Tyketto

Danny Vaughn, ladies and gentlemen, is a first rate singer and a cool ass dude. His band, Tyketto, one of the most underappreciated one and one that did manage to leave a lasting mark with its first couple of albums despite them coming out in the early 90s a time when grunge took over and ruled the media, automatically making melodic hard rock go out of fashion. Following a few years on hiatus of sorts after a self-described farewell album, while Danny was trying to get a variety of other projects of the ground, the band returned with a new album that did OK by commercial standards, and now a year shy of their 30th anniversary, they truly return to form with their fantastic new album “Reach”, one of the best releases to come out of Frontiers this past year. Eager to find out more about the band and the release, Grande Rock contacted Dan and here’s what he had to say.
Tyketto band pic

Hi Danny, I’m glad to have you on Grande Rock. We truly revel in your new album “Reach”… it rocks dude!
 
D: Thank you very much! We have been blown away by how well received the album has been.
 
 
Firstly, do tell us… why did it take you around 4 years to come up with a new studio release? What happened in the meantime?
 
D: It all begins on the last “Dig in Deep” tour. Brooke came to Michael and I and said, quite honestly, that he really wasn’t enjoying touring anymore. He has a lot of family and work responsibilities at home and he couldn’t give himself, physically or emotionally to the band anymore. We understood this completely. It’s never easy. Jimmy also had similar conflicts from home. So at the end of the tour Michael and I got together and talked about whether or not it was time to fold up the Tyketto tent for good. But what we found is that we were both still very fired up about our band. We still wanted to play and we still felt that we had more music to write and record. So we went looking for the right players to make it all work. Ged Rylands had already been playing with us in our live show for a while now, so he was already a part of the team. My first phone call was to Chris Green to take over the guitar duties. I’ve known Chris for a long time. We met about 15 years ago when I toured with him and his UK band Pride. Right away I knew that there was something special there. I was happy to find that he jumped at the chance to join us and there was an instant chemistry between us all. Hooking up with Chris Childs on bass was easy. I’ve been working with Chris in The Ultimate Eagles as well as my solo band for a long time and I think he is, quite simply, the best rock bassist in the UK. And he is also a dear friend so it made our family complete. It took time to do all this and, when it was done, we still didn’t know what our song writing process would be like. We wanted to take our time and do it right so writing the songs for “Reach” took a year and a half. But it was worth it!
 
 
And what about the new members: Chris Green (Pride, Rubicon Cross) on guitars and vocals, Ged Rylands (Ten, Rage Of Angels) on keyboards and vocals and Chris Childs (Thunder, Shadowman) on bass? Are they permanent and did any of them have the chance to contribute to the songwriting part? Do you think that this is one of the best line-ups the band has ever had?
 
D: I do think this is an amazing line up. Both the recordings and the live show have gone up a notch. Or three! They are most certainly permanent members. Or at least, as permanent as they want to be. After all, Chris Childs has a lot of obligations with Thunder and we are aware that at times we may not be able to get hold of him for live shows. As for the songwriting, all the songs on “Reach” were written by Michael, Chris Green and myself. Chris Childs and Ged were also crucial parts in the recording and arranging of these songs. The whole band was very involved in all of it.
 
 
How did you manage to sound so fresh and full of energy on the new album? Which is your driving force in general?
 
D: In the beginning, the big question was, “What kind of album do we want to make”? It took a while to come up with an answer to that. The answer was that we wanted to make an album that captured the excitement and adrenaline rush that happens to us in our live shows. So, after the songs were written, we did 4 or 5 live shows in the UK and the next day, went straight in the studio. We needed to capture how the guys all play when the band is really firing on all cylinders, and we definitely achieved that.
 
 
What does the album title “Reach” declare?
 
D: I think it’s similar to “Dig in Deep” really. It’s a common theme with us as musicians and as people. If you want to achieve something worthwhile, something that has real meaning to you, then it takes serious effort and dedication. You have to reach for it.
 
