Tyler Spooner does not come from a family of musicians. He is the first.
"My dad was always cranking music in the house and playing air guitar, that's the only instrument he ever played," Spooner said. "He listens to everything from Zeppelin to the Carpenters to Elvis, as well as old-time country music. I grew up hearing a variety of music styles."
Spooner began playing acoustic guitar at 17.
"A friend got me started by showing me how to play some simple chords," Spooner said. "I just took to it from there. It wasn't till I was 23 in late 2010, that I started playing out in public. A buddy of mine, Brian Gerber, had written a song with me and we played it at a party. It got a pretty good reception and soon, we started playing open mic nights."
The duo booked a show at Acme Barbecue on First Friday that summer and the gig was well-received. At that point, Spooner and Gerber were hooked and played together until Gerber moved to Baltimore.
"After Brian left, I continued playing open mic nights by myself," Spooner said. "Sean Farley was hosting one at The Old Corner. That's when I met with him. I played him some of my originals. He enjoyed them and said, 'Hey man, you want me to play some lead guitar?' and then we started booking shows. Sean got me in there and it's been that way ever since. Then I met John Shively and Dave Lynn, both played on my album."
Spooner's day job is as a buyer at Primus Technologies. He's been doing that for two years this April.
"It's kind of rough when you have to play gigs during the week and then wake up early for work," Spooner said. "But it's well worth it for me because it's what I really want to do. I enjoy it very much. I generally come home from work and start playing. I've contemplated canceling my cable because I never use it. I come home, pick up the guitar and start writing. It takes up most of my free time."
When he plays live, Spooner doesn't use an amp. He runs his guitar through the PA.
"I use a Mackie system, two Mackie Thump speakers on a Yahama soundboard. It's a simple set-up live: two channels, a mic and an acoustic guitar," he said. "I did have a six channel mixer I was using for a while but I upgraded to a sixteen channel because of the different effects and it allows you to do more as far as controlling your sound. Right now, I'm only using two of the channels but when I get a full band together more of its functionality will come into use.
"I have two acoustic guitars. The first one I bought was a low end Fender," he continued. "Now I play a Martin DX1, which Sean has put in a Fishman Matrix pick up into to help amplify the guitar's sound live. The pick up works well because Martin's already have that warm sound. I believe it fits my voice better."
As far as the songs on his debut, he wrote almost all of them this past year, 2011 and recorded it in the fall.
"This album, 'Forgetting To Remember,' is comprised of a mix of songs I've written from personal experiences, other people's life experiences and some are narratives," Spooner said. "As far as my songwriting process goes, I'd say 99 percent of the time I'm just playing around, trying new things and getting a chord progression developed. Then I go from there. Usually when I write, words just pop into my head."
In regards to the development of the solo album, originally, Spooner was going to do a full band album with members of Lynn Farley 5 and was rehearsing for that early last fall. Then drummer Shaun Gilmour got the news that he was going to L.A., so that put a halt to the recording.
"I really didn't know what I wanted to do," Spooner said. "Someone said you should just get your name out there. You have all this material - get it out there. I gave him a call. He set something up and decided to pull songs out of my repertoire I thought would fit for a solo acoustic album."
Despite his love for Martin guitars in the studio he played Farley's OM acoustic guitar.
"Usually I play a dreadnought-styled guitar body like my Martin, but as I said, it's a low end model, so in the studio I wanted to play something with a better sound," Spooner said. "Sean let me use his handmade guitar, which is a different body shape. In the studio, I wanted to use the best quality guitar I could get my hands on and Sean was generous enough to let me use that one. I use his OM on the entire album. He used an electric guitar that he built."
"I laid down the tracks with the acoustic, added vocals, and then Sean came in to add electric lead guitar lines on the tracks. I took two days on my own to do all the guitar and vocal tracks. Dave came out the first day and laid down some guitar tracks also. Then everyone came in afterwards to do their parts. Sean's on four songs: 'Al's Song' - about my grandfather, 'If You Go Today' - first song I ever wrote and the positive response it got back in 2010 really sparked this whole thing, 'Oh Amy' and 'I Don't Feel'). Dave's on three ('Dancing On The Sidewalk,' 'The Center' and 'This Is Love') and John plays violin on 'Getting Over You.' I also did two solo acoustic songs ('Better Off Dead' and 'Linecrosser')."
Spooner's CD release party will be held from 9 p.m. to midnight Saturday at Jeremiah's upstairs at the Bullfrog Brewery, 229 W. Fourth St.
"I decided that once we kind of had a rough date of when we'd be finished, that we would have a release party," Spooner said. "It culminates everything that's happened in the past year and allows us to celebrate the release [and] have a good time with things. We rented out the Jeremiah room. I had gotten tickets to sell and with the tickets you get a free CD. Tickets sold out as of last Saturday. A lot of people do CD release parties and say, 'Well, just come by and buy a CD.' They may only sell about 20 to 30 CDs but to me, I thought I'd sell tickets and schedule the release party two months in advance and make it an event. Boom, that's 100 CDs sold."
"I also wanted to have my own show," he said. "People are there for the show, the event and listen to me and everyone perform my songs. It will mostly be me and Sean performing the entire album. I'm going to play all my own material, as well as a few covers. Dave will come up and play material from the album as well as other songs, same thing with John. It will be a mixture of musicians."
'Forgetting To Remember' CD Review
Tyler Spooner has recorded a melody-filled debut CD augmented by some fine Williamsport talent. Sean Farley adds his distinctive guitar prowess on four songs while Dave Lynn lays down tasty lead on a few more. But, make no mistake, it's the 24-year-old Spooner whose voice and guitar are front and center on "Forgetting To Remember." He and producer Richard Rupert have created the perfect 3 a.m. listening experience: lyrics that are reflective, evocative of youth, the loss of innocence and the sting of love - its rewards and pain.
Even the upbeat "Dancing On The Sidewalk" carries a wistful air. Spooner's steady acoustic rhythm strums carry the melodies of songs deftly accentuated by lead guitar work from Farley and Lynn. It's well produced but not too slick. The disc is bright-sounding but with depth - the brittle sound that plagues many digital recordings is not present.
Lyrically, Spooner shows maturity and depth on tracks like "Al's Song" and "Getting Over You." The former plays like a heartfelt open letter to his grandfather set to music while the latter features John Shively's violin phrasings offering a mournful aural exclamation to lyrics of loss and confusion. "You want me to stay/I won't come around/I don't know about this life" The CD is full-sounding for what is essentially a solo acoustic guitar album, the subtle electric leads adding a nice edge and tension to the songs. "Remember" is an impressive debut for this rising star in the local singer/songwriter scene.
Key Tracks: "Al's Song," "Oh Amy," "Getting Over You," "This Is Love," "The Center" and "I Don't Feel."