Aaron Lee Tasjan has been recording albums for nearly a decade, but in many ways he seems like a new artist. An award-winning guitarist as a teen, Tasjan turned down a full scholarship to the Berklee College of Music and instead moved to Brooklyn to pursue a solo career. After releasing a steady stream of albums that went largely unnoticed, Tasjan has finally found the acclaim he deserves with his latest release, Silver Tears.
Mining a modern version of the “Cosmic Cowboy” sound that is often associated with Gram Parsons, Tasjan offers an eclectic — yet cohesive — body of songs across the album’s 12 tracks. On Wednesday, April 5, Tasjan will perform at the Syndicate Lounge with Jon Latham and Ryan Sobb opening the 18-and-up show. Recently, Tasjan spoke to Weld as he drove to Austin, Texas for a run of South By Southwest shows.
Weld: What can you tell us about the creation of Silver Tears?
Aaron Lee Tasjan: I wrote the whole thing pretty much when I was on tour in 2015 supporting the In The Blazes record. It was written almost exclusively in hotel rooms. There were four songs I wrote at home, and I actually wrote them all the same day. I’ve never done that before or since. But it was largely a traveling album, if you will.
Weld: It’s interesting that you are able to write songs on the road. Many artists tell me they have to shelve songwriting until they return home from being on tour.
Tasjan: It’s like Billy Joe Shaver says: [songwriting] is the cheapest psychiatrist there is. If you’re losing your mind out there, it’s a good way to keep your head together.
Weld: You’ve released several albums, but none have had the kind of reception that Silver Tears has received. Do you ever wonder why you are just now receiving this acclaim?
Tasjan: Every time I’ve put out a record that didn’t get the same response that Silver Tears did, I thought to myself, “Well, I guess I need to make a better record with better songs.” [Laughs] For me, I’ve never had the mentality of feeling like I wasn’t getting my due, but I’ve worked at it for a long time and I’m very grateful for the situation that I’m finding myself in on this album.
Weld: Your days as a young guitar prodigy are well-documented. As a teen, how did you envision your musical career path?
Tasjan: I was captured mostly by songs. I really started playing the guitar to learn songs that I loved. I wasn’t particularly interested in being a lead guitar player, but I always wrote songs. I just figured they weren’t any good and I think I was right about that. In the meantime, playing guitar was sort of a way to be involved in music. I just wanted to get some sort of gig playing music and that would be the thing.
A lot of it came together out of necessity. I moved out of New York because it was too expensive and when I got to Nashville there weren’t gigs for me as a guitar player. So I figured that for every day I wasn’t working, I’d write a song. That’s what kickstarted my second career as a songwriter.
Weld: Just as you wrote the bulk of Silver Tears on the road, are you currently writing songs for the next album while you’re on this tour?
Tasjan: Oh yes, absolutely. I have about one half of the new album written at this point. It’s always more fun to me to write songs in different places. I like the headspace of being out of my element as a songwriter.
Aaron Lee Tasjan will perform at The Syndicate Lounge on Wednesday, April 5. Jon Latham and Ryan Sobb will open the 18-and-up show. Doors open at 7 p.m. For more information, visit facebook.com/thesyndicateloungebham.