True American: An Interview with Dylan Tirapelli-Jamail
Long time musician and native Houstonian Dylan Tirapelli-Jamail, who currently resides in Los Angeles, has been toiling away on an album, one which he wrote and performs by himself, for a over half a decade — and it’s finally come to fruition. Prior to the release of the album as well as a performance by his band True American on Saturday at The Secret Group, Free Press Houston caught up with Tirapelli-Jamail to discuss the release and his inspiration.
Free Press Houston: Can you tell me about your upcoming album?
Dylan Tirapelli-Jamail: In a way it’s kind of a culmination of the past ten years of my life. The experiences I gained in Houston, not only as a musician but as a person, and being that I’ve always been a guitarist and songwriter, but most of the time I was living in Houston I was playing drums for a bunch of bands like The Manichean and Square and Compass. I never really got a chance to explore being a songwriter and I don’t think that I really started writing until I checked myself into rehab here in LA. The record, in a way, means me finally having the outlet that I’ve been searching for.
FPH: Since you wrote the songs, how did you see your experiences coming out through those songs?
Tirapelli-Jamail: Mostly in metaphors, to be honest. The last four or five years that I was in Houston definitely had an impact on the sound and lyrical content of the record. It was kind of like writing a movie where you play every character because whether I’m writing about myself or writing about somebody else that’s involved in the story, it all stems from my brain and my memories of what happened. It’s an interesting feeling for sure.
FPH: Do you have a name for the album?
Tirapelli-Jamail: Yes, it’s called Ghosts: The Aftermath of a Love Story. I kind of got this idea in my head, and this is what the album is basically about, is that reliving old memories and basically using them as a way to cope. So the memories in my mind are like ghosts, they’re pieces of the past that you still hold on to and it just sort of started to come out as a story. I didn’t intend to write it that way. Each song is entitled “Ghost” 1 through 5 and they all hold different small chapters of four or five years that I was in a pretty dark place.
FPH: You released the single “Ghost II” last month, was there a reason you released that song first?
Tirapelli-Jamail: I decided to release that song first because it’s definitely the most personal out of all of them. Almost everything you hear in that song actually happened to me. Some of the other songs on the record are a bit more embellished for the sake of the story, but almost everything in that song happened to me or someone else and it’s really just the rawest point of emotion that I’ve found writing so far. It’s probably the most accurate representation of what our sound has been.
FPH: How did you find your inspiration for writing this album?
Tirapelli-Jamail: My inspiration mainly comes from different places, my first long term relationship and years of addiction. The writing about relationship stuff started as a therapy, but the openness about my addiction came from a place that once I started to get help, when I was in the worst throws of what I was going through, once I got help I realized how normalized addiction has become and especially among people of our generation. I wanted to find an outlet to tell that story in a way that could hopefully benefit other people who may not realize that you can live without that pain. The inspiration stemming from that, the actual writing did become a therapy and helped me get through what I was going through at the time.
I could go on for days and days about what the process really entailed, but it was a long time and I just had to stay patient. There were certain times that I wanted to jump the gun and just find people fast and start playing shows, there were times I wanted to just put the whole thing down and walk away, but I tried to keep my cool a little bit and realize that I was doing something good and just let the process unfold as it did and try not to go insane.
FPH: Do you see this album as an evolution of your sound?
Tirapelli-Jamail: Absolutely. Like I said before, this is really the first time that I’ve truly explored myself creatively and I wrote the entire album and I actually performed all the instruments on the album as well. I have a band here in Los Angeles that plays with me live and they’ll be more of a part of the process as we go forward as far as writing and recording, but this record, aside from two guest vocalists and an engineer, was all me. I think it’s sort of a jumping off point for what I’m going to be doing in the future.
FPH: Since you played every instrument, how did that go and how arduous was that process?
Tirapelli-Jamail: Honestly the recording process was pretty smooth, it was really the writing process that was arduous. I spent three and a half years writing the record and it started when I was in rehab. I bought this cheap guitar when they finally let me have the privilege to go out, I could check in and check out, and I bought a guitar and I just started writing as a therapy to be honest. The recording process was smooth, I got a chance to record with Brian Baker at Sound Arts Recording Studio, who I’ve been recording with for over 10 years now. We got in there and it was just like old times. It was pretty quick, we tracked the entire record in five days.
FPH: What was it like to create and release an album that was so intensely personal?
Tirapelli-Jamail: It was very weird. It’s very therapeutic. It’s very painful. Reliving old memories is always hard, it’s strange just to talk about it now. I just hope that someone who might be going through what I was going through can hear me when I say that there is a way out if you’re dealing with stuff like that. Addiction is hard, but the more people that bring it to light and turn it into art like I’m trying to do, I feel like that will be able to help. Even if it’s painful for me to relive those memories, it’s not as painful as what somebody else is going through now. If I can help them in any way, then that’s what I want to do.
FPH: How do you think you’re going to move forward after working on this project?
Tirapelli-Jamail: I’ve already started writing the next record. The next one is going to be a full-length and the rest of the band will be more of a part of the writing process from this point forward. The sound is definitely going to evolve and I can kind of see where it’s going at this point, but there’s really no telling. We’ll just kind of see what happens.
True American will release “Ghosts: The Aftermath of a Love Story” on Saturday, February 25 and will perform that day at What’s It: A Benefit for Girls Rock Camp Houston at The Secret Group. The album will be available on iTunes and Spotify.