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The Word Alive’s Tyler “Telle” Smith On Not Being Bitter

Hello readers,welcome to the fourth blog I've had the pleasure of writing for I hope so far you've enjoyed reading some of my insights on the music scene, things that I've done or gone through to get to this point in my career, what bands I've been listening to, and several other tidbits of information! I've appreciated all the positive feedback many of you have left me. It's awesome to see so many younger people looking forward to pursuing a career in music. I remember being there, and it's an exciting time... Which brings me to my next blog.

For any musicians out there who have had any success at doing what you love, I know that you can look back and remember being that kid who was so naive, who just wanted to play music no matter what. Not someone who knew the music industry or anything negative that comes along with this career path. Like being away from family, friends, missing holidays, missing weddings, and worst of all, deaths. When I first pursued touring I never thought that there could be so much you had to go through. I admit my first couple of tours felt more like an awesome vacation with friends than anything. Alas, reality is quite different.

I think that because of these things, it's easy to get bitter. I'm sure you've been to a show and noticed a band who just didn't seem to have their hearts in what they were doing. It's frustrating as a fan, but really, there's probably a sad story that led to that moment. I know of many bands who just never made it far enough, who had to sit by and watch bands with minimal talent pass them by in the ranks because they had a singer with more tattoos, more interesting hair, were skinnier, etc. A huge part of the music scene of today is image. Have you heard the phrase "sex sells?" Of course you have! It's true. The Beatles were probably the pioneers (in my mind) of selling an image.

I get asked so many times, "What can I do to get signed?" and other relative questions. I say the same thing every time. You need to have an intense work ethic, because to succeed and have longevity you need to continue to work hard. Not just do the same things you did to get there in the first place. You need to practice, practice, practice... And then practice some more. You can never be good enough that you don't need to practice. Hopefully you have talent. I understand many reading could argue what exactly determines "talent," but if you can't play your instruments, you can't hit notes, you can't stay in time... You need to practice. I don't believe everyone is born with natural talent. I've seen people go from being horrible musicians to incredible ones because they were passionate about what they did. And lastly, one of those little "evils of the industry," if you will, is image. If you are wanting to be something that can be sold, you have to be marketable. This doesn't mean be fake, buy into a fad, or anything like that. But looking like you might have showered within a few weeks, not having mustard stains on your shirt, and not smelling horrible will all go a long way, haha.

I got off topic a little bit there, but there's some pointers for some of you starting out!

Now, back to the point I was trying to get to. Like with anything that you do that involves a lot of personal emotions and effort, when things don't work out it's easy to get bitter. Say you have a girlfriend/boyfriend you put a lot of time, energy, and emotion into, only for it to fail. You might get bitter and think all girls/guys are evil. If you work a job and you struggle to go above and beyond only to get passed up for a promotion, you're gonna get bitter and frustrated. It's the same way with music. There are so many musicians I know who think, "I should have made it," "I don't know how they are doing so well," or whatever the case may be. But do you know why most of them were successful while the others failed? They were focused on themselves and pursuing their dreams. When you start getting into this career, make a promise to yourself. Promise you will work as hard as you can every single day. Do not settle, do not take one show for granted. I've played for five people, I've played for thousands. But you have to remain humble. You have to remember where you came from, how you started, WHY you started. For me, music was a release and a way for me to express what was going on in my head and in my heart. It still is. When I go on stage I could care less if the show is sold out or if there are 10 people. Granted, it feels amazing playing for so many people. But that's not the point. Brandan from Bleeding Through inspired me on our last tour to think outside of numbers and to focus on what matters.


When you go to a show, I hope you can find a connection with the music and musicians you're watching. I was fortunate enough to watch the Deftones play the other night after waiting 10 years to see them! I've never felt what I did at their show. I felt that Chino was singing/screaming to me. I hope that at the Word Alive shows, you can feel that. I hope that if you are performing you have that mindset, because it felt amazing as a fan to feel that. Too often people use things that happen to them as excuses and become bitter. I know you hear how the music world is so over-satured nowadays, and to a certain extent, I agree. However, there can never be enough genuine musicians who go on stage every night and remember where they started.

I am currently finishing this blog outdoors in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where we're playing tonight. It's really cold outside (considering I'm from Arizona!). So if at any point this blog seemed to trail off, I apologize. I'll blame it on cold fingers! One week from today we begin our tour with A Day To Remember, Underoath, and Close Your Eyes. I'm excited to go on a tour where I can feel like a fan every single night watching Underoath. I hope to see you guys on the road, please feel free to come up to me and let me know if you've read these blogs!


Listening to: Motionless In White- Creatures
Alexisonfire- Crisis
Sigur Ros- Agaetis byrjun
Thrice- Vheissu

What are you listening to this week?

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Dimebash 2010 Concert to Take Place on October 29