Tyketto: "Nirvana? It was just pop music in cardigans"

Tyketto band photo

Originally a four-piece band from New York, Tyketto have played melodic hard rock since 1987 with a number of different line-ups – including one without co-founding frontman Danny Vaughn, whose place went briefly to future Journey singer Steve Augeri. Back together again since 2008, and with original drummer Michael Clayton Arbeeny still part of a current Anglo-American band, Vaughn previews Tyketto’s fifth studio album, Reach.

You co-founded Tyketto almost immediately after Waysted imploded. That experience must have taught you some dos and don’ts?

Oh God. There was a very long list of both [laughs]. [Pete Way ex-UFO/Waysted bassist] taught me to treat everybody nicely if you can, and he was always very good at that. But quite a few other things done back then went into the ‘don’t’ file; I was not built for such prodigious consumption of Special Brew.

It took three years before Geffen Records imprint DGC came calling. Were you signed by the famous A&R guru John Kalodner?

No. Mary Gormley saw us at the Cat Club [in New York] and told us: “If you sign with anyone else I’ll kill all of you.” But of course we dealt with Kalodner a lot. He was two very different people at once – sometimes nice, often much less so.

Although now a quarter-century old, Don’t Come Easy, Tyketto’s debut, still stands up remarkably well.

It really does. And it holds up its head sonically as well. Rock Candy Records are releasing an anniversary edition on November 4. It’s the first time it will have been available officially outside of Japan.

It’s become almost trendy for bands from the so-called hair-metal genre to now say they liked Nirvana all along.

Not me. I couldn’t fucking stand them [guffaws]. I came around to understanding them later on. It was just pop music in cardigans, and everybody needed a change.

In 2006 you told Classic Rock: “I gave up trying to be a rock star long ago. I’d much rather be a musician.”

I still agree with the sentiment, but maybe I’ve softened a little. Couldn’t we use some rock stars right now? But they must be the right ones. All the same, as much as I like to throw shapes on stage, I do find the term ‘rock star’ a little uncomfortable.

Why did you decide to record Reach at Rockfield in Wales?

Our primary goal was to make a record that would capture the essence of our current live performance. With Reach we’ve made an album that sounds like it cost a hundred grand and a video [for the title track] that suggests it cost twenty grand, but we couldn’t afford either of those budgets.

Is the new song Circle The Wagons inspired by the fact that this form of music just refuses to die?

[Ponders] I’ll take that, I like it. But I was really thinking about one of those times that comes along in anyone’s life when they feel tremendously put upon. It was about calling your nearest and dearest to you and saying: fuck everybody else, we’ll get through this somehow.

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Dave Ling

Dave Ling was a co-founder of Classic Rock magazine. His words have appeared in a variety of music publications, including RAW, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Prog, Rock Candy, Fireworks and Sounds. Dave’s life was shaped in 1974 through the purchase of a copy of Sweet’s album ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’, along with early gig experiences from Status Quo, Rush, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Yes and Queen. As a lifelong season ticket holder of Crystal Palace FC, he is completely incapable of uttering the word ‘Br***ton’.