An Interview with Tyler Blue Broderick AKA Diners

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Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with the talented Tyler Blue Broderick AKA Diners. Among other things, we touch on what they’ve been up to during the lockdown, their newest music, their opinion of the music scene today, keeping it DIY, and Tyler’s advice for younger artists.

If you would like to learn more about Diners, you can head over to their Bandcamp and dig in. Once you’ve done that, check out this interview with Tyler. Cheers.

Andrew:
Tyler, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. This last year has been rough, right? How are you holding up during this seemingly ever-raging dumpster fire?

Tyler:
Of course! Thank you so much for reaching out! Thank you for showing any interest! Absolutely, 2020 was a shameful, brutal year as a whole, but it was maybe one of the most valuable years I’ve had as an adult. It feels strange to say that because I don’t like the idea of “looking on the bright side” during the pandemic, I even got COVID myself, but watching my world fall apart allowed me to stop and assess my path, which I desperately needed to do. I also began my Saturn return, which they say is often a difficult time. I’m still having a hard time, but I think I have a better sense of self and I’ve been able to get back to basics with my art.

Andrew:
Tell us about your backstory. What was your musical gateway so to speak?

Tyler:
Well, I grew up in Mesa, Arizona, and lived there for most of my life. Maybe this is too far back, but apparently, when I was a baby, my mom went to her family psychic and the channeler told her that music would be good for me and to always keep music within my reach. As a kid, I loved Weird Al and Beastie Boys and appreciated lots of different music, but when I was ten, I was given a Billy Idol’s Greatest Hits CD and that really shook me up for some reason. It made me wanna learn how to play guitar sooo bad. So, a few months after that, I dug up a guitar in my dad’s closet, and eventually while he was away on business or something I pulled it out and started figuring how it worked and that was it! I fell in love with the guitar really fast. Later on, when I was thirteen or fourteen, I went to my first local show where I saw my cousin’s band “Woolgathering” play at a bakery that would sometimes throw shows after hours. That show was a big deal for me because that’s kinda when I realized there was a music scene with artists writing their own songs and whatnot. It also threw me for a loop because it seemed like this music crew didn’t obey the macho rules of Guitar World magazine. It all felt profound. Oh, and this was in the MySpace era too, so I was able to connect all these dots by looking at show fliers and see which bands would play together. I just became such a fan of these local bands and I dreamt of playing shows with them at the local DIY venues in Phoenix like Modified Arts and The Trunk Space.

Andrew:
As a musician, who are some of your earliest and most important influences? How did you develop your signature style?

Tyler:
In the beginning, when I was ten and eleven, I pretty much loved every band that was mentioned in the movie School of Rock, which was cool because bands like ACϟDC and Pink Floyd really motivated me to get good at my instrument. A few years later, after I had seen that first local show, I got more interested in songwriting and home recording. My cool, older cousin Christian would burn me CDs of bands like The Microphones, Little Wings, and Karl Blau. Some of the local artists around Phoenix SUCH AS iji, AJJ, Stephen Steinbrink, and Tristan from Dogbreth gave me lots of inspiration too. To me, Diners comes from the spirit of 2000’s DIY, mixed with my love of songwriters like Brian Wilson, Paul McCartney, and Carol King.

Andrew:
You began Diners in 2012, right? Tell us the story of how it got started? Sometimes Diners is a full band, and other times it’s only you solo. How do you decide which route to go?

Tyler:
In 2011, I was 18 and on tour with my high school band, Hello the Mind Control. And while we were having a lot of fun on the road, I knew it wasn’t exactly what I was trying to do. The idea of starting over on my own with something more focused and disciplined was exciting to me. So one night, while we were staying at my friend Joey Kendall’s house in Texas, I went into his garage and started writing songs for a new project. We had a couple of days left of that tour and when we got home, I stepped away from the band and started doing Diners. From the beginning, I tried to design Diners to be flexible. Diners is sometimes a band and sometimes just me depending on what the situation calls for. It’s pretty much like a solo project that allows me the opportunity to play music with all my friends in one way or another. A lot of my friends had their own bands that they wanted to focus on anyway, so I always felt like it worked out. Before Diners, I saw Zach Burba from the band iji play with numerous lineups and I always thought it was cool that Zach got to play music with so many friends. I definitely modeled Diners after iji. Also logistically, when it comes to touring, it’s hard to ask other people to commit and put their lives on hold for the sake of your music, especially when there isn’t enough money to pay a real wage. Solo touring is much more sustainable.

