast paced business. Constantly moving forward. Constantly staying the same. But, the sounds are constantly changing. The artists are changing. It’s not your grandfather’s Country, but then you got a guy like Chris Stapleton that came back around, who’s ‘Bluesy’ and is your grandfather’s Country… if you remember correctly, you and I are about the same age, and Shania Twain, Faith Hill… Faith morphed into some of Shania’s sounds… but, everyone was saying Country was ‘going Pop’ and they were saying well ‘I’m going to stop listening to Country.’ Then the genre started changing again. Same thing happened when Linda Ronstadt broke into Country. It’s always happening. And now with the Bro Country thing, Dirt Country, new sounds are constantly being created. But, the element of Country… to be in Country… you may have a ‘C’ Sharp in there now, whereas, before, you never would. Core changes. Progressive writing. ‘Wordier’ writing. Used to in writing… when I was growing up in writing, there were things you weren’t allowed to say. Couldn’t say. These days, there aren’t any rules. You can say what the hell you want to say. I certainly have on this new record. Everything about relationships that went wrong and pissed me off… like the song you just heard, “If You,” to writing the most beautiful love song for my partner, my future husband, “From a Love I’ve Never known Before”… to just straight-up what ‘we’ think is happening on Country radio today. Typically, it’s all about the hook. For me, it’s about telling the story…
Waide- Hey, if Taylor Swift can do it, you can do it.
TY- (He laughs) Thank you. Tay can write a song and she puts it out there!
Waide- Here are a list of names…
Waide- Elton John, James Taylor, Don McLean, Billy Joel, Van Morrison, Kris Kristofferson, Neil Diamond, Linda Ronstadt, Rolling Stones, Carly Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Led Zep… all performed at the Troubadour. Rock & Roll heaven! You’re next… you’re going to be performing there later in the year. What’s that like for you?
TY- Oh, maaan! It’s like L.A.’s Grand Ole Opry. It’s hallowed ground. Bonnie Raitt performed there.
Waide- The Pointer Sisters.
TY- Yes! … I walked on the stage the first time there last year with a good friend of mine, Annie Bosko, who was debuting her new album… I’ve been there many times before to see shows, then got to walk the stage with Annie and perform with her, but to come back with this new album and to do my own show there… This Troubadour is the shit!
Waide- Yes, it is.
TY- And, I was saying this earlier, the two venues in town that haven’t changed very much in years, and I love it, is Oil Can Harry’s and the Troubadour.
Waide- Oil Can Harry’s has been here for nearly 50 years. It’s a survivor.
TY- Yes, it is man.
Waide- Just like you.
TY- Yes, I am! I am a happy survivor! The road to happy was paved with many potholes for me. Thank God, like my grandma always said, “Get your life in order and you can fill in those holes”… like my friend Bonnie Raitt, she wouldn’t be the Artist she is today without the trials and tribulations she went through in her life. So, I’m grateful for everything I’ve gone through in my life.
Waide- Most Artists are like that.
TY- … this new album I just made is my favorite album since the first one I put out. It was a year in the making and the longest I’ve ever taken on an album.
Waide- What I’ve heard so far, it’s extremely strong lyrically.
TY- Yes, man!
Waide- What’s your favorite color?
TY- Red… I see it a lot. (He laughs)
Waide- What’s your favorite book?
TY- I read a lot of music articles. Just read a Chris Willman piece on CRS and how Nashville is changing and the power players of Nashville… I was in the piece just by reminiscing a past Country radio seminar with the infamous Tanya Tucker, being on Epic Records, I was actually performing with her one night in Printer’s Alley when she flashed her tits to the whole radio panel… (He laughs again) I was standing on stage, I was with Epic at the time, and she kinda crashed the party. Tanya’s my old friend so I can tease her about showing her tits. Tanya’s awesome, an old and dear friend. But, to answer your question, I’m also a Sci-Fi freak.
Waide- What’s your favorite Sci-Fi film?
TY- Gosh, there’s so many of them… probably… “Star Trek”… I’m a huge Trekkie. But… (Thinking) my favorite movie of all time, let me go back to that, is “Fried Green Tomatoes.” I love that movie. And, another movie similar to that that I really like is “Crimes of The Heart”… Sissy Spacek, Diane Keaton, Tess Harper and Jessica Lange.
Waide- What’s your ‘Happy Place Song”? The song no matter where you are, when you hear it, it changes everything for the better.
TY- (He starts singing & clapping) … all I want to do is have some fun… I’m a big Sheryl Crow fan. “I Can’t Make You Love Me”Bonnie Raitt… The great Mike Reed.
Waide- Your new album drops the first week in May. I can’t wait… Thank you, Ty, for your time. I truly appreciate it.
TY- Thank you, Waide, this was a lot of fun!
He shakes my hand and smiles. His cell phone rings… it’s time for the final rehearsal run…
Live with TY HERNDON was at the Historic Oil Can Harry’s February 12/Resident Country DJ & Sound Tech Rick Dominguez/General Manager Tommy Young/ 11502 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, CA. 91604 Phone: 818-760-9749/ www.oilcanharrysla.com. TY HERNDON information and updates: www.tyherndon.com.