The Word Alive’s Tyler “Telle” Smith Responds to Fan Questions
Hello, returning readers and newbies alike. I hope you enjoyed the blog I wrote last week, which dealt with how I personally view the music scene today and what can be done to help it be revived almost. I read all of the comments, and it really brought a smile to my face after so many of you recognized how much music has done for you. Maybe next time you go to a show, you can remember that feeling and have the best time of your life!
Keeping in mind that I still have a few more of these blogs, I'm gonna get some of the basics out of the way early on. My first blog, as I said, dealt with the music scene and respecting one another at shows. Now I'd like to address some of the most frequent questions I'm asked as a touring musician and as a frontman. So be warned, this particular blog will relate more to the musicians or aspiring musicians reading along. Especially those of you current or future vocalists out there!
To start I'll answer some of the questions I asked those who follow me on Twitter to send to me. I have felt from Day One that the best way to stay informed on what you need to do as a musician to be as successful as possible is to listen to your fans. I've always tried to keep a close connection with all of them. After all, they are who give me a reason to be pursuing my dreams.
These were my favorites from the questions I got…
Do you get homesick a lot while on tour?
Well to me, home is where the heart is. So to a certain extent, yes. I grew up in Dayton, Ohio, for the first 20 years of my life and I can honestly say I'll never move back. However, most of my family still lives there, and I miss them every second of every day. I'm extremely close with my Dad and brothers who live there still, and family matters most to me. Yet there is nothing I'd rather be doing then spending night after night in a different city getting as sweaty as possible, haha.
If there is no bathroom for miles and you have to go, what do you do?
Hahaha, well we're all men, so that's half the battle right there. You can go the most efficient way, pee in a bottle. Or you can stop and give nature a shower. If it's the backdoor knocking, you either hold it or we usually keep a roll of T.P. lying around for emergencies!
Is there such a thing as showers on the road?
Well you can get creative with this one. There's the sink shower, there are shower bags you can fill up and shower outside with, there's showering at truck stops, friends' houses, hotels, etc. But there are days upon days where we go without just because we're so tired from the shows to even care how bad we smell, haha. Kinda gross, I know.
How much do you get paid?
That's the most common question I get asked. Now this question is almost a trick one. The band as a whole might make a decent amount at a show, but people don't realize you have to pay for gas, for food money so we don't look any skinnier than we already do, for road repairs, for merch to try to sell, for supplies, for gear, and the list goes on. Pretty soon that 500 dollars you may have just made is gone. I've lived off of less than the poverty level for over four years now. Like I've said to many of you who've personally talked to me about pursuing music, if you aren't willing to sacrifice everything, then you shouldn't be doing it. Most musicians you see at shows probably eat off the dollar menu at their favorite fast food places. I personally love Taco Bell and Wendy's. They have the best dollar menus! Have you tried those new crispy potato soft tacos? So good!
What effect do singing and screaming have on your voice? How do you warm-up? Do you have any weird superstitious pre-show rituals?
A lot of people always ask about singing and screaming. So let's dive into that, shall we. First off, I warm up every single day, whether I play a show or not. I do a lot of scales, with descending scales first, and then I stretch my voice out going as high as I can go. I hum when I walk around, and since I can't help it, I constantly am singing along to whatever is playing in the van. I don't warm up my voice for screaming, only singing. That usually takes care of both. I'm at the point now where I never lose my voice from singing or screaming at shows. The only time I ever do is if I have no monitors (which as a musician you know how much that sucks) or if I am sick and push through as if I were 100 percent. A lot of singing is natural, but practicing every day is something I've bought into over the last year. When I first started out I didn't take care of my body, my voice, or even my attitude/confidence level. Now I realize if you want to sing/scream for a career, you need to treat it as your most valuable asset!
How did I learn how to scream, and can you teach me?
That's the number one question people ask me. I asked that same question about two years ago to some of my favorite screamers and friends at the time. The resounding answer wasn't what I wanted to hear. It was, "You just kind of have to figure it out for yourself." I recorded the first demo for TWA without really knowing how to scream. So I locked myself in our practice studio in late November 2008 and didn't come out until I figured out how to scream. I couldn't talk afterwards but I figured it out. Ever since then it's been a learning process. You have to try and find your own voice and then work with what you have. I really looked up to Tim Lambesis of As I Lay Dying as a screamer and frontman, so he was who I think (subconsciously or not) I tried to sound like. But as I continue on almost two years later, I realize now more than ever I have to develop what God gave me and I'm trying my best to do just that.
One of the biggest things I think you have to have as a frontman is confidence. The mind is a powerful thing, and if you utilize it's power there are infinite possibilities! I know now that I'm not going to sound exactly how I'd like every show. Touring isn't easy on anyone's voice. However, going out night after night knowing I'm gonna do my best and that I'm going to be doing what I love has helped tremendously. As my friend Shawn Milke, and former submitter to these blogs on Revolver, said to me, "I go up on stage every night knowing I'm going to kill it, whether I'm 60 percent or 100 percent." That mindset is what you need. It's not having an ego, it's having confidence to go out and do what you love.
I hope that I've been of some help to any of you reading. I can't say enough that if you love something, it's worth sacrificing for. It's worth going hungry, being lonely, being broke, and so much more. If you truly want to pursue music, you have to start somewhere. I think we've all been in our fair share of horrible local bands, but those of us who had an extreme passion for music are the ones you see on this website today. Do not give up, and work harder than the person at the top always. You will see progress. Next week I'm going to be sharing with you my personal story. I want you to see where I came from and the journey I have gone on to get where I'm at. I hope that at the very least, it can show you that these words I write are true.
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