“I could imagine no better fate. School at bay, parents at bay, adulthood at bay. A group of buddies who started as kids and kept on forever.” While Rich Cohen originally wrote those words to describe The Rolling Stones, the members of Always Tyrants have been pursuing the same exact fate. After playing music together since middle school, the four members of Always Tyrants went their separate ways…briefly. For Alex, it was becoming a firefighter paramedic on the North Dakota oil fields, for Matt, it meant becoming a beer salesmen while also becoming the youngest elected government official in Nebraska history. Alec managed a restaurant before getting his CDL (delivering beer with Matt), while Zac had a brief stint at going to school to become an aviation pilot. Throughout all of their different paths, the four remained close friends, eventually forming Always Tyrants in 2015. After playing countless live shows, hundreds of hours of band practice, and multiple recording studio trips, Always Tyrants began recording with producer Dylon Lower, and recorded their debut album These Days. The tracks on These Days are diverse, yet remain pure hard rock, described as music for blue collar day dreamers. Ambition, passion, purpose, the pursuit of happiness, and escaping the rat race are the major themes Always Tyrants speaks of on this album. With backgrounds as diverse as theirs, they have a few stories to tell….
- How long have you been performing and recording as Always Tyrants, and how did the project come together?
Always Tyrants: In early 2015 we officially all came together to form Always Tyrants. Alex and I were roommates, and I wanted to start a band with people I trusted, so he was the first one in. Next was Alec, I called the restaurant that he worked at and basically said “Hey it’s Matt, would you want to be in a hard rock band with me?” Next was Caleb, who Alex and I have known for basically our whole life. I still consider Caleb a member of the band, however he had a different career to focus on which is understandable, so Alec’s brother Zac joined the band. I don’t know how they were raised but damn, both of those dudes are incredibly multi-talented musicians.
- For our readers who haven’t heard of you yet, can you tell us anything about the band you’d want us to know? Who have been your major influences in your writing style, etc.?
Always Tyrants: I think what makes us unique is our different influences and how they come out in our songs. Alec is heavily influenced by rock from the 60’s-80’s with some 1990’s grunge as well, AC/DC being his favorite band. Zac’s influence are very similar, with his favorite albums being Van Halen II, Women and Children First, as well as The Black Crowes “Shake Your Money Maker”. Alex honestly listens to a lot of musical soundtracks, yet his favorite band by far is Rise Against, with the Beatles being a major influence in his life as well. And for me, my favorite artists are Motley Crue, Rich Mullins, and Kanye West.
- If I was to turn on your media player right now, which artists/songs would I be most likely to hear on your recently played list?
Always Tyrants: Shark Island, Guns N Roses, King 810, and Always Tyrants of course.
- What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners?
Always Tyrants: Energy combined with honesty. Musically it’s all there, and on top of that I try to add the most honest and truthful yet catchy lyrics as I possibly can.
- With the music industry always changing and evolving, what are the things you like and don’t like about it currently? And if you could change anything about it, what would it be?
Always Tyrants: I don’t dwell on what I don’t like, I just try to find the positive in it and adapt. I think there’s a myth that things were so much better 30 or 40 years ago. For who? Led Zeppelin? Yeah there were a few bands that had it made, but you had nowhere near the freedom and opportunity an artist has now. There are still gatekeepers, but it’s nowhere near what it used to be.
- What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative and entertainment?
Always Tyrants: Really the only one of those vehicles I sing about in Always Tyrants is culture. I’m not trying to make any political statement or anything, nor do I find it interesting to listen to most artists that do. I’d rather sing about life experiences, and give insight into different ways to think about personal experiences. I’m not trying to be Rage Against the Machine, although I do think they’re a cool band. Most of what I hear from musicians trying to get political is very very shallow. Rage has really been the only one I’ve heard with some depth behind it, you could tell those guys have actually read a book. They’d be talking about Leonard Peltier or the Mexican Revolution in such an authentic way you knew they weren’t just morally grandstanding.
- Do you ever write a song with current musical trends, formulas or listener satisfaction in mind, or do you simply focused on your own personal vision and trust the audience will empathize with your creativity?
Always Tyrants: I definitely will hear a song and be inspired like “Wow I want to write something that makes people feel like I do right now.” But we’re a hard rock band, if we wanted to formulate this into something we thought modern listeners would be satisfied with we probably would have tried something more predominantly popular with the masses right now like hip-hop or country.
