Tyler Coe grew up in a family where his father was, and still is one of the greatest songwriters ever to have put pen to paper. (See May 2004 RAG) Tyler has been pictured on two of his fathers’ albums as infant and toddler and now years later touring and sharing a stage with a true icon of the music industry…David Allan Coe. Tyler, a stand-alone musician in his own right, while still busy on the road, took time to do this interview with RAG via several e-mails to give us some insight on what it’s like touring, his social life and time with his father.
RAG - How old were you when you became interested in playing music?
TC - I think I was 8 years old when I started to take drum lessons. The instructor wanted me to hold the sticks “jazz” style, and I didn’t want to, so I quit. Then I played violin for a while but didn’t like that very much either. The sound of me learning to play was so obnoxious that I had to stop.
RAG- What made you decide on guitar?
TC- Girls don’t go for violin players, man. No, I’m kidding. Guitar was almost another casualty of my incompetence. I started playing when I was 14 and gave up after 7 months or so. Then, after I turned 15 I came back to it and everything just made more sense to me. I stopped trying to “learn” how to play and I just started to “play”. It stuck. The guitar is just such a vocal instrument. It drips with emotion. I am in love with it, that’s about all there is to it.
RAG - Who were your major influences?
TC- When I was first learning to play, I liked really bad terrible horrible atrocious music. Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit, other bands that can’t spell their own name, etc. I did like a few bands that I still listen to though. Marcy Playgrounds’ self-titled has been one of my favorite albums since it was first released. I’ve since been exposed to some AMAZING guitar players that have influenced my style more than anyone else. I’ll give you a short list of albums with some awesome guitar work on them. As far as what I play every night with my dad, I like to think I’m influenced by James Iha of the Smashing Pumpkins. He added a lot of texture to their sound and shaped the moods of the songs quite nicely.
A list -
John Frusciante – “To Record Only Water for Ten Days”
Kaki King – “Everybody loves You”
The Mars Volta – “De-loused in the Comatorium”
Jimi Hendrix – Axis - “Bold as Love”
My Bloddy Valentine – “Loveless”
Failure – “Fantastic Planet”
My Morning Jacket – “It Still Moves” (pretty much the only thing a strictly country fan would like on this list…haha)
RAG - What was it like growing up when your father is David Allan Coe?
TC - I get this one all the time. I have no idea how to answer it. Sorry.
RAG - How many brothers and sisters do you have?
TC- I have one brother, Carson, who just turned 13. My sisters, Shyanne and Tanya, are 15 and 17. I also have three half-sisters on my dad’s side.
RAG - Who were some of the famous people that would visit when your father wasn’t touring?
TC - He was ALWAYS touring. I remember meeting Tanya Tucker, Willie Nelson, Leon Russell, Billy Joe Shaver and his son Eddie, Boxcar Willie, Jim Varney, John Travolta and many others that I can’t remember right now. But most of those meetings took place away from home.
RAG- When did you start touring with your father?
TC - I was on the road when I was 2 years old. I sang with him when I was 4. I was so young when we sang on Nashville Now that they had to draw pictures on the cue cards. I couldn’t read. After I started going to school I could only come out for the summer. I tried home schooling on the road for a while when I was 9 or 10 so I could run the lights and projectors. I quit after about a year and went back to school. Then I dropped out the day before the last of my sophomore year and got my GED. My dad asked me to play guitar for him two days before the “Live at the Iron Horse” album was recorded.
RAG - Who are some of the bands that you’ve played shows with?
TC - We’ve done a lot of festival shows where there are a bunch of big names on the bill. It would take me all day to remember who played. When my dad opened up for Kid Rock, he shared the stage with Fuel, Buckcherry, Tantric, Dope and I know I’m forgetting another band, but … oh well.
RAG -What do you do in your spare time when not on stage?
TC - I read a lot of books, usually 3-4 a week, and watch movies on the bus. When I’m at my apartment I find new music on the internet and work on songs on my 8-track recorder.
RAG - Is there anything that you would like to do other than play guitar?
TC - If you mean musically, I like to play around with every instrument I can get my hands on. Tomorrow I’m planning on buying a keyboard I’ve been looking at. I wouldn’t mind taking another shot at the drums. If you mean professionally…then no. I love music. It is my life. I can’t imagine not being involved with music in some way for any long period of time.
RAG - In the interview with your dad, I asked him how he met Kid Rock. Tell us your version and how you got to meet him.
TC - I was reading a guitar magazine and while skimming over it saw my dad’s name. Kid Rock said in an interview something like “David Allan Coe is my favorite song writer”. I saw my dad a week or two after that and told him about it. My dad got in touch with Kid’s management and left his number with them. They ended up recording an album’s worth of material and hitting it off as friends. I don’t really remember the first time I met Kid Rock. It was probably at one of his shows.
RAG - On the album cover “Son Of the South” it shows you sitting on your father’s lap. In the liner notes he says, “That there are two things he’s very proud of. One is his personal relationship with God and the other is you.” How does that make you feel?
TC - I’m glad that he’s proud of me. Especially since I don’t go out of my way to make him happy. He’s proud of me just being myself. That’s a good feeling.
RAG - You are also on the cover of “Granny’s Off Her Rocker”. When did you realize that your dad was a famous musician and you were going to be on his albums?
TC - I’ve always been aware of his celebrity. Sometimes it gets old but it’s a part of my life that I just have to deal with. As for the album covers, the only photo shoot I have any memory of is the one for “Granny’s Off Her Rocker”. The pictures were taken in my mom’s house by a friend of hers who is a photographer. I didn’t know they were going to be used on the cover of an album, but it’s okay. I really have no feelings either way about it.
RAG - Do you get to spend any time with him … just the two of you?
TC - Since I’ve been in the band I don’t see him as much as I used to. Before I started playing in the band I rode on his bus, but sometimes he doesn’t get to the shows until right before we go on. I have to be at the venue all day to set my equipment up and do sound check, etc. I still make a habit of talking to him every night before the shows, though. I like to see how he’s feeling and let him know what kind of people are in the crowd.
RAG - If so, what do you do together?
TC - When I rode on his bus, we watched a lot of movies. A LOT! He still plays me new songs that he’s written and asks my opinion of them. He got me to sing on one of the songs a few years ago. Funny story actually, he had me sing a verse of a song the first time I’d heard it. And only once. So if that ever gets released, that’s the reason why my part sucks.
RAG- Have you had any memorable experiences since you’ve been touring?
TC- I discover new things about myself and my surroundings daily.
RAG- What are some of the pros and cons of being your age and having to tour like you do? ex. Friends, girls, etc.
TC- I’m 20 now. Most kids would be in collage right? I don’t think that would be for me. I’d rather go to a bookstore and learn something for myself. As far as a social life, I don’t really have one. The only people I talk to regularly are the band, crew, venue employees, fans, etc. When I have days off at home, I stay in my apartment as much as possible.
RAG- Is there anything that you want to say to your friends or fans?
TROY_ I want to thank Tyler for taking the time between shows to answer my questions.