Diners – Throw Me A Ten (2012)

Andrew:
In 2012, you released your debut album, Throw Me A Ten. Tell us about the recording and inspiration for your debut.

Tyler:
I started recording Throw Me A Ten in November 2011 at a studio in Mesa, Arizona called Audioconfusion. My friend Jalipaz is still the engineer there and so far he’s worked on all the Diners albums since. I was listening to a lot of Beach Boys, Apples in Stereo, and Katy Davidson bands at the time and I just wanted to make some simple Guitar Pop music and had a lot of fresh energy. I was really determined to make something that was more focused and disciplined than what I’d done before. Also, my friend Kyle Daniels was a big part of Diners in those days, and he was really good at articulating his thoughts on what we were doing. He’s a brilliant artist and was picky in a way that really helped us figure out what we wanted. He’d play off and on with the band for a few years, but eventually, he stopped when he moved to New York. I still love this album and accept the things I wish I would’ve done differently about it. People still tell me this is their favorite Diners album and I’m honored.

Andrew:
Since your debut, you’ve released three more records, with the most recent being Leisure World. How have you evolved since your debut? Where can we get your new record, and what formats will it be on?

Tyler:
It’s hard to say how I’ve evolved because I still don’t know what I’m doing. [Laughs]. I’m constantly learning and forgetting the same lessons about songs all the time. I do think some of my songwriting has gotten a little stronger, but maybe not in ways that matter to anyone else but me. With Leisure World, I tried to broaden my horizons a bit in some regard, by trying out different sounds and production, but I think it still exists in the same Diners universe as the others. Without touring, it’s hard to tell how people have taken to it. But each record just feels like an extension of the other, in my mind. Diners has always been a Pop band dressed up in different sounds. Leisure World can be found on all the streaming sites you love and hate! It’s also available on vinyl, tape, and CD thanks to Lauren Records.

Andrew:
I know often times songwriter’s lyrics can be deeply personal, and other times they’re merely telling stories. Which is it for you?

Tyler:
Hmmm! I wish I was a reliable poet that was able to paint scenes with my words, but I’m not, haha! At my sharpest and most tuned-in, I’ll use my songs as a way to understand my own experiences. I think with my lyrics, it’s more about conveying a feeling than giving a personal account. Sometimes I’ll come up with a melody or a chord progression and some words will just kind of jump out. And sometimes, I write lyrics just for the sake of writing lyrics too, just whatever comes to me and feels right. It’s sorta all over the place, which is why I don’t consider myself a poet. I paint very simple pictures.

Diners – Leisure World (2020)

Andrew:
Your work has evolved so much over the years, but your delivery and style still shine through. What would you say the through-line is which overarches your work?

Tyler:
In my opinion, it’s me! I’ve gone into every album with the idea of trying to make something semi-eclectic, that bounces around with different sounds from track to track, with the belief that it’ll all feel cohesive as long as I’m at the wheel. Like, as long as it’s being filtered through my voice or my ears, that’ll work. So I guess that makes sense from album to album.

Andrew:
Let’s talk about the state of the music industry a bit. What are a few things you would like to see change for the betterment of both the fans and artists alike?

Tyler:
Oooof, I have a lot of feelings around “the biz” and there’s probably some jealousy involved, but here’s a start: I’d like to see fewer PR campaigns, fewer giant booking agent firms, fewer big labels, and of course, better pay from streaming sites. I won’t get into the streaming pay, we all know how poorly artists are paid from those sites. But mostly, I’d like to see less gatekeeping and more risks being taken in the industry. With few exceptions, the success of your band depends on whether or not you are deemed “useful” by the industry and I think that’s making the world a boring place. It’s a bummer, but music always ends up being treated like a product instead of art. There’s a lot of money in the biz that industry people gotta float around for their bosses and they need to make sure they’re making safe bets, which is why they work with the artists they choose to work with. It makes sense for them to do that, but again they’re supposed to be dealing with art and not product. There’s room for every artist to do pretty well and the world would have better music if the industry chose to take risks and work outside their norm.

