2015 has been a big year for Tyler Farr — he released his sophomore album “Suffer in Peace,” wrapped touring with Jason Aldean on his “Burn It Down” tour, had his first number one song with “A Guy Walks Into a Bar” and got engaged.
The positive energy continues in 2016 when he hits the road with buddy Lee Brice for the “Life Off My Years” Tour kicking off in February in Salisbury, his latest single “Better in Boots” about to break into the top 30 and, oh yeah, a wedding. Not bad for a classically trained singer (aka opera) from Missouri.
Farr takes the stage Friday night (as in tomorrow) at The Event Center at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in Charles Town, W.Va., at 9 p.m. Tickets are $40 and $55, and you gotta be 21 or older for this show at the casino.
Coming off a five-date concert cancellation due to bronchitis and acute tonsillitis, Farr was in Hartford, Conn., Thursday for a show after about two weeks of vocal rest. “We finished the ‘Burn it Down’ tour about a month ago and have about three weeks of shows then Christmas break of four weeks,” Farr said in a phone interview earlier today. “Then we get ready for the new show.”
Vocal rest is a hazard of the job, he said. Like a professional football player can expect to be out with an injury a vocal artist can expect to be out with a vocal “injury,” he said. The break did give him some downtime at his farm in Tennessee.
Farr’s vocals have that gravelly country toughness, but there is a hint of his classical training if you listen for it. Yep, the “Redneck Crazy” singer has an opera background, something he says was his mother’s idea.
“I like to sing just about everything,” he said. “I got a scholarship for music and I was not going to get one for basketball because there is not much need for a 5 foot 10 basketball player out there,” he said. He attended Missouri state until he decided that was a pretty tough program and country music was where his heart was.
“I didn’t finish college,” he said. “One day I decided this is not for me. I packed up my stuff and loaded my ’92 piece of junk car I had and headed to Nashville and never gone back.
“I started working in honky tonks and around,” he said.
He got a publishing deal five years ago, five years after landing in Music City. “I did it old school. It was a long process,” Farr said. Much of his drive for country comes from George Jones — his stepfather Dwayne Phillips toured as lead guitar player in Jones’ band and Tyler often sat stage-side during his shows. Of course, as often happens when we’re young, he didn’t appreciate that opportunity as much then as he would now.
In the “Suffer in Peace” liner notes, he thanks his grandpa for his support and love. “He was like a dad to me,” Farr said. “He lived across the back pasture. He was like my mentor, wise and quiet. We’d listen to the radio that crackled and popped.” And he gave Farr his first guitar at age 11, though at the time he found it a difficult instrument to learn.
Tyler co-wrote three of the songs on “Suffer in Peace.” “I put a lot of time and effort into it and I’m very pleased with it,” he said.
Me too. The 11-track album is solid, packed with a bit of redneck Tyler, traditional country, songs for the heartbroken, the military and those that like their country anthems in “C.O.U.N.T.R.Y.” the first song on the album.
His favorite songs on the album: “Suffer in Peace” or “Damn Good Friends.” He didn’t write either one. In the title track, the guy is contemplating moving away to a cabin in the hills, longing for the sound of a mountain breeze, a place where he can suffer in peace.
Pal Jason Aldean joins him on “Damn Good Friends,” paying homage to those few good friends you can always count on to help you when you need it ’cause they know you would do the same for them. “(Jason) loved the song as much as I did,” Farr said. “I was in his wedding this past summer … I can’t seem to get away from him, I’ve been on tour with him for two years! He’s also a big outdoorsman.”
“Better In Boots” was released in July after the second single from the album, “Withdrawals,” stalled on the charts. The video for “Better in Boots” was filmed in an old barn north of Nashville, he said. It starts out with just Farr, who is soon joined by a couple of “girls in a country song” types, a rope twirling cowboy, a four-wheeler and a crowd of people partying with them.
“It’s different than the other videos I’ve done,” Farr said. “It was super hot that day. You couldn’t do anything without sweating. Everybody got dirty and sweaty.” He also breaks a few dance steps, too. “That’s as close to dancing as you’ll see me get and that was pushing it,” he said.
‘Why We Live Here” was inspired by the shows he’s played for military around the world. A year ago, he did a show in Bahrain; in July he did shows in Spain and Italy. “That’s what inspired this song,” he said. “My grandpa and cousins served. I wanted to show gratitude with a respectful, classy thank you, not an in-your-face way.”
“I Don’t Even Want This Beer” was sparked on a bus drive through Montana. “My drummer was sitting up front — on a bus a long time there’s only so much you can do after you play video games, drink and play cards,” Farr said. His drummer had a beer and said, “I don’t even want this beer!”
The songwriter in Farr latched on to that statement as a good song title and wrote it down.
He didn’t write his first No. 1, “A Guy Walks into a Bar,” (Melissa Peirce, Jonathan Singleton and Brad Tursi) but he said “it’s one of the best songs I’ve ever heard.” Blake Shelton wanted to record it but Farr told him, “No. I found it first.”
“Four months later I’m in Oklahoma at (Blake’s) hunting cabin hunting with him,” Farr said. An avid hunter, Farr said he’s got a freezer “filled with deer burger to deer steak.” His favorite venison meal? Tacos or smoked tenderloin. “That and dove and duck” are his favorite game meats.
On his road to country music stardom, Tyler said he learned a few things and gives this advice to anyone with that dream: “Don’t be a jerk. Be nice to everybody. Get along, don’t force yourself on people. Don’t be an idiot. You may end up working with that person some day.”
Tyler and his fiancé Hannah Freeman are planning an October wedding.
“We’re closing in on a year. I already had some shows booked for spring and I don’t want to be in a suit in the middle of July and it’s our busiest time of year,” he said of the fall nuptials.
“Aldean’s in it; he’s a groomsman; Colt Ford, Lee Brice and some other good friends,” Farr said. “It will be a very redneck wedding. (Hannah) runs things by me and I give her the OK and say ‘Yes honey, whatever you want’.
“I’m going to wear a tux. It will be outside in Nashville on a farm.”