Your Life Soundtrack with Tyler Bates

March 7, 2023
James Whittaker

Check out this episode on the Win the Day Podcast

Music acts like a magic key, to which the most tightly closed heart opens.”

Maria von Trapp

Tyler Bates is a leading composer, guitarist, songwriter, and record producer. Throughout his extraordinary career, Tyler has scored some of the world’s most popular film and television franchises, such as Guardians of the Galaxy and John Wick.

In his spare time, Tyler plays to massive audiences in the world of rock music, and writes and produces records with artists like Bush, Marilyn Manson, and In This Moment.

In 2004, he created the menacing audio backdrop for the popular Zack Snyder reboot of Dawn of the Dead, beginning a string of nearly a dozen number ones that have contributed to a whopping $6 billion at the worldwide box-office. 

Tyler teamed up with Snyder again for the films 300, Watchmen, and Suckerpunch. His body of work then expanded to include films like Atomic Blonde, The Devil’s Rejects, and The Day the Earth Stood Still, as well TV shows like Californication, The Punisher, and The Purge.

Most recently, Tyler scored the blockbuster Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw, Deadpool 2, and The Spy Who Dumped Me.

In this episode:

  • How a challenging upbringing contributed to the man he is today
  • His creative process for making music that matters
  • Secrets from the films and music tours he’s been a part of, and
  • How you can use music to supercharge your mindset.

Before we begin, the right bit of inspiration can completely change the trajectory of someone’s life, so if there’s a friend or loved one who needs to hear this episode or could use some help to Win the Day, share it with them right now.

Let’s WIN THE DAY with Tyler Bates!

James Whittaker:
Tyler, great to see you mate! Thanks for coming on Win the Day.

Tyler Bates:
Of course, James! It was great meeting you at Kenny Aronoff's event not long ago, and I'm glad we're having this conversation.

To kick it off, is there a piece of music or a certain song that's just inspired and motivated you more than any other throughout your entire life?

Well, I mean there's so much.

I have always been inspired by multiple genres of music, different types of artists, and I seem to have somehow channeled various aspects from Sly and the Family Stone to Black Sabbath, and it's all the same to me. I mean I understand the distinction between what the intent of the music is and the stylistic differences are, but I've been equally inspired by true passion – artists who are passionate and who step out and really express themselves in a very unique voice.

And that's always been important to me as a person, to just live how I perceive the creations of artists who've inspired me.

Do you have a hard time listening to music or watching movies as a fan after all the work that you've done in those industries?

Nah, music is magical. I respect the dark arts of creating music so much that of course there is part of my brain that will listen or follow along from a technical perspective in some movies, but oftentimes I can just let it go and enjoy it because you have to be able to receive the work of others and experience it as food for your own soul.

If your mentality is that you want to perhaps just protect your work and to maybe ape the work of this person or that person, or just be more concerned about what other people are doing as opposed to being inspired by it, then I don't know, that doesn't work for me. I'm inspired by people who succeed, people around me who I love, and some that I'm not even personally acquainted with. I love to see the trajectory of somebody when I know they've faced a challenge and they've succeeded.

That gives me inspiration to do the same thing. Because as an artist, the more in tune we are with ourselves, the more we are aware of our weaknesses and our vulnerability and how truly uncertain the exercise or experiment of creating can be. It's trial and error a lot of the time. Until this year, I mean, Tom Brady could always throw a touchdown whenever he wanted to! But, the reality is, there are always intangibles at play in life and we're not always aware of those that are even working inside of our mind on a given day, which is why at the beginning of a day, because I generally have a lot going on in each of my days, I take a second to collect my thoughts and focus my priorities for the day with an intent.

I'm inspired by people who succeed, people around me who I love, and some that I'm not even personally acquainted with. 

If I'm going to have a session with someone, whether it's a director or it's a recording artist, if we're going to write music or I'm just in the producer role, I really want to think about how I want to participate in that and how I'm going to help that situation be a positive experience for everyone and to achieve the goal at hand. So, it sounds a little cheesy, sounds a little motivational speakery, but the reality is, is with life, it's not just with work, it's not just your sports or music or whatever, it's with your relationships.

