Singer-songwriter Tyler Rich has been steadily building a fanbase since signing to Big Machine Records.
At the end of October he came over to the UK for the first time to play live as part of Country Music Week where he supported the Striking Matches and closed out the Country Hits Radio Daytime Hub at London’s Bush Hall. He also released new single Rather Be Us to coincide with the trip.
I sat down with Tyler following his final UK show of the trip to talk about his experiences with UK fans, discuss his plans for new music, and to find out when he’s coming back…
You finally made it to the UK! When we last spoke in 2016 you said getting over here was on your long list of things to do like getting a record deal, which you’ve also done! Things have really changed for you. What’s it all been like?
Oh, man. The label was the first thing. You always think that you’re gonna get a deal and it’s gonna get easier and just more fun and it’s gonna be a constant party. It really started all the crazy amounts of hard work. For two years it’s just been nonstop traveling and exploring new places and writing hundreds of songs, and for the first time ever, it just brought me overseas. It’s just so cool seeing people singing along was so cool.
You can’t get a better home than Big Machine can you? What’s it been like to be part of that family?
It is really cool. There’s definitely a little bit of street cred when say Big Machine. All the artists I’ve met and spent time with, they’ve all just been so kind and my entire team at Big Machine, they’ve all just really become family and everybody just works so hard and cohesive as this unit. It’s like you get the perks of being with a massive label but with a small town and a small business mentality. Everybody is very hands on and it’s been awesome the entire time so far.
This is your first trip to the UK and your first time playing live here. What’s your experience been like the past few days?
Eye opening. Surprising. More than I thought it was going to be. I didn’t really know what to expect at all. It was humbling. Just… my god, that show was so cool just now. Watching the entire two rows on each side singing every word… some of them were even singing songs I don’t even have released yet, which means they’ve just been scouring the Internet for videos and hashtags and stuff and it makes me want to come back right away. I’m a really big fan of exploring other cultures and other cities and different types of people and histories. Any time I can come to a new place and explore that city, already makes me happy and to get to come and do it and perform…. it’s incredible because it’s my first time playing overseas. I’ve been to Europe quite a bit. It’s my first time in the UK and then I get to play guitar and then pub hop, It’s been awesome.
Pub-hopping is the most important bit, isn’t it?
It is and I went down to play in Leeds and they were like, ‘hey, you should go to York because York has over 365 pubs’. I took a train from Leeds to York and then just hopped around. Everything looked like Harry Potter in York. I was like, ‘hey, dude this looks like Diagon Alley’ and they were like, ‘they filmed Diagon Alley here’ and I was like, ‘well, that makes a lot of sense! (laughs) It looks like Harry Potter’. It was just incredible. I went to this little place called Harrogate. all just based on recommendations from the label, and they’re like, ‘dude you should do this and you should do that’. I’m actually really sad to leave tomorrow. I don’t think I want to go but I’m gonna find a bunch of British people that love American football tonight and cheer on these 49ers. That’ll be good.
As you’ve already noticed, we have a lot of pubs here in the UK. There’s one on pretty much every corner. On a future trip you’ll have to plan a proper pub crawl…
I love it! This is my fourth day in London so I have been lucky. A lot of times when we travel around, you play a show and you’re in a place for one day so you don’t get to see much of the city. To be here for four days has been awesome but there are so many more pubs, you’re right.
You mentioned that this experience has been eye opening and surprising. In what ways?
Just people singing along and the excitement. In America, there’s always your diehard music fans that are going to be watching and paying attention to everything you’re doing and listening to everything you’re doing, but a lot of times at shows if you’re not playing the song that everybody knows, they’re just ordering drinks or they’re talking to their friends. Here. it was extremely eye opening, even though artists I know that have played have told me it’s what it’s like, it was still eye opening to see that it’s 100% true that fans in the UK, they’re just music fans and they listen to what you’re saying and they listen to what you’re singing about and they pay attention.
A friend of mine told me that it’s almost like when people watch movies, they’ll watch the movie all the way through and give it a shot. It doesn’t mean they’ll watch it again but they will be intently paying attention so make your movie good (laughs). That’s what happened. The meet and greet just now after this show blew me away. So many people waited so long to say hi and they’re like, ‘I’ve been listening to you for three years, it’s so amazing you finally made it overseas’. The Internet is a beautiful thing because social media and streaming services and all that stuff, it’s given our music to the fingertips of people across the world. It’s stuff that you could never do 10 or 15 years ago. I would have had to come over here first. To come here for the first time and see people singing back, it’s crazy.
You’ll definitely notice the people that you saw today, you will probably see at your next gig in the UK and they will always be there. That tends to be what the crowd is here. They’ll jump on to you, see you for the first time and then they will see you every single time you play here…
And I believe you because I got that vibe 100%. Especially during that meet and greet and people I met at the other shows, just their enthusiasm and their genuineness…. I was like, ‘they’re really going to come back and they really are going to tell their friends’. Whether it’s C2C or something else, I’m going to come back as soon as I can.
