Caleb Crosby of Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown Q&A: New LP ‘Shake the Roots,’ Inspiration from AC/DC and More

Rock Cellar Magazine

Shake the Roots is an apt title for the new album from Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown, as the band assiduously plumbs and revisits its blues and rock roots throughout its tracks. 

But the record, which is out on Friday, Sept. 9, also showcases wider dimensions of the band’s sound — and with clear production savvy.  (Band members Tyler Bryant, Caleb Crosby, and Graham Whitford produced the album.)  It displays a broad array of tunes, from the shuffles of “Bare Bones” and “Midnight Oil” to the rambunctious rocker “Off the Rails” and the blues of “Hard Learned.” 

A strong undercurrent of funk is also evident on the album, which includes a tribute to Nashville, the band’s current hometown, called “Tennessee.” The album’s authentic flavor is the antithesis of the manufactured sound too often found in popular music.

Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown debuted two pre-release singles from the album, including “Ain’t None Watered Down.” Coinciding with the album’s release, they’ll also play at Basement East in Nashville on Sept. 10, a show they are also live streaming — click here for more details.

Click here to shop Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown at our Rock Cellar Store

Rock Cellar:  The new album seems like a real return to your roots. What prompted the decision to focus heavily on blues-rock?

Caleb Crosby: Well, a lot of the album unfolded organically. We were digging into Mississippi Delta blues music and using slide guitar in a way that felt organic to us. Some of the music harkens back to our earlier songs, like “Wild Child.” Our team was excited about the music. We felt really inspired by the sound we were putting out and ran with it. As the songs came out, we sandwiched them together naturally. I’d say the album was a combination of a little bit of roots and a snapshot of where we are musically now.

Rock Cellar: The album also seems to offer a greater variety of material, and seems to exhibit a more mature sound. Would that be fair to say?

Caleb Crosby: Yes, I would say so. That was our goal.  

We’re more settled in now, and we’ve become more comfortable with who we are. It’s like we throw out paint and see what sticks, what would work live.  Sometimes it doesn’t work. This time, we felt like we could play all the songs on the new album live.

The music is very organic. We all have different influences, and those influences pop up in our music all the time. I’ve been heavily into gospel and soul music. I also tried to introduce more funk on the record. 

For example, I loved Tyler’s song “Ain’t None Watered Down” when I first heard it, but thought I could add to it.  So I managed to have the second half of the chorus transition into a funky rhythm, giving the song a different twist.

Rock Cellar: There are echoes of bands like AC/DC and Aerosmith on the album. How deliberate were those?

Caleb Crosby: Aerosmith and AC/DC were both major influences on us. Some of those influences just come out, even though you don’t realize it at the time. We were so inspired by AC/DC when we toured with them, it felt like going to school. That’s how we learned how to put on shows well.  The influences we have seep into your soul. For example, it’s not a surprise that Graham came up with riffs in “Off the Rails” that sound like Aerosmith, because he grew up around the band [he’s the son of Aerosmith guitarist Brad Whitford.] 

I think the song felt very natural — it came across like a spur-of-the-moment song, giving the impression that anything could happen.

Rock Cellar: The band’s history seems almost mythical or even magical, starting from Tyler’s chance meeting of Roosevelt Twitty, an old blues musician, in a Texas music store at the age of 11, to the first time he connected with you and Graham in Nashville early on. How would you explain all these serendipitous connections?

Caleb Crosby: I first met Tyler in Nashville when he was 17 and I was almost 19. I had friends at a booking agency that worked with him, and then got in touch with him via text. We went into a rehearsal studio soon after in Nashville, and understood each other in the first two minutes. I knew what he was thinking, and he knew what I was thinking. Everything felt so easy. That kind of communication never changes. It’s like unspoken energy. There’s a special spark when we play together.

Rock Cellar: The song “Tennessee” conveys a genuine affection for your hometown of Nashville. What makes the town so special, especially for musicians, and how does it inspire you?

Caleb Crosby:  The town is so cool and creative. Everybody there is inspired by each other — engineers, producers, tour managers, etc.  It’s a constant community 24/7 where everybody is sharing their talent and gifts. We’re all building things together.

We didn’t have to think much about the song’s lyrics.  The song’s message came across the way we wanted it to come across.

Listen to the album below.


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