You can't expect to have a great lasting marriage if you don't consistently recalibrate your thoughts and your attitude and your understanding of yourself so that you can also understand your partner, your kids, your friends, as they're growing and changing in life, because nobody is exactly the same as they were when they were 20, when they're now 50 or whatever. So, I think that's really important. I think it's important to also have the humility to respect the growth in people who may be a generation behind us.

Where we once saw them as kids, or we saw them as being naive, we have to respect that they're having life experience and therefore they become teachers as well. So, for me, I'm really open and perceptive of this and I'm very excited always when I know that I'm in the presence of other creative people. There's always something to learn. There's always some fun to have, even in the most stressed out situations.

And, oh my God, it just is almost daunting just to listen to that intro that you gave! I mean it sounds like a mic drop, but to me, I'm just getting started and I almost don't even know how it all happened.

You mentioned the intention there. Do you set the intention because you feel the pressure of like, "Hey, I'm working on a $200 million film, there's a lot of pressure and a lot of things at stake here if I don't deliver," or are you setting the intention from more of an individuality to show up as your best and everything else will take care of itself?

Right. If I say yes to anything, whether it pays nothing, it could be someone's short film or whatever, or it's a $200 million film, I still have accepted the responsibility of being a significantly positive contributor to that project or that objective. I'm not unaware of the gravity or the magnitude that comes with a $200 million film and you're then navigating a completely different landscape than you are on an indie film.

I generally have a lot going on in each of my days, I take a second to collect my thoughts and focus my priorities for the day with an intent.

But for instance, if I fail at my task because I haven't done everything I can to help my collaborators do their best work, that could be the end for them. If the music doesn't deliver, people may not even understand that that's where the film or TV project or whatever it is, fell short.

As a composer, I'll probably get another job somewhere. I never have been of the mentality that there's another job waiting. All of us, I think, we share this concern that the job we're on now is perhaps the last one. We just don't know if the phone is going to ring again. And that's also what drives you to do your best work and to continue to see what you're made of and try and bring your best to every situation you can.

But again, whether it's an indie film or it's a big movie, I think what I've learned over the years is that they're not the same. There are aspects of the process that are, but the bigger the project, the more political it is. And that requires the capacity to navigate with some depth abilities and to still maintain your authenticity as a human, to not be a bullshitter and just try and placate people with whatever you think they want to hear.

It's really about listening to people and gathering the most crucial information in order to be successful in my task. But in the movie business especially, it's become such a frenetic, intense process regardless of how long, and as a composer we're mostly engaged in post-production that's after they've shot the film. But by now, directors will try and engage me as soon as I'm hired, which is oftentimes before they film. And so I really need to think about my presence and how that is going to impact their decision-making.

Also, I'm trying to be patient and have the grace to appreciate the stress they're under. So, if you're directing a film, you've most likely been invested in this for years and years, at least two or three years you're going to be in it, right? And that can bring out some of the best and some of the worst in people. There is no training to handle the stresses that come with the job in this industry. And that changes with whatever the composition of all the people involved in the creative process are and the business process, the decision-making and all that.

So, there are many things that we have to navigate. And so oftentimes as a composer, being that we are pretty much the last bastion in the filmmaking process to perhaps address any of the issues with the movie that may not completely be working or be present in a performance or the writing or the lighting, or whatever it may be. So, it's like if we're not feeling enough emotion here, I have to figure it out.

And sometimes the source material is just not great to work with, or people can become unhinged, which I see happen from time to time. I understand that they're under a significant amount of pressure and regardless of how they're treating me personally or how insane their requests happen to be, which they can be, they're just trying to do the best they can.

Your journey is a truly unique one. Are there some memories or experiences from when you were younger that really helped shape the person you are today and the journey that you’re on?

