Tyler Haag on leaving the Annandale Cardinals, his favorite dive bar, and debauchery

Tyler Haag on leaving the Annandale Cardinals, his favorite dive bar, and debauchery
Photo by Aimee Pijpers

It's easy to feel lulled into a sense of a security if a band has achieved some success, but when a lead singer's world is shaken up, deciding to break out on their own is a risky thing. Learning from recent experiences, Minneapolis artist Tyler Haag's debut solo album houses new songs that are vulnerable and melancholy -- songs that deal with life and conjures up easily relatable tales. If you listen real closely, you will find it there, the ephemeral hopefulness of an young artist in transition.

Gimme Noise spoke with Haag before his album release at the Hexagon Bar about leaving behind his band, The Annandale Cardinals, and the hardships that flavored much of his new album One Last Chance.

Why do you think now was the right time to do a solo record?

Tyler Haag: It kind of came out of necessity. My old band, The Annandale Cardinals, were slowly breaking up, and I was writing a bunch of new material. I basically arranged everything and then asked my friends in The New McCarthy to play a couple of shows and record it with me. Much to my delight, they agreed, and we're excited about it!

How do you think your solo stuff differs from the work you did with The Annandale Cardinals? Is this a collection of songs from over the years, or was it something that came about recently?

Tyler Haag: The songs are definitely similar, in that I did most of the writing in the Cardinals, and obviously did the writing for this record, but they are very different in the amount of collaboration that took place. Cardinals had a lot of collaboration, everyone had an equal say in where the songs were going, whereas these songs were pretty much all arranged and set by the time they were heard by the band. I wrote the songs while I was going through a pretty gnarly rough patch in my life. The Cardinals were breaking up, I was in the process of getting out of a 7 year relationship, and my grandmother, with whom I was very close to, passed away. All of that happened in the span of about two months, so I essentially freaked out and became a recluse. I didn't go to shows, I didn't go to any parties, I would just go to work, get done, go straight to the bar by my house, come home and then lock myself in my room and write. I did that every night for almost 6 months. Of the ten songs on the record, only one was written before that stretch, and there were a number of songs written that didn't make it on the record. 

What's the story behind the title One Last Chance

Tyler Haag: While I was writing the record, I spent (still spend) a lot of time at a little dive near my house. They have a neon sign that hangs above the bar that says "One Last Chance." Not an advertisement, not a promotion for a new drink or anything, just a reminder that things could be worse. That hit home with me, so it made sense to have that be the name of the record. I was also hoping if i named it that, the bar would give me free drinks for life (they didn't).

How did you approach writing for this album differently than with a full band?

Tyler Haag: The way the songs were arranged were very different from what I had gotten used to. In the Cardinals, I could bring in a skeleton of a song (a verse, or chorus, or in some cases just a guitar riff), and we would work it into something we were all happy with. On this record, I was going to be deciding when a song was done or if it needed more work, which was scary because that can be a difficult thing to measure by yourself. I definitely had some help from the guys in The New McCarthy and my friend/roommate/producer of the record Eric Frame, but this was by far the most songwriting/arranging I've done on a record in my life. The sense of accomplishment in finishing it was pretty awesome. 

Any favorite tracks off the new album?

Tyler Haag:

I like the way the whole record turned out -- really raw and desperate -- almost messy at times. If I had to pick favorites, I really like "I'm Not Going Out Tonight," "Sweatshirt," and "One Last Chance."

What's the plan with the new album? Are you looking to tour, and is the end of The Annandale Cardinals?

Tyler Haag: Totally looking to tour. I'm trying to book some full band shows for this spring, and am already writing songs for the next release. As far as Cardinals go, we might get together and play a show or two, but that will be about it.

What can we expect to see at the CD release show?

Tyler Haag: Debauchery at its classiest.

Tyler Haag will release One Last Chance at The Hexagon Bar with Whiskey Jeff & The Beer Back Band, The Slow Death, Nato Coles & The Blue Diamond Band on Friday, November 30, 2012.
21+, Free, 9 pm

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