Tyson Motsenbocker: “It feels like the purest form of live music to me.”
Tyson Motsenbocker’s worried about the virus, and who isn’t? But he’s looking forward to playing shows when he can, showcasing his new album Someday I’ll Make It All Up To You. He was kind enough to take some questions.
What are your best, worst, and most unusual stories from playing San Diego?
I played in La Jolla before Trevor Davis a long time ago, and the audience was primarily La Jolla women and their much younger boyfriends. I played a bunch of sad songs while they looked at me very displeased until Trevor came up and did an a capella version of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” including all the vocal ad-libs. One of the women audibly sighed with relief.
My favorite San Diego memories are at the Melody League Christmas show that we do at La Paloma at Encinitas every year. So many heroes show up, everybody plays for free, and we donate all the ticket sales to charity. It feels like the purest form of live music to me.
Best, worst, and most unusual stories from playing around the world?
Playing the Wiltern in Los Angeles, the Ryman in Nashville. Some of the other clubs that turned modern music towards the place it is now, like 9:30 in DC or First Avenue in Minneapolis.
Pretty often the most magical moments come out of nowhere — we played our final show on the postponed tour in Minneapolis, and the city was entering quarantine for Coronavirus. It was the last event before they shut the town down. Everyone was unsure and a little afraid to be there, it was this incredible moment where I could watch folks settle into the music from the stage. It was an odd time to be out in the world.
When I graduated from college I had a job offer to work at a booking agency in Portland, Oregon, but the economy crashed and the place went out of business two weeks before I was supposed to start working there. All of my friends lost their job offers as well, so I called everybody I knew and told them that if we were going to work lousy jobs, we might as well be by the beach. Twelve of us moved into a house in Solana Beach, and I’ve been in North County ever since.
What are your favorite venues to play and to watch music in San Diego?
The Belly Up is my favorite. It’s really close to where I live and I know a lot of the folks who work there. It’s basically the perfect size club. It sounds amazing, and it’s run well. Casbah is great as well.
Favorite places to eat, drink, and hang out in San Diego?
I don’t even want to know how many breakfast burritos from Rudy’s in Solana Beach I’ve had. Seaside Market in Cardiff. Campfire in Carlsbad. In the city, all of the Consortium Holdings restaurants are incredible — Underbelly is a favorite.
You wrote your first album while hiking from San Diego to San Francisco. What possessed you to do that?
When I walked across California I didn’t really have a lot of goals so to speak, aside from reaching the end. My mother had just passed away and my entire world was in a massive tailspin. I wrote a lot of the songs while I was walking by beginning to formulate what loss meant, categorically and specific to my situation. When I finished the walk I had a little yellow notebook filled with the words, themes, and thoughts that would become Letters to Lost Loves.
A guitar was too big to carry, it also wasn’t the point of the thing I was doing. I slept on the side of the road most nights, or in fields or people’s barns. I ate what I could carry, and I met some of the most fascinating people I’ve ever known.