Yeah, I think there are probably things that would be characterized as abuse now, but I didn't grow up without love in my life. I mean I'm so grateful that I had my mother for the time that I did. She died, unfortunately, when I was still a teenager, but she was a huge inspiration to me in pursuing a life in music because she was such a music appreciator, let's just put it that way.

Every Tuesday is when music used to come out. This is back in the last century, y'all! So, we would go to the record store every Tuesday and there weren't that many outlets to learn about every album release. And it was clearly not like today where it's just a deluge of material being released daily. So, it was kind of a ritual for us. She'd probably buy 10 records every week and I would save my money. I always worked jobs. Since I was 11 years old I did a job where I was on a payroll, besides at that time I was working on our property, which was a ranch. We boarded horses. It was a lot of labor. I don't think 11-year-old kids usually know what creosote oil is and all that stuff!

But that's helped me to not balk at an intense challenge with a tremendous amount of work to do. I just get in and do the work. But she was great, and those times of going every Tuesday to the record store really made me appreciate music. Just talking with the store clerks about what was coming out and just the excitement for even seeing a new album cover. And that started from as far back as I can remember.

But I had to go through a lot of processing when I was around 20-22 years old, after my mother had passed and I was completely on my own.

I think I learned to read by studying album liner notes with my mom, and she would help me read through them. Because I want to know who made the music, who wrote it, who produced it, who played on it. So, that was cool. And then my father had a different upbringing than my mother, and it was much less refined and much more physical.

And I had a stepfather who was not a good person, but my experience in growing up with these people and yeah, I love my father, we're good. But the stepfather, I don't know what's with him. He's really the one who's responsible for killing my mother, because he was drunk driving and he always was drunk driving. So, it wasn't a surprise, unfortunately. But I had to go through a lot of processing when I was around 20-22 years old, after my mother had passed and I was completely on my own. I didn't have money, I didn't have any support other than at the time I was working in the Board of Options Exchange in Chicago.

So, I was trying to stay close to home. Instead of going to college, I was staying close to home to try and help my mother who had lost her way the last few years of her life. And luckily I got a job there when I was 18, and I ended up managing the firm when I was 19. So, I became the youngest person to ever manage a trading firm in the stock market or the Board of Options Exchange, rather. I started trading stocks and options. And what I learned there besides critical thinking and strategy and the understanding of so many people, so many types of people that I was never exposed to because I lived way out in the sticks. I mean, it wasn't like I was under a rock, but-

Different world.

I mean my mom's friends were all rainbow tribe, but I didn't know, I wasn't cultured at all. So, when I went to work at this trading firm, it was an all Jewish trading firm, I didn't even know what that meant. But they hired me, and I'm still close with everybody from back then. Hillel Singer is the man who hired me, one of my dearest friends. I talk to him frequently. My main boss, Corky Perlstein, was a great male role model in my life, taught me a ton about accountability.

And the reality is, is no matter what goes wrong in my job today – and things go wrong, or at least not according to plan – excuses really don't change much. And it doesn't help the person you are even inclined to deliver an excuse to. So, you really just have to understand where you're at, and you have to figure out what is the most solution-oriented action I can take right now. Because the other just makes people more nervous, makes them less confident that we're going to get to manifest the end result that we wish to, that we're aspiring toward.

Excuses really don't change much. And it doesn't help the person you are even inclined to deliver an excuse to. 

So, my job is to bring that comfort as much as it is to create the music and to conduct a process that engages everybody, because in other words, I can't expect everyone to speak in musical terms to me. That's why oftentimes in meetings at the very onset, if I'm meeting with the producers and the director and studio execs, if they come to my studio and we're having a conversation, I'll be like, "Hang on a second."

And then I'll start playing some music just off the cuff, guitar, GuitarViol, piano, whatever, so that everyone now has been heard in that moment. And moving forward from then, we have a dialogue. So then people feel less uncomfortable trying to engage in the process of talking about what they're hoping music can do for the movie or what their objectives are, what they like. So, I'm trying to distill it.

