Tyler Welsh, lead singer and lyricist for Driver Friendly, formed the band in 2002, releasing their first EP later that year. Four albums and five total EPs later and the band has enjoyed widespread success. Driver Friendly has most recently been on a nationwide tour with Cartel and TEAM*.
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Sean Ritchie: You’ve been touring with Cartel on their 10-year anniversary tour. Describe the excitement so far. Has the traveling been something that you’ve enjoyed most?
Tyler Welsh: Oh yeah. It’s just crazy to see Chroma just played in it’s entirety every night start-to-finish. It’s just such a great record. To see people from all across the country coming out to reconnect with this album and this band has been amazing to watch. We are stoked to be a part of it, taking it all in.
SR: Describe the travel side of it. What are some cities you’ve enjoyed?
Welsh has an affinity to exploring new cities, a perk he truly enjoys while touring the country.
TW: We love New York. Probably one of our favorite cities to tour in. We got to spend two days there back-to-back sold out shows. That’s really special when you actually get some time in New York and not have to worry about getting in-and-out real quick. That was definitely a huge highlight for all of us in the band. Chicago was great. Atlanta was awesome, which was Cartel’s hometown show. So every stop has just been really awesome. There hasn’t been a bad show.
TW: Oh yeah. They pack it. Pretty much every night has been either sold out or close to.
SR: You were in New York for two days, what did you do during the time you weren’t on stage?
TW: Yeah we actually stayed out in Brooklyn and we did all the touristy stuff. Went to all the major attractions, saw the public library, went to the Empire State Building. All that fun stuff. Ate a lot of food, drank a lot of beer and had a good time.
SR: When visiting a new city, what is the first thing you try and do? Does it differentiate from a city you’ve been to and know well?
TW: Yeah, the first thing we do is Yelp. For us, traveling with Yelp is pretty much our guide to whatever we’re looking for. Even if you’re in a small town, you’re still just looking for the stuff that’s highly rated and reviewed. Pretty much you’re never disappointed in what you find, because people are going out, traveling and everyone is pretty honest. So we’ve never really had a bad experience going to a restaurant or coffee bar. It’s always cool kind of just rolling into a city you’ve never been to and finding an awesome coffee shop or maybe a comic book store. That’s the amazing part about being able to tour.
SR: Before joining Cartel, you toured through Texas and California. What was that experience like? Any cities that stood out?
TW: We really, really love San Francisco. It’s just an amazing town — very different from anywhere else in California. We have a friend who lives out in Sausalito, and has a boat. Sometimes we get to go out to the bay and just hang out — soak in some sun rays. Then we get back over to the city for the show and just stay out, do a tiki bar or something. You never know where the night will take you, but we really enjoy San Francisco a lot.
TW: In our home state it’s hard to beat Austin. It really is the best city in Texas. We’ve lived there for over a decade now and we just have so many roots in that area. Everything that we love and find comfortable is located in that city. It’s just perfect.
SR: Is there something that you would suggest a tourist to go see? Someone that’s visiting the city for the first time.
TW: Yeah, I definitely think that you should get barbecue. That’s one of the best things we’ve got going for us in Austin. We have amazing barbecue. We also have the state capitol building as well. It’s open to the public and free. There’s a lot of history to just wander around and find out what it’s like being in Texas.
SR: How does music and travel fit together for you?
TW: Well, last year we played 100 shows. So we got to see a lot of the road! Spent a lot of time on the highways. We got to see some awesome cities, but it’s always the surprises that keep traveling exciting. You can go to a town where you don’t really expect much, and then you find the best sandwich you’ve ever had, or you end up at this cool memorial that you never would have visited. It’s because of music taking us to all these different places.
SR: When in search of a personal getaway, what do you look for in a vacation destination? Are you trying to relax on a beach or is more enjoying that urban nightlife?
TW: I think you’ve got to have a little balance of both. You’ve got to have your beach time where you’re just chilling. You also want to see cool cities oversees like Madrid or London, or anyplace like New York City or Chicago where there’s so much stuff to do. You’re going to be busy, but it will totally be worth it in the end. Again, you’ve got to balance it out with a getaway where you’re not really doing anything.
SR: Is there a destination that’s calling your name that you’ve just got to get to?
TW: That’s a good question. I really would like to go to Australia, to Sydney and the surrounding cities. It’s really beautiful down there. I hear only good things from people that have been there. It’s just one of those places that I’d like to do — I’d like to be over there.
TW: Yeah, every band that I know that has gone there has just been blown away. They have Kangaroos, I mean come on.
SR: You’re busy on tour now, but do you have a personal getaway planned next?
TW: We, as a band, have a getaway planned to go somewhere quiet to start writing our new record. We’re not sure exactly where it’ll be, but hopefully in a cosy, little cabin somewhere in the woods. That would be preferable. Personally for me, I just want to get out and spend some summer in Texas.