He’s still getting used to it, to the thought of seeing his face all over your stuff.
“It’s kind of weird, if I try to think about, like, a T-shirt design,” Ian Shane Tyler says through a half-embarrassed grin. “With a band, it’s cool, because you can put the band name there or a picture of this and that. But with a solo project, it’s like, what am I going to do, stick my face on a shirt?” he says, chuckling.
“Everyone, buy my face.”
Two years ago at this time, Tyler was poised to be one of the next big signings out of Las Vegas, with major labels courting his band Red Light School District and a planned tour opening for The Killers in the works.
These days, he’s still being eyed by big labels such as Warner Bros. and Atlantic, but in an entirely new context: as a solo artist, for the first time.
It all began, and ended, when the hotly tipped Red Light spent nearly a year recording what was to be their debut album, only to be dissatisfied with their producer and the way the finished product sounded. So they scrapped the whole thing.
Before an aborted gig in Reno in September 2006, Tyler got a call from his bandmates informing him that they had quit.
“It was kind of like a big meltdown, I guess,” Tyler says from his home studio, flanked by a rack of guitars and a bank of blinking recording equipment. “After all the work we had done, we didn’t have a CD. After a year we ended up nowhere still, just a band with a lot of hype behind us and nothing to show for it.”
And so Tyler bought a stack of phone-book-sized recording manuals, set up his own studio, and taught himself how to track and mix an album.
“It totally sucked,” he sighs. “A lot of times I was just driving myself crazy in the studio, trying to figure out what sounded right or if there was a right.”
But it was worth the effort, if Tyler’s solo debut, “Through A Telescope,” is any indication. A superb headphones record with a detailed mix and a sweeping, near-symphonic sound in places, it’s a textured, confident sounding CD.
There are still traces of the loose-limbed piano pop that Red Light became known for, but overall, Tyler’s debut is a more guitar-driven, varied effort. “Something New” is a spare, pretty acoustic number with a dusty twang, “Beautiful” a pop barnburner with a massive chorus, while “Every Flower Dies” (a shot at Killers frontman Brandon Flowers) features such heated hard rock soloing that Tyler can’t help but bust out some air guitar licks as the tune plays.
Having just gotten copies of the CD back from the pressing plant, Tyler is going to begin shopping the album soon. Expect him to land the deal that eluded him two years ago.
“I just felt like I wanted to have a CD done and not have anything be able to stop me,” says Tyler, a demure, soft-spoken guy. “I knew that there was no way that I couldn’t succeed if I just relied on myself.”
Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin @reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476.