Either there are big movies, some of which you mentioned in the introduction, where the music review process can become a little sterile. It's not happening in my studio, it's happening at a studio headquarters or whatever. So, we're in a room like this [our recording studio], but maybe a little less warm than this nice wood backdrop happens to be. And at some point, because it's such an intense frenetic process, I'll sense that it's time to have a live music moment. So, I've brought equipment in without anyone even knowing. And if the meeting goes pretty well, then I'll be like, "Okay, that section of the movie that we've been avoiding, because it hasn't really come together yet, I'm just going to play live right now and let's just see if we can find the point of what music will serve in that sequence and maybe that'll help us kind of galvanize our thoughts."

And there's no doubt that that's inspiring, if I don't screw it up. I mean it's always possible. And that's kind of a weird thing that I think myself and people like me also possess, is we constantly put ourselves in really difficult situations. And it's like we hate to be there, but we want to see if we can handle it. It's a PTSD kind of thing that develops over time.

Everyone sees the glitz and glamor of Los Angeles, but it's like the boulevard of broken dreams at the same time. For every person who's made it, there are so many other people who are never able to reach those heights, especially creative people. They might be waiting tables until a big break in entertainment that might never arrive.

How was your experience moving to LA for the first time, and how confident were you in your ability to succeed?

Well, I was born here in Panorama City, and my family lived here, but my parents separated, I don't know, 15 times maybe as a kid, it was crazy. So, my grandparents lived in Valley Village, so my brother and I would just go visit for a while until the storm at home kind of calmed down. And that's even when we lived in Chicago. So, I wasn't unaware of how unique and different it is here, but growing up, just through my mother and her sister, they had a lot of musician friends. I, as a little kid, would go with them to some of their concerts. And I would also see how they were struggling financially and how hard it was when they weren't on stage.

I've never been motivated by money. It sucks if you don't have any, but that's never been a metric for me determining my personal value.

But I also saw how amazing it was when they were on stage, and it seemed like it was worth it to me. I've never been motivated by money. It sucks if you don't have any, but that's never been a metric for me determining my personal value. Man, there's so many people who have so much money, it doesn't matter. I'm grateful that through my journey I've been able to earn enough to take care of my family and do some of the things that I like in life, but I'm not somebody who needs a bunch of stuff. I haven't even had my own car for a year and a half, because I don't really drive. My studios are at a home. My associates who work with me are there.

And who wants to drive in LA!?

No, I'm not into it!

But I'll tell you, I knew it was next to impossible, but my life has always been so intensely challenging – mentally, emotionally, physically. My passion for music has been so strong that it's been the only way. There's never been a backup plan.

I mean when I was in the stock market, my bosses offered to finance my trading career and they're like, "Look, you're not going to succeed at music and this, so you should probably choose one." Because I kind of reached the peak of what I could do in my post at that company.

I can't imagine Tyler Bates in the stock market world at this age.

I'm telling you, man, I was so fast at calculating compound fractions at that point in my life. I mean it was nuts. And the thing that was amazing about that though is I think that's part of what gave me confidence to believe that I had a shot at anything here.

When I moved back out to LA I had been in bands my whole life and I just wanted to focus on writing with artists and producing records. That's what I came back out here to do. And I just started doing movies, because people would meet me at parties or wherever and say, "I've got 500 bucks, will you do my movie?" And I'm like, "Okay." I've never even met a person who scored a movie, let alone have I done one. So, I did 18 movies before I even met another person who had scored a film.

My passion for music has been so strong that it's been the only way. There's never been a backup plan.

I clearly did not go to school to be a composer. But having written all the music in my bands and been basically the leader of the band and booking all the shows, doing all the artwork for our flyers and strategizing on how to build our following, and I had success in doing that in Chicago. When I came out here, I just started over with a different objective in mind. But then again, in those first 18 movies, I met a lot of people who never made it past those type films where they're dubbing in a converted garage, which my studio was a converted garage for a long time, starting out after the second bedroom in my apartment.

