Interview: Tyler Farr Is Ready to Share ‘Suffer in Peace’
The dreaded "sophomore slump" doesn't worry Tyler Farr.
The 31-year-old released his freshman album, Redneck Crazy, in September 2013, debuting at No. 2 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart -- the highest-charting debut by new male country artist in two years -- and No. 5 on the all-genre Billboard 200. The record's two singles, "Redneck Crazy" and "Whiskey in My Water," earned Top 10 spots on the Country Airplay chart and have been certified platinum and gold, respectively.
Clearly, Farr has a lot to live up to with his sophomore disc, Suffer in Peace, set for release on April 28. The 11-track album features three songs co-written by Farr, a duet with Jason Aldean and Farr's current single, "A Guy Walks Into a Bar," which has earned spots in the Top 10 on both Billboard's Country Airplay and Hot Country Songs charts. However, as Farr tells The Boot, he's more confident and sure of himself as an artist this time around, and he's ready for his fans to get to hear and enjoy the new music.
You had some big success with your first album. When you started working on this record, was there any fear of the so-called "sophomore slump"?
At first you may have some of those thoughts, but honestly, it was actually easier. I was more excited to make this second album because, from my freshman album to my sophomore album, the last year and a half, I've been able to grow so much as an artist and really hone in on who I am as an artist. I think you just know yourself a lot better and know what you want to say.
And with a couple of hits comes more confidence, and you don't have to be afraid to be like, "Well, it worked last time." We know what we're doing, and I know what I want to get across, and I felt more confident going into this album and more ability to really be me. So I think what we came up with was an album that was definitely more me, and I think fans will be able to see that.
Did you have any potential songs for this album that were left over from last time, or were you really starting from scratch?
Most of them were pretty much new; I don't think there's anything held over from the first album. This album is, like I said, a bigger glimpse of who I am as an artist and the bigger picture, so we kind of just started from scratch. It still has me in it, but it's just different from the first album in that, like I said, I was just more confident going in and knowing what I wanted.
I only wrote three songs on the album. You know, I don't go in to write an album and say, "I'm going to sit down and write the whole thing." I just write the best I can, and if a song beats out a song I wrote, then it beats it out. We just made it as real as we could, and I think people will get a lot more out of this album than they did the first one.
So what made you decide to include the three songs on this album that you did co-write [“Poor Boy,” “I Don’t Even Want This Beer” and “Why We Live Here"]?
["Why We Live Here" was] one of the last ones I wrote that we recorded, it was one that we just felt like we had to put on there. It just kind of happened ... I was wanting to write a song that was kind of an honor to the military, but in a classy way, not a tongue-in-cheek, in-your-face, red-white-and-blue way ... and it was one of my favorite songs on the album. I think we got accomplished what we wanted to, and that was to show some respect and write a military song without shoving it down people's throats.
"Poor Boy" was a song I felt like was a '90s type of song with a modern vibe, which I wrote with the Peach Pickers. It was just one of my favorite songs -- just a country song, and I just put my foot down on that one. I really wanted that one to be on there just because of the fact that it was different; it had that rural, poor boy coming from nothing and getting the girl at the end of the day ... Yeah, that one was just one that I had to put on there. It's probably my favorite song that I wrote this year.
I think it'd be too prideful if I were to say that I wrote all the best songs for my album. I write 'em, and I get pitched songs, and whatever beats out mine, then so be it. I'm not hell bent on trying to write my full album.
"Damn Good Friends": How did you get Jason Aldean involved with it?
I just honestly heard the song and cut it because I just loved the song. And then the more I started listening to it, I'm like, "You know, this would be great to do with Jason," because I've become really close with him, become good friends with him over the past year, and we're touring with him again this year, and we've hung out a lot together, and I'm friends with his family and was just at his wedding, so we're very close. And I think you can tell in the song, you can see some real truth in the lyrics and how we're singing it, that we are good friends, and we've got each other's backs.
It's kind of like [Tracy Lawrence's] "Find Out Who Your Friends Are" with a little more edge, and Jason loved the song too and was excited about doing it with me and made time to go in there and sing on it. He kind of put his stamp on me as a new artist, which meant a lot, because he didn't have to do that; he's got plenty of hits and success, but he just genuinely wanted to do it, so I was glad to have him on there.