- Could you describe your creative processes? How do start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Is it a democratic process between the members, and who does what?
Always Tyrants: Basically all of our songs are either started off with a random melody from me, or a random guitar riff from Alec or Zac. After someone presents something, the other members work off of that. If I’m trying to find lyrics for a song, I go through my notebooks of random lyrics and find some that fit and build off of that.
- Where do you do most of your recording and production work? And do you outsource any of the technical processes?
Always Tyrants: We recorded our entire album in a practice space that was grungy in the most perfect Rock N Roll way in Sioux City, Iowa. We’ve recorded with highly acclaimed engineers and producers before, all of which were good. However, recording in this practice space with no heat in the winter, freezing our asses off, was probably our best experience, and our producer Dylon Lower is the key to that. Dylon is in the metal band Morthereon, and was the producer, recording engineer, mix engineer, and master engineer.
- What would you consider a successful, proud or significant point for Always Tyrants so far?
Always Tyrants: Staying together, not giving up, and remaining best friends on this journey.
- If someone has never heard your music, which 5 keywords would you personally use to describe what your music?
Always Tyrants: Fresh, truthfully unapologetic hard rock.
- What are currently some of the most important tools, software, hardware and/or instruments you’re using in creating your sound?
Always Tyrants: Electric guitar, bass guitar, a drum set, and a microphone will always be our most important tools.
- Which aspects of being an independent artist excites you most and which aspects discourages you most?
Always Tyrants: We get to take as many chances as we want, and do and say what we want. We decide what song will be our single, what the album art will look like, and when and how we do something. The only thing that is discouraging is that there is a bit more air of legitimacy that comes with being on a label, and there are a lot of benefits to that that can’t be ignored.
- If you had a choice to go on tour with any acclaimed international band, just as soon as it was possible, would you pick and why?
Always Tyrants: Motley Crue or Guns N Roses, that’s the dream right? To have our name even next our heroes would be the pinnacle of success.
- Could you tell us something about your latest project “These Days” came into being?
Always Tyrants: Yeah I was working a guy named Ryan Miller and he started telling me about his friend who engineered, produced, and mixed his own metal album. I listened to it and was really impressed, he gave me Dylon’s contact info and from there we went for it. Due to our budget we ended up doing fewer songs for it that were all on similar themes relating to ambition, purpose, passion, money, and day dreaming.
- Does “These Days” have a specific backstory and/or message and meaning you’re trying to communicate?
Always Tyrants: It’s definitely a mix of things I’ve learned and am working through. A lot of different people have inspired me in different ways. I’ve learned a lot about motivation and discipline from Jocko Willink and Rick Barker. Purpose being more important than passion is something I’ve learned following Ryan Holiday and has been something I’ve been working through and has been an inspiration to this album. Watching Gary Vaynerchuk has been very motivating as well and in it’s own way has been an inspiration behind some of these songs. “To Hell with the Hussle” by Jefferson Bethke was a massive, massive inspiration to “Becoming (The DMT Song)” because that book rocked me when I read it. And of course Cam Hanes, the hero behind our song “These Days” whose content helped me stay focused and motivated through this pursuit. He’s been very cool to the band and has had a serious impact on my way of thinking.
- Creative work in studio environment, or interaction with a live audience? Which of these two do you ultimately prefer and why?
Always Tyrants: Nothing beats interaction with a live audience.
- How essential do you think video is in relation to your music? Do you have a video you could suggest fans see, to get a better understanding of your craft?
Always Tyrants: Video is extremely important and we will be releasing more videos, not just music videos, but other kinds of videos as well. Our music video for “These Days” was our first music video, I think it captured the energy really well.
- What is the best piece of advice regarding the music business that you actually followed so far, and what is the piece of advice you didn’t follow, but now know for sure that you should have?
Always Tyrants: A piece of advice I’ve always taken was not to take it personally if someone says no, or if someone says yes to something and it still falls through. I had heard to expect that 80% of what people agree to will still fall through and not let it bother you, and that is totally true. There hasn’t been any pitfalls that I wish I could have avoided, everything is a learning experience so there’s really no major regrets.
- Do you have a specific musical vision that you want to achieve during 2021, or in the near future?
Always Tyrants: Our goal for this album is to hit the Billboard charts. That’s my goal. I don’t know what live shows will look like in 2021, I can’t control that. But we can still hit the charts.