In 2013, Bonney Lake-bred country band Aces Up toured more, played higher profile gigs and laid the foundation for its next record, the follow-up to 2011's radio-ready “Backyard Superstars.” The band will cap off its big year by headlining Jazzbones on Saturday, Dec. 14. So we caught up with singer-guitarist Tyler Adams to find out what makes this local buzz band tick.
Tacoma Weekly: How did you guys get started?
Adams: Well, my brother and I, we got an apartment together after he got out of the military. He was in the Marine Corps from 2000 to 2004, and he went over to Iraq for two tours and came home.
I'd been playing guitar since I was nine, so I had been writing a little bit here and there. He looked at me one day and said, “What are you playing?” It was just a little riff I wrote, and we decided to write a song around it, and it just turned out to be country. That's what we grew up listening to. It was kind of in our roots and in our blood. So we decided to start the country band, and went to the radio station, told 'em we had some stuff goin'. They listened to the song, told us it wasn't that great.
TW: What station are we talking about here?
Adams: The Wolf (KKWF-FM, 100.7) when they first started, back in '05.
TW: Is this a song you still play?
Adams: We don't play 'em any more. One was called “Lost Love” and the other one was called “Four Years Gone.” We played those songs for 'em, and they said, "We gotta hear the whole band." And truth be told we didn't have a band, but we told 'em we did. So they gave us a show with Steve Holy as our first show; and we put a band together, played a show and just never stopped.”
TW: Obviously, you got better.
Adams: Like to think so. (Laughs)
TW: You started the band with your brother. Is it usually smooth sailing, or does it ever stray into the Oasis, Black Crowes territory?
Adams: We have our spats. We try to do different things and we just butt heads. But at the end of the day we're brothers, we're family and always get over whatever we're mad about and end up working together. He's the best business partner I could think of, and he's the best friend I've got. So it couldn't be any better for me.
TW: There's not the same local country scene that there was even a decade ago when there were a couple more places to play. Where did you guys cut your teeth?
Adams: We opened up for Josh Gracin after we opened for Steve Holy. Then we started playing the Little Creek Casino in Shelton. It was four hour sets, and we were playin' all night long. So we had to learn about 45 songs. It was all the songs that everybody else wanted to hear, not the stuff that we wanted to play that was our own music. … We wanted to play our own music, but you gotta cut your teeth and earn your way.
TW: On your last album, “Backyard Superstars,” you've got a really radio ready sound. And you can point to people like Blaine Larsen and Lila McCann that are from this area. But do you feel it's a steeper hill to climb being from the Northwest and trying to make it as a country band?
Adams: Rae Solomon, she moved out to Nashville. Robbie Walden, he also moved out to Nashville, but they're both from here. Chance McKinney still plays around here, and there are several other bands.
But at the same time it's tough when you go to places like Tennessee or Texas. ... When you tell 'em you're from Seattle, some of 'em almost laugh at ya. So it makes it good for us up here in the Northwest. But it makes it really, really tough when we try to head south or southeast.
TW: You guys are really gaining traction. I saw you were nominated for the KOMO best bands poll, you're doing more touring and you're getting more high profile gigs. What are some of the highlights from this year?
Adams: Well, the biggest highlight for me of 2013 was getting to do a run with Florida Georgia Line. That was just an awesome experience. The two guys, Brian (Kelley) and Tyler (Hubbard), that make up the duo, they're awesome guys; and then the whole band, too, they were all really personable people. They taught us a lot in just the few days we were hangin' out with 'em. ** TW:** Are you doing any recording next year?
Adams: We have a producer picked out, and we're writing songs as much as we can, every single day. Mine and (my brother) Jason's phones are filled with voice notes and written notes or typed notes and lyrics and hooks and ideas for songs. So really, all we have to do is find the time to sit down together and write 'em out. We're trying to record early next year and put the CD out by spring or summer.
TW: What to you have planned for this weekend at Jazzbones?
Adams: The night's gonna start with C-Leb & The Kettle Black. After that it's Cody Beebe & The Crooks, and they're good friends of ours. We've played several shows with 'em.
We haven't played at home in a long time. We used to play as much as we can, and it's been a lot less because we've been touring. We're gonna have probably three new songs we're gonna debut here. We played them a little bit on the road, and people seemed to like 'em.
TW: What are some titles people can listen up for?
Adams: There's one called “It Rains in California, Too.” There's a song we wrote with a buddy of ours, Adam Craig, called “It's All Good.” And then we might even throw one in we wrote with … Austin Jenckes, from “The Voice.”
We went down to Nashville two months ago and wrote one with him called 'Rolling in the Evergreen.” That's a song for home. There's a hidden meaning behind it. It's Washington, I'll just leave it at that.