When it comes to favorite bands, fans never want to see them altered or part ways. The reality, however, is how often does anyone stick with the same job for decades at a time?
“It had been 10 years of just doing [Band of Horses],” guitarist and singer-songwriter Tyler Ramsey says of his 2017 departure from the group. “I had this record in the works . . . and I was just excited about the material I had. Ten years with a group of guys is a pretty long time to be in a band.”
It isn’t Ramsey’s first solo act. The Ashville-based artist has had four releases outside of Band of Horses and has a forthcoming album set to debut in spring 2019.
At this stage Ramsey has played most, if not all, of the new tracks to live audiences. He’ll continue to play versions of them on his fall tour, while mixing in tracks from his solo records, “A Long Dream About Swimming Across the Sea” (2008) and “The Valley Wind” (2011). Ramsey will rotate in Band of Horses’ tunes he penned, too, during his stop at Bourgie Nights on Saturday.
“Even though I haven’t released the album yet, I’ve got new twists on songs that no one’s heard before,” Ramsey muses with a laugh.
Generally, a song will come to Ramsey and becomes the first snippets of an impending record. The rest of the tracks fall in a natural arc. Little bits of songs may stick around for years, but most of them come in a wave.
“Weirdly enough, I always end up with a ‘complete’ album somehow magically,” he quips. “Since these were all written around a similar time, it does tell a story . . . sometimes it takes me a while to figure out how they all fit together and what that story actually is.”
The first song, “For the Morning,” written for the record was four years ago as his family was growing. After his daughter was born, he spent what time he could writing.
“I would have her in the carrier on my chest and sit at the piano when she was sleeping,” he tells. “It kind of started there, when there was a lot of change and shift in my life. [It’s] represented in the songs, but I also think that’s kind of always the way it is. If you’re inspired to write a song, (hopefully) something’s happening in your life, feeding into your desire to create art or music.”
“For the Morning” came first on the piano, though, as with the entire album, it was recorded with guitar. With every record, Ramsey likes to include at least one bare-bones track—sans “studio magic.” Therefore, he approached “For the Morning” much the same way it started: with a touch of sleep deprivation at a late 3 a.m. session.
“When you’re in the studio, you might try to capture the original mood or atmosphere of the song,” he offers. “But that one was written late at night on the piano, and I just thought I should do it last and wait until I’m kind of in that headspace, the way it was when I wrote it.”
Ramsey just signed with Fantasy Records on October 18. He was attracted to the prospect of a new partnership built on trust, appreciation and excitement for a new album. While Fantasy already has offered a stamp of approval on “For the Morning,” Ramsey’s confident they’d never force a particular look or sound that deeply contrasted his work.
“Having met all of the people there—and [ones] I’ll be working with—I’m so excited to get to see what we can do together,” he explains. “Hopefully, we’ll continue to work together, and if they want to give me direction or feedback for the next [album], I admire the people I’ve met enough to try it out. . . . I think it’s always good when you’re able to do a record without outside influence. But I can also see the other side of the coin, when you have amazing people who have an unbiased ear who can help move a song forward.”
While Ramsey is known for his mellow, acoustic singing and guitar playing, there are more rock-forward tunes on the album, some that, according to Ramsey, have a heavier energy. “I always like to create moments where there’s a shift or heavy parts,” he explains. “I had a lot of people come in on the record than I did on the last. I got a lot of friends and new friends to come and play things that I couldn’t have pulled off.”
Ramsey has never sent off his recordings for additional instrumentation or sound layers. However, there were pieces brought in from outsiders. He sent off a couple of tracks, including “Breaking Heart,” to steel-pedal player Russ Pahl in Nashville.
“[They] just made me jump up and down in the control run,” Ramsey remembers. “I got goosebumps. I was elated there was this perfect pedal-steel part that showed up out of nowhere. I had equal experiences [with] harmony singers on a couple of songs.”
Ramsey will bring his keyboard to the live stage to switch out with guitar. He varies the tone he sets, which ultimately comes down to how he, the band and the audience connect within a space for one evening. “The show has the ability to morph,” he notes. “That’s another thing I picked up [with Band of Horses]; there’s such a variance with crowd and venue, and if you’re able to play into that, you can create really cool nights where everyone can feel like they’ve been a part of something cool.”