And I did a lot of painting gigs and stuff in my neighborhood. That's how I found my current neighborhood. I was painting Patricia Arquette's house, "Oh my God, it would be amazing to live here someday." But at any rate, it's still impossible. You still have to operate with a sense of humility, because there's so, so many talented people doing everything. I mean just almost any TV show or movie you watch now, the music is going to be pretty special, pretty great. If it's not pretty great, it's still going to be incredibly serviceable.

Whereas there were a lot of faux pas, I think, that you would recognize 20 years ago. And I'm responsible for some myself, so that's certain. But I think not ever having a backup plan, not ever having any financial support led me down my path. I don't think that's what makes you an artist. I think that's one unique advantage. I think also people who come from means have a different type of advantage too, because they can see certain things a little more clearly by not having the pressure of making enough money to eat.

Because I mean I was so broke. When my band was signed to Atlantic Records in the nineties, I was so broke that I remember being in New York, visiting my now wife, and my band was stationed there. We had no money.

People who come from means have a different type of advantage too, because they can see certain things a little more clearly by not having the pressure of making enough money to eat. 

And I was going to Rockefeller Plaza for a meeting with Atlantic Records, and I didn't have $1 for the subway ride to get there. As soon as I started walking, there was a torrential downpour. And it was like someone sprayed me with a fire hose when I walked in there. I learned a lot that day, because at the end of the meeting, everybody was really nice, and at the end of that meeting, they didn't say, "Hey, do you need a hundred bucks?" They're like, "We can send you wherever you want to go in a town car." I’m like, "No, I need a dollar for the train, but I could use a meal!"

They gave us so little money to go on tour that we were sleeping on people's sofas and we were our own road crew. But again, there's this sense of humility in doing that and understanding exactly where you are. And while a lot of the people from my past don't understand how I cope with being an independent contractor type person, because we never know if we're going to have another job, I know where I stand. I'm not just going to come into my job of 15 years and get a pink slip and when I was thinking I would retire there.

So, this keeps you close to the bone, keeps you really focused mentally. And also, to succeed over time, you have to do a lot of work and maintenance on yourself.

Check out the YouTube or podcast version where Tyler Bates does the Win the Day Rocket Round, answering questions about his favorite quote, what advice he’d give his 18-year-old self, the one thing on his bucket list, and a whole lot more. 🚀

I wanted to touch on that in a bit more detail, like the mental health struggles for people who are traveling constantly. Even people who aren't musicians, people who are traveling for work. You're out of your routine, your immune system's down, it's easy to say yes to going out for drinks and whatever else. You're sleeping in a crappy hotel room, not keeping up with the circadian rhythm. So, you're up all night and then you're sort of sleeping all day, which can be very, very tough over the long term.

How do musicians keep a positive mental health when they're living that life? Obviously a lot of them don't, but is there anyone in particular who comes to mind that you look at as like, "Wow, that person's doing a really good job of that?" Or what are some things that people need to think about?

There are a lot of great people in my orbit right now who have struggled over time, but somehow found their way and have become stronger and stronger as people and with their discipline and their focus on what are the more positive aspects of their life and what's going to help them succeed creatively.

I'm playing a concert Sunday night here at The Palladium as part of Jerry Cantrell's band, Jerry's a founding member of Alice in Chains and we worked together on his recent solo record. I've already toured the world with him. He's my good friend, lives across the street. He's an excellent example of somebody who is a great hang, somebody who has a great sense of humility about himself, but is also a confident artist and knows what not to do to compromise his responsibility as an artist, because he really wants to be his absolute best.

I think there's always somewhere in there where your insecurities are fueling that. Every show is a litmus test. Every song, every track that you record or create is a litmus test. You just don't want to be slipping at all. You want to keep that fire and you want to surround yourself with people who have the fire. And I think that's probably why Jerry and I get on so well, is because I don't know if I have another summer to live. You know what I mean? And this isn't something that really popped into my mind until I was in my forties. I'm just like, if I found out I had a finite amount of time on this earth, at this point, am I living the life I would live as opposed to the life I am living because I don't have that information?

You want to keep that fire and you want to surround yourself with people who have the fire. 

If you found out you had six months to live, would you just then go visit some places you've never been and eat ice cream every night!? I don't know. But I am with people in my life whose attitude is really positive about being alive and seeking the joy in the talents that they've developed, the gifts that they have, and we're all supportive of each other. And so my inner sanctum is a really strong community of great people.

I don't want to get into too much detail about the people who are in my life and have been famously in my life, but we need to really think within ourselves about how much grace and kindness we hold for people. And it's even the people we don't like, even the people we think are chumps, even the people that anger us. The only way to move forward in your life when you have traumas, right?

Trauma can be getting into a little car accident and no one gets hurt, but a little car accident. A trauma can be someone sticking a gun in your face. Trauma can be getting beat up by a parental figure or something. I mean I've had everything happen. But in order for that not to be the defining aspect of your life, and to really consume the energy you need to live a positive life, a healthy life, where your relationships with the people around you are really lasting and meaningful, you have to deal with that stuff and put it in a place where, sure, maybe you have some motivation in your personal life, whether it's as an artist or in business or whatever it is, to show yourself that you're capable when people told you you weren't.

It's important to do enough work on yourself. And I'm not saying you have to do this with a therapist. It's really a meditation. Reading helps, because there's a lot of tools you can pick up from reading certain books.

The solution to every problem you will ever have is written in a book somewhere.

Yeah. So, it’s important to not be defined by your traumas. Be a survivor, don't be a victim. Instead, use it as your superpower, right?

It's not your badge, but it's this thing that lets you know your metal has been tested because you've graduated from that phase that you might have been in, in your mental stasis at one point because your life seems to be defined by so many traumatic events.

The only way through trauma is kindness, grace, acceptance, forgiveness. 

And I had a decade where it was just one cataclysmic thing after the next, and it wasn't the only period of my life where that occurred. It's happened a couple of times. But the point being is when you can put that in a place where it doesn't trip you up, it's not something swept under the rug, you feel more capable of taking things on, of being a positive figure in other people's lives because you possess wisdom.

The only way through trauma is kindness, grace, acceptance, forgiveness. It doesn't mean you condone any of it, it just means that you found enough peace with it so that it's not diminishing your current present life experience.

I'm so happy you shared all this. This is super powerful.

What does your creative process look like that helps you perform at your best?

It's kind of always happening. It's like a pinched nerve that won't go away!

You've had three ideas already since we sat down!

It's the bane of my existence, and it's also awesome. Because my creative energy, it's exercised in so many different ways at this point. Movies are far more different than television. Video games are different from that. They're different. Songwriting is, to me, a very personal thing. I mean, I understand pop songwriting and now there's 12 people writing every song that's on the radio. It's kind of ridiculous to me. But I think a lot of the creative inspiration comes from people around me.

For instance, in the last few years I started writing music with Gavin Rossdale of Bush. Gavin's been around a long time. By the time we wrote our first track together, I think I was the first person to co-write a Bush song. This was a few years ago, but this guy's had 40 top 40 hits or whatever. He's got an incredible body of work.

I am with people in my life whose attitude is really positive about being alive and seeking the joy in the talents that they've developed and the gifts that they have.

And when you've had that much success and other stuff happens in your life, it can skew that so that maybe you're not feeling as satisfied by it, or even the way people are. They're waiting for the first opportunity to turn their backs on someone. Even Tom Brady was catching a bunch of hell in his final year. It's like, "Come on." I get it. But every time the guy takes a snap, he's continuing to write the history books.

For instance, when I work with artists who are in my age range, like Jerry Cantrell, Gavin Rossdale, Marilyn Manson, they have so much experience and they've been in the public and their own experience in different ways that they're not even remotely objective about their own music or what they need to do, because they've been told by management and record companies and publishers and promoters what they should be doing. And obviously it becomes a thing. It becomes a machine. You have employees. You're responsible for a lot of people at that point when you become that well known.

So, sometimes the judgment becomes skewed or you become jaded, right? Because you don't believe in the possibilities because creativity becomes so deemphasized because everybody wants you just to make another one of those. And the movies are the same way. I mean that's how they make movies is using everything from other movies to make movies most of the time.

