by Daniel Coston
from the October 2016 issue of Tangents Magazine
More touring. A new album on the way. A recent cover story by Creative Loafing. The past several months have been busy ones for Time Sawyer, who have been building towards this moment since 2010. After Elkin, NC natives Sam Tayloe and Kurt Layell recorded an acoustic EP that year, the group quickly expanded to a four-piece with the addition of Houston Norris and Clay Stirewalt. The band’s sound pulls from many influences in the Americana genre, including Ryan Adams, Wilco, and a certain band from the Concord, NC area. After repeated touring throughout the Southeast, the band recently expanded again into a six-piece lineup, all while working on a new album that could cement their status as the next breakout band to emerge from the Charlotte area.
Band vocalist, guitarist and leader Sam Tayloe emailed us from the band’s van on the way to a gig in Virginia to answer our questions.
Tangents Magazine: Talk about the new album. Recording it, the studio, the producer, etc..
Kurt Layell: Definitely having Mike Ashworth (producer) helped in shaping a song. You could get a biased feeling about something you've written and not be able to see a change that may be needed. And Echo mountain is just a historic place. It's hard to find a want to leave that place.
Sam Tyloe: The experience of it all was so warm. Mike, Jim Georgeson (recording/mixing), and just working at Echo was what we wanted for this batch of songs. We feel very strongly about the new material. As you always hope to. The band as a whole has worked hard to continue to progress.
Tangents: Did you find any themes emerged in the writing of this record?
Layell: I'd say we have a "genuine" feel as a theme.
Tyloe: Yea, all the songs are coming from a place of feeling. Looking for a connection or moving forward. I think a lot of what we write looks for the depth in human interaction.
Tangents: How has recording changed for you and Time Sawyer since the first album?
Tyloe: it's definitely become a more in-depth process the more we learn. Every record hopes to show you something you didn't see before.
Tangents: After years of being a four-piece, you’re now a six-piece band. Where did the new guys come from, and what do they bring to the band?
Tyloe: Bob (Barone) came through the great Chris Garges at old house studios. We wanted to experiment with Pedal steel on a sonf while working on our record "Come on in". Bob came in and thought we all were assholes because we cracked up almost the whole time because of how phenomenal it was. You know when something about music is so good all you can do is laugh about it? Joel Woodson is new to the group and brings our low end. And he's fitting right in with the laughter as well.
Tangents: Is it very different touring as a six-piece, as opposed to a four-piece?
Tyloe: We've gotta get two hotel rooms now so that's a bummer, haha. Three to a bed is tight.
Tangents: It sounds like the band is committed to touring nearly full-time, at this point. Has that been the goal for some time?
Tyloe: Definitely what we are shooting for. To continue progressing in a life of music. Creating some stability. Hopefully finding some comfort as we progress.
Tangents: Favorite gigs so far, or best gig stories. Do tell.
Tyloe: I have some fond memories of our 2012 Bristol Rhythm and Roots set. It was one of our first shows with Bob sitting in on Pedal Steel (before he decided to put up with us more regularly). One of my guitar strings broke during our last song and I decided to just go out in the crowd with the mic to dance and finish the song. Still surprised. Definitely not something I thought I would do at the time. Our first show at neighborhood last October was one too. A good stepping stone and comforting to see your crowd grow. This last one at the muse for the Sawyer Soirée was great too. It was after two weeks of no shows, which is long for us, so really nice to get back on the wagon.
Layell: Floydfest '15 weekend was a great experience. As was Reevestock with the Dirty Guvs in 2013.
Tangents: What bands did you hear growing up, made you want to play music? Any specific shows?
Layell: Incubus is what got me into music. Collecting guitar pedals. Making crazy sounds. But my dad kept me groomed on Neil Young and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Tyloe: I saw the Avett Brothers in the earlier 2000s and it really struck a chord. Pun intended. It was always easy for me to connect to a lot of music but beginning to write threw me down the rabbit hole. I can't stop climbing down. So many great artists saying so much.
Tangents: Has your process for writing songs for Time Sawyer changed since the first album?
Layell: Not for me, I don't think. Lyrically yes, maybe more adventurous. The process still pretty much the same.
Tyloe: I'm searching for different ways to write lately. I feel more pressure now, correlated with our busyness and feeling the need to "force" writing when there is time. Trying to glean out the good when time permits! But in reality I'll need to make more time as we continue work for our following record to clear some headspace for new material.
Tangents: Finish this sentence. Time Sawyer is……
Layell: A comfort food substitute.