When my wife and I first started going out to see local music, there were 4 groups we tried to see as much as possible: Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights, the Burning Hotels, Telegraph Canyon and Seryn. Early on, the latter 2, we almost always saw playing together, but later in this period, they started branching off and tended to play with 2 other bands you might know now, Quaker City Night Hawks and Whiskey Folk Ramblers. Today’s guest, Tyler Rougeux is the frontman and lead songwriter for Whiskey Folk Ramblers. His current project is called Classic Cult with a few of his other talented musical friends. Tyler sat down and answered some questions for me, and what ensued is the following. His dream concert is pretty legit, although I might play it for free (but I suck, so….). Also, my wife and I just met on eHarmony. His story’s better. Anyways, here we go:
Me: For starters, tell us a little about yourself. How did you first get into music? And when did you know this is what you want to do for a living (money be damned)?
TR: When I was ten years old, I saw a bunch of bands play at a block party, and had never really noticed live music before then, and I fell into it then. I went home, begged for a guitar, ended up saving money and getting one that year. I got bored easily as a kid & music has been one of the only things to really stick with me over the years.
My Grampa and uncle used to play music every Christmas, too, and my Grampa would talk about his 9 brothers and 2 sisters, and how everyone played an instrument and they would have family hoedowns, and I was always fascinated by that.
Me: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?
TR: Well, it’s tough. That’s been a frustrating topic over the years. I would really like to say that Whiskey Folk Ramblers are a Country band, or a Rock & Roll band, or a Rockabilly band, but it’s not truly any of those things. I suppose Folk is the right category, even though we don’t sound like other folk bands, because a lot of these songs tell stories about things that middle & lower class “folks” can relate to, or just any class of people in some cases. Stories about the corrupted preacher, the true alcoholic, poverty, the old lady at the pie stand, things that are simple and can be considered folk stories.
So instead of saying we’re a Spaghetti Western, Rockabilly, Country band, it’s safe to just say we’re a Folk Rock band.
Me: Who are some of your biggest musical influences, and why?
TR: I love artists like Tom Waits, Nick Cave, the Gun Club, the Cramps, Scott Walker, sounds of those nature, the best. However, I take influences from a wide variety of genres.
Me: Which of your songs means the most ot you, and if you don’t mind me asking, why?
TR: The answer to this question is always changing. If I write something new, then I can connect to it on that honeymoon level, but there are songs WFR has played for 8 or 9 years that just never stopped being fun, or never stopped evolving, or maybe it’s got nostalgia. But to give a dated answer, my current favorite to play is a song we have not yet released, called “Firefly Lights”. It’s about going to where the Robert Johnson story took place, & a bunch of other things about growing up.
Me: If you could open for any act, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?
TR: It would be a Time Warp Johnny Cash show, and it would start in the early 2000s. He would be touring with the American Records albums, and people like Fiona Apple & Tom Petty would be there to back him up. Then, during his set, he would transform into a younger Johnny Cash, and he would do an Elvis impersonation (which you should look up on YouTube), then play a full band set of old classics. Whiskey Folk would, hypothetically, open the show and make a lot of money and have a blast.
Me: Any favorite new musical acts, local or otherwise?
TR: My mind goes blank when asked that question. THere are so many great DFW bands and beyond. I really don’t want to leave anyone out by singling out others. Just keep learning about bands an artists (Editor’s note: this is a good space to do that <end promotional plug>), new or old. But also see my answer to the next to last question below.
Me: What’s your “stranded on an island” record?
TR: I feel like there are some rules to this one. Like, it can’t be a compilation, or a Best of, things like that, but I am gonna cheat a little bit, by picking a multi-album, Orphans, by Tom Waits. But only because it’s way longer than 45 minutes and I could totally live with it.
Me: Moving onto the home front, what are your favorite (and least favorite) things about the DFW music scene?
TR: I’m gonna start with what I don’t like. I hate it when people shit talk the surrounding cities they don’t live in, like it’s some kind of competition or rivalry.
What I love about Dallas, Denton & Fort Worth is that they all welcome new bands, respect old bands, there are so many music venues in this area. I guess I’m just glad I don’t live some place that’s musically dried up.
Me: Favorite DFW venue to play (or see a show). Why?
TR: In Fort Worth, it’s Lola’s. I miss the Wreck Room. Other cities, it’s too hard to choose.
Me: Any favorite local acts people should be looking out for?
TR: Well, since you’re asking ME, I’m gonna go ahead and be biased, and say that everyone should check out the band, Classic Cult. it’s a band I started with some friends from Dallas.
Me: And for shits and giggle, what’s a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?
TR: Little known fact: I would have never talked to my wife if we hadn’t first accidentally talked & bonded over old Chipmunks albums, randomly.
Shout out to Tyler Rougeux for being so kind as to join us. Keep an eye out for gigs with his original band, the Whiskey Folk Ramblers (Check out their most recent album, the Lonesome Underground below), and his latest project, Classic Cult.
And as a bonus, here’s that video of Johnny Cash impersonating Elvis Presley: