Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown have been setting the music world on fire with their soulful writing and tasty guitar work—and for good reason.
Bryant, the band's singer and guitarist, spent the better part of five tours with Jeff Beck, often jamming with the legend during encores. Meanwhile, guitarist Graham Whitford is about as close to rock royalty as you can get; his father, Brad Whitford, is a founding member of Aerosmith.
On the band’s new EP, The Wayside, which will be released November 13, we find Bryant and the Shakedown—which also features Caleb Crosby (drums) and Noah Denney (bass)—continuing their trend of penning roots-infused melodies and riffs, tightly woven with an alternative, psychedelic mystique.
I recently spoke with Bryant and Whitford about the new EP, their gear and more.
GUITAR WORLD: How would you describe The Wayside?
BRYANT: It’s the first body of work I can say was a complete band endeavor. Every song was crafted by the band. Everyone brought their own personality to the songs and we took some chances we’ve never taken before. It’s a more mature record than anything we’ve ever done. We crafted a record around the songs and a vibe we were all inspired by, which was edgy rock and roll.
What was the writing process like for the new EP?
WHITFORD: A lot of times it starts with a guitar riff, but sometimes we’ll get together and one of us will have a general lyrical idea or a guitar part we think is cool, and we’ll start to dig deep on it. It’s always a different process. There’s no one method to songwriting.
BRYANT: When Graham and I get together, it normally starts with a riff. I also collect lyrical ideas every day and am constantly writing lyrics or thoughts that can turn into something. We jam, sing and talk a lot of trash to each other and before you know it, there’s a song!
Let’s talk about a few tracks from the new EP, starting with “Loaded Dice & Buried Money."
BRYANT: I came up with that title and had written it down in my book of ideas. I tried to write it a few times; even once with Caleb after we had stayed up until 8 in the morning working on a demo in the studio. Nothing seemed right, but I still loved the title. Then one day, I got together with producer Roger Nichols and we started working on the riff with a drum machine I had, and the song just came together in a few hours. I showed it to the band, and it worked.
BRYANT: I remember we were listening to a lot of Tom Waits around the time we wrote it. We wrote that song as we were going through a lot of changes with management and other “behind the scenes” things. The concept was about how much we love music, how we had put everything we had into it and weren’t really sure why things were being a little difficult right now. One day Graham, Caleb and I were all sitting around in my living room with acoustic guitars just hanging out and we wrote the song. It was a fun song to write and to put on a character’s voice and freestyle lyrics.
Tell me a little about your cover of the Preston Foster song that Muddy Waters made famous, “Mojo Workin’."
WHITFORD: One late night we were hanging out and Tyler was actually playing drums. He was playing this straight-ahead, simple drum groove and I started playing the main riff from “Got My Mojo Working." We were just jamming and eventually Caleb walked downstairs and kicked Tyler off the drums [laughs]. We kept jamming on the riff and then Tyler instinctively started singing the lyrics. We’re not a band known for doing all that many covers, but this was one that really worked and we ended up building on it and wrote our own little chorus on it. What are your current touring plans?BRYANT: We’re working on some dates that we’ll be able to announce soon. We’re sorting things out and making plans to tour Europe and the U.K. next year as well. Our plan is to play until we drop.Tyler, you’ve played a lot on stage on with Jeff Beck. What was that experience like?BRYANT: I’ve done five tours with Jeff and really can’t say enough good things about him, both as a person and a guitarist. I grew up with his posters on my wall, spinning his records and trying to cop his licks. He’s my guitar hero. I still remember the first time I was on tour with him. He asked me to come into his dressing room one night and I actually thought I was getting kicked off the tour! [laughs]. But when I got there he said, “Hey, do you want to come play on the encore with me?” It was one of those times where the vibe was right and he felt like jamming. It was an honor and definitely one of the scariest things I’ve done in my life! [laughs].Graham, what’s the best bit of advice your dad gave you as a guitarist?WHITFORD: To listen. He’s all about listening and playing from your heart. It’s something that really resonated with me.What’s your live setup like?WHITFORD: Our friends Greg Howard and Ossie Ahsen just started building us some 3 Monkeys amps. They’re a company that my dad’s also a part of. Greg is my dad’s guitar tech for Aerosmith. Guitar-wise, I’m using a '58 Les Paul VOS Iced Tea Burst, a '56 Les Paul VOS with Bigsby, a Duesenberg Caribou and a Reverend Descent H90 Baritone.BRYANT: I’ve got a pink 1960 Custom Shop Fender Strat and another white Custom Shop with a humbucker. I’m also playing a 1931 National Duloian with a Tele neck pickup and a Fender Baritone Telecaster. I’ve also been rocking the 100-watt 3 Monkeys with 4x12 cab along with a Vibro King 2x12 extension. It’s been my rig for the past little bit and it’s screaming. What excites you the most about the new EP?WHITFORD: It’s been a while since we put out new music. I’m stoked to get people to learn these new songs and sing along with them. BRYANT: I’m looking forward to people getting their hands on these tunes and adapting them to their lives. We recently played a festival in Louisville in front of 5,000 people and it was the first time we played a handful of these new songs live. I remember watching people trying to sing along but they weren’t quite sure of the words because the music’s not out yet. So I’m excited for people to get these songs, make them their own and then get that exchange of energy. We’ve also just finished our first music video for this process. It’s a new chapter for the Shakedown, and we’re all really excited.For more about Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown, visit tylerbryantandtheshakedown.com.Tour Dates:October 29th Knoxville, TN The International
November 2nd Richmond, VA The Camel
November 3rd Philadelphia, PA Johnny Brenda’s
November 5th Brooklyn, NY Brooklyn Bowl
November 6th Somerville, MA Thunder Road
November 12th Nashville, TN Basement East