So, they tell Gavin Rossdale, "Just make Glycerine again."

Yeah. And I'm great friends with his manager. And he said that to me when he wanted me to write with Gavin, and I'm like, "Dude, I am so busy right now." I'm like, "All right, man, I'd love to meet the guy." And he's like, "Come with me to this show." So, we went out to San Bernardino and we're standing up at the soundboard while Gavin is playing.

And Gavin, I love him. He's a super amazingly gracious guy, incredible chef too, by the way. And so we're watching and he's playing Come Down or something, and Peter's just like, "Yeah, I need another one of those." I'm like, "Don't ever say that to him!"

First off, I think it was Gavin who told me it was the first song he ever wrote, it was his biggest hit. But I said, "Look man, you want another Glycerine? Let's do an orchestral piano arrangement of it so the people who already know it will embrace that song and maybe new fans will get into the song."

What I enjoy is bringing the artist back to their 18-year-old self, the part where they believe they can do anything, where they believe in their future.

But the point being is when Gavin and I first got together, we had had lunch just to become acquainted, and when he walked into my studio I was working, I just got the Malekko Downer pedal, which I just love the hell out of that thing. I'm such a geek for all this stuff. And I was playing something, I wasn't even aware, I was just playing. And he's like, "What are you playing?" I'm like, "I don't know." And I said, "I don't know, I'll just keep doing this. Record it on your phone. I don't know what it is."

And so he recorded and he said, "Can we use that?" I'm like, "Yeah, I mean if you want." And so the first song we wrote was that day. So what I enjoy so much about that work, it is not about me, but it is about bringing Gavin or any artist back to the point, or tapping into the 18-year-old self, the part where you do believe you can do anything, the part where you believe in your future, because regardless of how financially successful you are when you're 50 or whatever, once you are, that doesn't matter so much.

It's then about can I be as potent or as good as I was at the pinnacle when there were larger crowds coming to my shows, I was on the radio more? Can I do that? And I'm grateful for the opportunity to have been part of the lives of many artists that at this point I know that I've had a positive impact on them, and I know that it's a safe place in my studio.

Check out the YouTube or podcast version where Tyler Bates does the Win the Day Rocket Round, answering questions about his favorite quote, what advice he’d give his 18-year-old self, the one thing on his bucket list, and a whole lot more. 🚀

I don't talk out of school there, but my attitude is always like, "Look, you've been doing this your whole life. I've been doing this my whole life. Every note of music that I write is vetted. It's going through a gauntlet of criticism before it's ever published. So, if we can't make stuff just from whatever we love to do together that is a single, then we're screwed. So, let's not even think about singles. Let's just do whatever the hell it is that we love and I'm sure that something great is going to happen."

And it does.

Sounds like a great formula.

You've worked with people in thousands of different roles. It's rare for people to have had the exposure to directors and musicians and so many other people behind the scenes. Out of everyone that you've worked with, who has the most interesting creative process or the most effective creative process to be able to get their work done?

Wow, I couldn't even begin to distill that down to even a few people.

So, two of the directors that I can point out right now who I think are incredible in the way that they conduct a process, one being Genndy Tartakovsky, who you would know from the Hotel Transylvania movies, but also he created Dexter's Laboratory, Samurai Jack. We've done a bunch of shows together, including the Primal series that's out now. Genndy knows exactly what his movies or his shows need, to the point where when we spot them, where we have a meeting and we discuss music, and basically the whole point of whatever the show or the movie is, he'll beatbox the whole thing.

And it sounds pretentious, but it's totally not. Like he's having a visceral expression that we record live. And he pretty much sticks to it, because he understands the strength and the story he's telling and the characters he's created. He's primarily animation. I think he's brilliant, and I think he's a very gracious person, but still very firm in maintaining the integrity of his vision. He's open to ideas, but his vision isn't going to be convoluted by appeasing or placating people around him. And I respect that wholeheartedly.

