Ty Herndon is performing at El Corazon this evening. The doors open at 8pm and it is a 21+ crowd. Check it out here. He took a few minutes out of his day to speak with us about the show, his partner Matthew and life in general.
Check out our interview with Ty Herndon!
Could you tell me a bit about the show you are bringing to Seattle?
It will be an intimate event with some new music and of course, the hits. We are getting to know the new music.
Could you tell me about your new music?
Well as you know, I came out as a gay man in country music on November 20, 2014. A lot of people would go ahead and put new music or even a book out right away. I decided to wait. I didn’t know what the year was going to be like. I didn’t know my audience. I didn’t even know if I would have a job. My coming out process was for my own sanity. It was for selfish reasons but I didn’t know what the year was going to be like. I didn’t know my audience. I didn’t even know if I would have a job. My coming out process was for my own sanity. It was for selfish reasons. I wanted to be a better future husband, a better son and just be authentic. By the grace of the universe it is becoming a much anticipated album. It has taken a year of writing and figuring out all the sounds. We have finished the record and it is seventeen songs from a lot of fun, to some breakups, to some new love. It is very today and in the moment. I am glad I waited. I don’t think it would be the album it is if I had rushed it.
How is it being a gay artist in country music?
I am just an artist in country music. Let’s put that out there first. Me being gay is just a little more of the story that people get to know now. A lot of people in Nashville just can’t believe it is still a thing.
What was it like coming out in People Magazine?
I was a little nervous about it. It wasn’t my first time in the pages of People or on any of the network news shows. I have gone through a lot in my career. There have been lots of ups and downs. Being able to finally clarify my story was a relief. It was an educating and interesting journey. They were very kind and encouraging.
What is your most autobiographical song?
This current album is very autobiographical. I would have to say that the Journey On… Christian album I got the Grammy nomination for was very autobiographical. Also, the album after that which was Lies I Told Myself is very autobiographical as well. That was the last album I did and had not made any announcements about being gay or not. This new album really continues to tell my story. It has some incredible songs. The album title is House On Fire. I really have a lot of fun with it.
How does it feel when you write these songs and really put yourself out there?
I used to really struggle with writing songs. It would take days or sometimes a week to figure out what I wanted to say. I wrote this entire album with my producer, and a couple of special friends that came on board. No song took more than three or four hours to write. It is so intense and honest that it just seemed to flow. The process was definitely a lot better. I am not one of those guys that write songs every day. Now that this record is done, I have a book coming out next year and some new music with that as well.
Since it is an election year and there are always they threats and innuendos. How do you feel about outing people?
I still think that is heinous. It is someone’s journey. They have to be able to handle where they are in life. There are still a lot of people who will crucify you for your political views much less being gay, straight, transgender or bisexual. It is a wonderful world we live in today but it can be pretty terrible as well.
What was it like walking down the red carpet with your partner Matthew for the first time?
I was beaming like it was prom night. I love Matthew. He is such a wonderful man. It is the first time I got to not have a fake somebody on my arm. It is the real deal. I was a little worried about him since he had never done anything like that before. He is a pharmaceutical rep from Kansas City. Some of the pictures were pretty funny. I am looking at him and talking. All the pictures or him are like Tom Cruise. He is all studly and smiling. He had it down.
How did you guys meet?
We actually met through a mutual friend on facebook. I had taken a few years off from dating. A mutual friend suggested we meet. We exchanged phone and talked on the phone for four months before we ever met. I highly recommend that by the way. You really get to know someone.
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Bonnie Raiit! She was amazing on the Grammy stage the other night. For people that are more current today, I would have to step outside of country because I have worked with so many country greats. I love Katy Perry and oh Gaga. Lady Gaga can sing the Songbook. I was a huge Natalie Cole fan as well. I think they could have done a little more to honor her on the Grammy’s.
Do you have a message for LGBTQ youth?
I absolutely do. I talk to so many of them and they are worried about being gay in whatever profession they are interested in. I think if I hadn’t worried about that so much I wouldn’t have gotten in so much trouble. You need to focus on who you want to be. If you want to be a country star you need to focus on being the best country star you can be. You need to be the best at your craft. When you enter a room with that, the rest will fall into place. Find someone to help you be the best you can be. Find someone to talk to. Take care of yourselves.
Ty Herndon’s Bio from El Corazon:
Ty Herndon has always been all about the ties that bind. You feel it when he’s singing deeply moving No. 1 hits like “What Mattered Most” and “Living in a Moment.” You get it just as much when he’s goofing around with the audience between songs in concert making every attendee laugh. Even in a genre that already prides itself on relatability, he might be the king of connecting.
Now, with the release of Lies I Told Myself, his first country album in seven years, he’s bonding with fans in a new way. Herndon invited folks to be direct participants in the album launch via a well-publicized Kickstarter campaign that made fans investors in the record… financially and, more critically, emotionally. His devotees came through by more than doubling the goal laid out at the outset. The love that goes both ways here, between performer and audience? It’s no lie.
Lies I Told Myself stays true to the styles that made Herndon one of the top new artists of the mid and late 1990′s. There are some wrinkles and updates, as you’d hope. “I’m staying true to who I am and what I’m about as a singer,” says Herndon, “but also reinventing a little bit with sounds in the studio being current with what’s relevant on the radio today.”
Some may feel there’s a gap in the growth they’ve been able to see with Herndon, since Lies I Told Myself is his first country album in seven years and only the second album of all-new country material he’s released since 1999. There was an assumption that he might have crossed over into the contemporary Christian market when he released the highly lauded Journey On in 2010, which garnered a Grammy nomination and Dove award win. These accolades put an exclamation point on a story of personal redemption that once seemed unlikely, given the well-known addiction issues that had played havoc with his career from the mid-’90s on up through a successful stint in rehab in 2004. Herndon’s experiences affect his interpretation of the title song “Lies I Told Myself” — which is also the album’s first single — even though the lyrics aren’t specific to substance abuse.
For Herndon, “Addiction has cost me a lot in my life. And because of addiction, I told myself a lot of things that weren’t true. And in recovery, I have seen absolutely the light of the truth. But I don’t know that I really consider this song a recovery song. I just consider it a song of truth.”
“I’ve had to deal with getting my life together,” he says, “so that I can be the artist that I am today” — an artist that’s even stronger and truer than the one who recorded “What Mattered Most,” you might agree after hearing the new album.
Keep up with Ty Herndon!