You just dropped your new track Rather Be Us. It’s been getting a strong reaction from fans. How did that song come about?
I wrote it. It’s very specifically about a rule that my wife and I have that we try not to look at Instagram or social media 15 minutes before going to bed, just because something everybody deals with, we all compare ourselves so much to other people and what they’re doing whether it’s career, their life, or their vacations. But you’re really just comparing yourself to other people’s highlight reels and what they want to post. The first line of the song says, ‘look at this couple on Instagram trying to make the whole world jealous’.
It doesn’t matter if you’re famous or not, everybody is that couple on Instagram because we only post what we want to post. It’s not a camera following us around showing all the bad shows and showing all the shitty nights and the fights and the crying. It only shows the good so you sit there and compare yourself to all of those people and it sucks. I wrote the song just about the fact that we could just go drive out in the middle of nowhere and just do nothing and I would rather be us doing that than all this stuff that we’re looking at.
We had this idea and I actually wrote with Brad Tursi from Old Dominion and my producer Lindsay Rimes. I try to write stuff that actually means something as best as I can and I felt like it was a cool topic that is so present and relevant in our everyday life. It’s something that we all talk about all the time but it’s not something that I’ve ever heard in a song. And I was like, ‘let’s give it a shot’ and it’s so funny because the lyrics are so straightforward. It’s not the type of lyric you usually hear at the beginning of a song. It’s so funny because somebody told me, ‘you know that you and Sabina are that Instagram couple, right?’ and I was like, ‘that’s the whole point, we only post the good stuff’. I’m saying don’t look at us. Be happy with what you got.
After this single, are you working on an EP or is there an album in the works?
As far as my mentality, I’m going just day-by-day because I never truly know what is going to come next. We talk about albums and we talk about EPs. I do believe we’re going to start dropping new songs. We have a couple more songs that are already recorded and pretty much ready to drop and we decided to drop Rather Be Us first and I think the other two will probably be coming up within the next couple of months, which is exciting because everything I’ve ever released has been very spread out. I’m ready for sure. Especially in America, we do 75-minute headlining shows all the time and I only have a few songs released so I’m playing a bunch of songs that nobody can get. I’m ready.
UK audiences love hearing new material during live sets so feel free to come over and test it out on us…
I love it. I’m coming back. It’s such a quick flight. Even if I’m just playing in pubs, I like it. This is the first time I’ve done a true acoustic show, just myself with a guitar on stage, not in like a writers round, for a long time. I did it on the Dustin Lynch and Chris Lane tour, 30 minutes but I haven’t done it in a long time. It was cool. Our live show with the band is pretty intense and it’s aggressive and it’s like a rock show. It’s just in your face and high energy and fun. Now when I do this, I just like to strip it back as much as possible and talk in the middle of the song and like I randomly played that Beatles song, literally for the first time in 10 years.
I feel like when I see somebody play acoustic, I like to feel the organicness and I like to feel like I’m watching that person jamming at their house. The only thing different from the set tonight than me jamming in my house is that I wasn’t sitting down. I was just kind of hanging out (laughing). The energy I’ve found in the UK… the clapping after the songs is incredible and so much longer than a lot of places you go. It was thundering and for a long time. I had to sit back and take it in because a lot of times you play shows and they’re like (Tyler does a short clap), even if they love it but they’re like, ‘what’s next?’. I can’t say it enough. It’s just been an incredible week.
Kudos to you to come over here and play a Beatles song. That takes a brave person…
I know! The only thing that inspired me to do it too, is when we did The Garage (earlier in the week) at the end of a song, I didn’t play tonight but it’s called Made for a Small Town, there’s a chanting part at the end. I realised a couple of months ago that chant works with the chords to Hey Jude. I put it at the end of that song and everybody screamed it back. I didn’t know if that was sacrilegious or not and Archie from the label was like, ‘honestly, as long as you don’t fuck it up, it’s not. People love it’. I came up tonight and I was like, ‘I’m probably going to fuck this up but here we go!’ (laughs).
How is 2020 shaping up for you?
Honestly, it’s all starting to fill up right now. I feel like it’s gonna be much like last year. Hopefully just nonstop touring everywhere and lots of festivals over the summer. The goal is to get on a tour, opening for somebody again and releasing lots of new music. The goal is to see Rather Be Us or any of the other singles to take us where they need to go and hopefully get back over here. This year was absolutely batshit crazy so that’s the only goal, is it has to be batshit crazy and more.
Tyler Rich’s new single Rather Be Us is out now to stream and download. Take a listen to it below: