BY ANDREW KIM
The fascinating thing about Diners is their ability to sit down with their listener and perform the most intimate and heart-warming music in a brutally honest way.
I had the wonderful chance to talk to Tyler Broderick, the leader behind the Diners label, to get a look behind at the inner processes of their latest album Leisure World’s creation. What surprised me throughout the entire time I was with them was their innate humbleness and small-town aura that unnerves the most stubborn of anxieties. Gone were my fears and worries of interviewing an artist I respect and admire so much, and in flew a calm easiness that had me talking as if I were with a long-time friend. Just like in his music, Tyler’s soft-spoken voice and warm personality displayed the genuine kindness and passion behind the artist.
What comes below is an intimate and vulnerable conversation about Tyler’s career high at releasing what they believe is their best work yet and the battles they have fought to come to terms with their musical status and legacy. Out of all of the interviews I have done, this interview has been the most memorable to me. I thank Tyler once again for this opportunity to converse with such a multi-dimensional artist and hope to meet him when I finally take that trip down to California.
[This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity]
What inspired the title Leisure World?
Leisure World is named after this retirement home that my grandma lived at. It’s in my hometown and if you look on the album cover, you see the globe which is at the entrance of Leisure World. I’ve seen that globe so many times that I became almost obsessed with it. It was cool to name the album after something that’s always been a bit present in my life, even if it’s just like this weird small thing. The globe was just the type of thing that you always drove by and as a kid, it always looks really exciting because maybe my kid brain associated it with something like Universal Studios! Actually, what’s inside is like the most boring of boring stuff, like there are old people leisurely playing tennis and I mean, even that’s probably pushing it. There were pretty much just ancient people living there.
So, when you first saw Leisure World and its globe as a kid, you thought that it was something super fun and exciting. Turns out after a few years, you find it actually a bit disappointing. You’re saying that It didn’t live up to your hype?
Oh yeah, totally. It was definitely a weird thing for my brain to grapple with because I was like, “oh, it’s kind of cool, but not that cool.” [Laughs] I didn’t want to be that weird kid by bringing Leisure World up to my schoolyard friends. But, it’s just funny because it was only until like 10 years ago that I really started looking at it as like hey, this thing is like really cool. I love this cool, weird thing that is around, even to the point where if I was really, really bored with friends, we would just drive to the Leisure World globe at night and just check it out.
You’ve touched on the subject of the recording session. Can you tell me more about that period and how it differed from your recording session for your past albums?
Well, I think the biggest thing is that there’s this huge difference between Leisure World and the album that came before it, which is called A Soft Day. That album was recorded, mixed, and mastered all in one day and really, I even had more songs for that project, but there was only enough time to do it. The concept of A Soft Day was what we get done today is what goes out, so it’s the complete opposite of this record. Leisure World was not leisurely recorded. It took way too long and I worked as hard as I’ve worked on all my other material. It took a couple of years to make for a number of reasons. I mean, most of it was logistics stuff, like not being able to get into the studio and not being able to have recording sessions lineup with my work schedule or touring schedule, but it took so long for things to feel good about this album. I even finished the album a few times, but it never really felt right. It never felt right until one day it did, and that’s when I was like cool, I can start wrapping this up now and let it out.
But, one thing that I think with Leisure World that was different was that it was the first time that I was consistently playing solo sets where I didn’t have a band that was playing with me all the time. Recording this album was the first time I realized what being a solo artist felt like.
Wow, that’s quite the realization to have. Let’s move onto the sound of the album. What overarching themes did you implement musically or lyrically into Leisure World, if at all?
I think the sentiments of the album revolve around self-reflection. I think that the songs are based around self-reflection and the idea of trying to do better and learning from your mistakes.
What are some of your favorite cuts off of the album?
I think that my favorite song off the album is “Spinning the Yarn.” It’s the longest song that I’ve ever released and to me, that doesn’t sound like a good thing. [Laughs] I love really concise, minute-and-a-half songs. In this case, though, I really love “Spinning the Yarn” because I was able to bring in a saxophone player who lived in Arizona that I really didn’t know. He totally came up with some wild parts on the song that I would’ve never ever would have thought of. That is super exciting to listen to because the song contains some of the only stuff on the record that didn’t come from my brain, that came from someone else.
I also really love “Learning Curve” and “Big Times”… There’s a song called “There’s a Time”, too… [Laughs] I don’t want to go on and list off half of the record. I just feel really good about the album. But yeah, “There’s A Time” is another song that I hope people get into.
“Spinning the Yarn” is my personal favorite, too. I want to now talk about quarantine. We are living in such unprecedented times right now and I wanted to hear how it’s been for you to release an album during this time?
It dramatically affected releasing the album. It’s funny because normally, I will associate releasing an album with chaos because, in my mind, it’s the week that I release an album that’s also the week that I go on tour to promote the album. So, it’s been weird to be promoting the album without a tour. I even was working on booking a tour before the lock-down, but luckily I didn’t get too far into it. Everything got canceled before I fully finished, but even then, the route was set in stone. It’s weird to not have a tour planned because that’s where you move records every night — there are so many people that will get into the record on like a streaming site and then they’ll wait till the show to buy merch and buy the record. So yeah, I’m letting out a big sigh and saying, “Okay, I can relax now” rather than “Okay, I have to gear up and spend a month on the road to sell records” and whatnot.
Also, it’s one of those things where people have been really generous with buying the record. Honestly, I can’t really tell if the pandemic is making people generous and they want to support by buying the record or if it’s just selling on its own. Either way, I feel really, really happy with how everything‘s been going, and people have been really showing their support. That’s been really, really nice and really, really affirming.
Where do you think the Diners brand is now compared where you see it in the future?
I think that I am at a weird point in my career and I’ve been at this weird point in my career for a while. There are certain standards where there are certain bands that people will recognise as big bands, bands that are going to get buzz. I think I missed my chance of being a buzz band like three albums ago. The press doesn’t want to cover a band that’s been around for a long time unless they’ve been around for a really really long time and there’s like kind of an angle to the story. But, I think with a band that has been around for an awkward amount of time, it’s a little bit harder for them to have an interesting take on a band. Even record labels want bands that are either on the first or second record so they can kind of work with it, rather than having a band with five albums. That makes things a little bit more complicated on how you want to present it.
While I was working on Leisure World, I wanted to see if a bigger label would be interested in me and eventually, I came to the realization that I’ve worked so hard on this record and I don’t really feel like trying to convince somebody that I’m worth their time. I just want to work with people that I know want to work with me. I just want to work with my friends and if I am lucky enough to have everybody who listened to the last album pay attention to this album, in my book, that will be a success.
STREAM “LEISURE WORLD” AND SUPPORT DINERS BY LISTENING TO YOUR MUSIC PHYSICALLY!
LEISURE WORLD TRACKLIST:
- Leisure World
- Think on This Feeling
- Learning Curve
- Big Times
- Cup of Coffee
- Big Moon
- So Blue
- Sending My Love
- There’s a Time
- Spinning the Yarn
- Phone TV World
- “Tube Town” by Cylinder City
- Thanks for Listening