Years before he joined The Head and the Heart, Tyler Williams began taking drum lessons with a very different goal in mind: to join his older brother and father in a family band. The family trio never got off the ground... but Tyler fell in love with the drum kit. After playing with his school orchestra for several years, Tyler graduated and started keeping time for different Virginia-based bands, including one that featured the songwriting of Jonathan Russell.
Jonathan and Tyler stayed in touch over the years, even after Jonathan moved to Seattle. Six months later, when Tyler heard a demo of one of Jonathan’s newer songs, he knew he had to move to Seattle, too. The two began playing music once again -- this time as part of a new band, The Head and the Heart, whose sound blended folky rhythms and bright harmonies with a wide, cinematic sweep. The group signed with Sub Pop Records in 2010, sold more than 300,000 copies of their debut album, charted a #1 AAA radio hit, and toured the world. They repeated the entire cycle with their second album, Let’s Be Still, a Top 10 Billboard release that spawned more hit singles and sold-out tours.
“I've always loved the way that percussion can create textures within the music,” says Tyler, who carries his snare, kick pedal, and Zildjian cymbals from gig to gig. “Drummers like Glenn Kotche from Wilco are big influences when it comes to that. We didn’t have any electric guitars on our first record, so I was trying to find a way to creatively fill up space. There’s a lot of cymbal washes and extra percussion, just to create a unique soundscape.”
A versatile drummer who also performs with the psychedelic rock & roll band Avers, Tyler keeps his hands on the kit and his mind on the song.
“I’m a drummer that really pays attention to what’s happening in the songs and in the lyrics,” he says. “I’m really influenced by those. They steer my playing. I consider myself a songwriter in that respect.”
(Banner Photo by: John A. Zara)