Ty Herndon is making a comeback. After some musical departures and hard-fought personal struggles, the charismatic country artist is returning to his roots with Lies I Told Myself, his first album in the genre in seven years. Before yesterday's album release, Ty shared some thoughts and more than a few laughs with BFTV, as he told us how it feels to be back and what he's hoping will happen after the new record.
"Everybody's like 'You've got to reinvent yourself,'" he reflected. "I don't like that whole word 'reinvent.' What does it mean? I just finally threw that in the trash. There's no changing me. I'm a country artist. Twenty years from now, you're still going to hear Ty."
What exactly does that mean? "People have come to know me as an artist who sings about life," Ty explained. "I came off of, in 2010, a very serious Christian album. I like to call it a spiritual life album. It's about life and change and acceptance. That was such a serious album and I wrote the whole thing.
"So my goal was to have a little more fun with this record, and definitely I did that. But there are still moments of Ty Herndon in there," he continued. "There's some content songs in this record that are heavy, but then I turn around and have fun."
Another way in which Lies I Told Myself stands out is that Ty invited his fans to be part of his return effort through a Kickstarter campaign to enable the launch of the record. "The album was close to finished when we started to do [the Kickstarter]," he told us. "What Kickstarter allowed us to do was have a launch for the CD as big as when I was on Sony. It allowed us to go out and have an awesome presentation. Normally all the things that a small label would not get to do, because they can't afford it."
"Here's what's really cool about it," he continued. "I've done this long enough that I know where exactly to spend money and where not to. We did not waste a dime of the fans' gifts to us. I made a kick-ass album, a kick-ass video and I got to sit down with over five hundred fans and write handwritten lyrics, and autograph CD's and T-shirts and pictures, and I've got an artist that I'm producing a record for because of Kickstarter." He's more excited about the rewards he was able to give to his fan base than any benefits he received; that's the type of artist you don't meet every day.
But that's Ty Herndon. He's exceptionally down-to-earth, and maybe that's in part because he knows what it's like to be both on the top of the world - as an artist with a Grammy nomination, two Gold records and a few number-one hits - and on the bottom. Where many others would avoid discussing anything that might even hint at putting them in a negative light, Ty readily admits that he "got sidetracked with addiction and a bunch of bullshit," and that he's past all of it.
Asked what he wants audiences to take away from Lies I Told Myself, he told us, "Number one, that Herndon is back making country music. I'm singing better than ever. I'm healthy, and I'm looking good for an old guy, and making good music."
"I just want people to take away that it's a great, solid record," Ty continued. "I think it's one of my most solid albums since my very first album. I've got five albums to go on this label, so I'm looking forward to growing with each one."
With the record out yesterday, what's next for him? Fans can look for Ty to tour in 2014, and as he puts it, "country party like it's 1999." Current and future tour dates can be found on the tour page of Ty's official website.
With almost twenty years since the release date of his first album, Ty Herndon is no newcomer to music. He knows that his comeback to country isn't just something that's going to happen, but a process that he's going to have to keep working at. It all begins with what happens to Lies I Told Myself, including the bottom line of how many copies it sells.
"I think the commercial aspect is important today because you want to broaden your audience. You want to make more fans," Ty conceded, "I've been fortunate enough to make millions of fans. When you go away for awhile, you have a responsibility to come back and hopefully make some new fans."
Then he added, "But for me, the most important thing is that I am happy with the job I did. I couldn't have done a better job. I'm proud of it. And I learned a lot."
But whether or not Ty ever becomes a country superstar again, he still has a lot to be proud of. He's endured lots of things that life threw at him, and some things he did to himself, and he's emerged a better man on the other side. He has dedicated fans who lent their support when he asked for it. He's got his health, a positive attitude, and a personality you just love being around. He's doing what he loves, making country music.
And he's just getting started. "I'm already thinking about the next record," he told us. "I have already started writing." It's great to have him back.
Ty Herndon's new album, Lies I Told Myself, is out now; you can snag your copy of it here. The official music video for the title track is with this article. You should also be sure to keep up with him via his official website (tyherndon.com) and following him on Twitter (@tyherndoncom).