October 15, 2008
Kyle Park Interview 10-08
Kyle Park Returns to Kyle Fair and Music Festival
By Sean Claes
Austin’s Kyle Park is returning this Saturday to play the Kyle Fair and Music Festival for the third year in a row. Currently touring in support of Anywhere In Texas, which he released earlier this month, he took time out in between release shows in Austin, San Marcos, and College Station to answer a few questions.
Sean Claes: You started playing music in bars before you could drive. How’d you get your beginnings in music?
Kyle Park: My cousin, Daniel, bought me my first PA system. He also drove me to my first acoustic shows when I was 15. He would have to come with me, or another parental guardian, to 80% of the events I performed, until I was 18.
I've always loved music. I knew every word to every song on country radio, and I loved singing. Guitar came into play when I learned how to play a Chris LeDoux song on a hand-me-down from my neighbor, and the response I received was "you should learn how to play the guitar." I lived in the country where there wasn't much to do except play outside or watch TV, so I started playing guitar.
Claes: Where was your first gig and how old were you?
Park: The Office Lounge in Georgetown TX when I was 15. It's a small, [used to be] smoky bar that my cousins and uncles used to go to after work. I would play 3 hours or so, usually watching the Houston Astros on TV while I was performing. Mostly covers, but I would play 4 or 5 original tunes.
Claes: The story goes you were “discovered” on Austins KVET (98.1) morning show in 2002 when you were 17. How did all of that come about?
Park: Daniel (now my 'manager') and my uncle were at Hill's Cafe in Austin TX and saw both KVET morning personnel Sam Allred and Bob Cole having lunch. Both of my family members walked up to the two and gave them a 5-song demo that I had recorded, told them a little about me, and persuaded Sam to give it a listen. A few weeks later, Sam played one of the songs on-air on a morning when I was just waking up for high school. I received a phone call from a friend saying, "You're on the radio! Wake up!" I still remember that feeling, it was incredible.
Claes: You just released Anywhere in Texas your follow-up to 2005s Big Time. How do they compare?
Park: Big Time was great because it has no direction, except "I love music, I write songs, and I want to see how everyone will like my music." I didn't have a band, or manager, or anything when I made that CD. It wasn't until afterwards that I put together the band [that I have today], released a single, and acquired the team that I have around me now.
On the other hand, the new album HAS direction, and that is why it is so much better I think. The most frequent (and best) compliment that I get on the road is that we [the band] sound good and tight performing live. When I wrote the songs and recorded Anywhere in Texas I had the band in mind with every song. Although we don't have a fiddle player or B3 player, the album is based upon the 4-piece feel: drums, bass, guitar, guitar. "AiT" is rockin' country, and I think it's something different that people will enjoy and really get in to.
Claes: You celebrated your CD release in Austin on the 1st at a “Roadhouse Live” KVET show. W/ Wade Bowen. Howd the night go?
Park: Great! We had such a great turnout for the release, nearly at full capacity. My family came, which is always great. It's always fun playing with Wade Bowen too, he's one of my favorite's.
Claes: Wade Bowen co-wrote, “A Woman Like You” on your new release. Tell me about that song.
Park: I had written the music line (opening rhythm/lick) before anything else, and I knew I liked it. I started messing around with the lyrics, "Here's your si-gn girl, tell me what you want me to do.." and thought it sounded cool. I called WB, and we got together for about 2 hours. He coined the line "Waitin' on a woman like you", and the we got stuck on the song. I left for a songwriting trip a week later and I finished the song. It's one of my favorites to play; real bluesy, 'Delta Blues'. It's also currently our opening tune when we play live.
Claes: Do you have a favorite track on Anywhere in Texas?
Park: Not really a favorite, but a few stand out. I'm proud of the way “Cold In Colorado” turned out, just because it kind of fell into my hands I feel. I wrote is so fast, and it was stuck in my head for weeks. I started playing it live (acoustic) only weeks before I went to record the album, and people/fans were very responsive with that song, telling me how it was their favorite. I thought it was funny because I didn't even really know it yet! I messed up the lyrics, botched the music, but people still liked it. That's when I knew I had a good song for the record.
Claes: The title track puts a humoristic approach on touring. You’ve been a road dog for the last few years. What was the best memory?
Park: Probably that song and going to Europe in 2007, [laughs]. It was our first long road trip (13 days) as a band, and we really got to know each other on that run. We were so lost! The best thing was that when we got back, we weren't tired of each other yet. Usually 4 guys on the road for that long in those close quarters will want to kill each other when they're done, but not us. It truly feels like family.
Claes: There are some impressive players on the CD, like Lloyd Maines , and members of Asleep at the Wheel and . How’d you assemble such great musicians in the studio?
Park: My manager, John Michael Whitby, has been in the business for a long time now (played 8 years with Asleep at the Wheel, currently plays with George Strait's Ace In The Hole Band and the Randy Rogers Band) and he has introduced me to some of the best musicians in the US. They just happen to be in Texas [smiles]. Surrounding myself with greats like those guys is a privilege, and I'm always amazed at what they come up with on each record.
Claes: You’ve opened for Clint Black and Tracy Lawrence. Ever have any face time with them? Did they give you any advice?
Park: Not with Clint Black, but I did talk to Tracy Lawrence for a little bit. He's super nice, and a fan's best friend as well. He didn't give me any verbal “advice,” but I saw him interact with his fans like no one I had ever seen. When Tracy met his fans, you could tell that he cared about each one. The fans are the ones who pay for things as big as the bus you sit on, and as simple the gas that gets you to the show and the meals that you eat.
Claes: Technically, you could call your show on October 18th at the Kyle Fair and Music Festival your CD Release show for Kyle
Park: Definitely. We've played in Kyle annually for the past 3 years, and we've built a nice fan base in Kyle. Maybe it's because they like my name.
Claes: For those who will see you for the first time on October 18, what can we expect from a Kyle Park show?
Park: High energy and quality music. There are a lot of 4-piece bands out there that sound like rock bands but call themselves country, and that is not us. We're rockin' and we have a good time, but you can still dance to the music. We're different, truthfully. If it's your first time to hear us, it shouldn't be your last.
Claes: Did you get the gig at the Kyle Music Festival based on your name? I mean, Kyle Park at a park in Kyle is pretty fantastic.
Park: [Laughs] I'm not sure, I've wondered that as well. But I do know that it must save some money on advertisement: Kyle Park @ Kyle Park!
Claes: Where are your favorite places to play?
Park: Gruene Hall, Schroeder Hall, the old places are the best. Luckenbach is great too, but I've only played there once. Our first stadium gig was awesome (Dell Diamond). We're playing in Ford Park in Beaumont in a few months. That should be a good one.
(First photo by Jennifer Williams, Above photo by Kris Laymon. From Kyle's MySpace Page)