 
Do give us a hint about each track…
 
D: “Reach”: A song I wrote for my wife, Melissa, (she has waited patiently for 7 years for her own song!) and it’s about the strength of a bond between two people. Knowing that they will be there for you and you for them, no matter what.
 
“Big Money”: Chris Green started this song off with a mighty riff and he and Michael shaped the music together. It’s such a proud, in-your-face piece of music. Lots of swagger! Lyrically, I wrote it about the current struggle between the upper 1%, the billionaire class, and the rest of us.
 
“Kick Like A Mule”: This is just some serious fun! It was the last song we wrote before we started recording the album. I wrote the riff and the lyrics and kept thinking that it was going to need a double kick drum beat, which we never do in Tyketto because Michael isn’t a big fan of that and he has such a fast, single kick that we never needed to use it. The drum beat Michael came up with is so much better than what I had envisioned and it makes the song. It’s a swing beat with a monster rock and roll edge to it.
 
“Circle the Wagons”: My first adventure, as a songwriter, using alternating time signatures. I wrote the music around the basic beats on a drum machine and then started working on the lyrics last. It’s a song about gathering your nearest and dearest close to you when you feel like the world is on the attack.
 
“I Need It Now”: I am a big fan of Rival Sons and I wanted to write a song that was similar to what they do. Balls out, brave and crazy. The guys all ran with the idea and turned it into one of my very favorite songs on the album. A good song to drive to!
 
“Tearing Down the Sky”: This was one of the hardest songs on the album for me to finish. Chris Green had written the music early on and I wasn’t quite connecting to it right away. I would try things, vocally, and throw them away. The final chorus wasn’t written until the last minute while we were in the studio.
 
“Letting Go”: Chris Green sent me this demo he had put together. He said something like, “I know you generally write the acoustic stuff for Tyketto but I thought you might be interested in this happy little piece of music I wrote”. I honestly think Chris was ready for me to say, “Well, it’s nice, but no thanks”. Quite the opposite, as soon as I heard it I had chills all over. I loved it. By the second time I listened to it, I had written the chorus. It just happened so fast. The song is about opening up our spirits and losing our fears and accepting life as it is.
 
“The Fastest Man Alive”: This one started with Michael and the drum beat. Tyketto has never really built songs from the drums up. They have always either started with my melodies or Brooke’s guitar riffs. I suggested to Michael that he try getting into his studio and hammering out some drumbeats that really excited him and this was one of the ones that came out of that experiment. The whole thing is just a lot of fun and I love the big harmony vocals on the chorus.
 
“Remember My Name”: A very dark riff that Chris Green came up with that brought to mind an old western movie. Michael came up with the song title and I had some fun and wrote the lyrics in the vein of a “Magnificent Seven” kind of story where the terrified town goes out to find bad guys to protect them from other bad guys! Sometimes you need the bad guy.
 
“Sparks Will Fly”: This is the only song that was a little bit older than the others. I had this idea floating around for the “Dig in Deep” album but it never got finished. I sent what I had to Chris Green and he beefed up the guitar parts and made it much, much stronger. The bass playing on the album is wonderful all the way through but I particularly love the sound that Chris got on this one. It’s very aggressive.
 
“Scream”: The only song on the album that was written with an outside writer. Our friend, J3, had originally recorded it with Tommy Lee’s Methods Of Mayhem. It was called “Louder”. He thought it might be something that would be great for Tyketto. When I first heard it, I wasn’t convinced. But a week later I found that I couldn’t get the chorus out of my head. That’s always a good sign. So, with J3’s permission, we asked if we could reshape the music and the lyrics for the verses and we made a very different song out of it but kept the original chorus. It is one of my best vocal performances ever recorded. It’s also the song on the album that features Ged the most. He is there, both on keys and vocals, throughout the album but more often than not in a supporting role. Here he takes the main part and it’s very, very good.
 
