Also known as That Really Awesome Guy With A Guitar, TRAGWAG is a solo project by Tyler Bisson who now lives in Tallahassee. He will be playing at the Hardback Cafe on Sunday, February 18 with Dakota Floyd, Vi Viana (of Gutless) and Pobrecita. We were able to talk to Tyler about the new album, Tallahassee’s music scene and more.
In March of last year, you released a collection of 37 songs from your 10 years of creating music under the name TRAGWAG. Can you think back to 2006 and talk a little bit about how you started making music?
I started playing piano for a year or two as a kid, but I really got going when I picked up the drums in 5th grade. My best friend Dan and I were both drummers and constantly trying to learn new things and push each other to be better, so by 7th grade we got the idea in our heads (from a school assembly concert) that we wanted to start a band! Luckily enough there was a guitar player sitting next to us, and we formed our first band with him and a bass player friend. I wrote lyrics and played drums in that band Inside Joke which started in late 2002. We lost our bass player pretty soon after forming so Dan and I picked up the bass to fill in for our shows, and that’s how I learned how to play a stringed instrument. It wasn’t until summer 2006 I think, when I finally got together the money from my first summer job to buy a $100 acoustic guitar, and TRAGWAG started nearly right away with my first album out October 2006.
What do you think is the most valuable thing you’ve learned regarding music since then?
The most valuable thing I’ve learned is that everything changes. I’m a person pretty interested in knowing what’s going on, where shows happen, who’s playing, and all that, but it can get discouraging sometimes to feel out of that loop. The key is that everything is constantly in motion, your favorite local band will break up, or your favorite regional touring act will becoming national and not play as much around you, it’s just how it is. I’ve kept myself steady in my beliefs as a person, and how they manifest through my music whether it’s trying to keep my shows inclusive and safe, DIY packaging, booking my own tours, having guest spots on my albums, booking shows locally, and believed in that model as something worthwhile and honest.
You released the album “Another State” in September. Can you talk about any themes that the release follows?
It’s a lot about the move from CT to FL, but also my perception of the current state of affairs and changes through that lens of change. There’s a lot of social commentary whether it’s about growing older and seeing people “give up” and move back to their hometowns, or watching folks struggle with racism, mental illness, drug addiction, and how the parts of society that don’t go through these things, have really harmful ways of dehumanizing those that are affected. At the very least I’m trying to be open, compassionate and understanding of the struggles of others, especially the ones I don’t personally experience.
Your song writing style is very detailed and seems like stream of consciousness writing. Can you talk about your writing process?
I used to write every day! As a kid in high school I remember finishing a song a day for a while, hence the many albums from the high school era. Now it’s more like jotting down thoughts when they come, and making sure to take time to put those together when I can. That goes for both music and lyrics, mostly in parts. I tend to think of how the drums will go, even in songs that don’t include drums. Lately I’ve stuck to shorter lyrical themes also, going for direct meaning over quantity – I blame the Promise Ring for that.
Your Bandcamp states that you moved to Tallahassee from Connecticut. What prompted the move and what do you think of Tallahassee’s music scene?
I’d been keeping steady with small scale touring during and after college, and Tallahassee had always been a great spot. Back in 2015 my partner at the time and I decided we wanted to move somewhere more affordable than CT, and warmer. While on a tour we tried to take stock of “how is it like to live here” and Tallahassee won by a long shot.
I really love the scene here a lot, it’s a medium sized town so there’s enough interest and resources to get things going, but people aren’t apathetic and don’t suffer from the “oh someone else will do it” mentality that I see taking over the big cities. There’s many cover shows, benefits, and a long history of house shows, co-ops, and generally good minded people surrounding independent music in this town.
Who are some of your favorite artists from the area?
big heet, gorgeous, protocol, big puppy, vile body, blacksunblackmoon, do nothing, miranda mclaughlin
You’ll be playing at the Hardback on Sunday. What should people expect from your set?
I really like to play a range of songs, lately it’s been about half songs from Another State, half from scattered piles and maybe you can relate (recent full lengths)
and one or two songs from really old high school/early college era albums, splits, or the ocassional cover (songs by The Weakerthans, Jimmy Eat World or Lifetime are go to’s).
Are there any plans for this year that you can tell us about?
I’ve got a few new songs in the works, might do an EP but nothing concrete yet. Trying to get a full band TRAGWAG set going around Tallahassee to play songs from Another State, which I’m hoping will convene this coming year and maybe we’ll do a short tour. I also play drums in the hardcore band Night Witch and we’ve been pretty busy so that’s really nice too.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Just wanted to say thanks so much for having me, and I appreciate the questions, It means a lot.
Upcoming Tour Dates:
TRAGWAG and Dakota Floyd (Atlanta)
the “See You Later Alliga-Tour”
2/17 Tallahassee at the BARK
2/18 Gainesville at Hardback
2/19 Tampa at Microgroove Records
2/20 Orlando at Uncle Lous
2/21 St Augustine at Planet Sarbez
2/22 Daytona at Rok Bar