Andrew:
In a world dominated by capitalism and social media, can indie artists really, truly get ahead? How do we keep the playing field level so that everyone has a chance to succeed?

Tyler:
Oops, see the previous answer. [Laughs]. Get rid of the gatekeepers and get the industry to take more chances. Let’s do everything we can to bring it all back to our small music communities. Our current situation forces artists to keep the status quo and obey algorithms if they want to succeed. I don’t blame them for doing so. The world is a depressing place and I don’t blame people for trying to take a gig wherever they can, it just bums me out that the music world can’t be a beacon of light for people to follow.

Andrew:
Are you into records? Tapes? CDs? Digital? Where do you like to shop for music?

Tyler:
Most of the time, I prefer tapes or digital, but I like CDs and records too. I like any medium that asks me to sit with an album and play it over again. Sometimes, if I’m listening to music off my phone, my ADHD will kick in and I’ll get sidetracked. Nowadays, my record collection is mostly made up of old albums my friends made that will likely never be reprinted. I try not to buy many records because it makes it harder to move houses when you have a big record collection. Tapes are much easier for moving. I mostly buy music off Bandcamp or from used music stores, my favorite shop is the Double Nickels Collective in Tempe, Arizona.

Andrew:
What are a few albums that mean the most to you, and why?

Tyler:
Hmmm, Cool Dream by iji quickly comes to mind. It showed me that it was possible to make a masterpiece from home. When it came out, it felt like the embodiment of a music world I that dreamed of. It was like the spirit of DIY, fun, and friendship showing me that something else was possible. Zach’s still making hit records. Leave the Ladder Down by Remambran is another big one because Mallory’s songwriting feels sacred and completely untouched by evil. That record makes me feel grounded and at peace with my environment. And finally, Ram by Paul McCartney because the production completely blows me away. I wish every Diners album sounded like this. I’m a sucker for post-Beatles Paul.

Andrew:
Who are some of your favorite artists? Ones that mean the most to you.

Tyler:
Sorry to name so many, but I’ll at least keep it to contemporary artists. Katy Davidson (aka Dear Nora), Karl Blau, iji, Mo Troper, Mega Bog, Lake, William Austin Clay, Dogbreth, Cesar Ruiz, Yipee, Devi Jaberi, Remambran, Little Wings, and AJJ.

Andrew:
Last question. What advice would you have for young artists just starting out? How do bands stay afloat in a world that seems to be so abhorrent to creatives?

Tyler:
To anyone starting out, just write as many songs as you can and don’t stop writing. Just focus on making clear decisions and finishing the ideas you started. It doesn’t matter if the songs are good or bad because every song is practice for the next song. You need to allow yourself the permission to fail and not beat yourself up about it. You’re going to have bad shows and weird recording sessions where it feels like it’s all falling apart, but those are all opportunities to learn. Also, take every show you can play. You’ll need the practice of performing to different audiences and it’ll help you figure out where you fit in. Keep expectations low, if you gain one new fan per show that’s a triumph. Focus on community. The world is scary and the music industry sucks, but being a part of a loving artist community can be your oasis from it all. Honestly, the less I care about getting popular and the more I think about sharing songs with friends and community, the better art I make anyways. Sorry to drag this answer out, but if you’re like reallyyy just starting out and don’t know your local music scene, use Bandcamp’s “Discover” feature and look up artists in your city. Try to find a local band you like that isn’t huge and watch what they do. See what venues they play, see what other bands they play with, see where they record their records and that’ll give you an idea of what you could do. Good luck!

Interested in learning more about Diners? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full archives of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interview

About Post Author

Andrew Daly

Andrew has always felt himself to be a "jack of all trades, master of none" type of person. With an immense passion for music, a disposition for writing, and an eagerness to teach and share both, Andrew decided to found Vinyl Writer in 2019 as a freelance column under the column Stories from the Stacks. Over time, the column grew into a website which now features contributors who further the cause of sharing both a love of music and the art of journalism with the world through articles and interviews. While Andrew enjoys running the website, his real passion lies in teaching and facilitating others to do what they do best, and giving them the opportunity to explore their passions in the process.
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