I like the fact that, rather than the typical "buddy song," it really focuses on those few really, really good friends.
Yeah, Jason and me are similar in that, where we -- I have a ton of guys that I'm buddies with and stuff, but we keep our friends close. We have a lot of buddies, but we have a handful of, you know, "damn good friends." That's essentially what the song is saying.
The first track, "C.O.U.N.T.R.Y.," is a little different than the rest of the album. It's a pretty banjo-driven song. Where did that come from?
It's definitely swampy. It's not usually your normal uptempo [song], what's going on in country right now. I'm not huge on the sing-song-y same old thing; this was kind of a rural country anthem -- a summer song -- and it's very rural. I come from a town of 900 in Missouri, and just all of the pictures of things it painted in my head reminded me of where I grew up: I could picture being at a field party, and somebody blaring and busting out one of their speakers playing the song. It's the song we open up our set with out on the Aldean tour, and people have really grown to like it; it makes them want to move. Some song are meant to make people shed a tear or laugh, cry or dance, and that's a song that's made to get people up and dance.
Have you been playing any of the other new songs live?
We've been playing "Withdrawals," which is one of my favorite songs on the album. It's been going over very well; I can kind of monitor that through people tweeting and wanting to know the lyrics and stuff ... So, they've been going over well, and I'm excited just as much as the fans are about getting to play new music as they are getting to hear new music.
Do you have an idea of what the next singles might be?
I can't say, honestly. We're going between a few. The album is so diverse when it comes to songs ... and I know "Withdrawals" will be a single, but that's probably the hardest part, picking out what single to start with, what goes next and what one's going to come after. We could go with the duet, the Aldean song, or we could go with "Withdrawals" as a love ballad thing -- there's so many directions you can go, so that's the tough part. We haven't made a decision yet on that.
So, what made you want to lead with "A Guy Walks Into a Bar"?
Just because it wasn't the typical thing that's going on in country right now. You hear a lot of uptempo [songs], with the happy-go-lucky, sing-a-long thing, and it really separated itself from that to me, and I wanted to do that with this album, separate it from the rest. I think that song stands out when you hear it on the radio, and when I go to pick a song, if I didn't write it, I think, "Sure, it sounds like me; I've either lived it, or could have lived it, or will live it in the future." I wanted this album to be genuine and authentic and real, and "A Guy Walks Into a Bar" went very well with my voice, and I think it stands out on the radio, and I think that's why it's connected so well with the audience.
It was a fluke thing, actually; it was the weirdest thing. We were in L.A., and we had to play for Yahoo the next day, and I was sick as a dog. My manager said, "Do you have your song picked out that you want to do? They want us to do a cover from another genre." I said, "Yeah." Well, mine was from, like, the '90s or something, and they told me it had to be current. So I started looking up songs and listening to them, and I came across that and was like, "Well, that sounds cool. Let's just do this one."
My band, me and my three music players, literally learned it the night before we played it at Yahoo, to play it acoustic, and then I was up on stage at a live show, a full band show, and just rattled it off one night. My drummer had never played it. We played it that night, and everybody went nuts. And we started playing it from then on out, so it's kind of a crazy way that happened.
And it got a good reaction, you know? People enjoyed the song; they were like, "I hope you do "Sail" tonight." So we thought it would be a cool way to give something back to fans for pre-ordering the album.
Aside from the fact that "Suffer in Peace" is the name of one of the tracks, why did you name this album Suffer in Peace?
Honestly, it's just because -- and I know people are like, "Gosh, that sounds dark," and I'm like, "Well, it is a little bit dark." Everybody's got a little bit of a dark side in them, I guess, and the reason I picked it is because it's not boring. It's like reading a book, and you want to keep reading to see what happens. That's why I picked it, because it's two words that mean total opposites; that was intriguing to me as an artist, and I was like, "Well, if it's intriguing to me, hopefully it'll be intriguing to the fans."
Also, the song's one of my favorites on the album. It's very traditional country. It's a cool title, I guess suiting to the artwork, and I don't know, I just thought it was different and would stir up some noise.
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