“The Run”: This was the first song I tried to write for “Reach”. It started the way all the classic Tyketto songs start. With just an acoustic guitar and me singing. I sent the idea to Chris Green and Michael and said, “Let’s see what you come back with”. I was hoping they would get the general idea and give me something I could work with. What they came up with still gives me chills. It was and is everything I had hoped for. It captured the raw emotions of the song. It was perfect. It is written about my uncle, William Vaughn, who passed away in January 2015. I wrote the song 2 weeks after he died and it remains extremely emotional for me.
 
“Precious Little Gets Away” (bonus track): Just a little bit of fun. Okay, it’s a LOT of fun!!
 
 
If I’m right, the recording sessions took place at Rockfield Studios in Wales. Who’s responsible for the album’s mixing, production & mastering? Are you totally satisfied with the final outcome?
 
D: We are absolutely satisfied and ecstatic about the entire recording process. Nick Brine was the engineer in Rockfield, Bruce Buchanan was our producer, who oversaw every aspect of the album’s creation, and it was mixed and mastered by an old friend, Steve Deacutis, at Spa Sound. Each one of these guys did an amazing job and really put their time and their hearts into it all. It was so moving for us, the band, to see these guys who have worked on so many recordings, get so excited and passionate about our album. It was an honor to work with all of them.
 
 
What are your touring plans for far?
 
D: As you may have heard, we had to postpone our tour of Europe and the UK that we had planned for November and December of this year. Luckily, almost all of the dates were rescheduled for January 2017 and we are ready to get out there and shake some stages to pieces! In April 2017 we are appearing at the Frontiers Music Festival in Milan, Italy. In October 2017 we will be appearing in America at the Rock N Skull festival and we are planning on putting a few other American shows around that. We are also trying to set up some of the other places in Europe that we haven’t gotten to so far, like Spain and Greece, and hopefully Scandinavia for later in 2017. We want to keep busy!
 
 
I do not mean to flatter you dude, but you sound so friggin awesome on the album! What’s your secret?!
 
D: Ha Ha! That’s really kind of you, thank you. I don’t know if I have a secret, in particular. I try my best to take good care of my voice. I’ve never smoked and I hardly drink at all and I try to exercise whenever possible. It’s never easy on the road but you have to try.
 
 
What are the expectations from “Reach” and what are your long-term plans for Tyketto?
 
D: I know that we want to make another album. We are so proud of our entire team and how we all came together to make “Reach” that we are hoping to repeat the entire experience. Just when that will happen, I don’t know. As for expectations, it’s hard to have too many because the music business is in such a decline and is completely unpredictable. I think the most you can hope for is to be able to keep on playing and writing and hoping that people will keep coming to check out what you do.
 
 
How did the re-issue of “Don’t Come Easy” come about? Did you have it in the back of your mind to do it at some point or it just came about?
 
D: It was never up to us. Geffen Records owns the master tapes of “Don’t Come Easy” and, though we tried many times, they would never license it to the band. They would only deal with another record company. Even then, it seemed to take them forever to allow anybody to release it again, which is a shame because that meant that some of our most loyal fans had to spend too much money to get a copy from Japan, which was the only country that had the rights to print it. I know that Rock Candy had tried many times to get Geffen to license it to them and, finally, they said “yes”. It’s about bloody time!
 
 
Did your debut, “Don’t Come Easy”, cause you any kind of anxiety at all? Is it a curse or a blessing to have released one of the top hard rock albums of all-time after all?
 
D: It’s a little of both. You realize after a while that you can’t please everyone. Some people want you to make an album that sounds just like it all over again. Other people would call you lazy and uninspired if you did. In the end, we always approach writing new songs the same way. We don’t try to sound like “Don’t Come Easy” but we also don’t make any deliberate attempt to keep away from that sound either. Musicians have to keep changing and growing. We have new ideas and insights the more years that we add on and they shouldn’t be ignored. You have to bring all your experiences to the game.
 
 
By the way how was your time in Crete? Did you enjoy your stay there?
 
