I had the chance to sit down with the very talented, and down-to-earth, Ty Stone in February. The “American Style” powerhouse singer has one of the strongest male vocals in the business as I witnessed at the Warner Music 80’s party where he performed. In our exclusive interview we discuss how he met Kid Rock, going out on tour with his friend Uncle Kracker, why he wants to work with Miranda Lambert, and who the Detroit native would love to record with if given the chance.
Get to know Ty Stone before his star rises:
So you’re going to be heading out on the road with Uncle Kracker?
Yes ma’am. March 1st will be our first date. I can’t wait and it’s always fun. He’s my best friend in the business, so I can’t wait. He’s and I are both from Kid Rock’s Top Dog label and we’re kind of kindred spirits. We got to be friends bonding over that, and, he takes me out once a year – sometimes twice a year.
How did you get to know Kid Rock?
Actually, I had lost my job in Detroit and upon being laid off I decided that it would be a great time to go see California. I’ve never been there, and, as you know you being Canadian, it’s freezing cold up in the North. It was Winter and it was freezing so I decided to go somewhere warm. I really needed the change after losing my job. So, I packed my car and drove all the way to California. I met a guy out there named Brian Irwin, who is actually from Vancouver, and he was a big fan and a producer out there and he asked if he could help me out with a few songs, so we recorded some stuff. I mailed it back to my friend Sam in Detroit saying “hey man, I recorded in Hollywood, how cool is this?”.
Meanwhile, he had gotten tickets to a Pistols basketball game and they were great seats – they’re where Kid Rock sits if he ever comes to a game. So, Sam, being the good friend that he is, put my demo in his pocket just in case he bumped into Kid Rock at the game and sure enough – he did! So, Kid Rock takes the CD and says “hey, I listen to everything,” but I never thought anything would come of it. Kid Rock has always been one of my idols and I thought it was pretty cool that he had my CD, but I didn’t think anything would happen. Then one day, I’m literally flipping hamburgers at my job in my left hand and my cell phone in my right hand, I get a call. But I didn’t recognize the calling number and thought it was a bill collector so I let it go to voice mail. I went out to check it and heard “hey man, it’s Kid Rock and I want to talk to you about your music and your future, give me a call back.” So, I called him and we got to be buddies, and he came out to see a show I was putting on. He called me the next day and asked me if I wanted to come home. I said I sure did.
He moved me back to Detroit and moved me into his house, actually. I got to live there for a few months and put together this great record called “American Style.” I always say that I was literally flipping hamburgers Friday night, then Tuesday I was in Detroit shaking hands with Elton John. It was like such a crazy time of my life, but it was really, really cool. It’s been really cool since then, I’ve done such unbelievable and cool things under his wing.
So what’s it like working with him?
It’s great! He’s such a huge music fan and he’s like a savant when it comes to music. He knows every word to every song, and he just has really cool taste. He’s one of those people that is really confident in his opinion. That really helps when you’re in the studio because a lot of times there’s a lot of indecisiveness. You’re never sure if you should go one way or the other, or do this instead of that. He’s very decisive and he’s a great producer, and I think he brought out the best of me as an artist and as a singer. He helped me grow and the record we made was top notch, second to none.
You must be pretty excited it all finally being done.
Oh yeah, March 6th it’s coming out and I’m very excited. It’s a big deal to me and I think they’re going to finally like it. I’m excited. Lots of people get into music for different reasons, but I just want my music to touch people for all the right reasons. I like the stories that are real, and that the ideas and the feelings are real. I just want people to know that there are other people out there going through the same thing and that you’re not alone. I’m so excited for my music to finally be out and see the effect it’s going to have on people.
I guess that’s why you’re drawn to country music then, by how real it is?
I think it is and at the same time I was just born that way. My Father came from Kentucky and my Mother’s from West Virginia. I live in an area of Detroit called Down River which is populated by all the people from the Great Migration of the 50’s and 60’s when the folks from the South came up. My whole life I was exposed to Kenny Rogers, Matt Davis, ever since I was a little kid that was all my parents would listen to. So, when I started mixing my own music it was all there, all 50’s and 60’s Motown thing. I always say it’s Al Green mixed with some Aldean, ’cause those are my influences.
That’s the same way rock and roll was born, when R&B ran into rock for the first time. I was born out of that, and that happens in Detroit a lot naturally. We have a lot of urban and soul influence, and some country influence. I think that Detroit has such an interesting thing musically. I love old music, anything with a good soul. Old country idea. I like any country to anything from 50’s and 60’s rock tunes. I like all those old bluesy country soulful songs, but I’m just a big music fan.
So if you could have a duet with anybody in the industry, doesn’t have to be country…
Can I give you two people? I’ve always wanted to do a song with Miranda Lambert because I think she’s just a bad ass. I think we could really do a bad ass song. I would love to do one with Adam Duritz from Counting Crows. I just love what he’s done and I think he would be a fun guy to do a crossroads with, it would be weird, but it would be cool. I’m a fan.
Now, your music video pretty much went viral overnight.
It did! I love the song “Anywhere’s Better,” and it was really cool that Kid Rock and Uncle Kracker came out for the video and were so supportive. The beautiful young lady that we had in the video was so much fun to work with, she’s on CMT. She’s a real villain on CMT so I was surprised when we met her that she was probably the sweetest girl I’ve run into in a long time. We had a lot of fun filming the video. I’ll tell you… one of the most intense things that have happened to me in a long time was sitting there with my fiancee when the video came on the tv. At first I was like “yeah!” then halfway through it it just hit me… fifteen years ago was when I was just picking up my guitar, and now here’s my video on tv. It’s been crazy, and such a cool experience.
Have you had the chance to sit back and reflect on everything happening?
I’ll tell you that the blur has been going on for about six years. I think it was ’05 when Kid Rock initially contacted me. I’ve hit plenty of reflecting times. I’ve learned to start taking things day by day and really appreciate it. Bill Withers has this great documentary called “Still Bill” and he’s talking to his daughter about the music and she wants to be a big star, and he apparently didn’t think she had the talent to do it so he was warning her about it. But he says, “honey, it’s okay, if you have the drive to do wonderful, and you should definitely try to get there. But at some point you’re going to pass alright and you might wanna stop and take a look around at alright ’cause you might not get anywhere better than there.”
I always thought that was so profound and it effected me because I’ve learned to stop and look around. Man, I’ve had more experiences in a week than most people get to have in a lifetime. So I appreciate being fortunate enough to roll for a week with Kid Rock, which was a lifetime dream just to do it one time. I’ve been sitting back and reflecting on each step, but I’m ready for the next step, you know? I’m ready to get over that hump and really get people into my music and push it to the next level.
I guess you have some really good stories about being around Kid Rock, right?
Oh yeah, yes I do. My favorite story is when we were staying at his house, and he was like “yeah, my friends are coming over and we’re going to have a little fire tonight and play some songs.” I thought – okay, cool. Turns out his friend was Hank Williams Jr. So I got to sit around the fire with Kid Rock and Hank Williams Jr picking out songs, and I said to Hank “hey man, I like your more obscure songs.” He looks at me and goes, “boy, I don’t have any obscure songs.” He played my favorite song for me and I got to sing along, and I got to play him one of my songs and he goes “son, that song was right on.”
We’ve done all kinds of fun stuff. The first time I came down [to Nashville], he brought me over to John Rich‘s house and Gretchen Wilson was there. It’s just crazy having access to all these things that I’m so used to seeing on television. It’s pretty cool.