By Chase Rheam
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Success can be hard to come by for a band in its first years. A Dallas group is proving that theory wrong.
Jonathan Tyler is the lead guitarist and vocalist of Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights. With Brandon Pinckard, guitar, Nick Jay, bass, and Jordan Cain, drummer, and vocalist Mo Brown, the group has been together for nearly five years, said Tyler. He said he had always hoped and dreamed that they would get to play music for a lot of people.
They will be performing at Eskimo Joe’s on Saturday as part of the restaurant’s anniversary week.
The band released its first album, “Hot Trottin,’” independently in 2007.
“The album started selling really well and people started coming to the shows, so we started traveling down to Austin, down to Houston and all over Texas, really,” said Tyler. “And as that started happening, we started to catch some industry buzz and some record labels started to get interested.”
The band was eventually signed to F-Stop Records, a branch of Atlantic Records. Their success also translated into being able to open for artists like Kid Rock, ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd and AC/DC.
“It’s one of those things where we were on stage with AC/DC,” said Tyler. “We never, ever thought that would happen. That was crazy.”
However, despite being an opening act for big names in the music industry, Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights continue to do their own shows for audiences in towns they had never before visited.
Tyler said going to a new town to perform is much like starting over. While their fans in certain parts of the U.S. know their work and show up for concerts, a new venue may only yield a small audience.
However, that may soon change. Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights’ music has been featured in TV shows including “Friday Night Lights,” “Criminal Minds,” “CSI: Miami,” and HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.” Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights performed on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” last April in the band’s late night television debut.
“It’s one of those things where I just keep all the time waking up saying, ‘Wow. This is pretty cool getting to do this,’” said Tyler.
But he said life on the road can be hard.
“That’s a really big life change,” said Tyler. “That’s the biggest thing, really. Going from living in one place, having the familiarity of your friends and your family and your own bed, you know. It’s little things like that you take for granted, but we go out and we’re out on tour for three months at a time, sometimes, and it’s just ... it’s like going out at sea.”
While he said it’s work, the group loves the adventure of playing.
The band’s debut album under F-Stop Records is titled “Pardon Me”.
“Well, coming into it, you know, I really looked at it as it was going to be our introduction; kind of our first thing that people would see across the country, because our first album was an independent album,” said Tyler.
With that idea in mind, the group set out to record.
“And so, we tried to come out with a bang and you know, at the same time, try to keep it really honest and real and raw and live,” said Tyler. “We recorded it live and all the songs were written by the band and myself and I think that it is the first of many because we’re planning on putting out, you know, 10 more albums. Who knows? As many as we can. We just want to put out a lot of work.”
He said there are still a lot of people who have never heard of the band. He would like to reach them.
“If it was easy, I think we would take it for granted and probably do it for the wrong reasons, but I think because we really had to get out here and work, I think we really appreciate being able to do what we do and we have the right motives and the right heart behind the music,” said Tyler. “It’s honest and we do it because we love to play and that’s it.”
Tyler said the band is looking to do a tour across the country this fall and going back into the studio to record new material with an anticipated release next spring or summer.
“I still am very grateful and thankful that we’re getting to do these kinds of things because, you know, I make music just because I love to make it and the natural high that I get from playing is addicting,” said Tyler. “So, just the fact that people are turned on by it and want to support it, especially on that national level, is humbling and it feels good and at the same time, it’s kind of scary just because it’s so many people and it’s on such a big level and the pressure is there and the stakes are high, but it makes it exciting and it definitely has made this journey pretty interesting.”