D: We absolutely loved it! Such a beautiful place and the Greek rock fans are very serious about their love of music. Plus, it was my birthday and I had a whole bar full of rockers sing me “Happy Birthday” that night. The best!
 
Tyketto band pic
 
Time for our “weird questions”!!! How did you come up with the name Tyketto initially?
 
D: You should know that by now!! :) It was a word Brooke saw spray painted on a wall in Brooklyn. We thought it might be a gang tag but we looked it up, asked around, checked other languages and couldn’t find anything else quite like it. It sounded cool so we kept it.
 
 
What do you think could have happened if “grunge” hadn’t taken the biz by storm in the early 90s? What went wrong and the whole “hard rock movement” crushed & burned “overnight”?
 
D: A lot of people blame grunge for killing off the rock and roll that they loved. But it isn’t true. Music is deeply linked with fashion and other businesses, unfortunately. Any time you have new music being made there is someone that is hovering around thinking of ways to market, advertise and sell it just like cars, refrigerators and food! Sometimes markets get over saturated, meaning that you just see their advertisements too often and you don’t want to see them any more. In the late 80’s and early 90’s there were just too many bands being put out there with great hair and matching, studded leather jump suits. And when the fashion changed, it took everybody with decent hair and good vocal melodies out of the main stream. In it’s time grunge died too and made way for something else. It’s an endless cycle.
 
 
If you could “erase” one thing from modern music, what would it be?
 
D: Kanye West…
 
 
Which is that band that you’d like to be part of (any time & era)?
 
D: Huey Lewis and The News. They were one of the only bands that managed to be wildly successful while also having fun, never falling out of friendship with one another and never getting addicted to drugs. I think they must have had an amazing amount of fun.
 
 
Has the internet changed the ways music should be played and released or not? Is it a “divine gift” or a curse?
 
D: It has changed everything. And it is both a blessing and a curse. It’s blessing is that anyone has at least a small chance of being heard and they don’t need big money, big management or record companies. It’s a curse because now it has created an entire generation of young people who think that music should be free and don’t know or care how much time, effort and money still goes into making recordings.
 
 
Top 3 comedy movies of any era?
 
D: “Young Frankenstein”, “This Is Spinal Tap” and “Blazing Saddles”…
 
 
Best 3 hard rock albums of all time?
 
D: Highway to Hell” by AC/DC, “Physical Graffiti” by Led Zeppelin and “Dogman” by King’s X.
 
 
Were you obliged to give just one album to extraterrestrials that would represent the whole human music, which album would it be and from which band/artist?
 
D: “Songs in the Key of Life” by Stevie Wonder
 
 
Fill in the phrase… “Hard Rock music wouldn’t have evolved the way it did, if it hadn’t been for…”
 
D: Beer…
 
 
Who is the sexiest female Rock Star of all time?
 
D: Joan Jett
 
 
Which do you consider to be the best female & male vocalist in rock history?
 
D: I don’t like doing these because there are endless choices here and I have so many favorites. Two that I love are Beth Hart and Paul Rodgers.
 
 
What’s the worst thing one can say right after sex?
 
D: “Who’s hamster is that?”…
 
 
If you had the chance to travel in time… where would you choose to go? To the past or the future and why?
 
D: I wouldn’t. I’m quite happy exactly where and when I am.
 
 
Which character from the “Game of Thrones” would you have been – if you lived in the Seven Kingdoms?
 
D: That’s not an easy choice because almost all of them come to a really terrible end! Oberyn Martell, because he was living a great life right up until he got his head crushed!
 
 
Imagine that your wife is selling your whole album-collection just to buy an expensive ring for herself. How would you react?
 
D: I’m not certain what I would do but it would result in jail time for me.
 
 
Finally, we’ve come to an end Danny! Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. Wish you the best for the future to come. Take care, dude!
 
D: Thank you very much for supporting our music and I hope we can meet up somewhere down the road! Best wishes, Danny…