Ti West is another one. Last year we did two movies that came out. We did X and Pearl, both were released by A24. And Ti is a very formidable writer, director, editor. I just think he's a great artist. He's humble, but he's confident and he's very focused and very intense in a very good way. And I first worked with him around 2013 or something on a movie called The Sacrament, and it's awesome that after these years he's been working a lot and we've come together to do these couple of movies. And to see his growth, which inspires me, but I learned from the discipline that he employs in his process and apply it to myself.

I have to hold myself to the same standards, if not somehow try and be even stronger, because my role is not just music and being creative, it's also kind of being a therapist or confidant. As a music person I'm not really in involved or invested in the political landscape, so I'm a safe place to be.

Like I said, I don't talk out of school. You're not going to tell me something and then I'm going to go tell the studio. I don't do that. And I think everyone does respect that. I am aware who's involved and whose interests matter, and I address everybody, but you can't just be out there willy-nilly flying around. You've got to have some discipline in the way you approach your craft and your relationships. So, those two guys are fantastic. I've worked with so many geniuses.

What about for you personally when you're having a day where mentally you're not there, you're having a creative block, but you're on deadlines? Do you have a process, or is there something that you do to be able to get the work done, or even just to manage the frustration that you might be feeling about not being able to get where you wanted to be that day?

Well, I'll tell you, I've been there a number of times. And many years ago, someone turned me onto the book, The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield. That helped me considerably, because it's not a typical self-help book, but he's the author of The Legend of Bagger Vance and Gates of Fire. He really talks and speaks in terms that are entertaining and funny, but with a sense of humility and points out some very simple things within us that if we recognize them, we can maybe more aptly approach our writer's block, or even our own attitude. For example, sometimes we say we have writer's block, but maybe we're just being lazy.

At some point you've got to allow yourself a lazy day. 

And at some point you've got to allow yourself a lazy day. Just go screw off man, instead of just trying to force the square peg down a round hole. But when you're on deadline, a lot of the public doesn't understand when they're watching a movie, that big action sequence, that two minute thing, that was written in 45 minutes. Think about it. People spend 45 weeks at least making a record sometimes. It's not easy to do this. And again, you just have to know, "Okay, if I don't do this, I'm out." So, maybe there's fear, maybe there's, I don't know if it's trepidation or whatever it is, but-

It's interesting you said that, because my resistance when I'm doing big writing projects, which is predominantly what my large creative work is, it's not the resistance to actually writing. The resistance is to walk over and stand in front of the computer screen.

So, I've never really had that traditional writer's block, because the moment I'm there and I can get the typing done, inevitably when I revisit it the next day, it's so much better than what I thought it was. Even if I finished the session and I'm like, "That was horrific", I look back the next day and I'm pleasantly surprised all the time.

It's just having the discipline or process to understand it. And, if you’re due for a fun or lazy day, just go to the beach and go for a surf or just find some joy doing something else.

Yeah. If you can honestly answer to yourself and say, "I've been busting it," sometimes getting away from the desk, getting away from the computer screen, allows your subconscious mind to work and solve some problems that you're trying to figure out in your writing or creative process. I will allow myself that when I have to, but I'm on a clock all the time. I'm scheduled to the 15 minutes every day, and so I have to make it count no matter what it is. I try not to waste other people's time ever.

But again, I just think that because I work in so many different mediums, and I've subconsciously maybe aspired to that because I knew early on doing movies, okay, this is really an amazing opportunity to have a life where I'm working in movies. Even when they were just like Roger Corman movies. That's where I started, doing stuff like that. I thought it was an incredible opportunity. But I also know, because by the time I ever did a movie, I had played over a thousand concerts. So, it's like, well, doing a movie is not going to satisfy me the same way performing does.

And I'm not the front person of any band I'm in. I'm usually lead guitar, and that's enough for me! It's fun. But I try not to burden the process with my desire for everything that I need to happen here. That would be so unfair to a movie and a director to try and satisfy all of the things that can't possibly be satisfied in working on that project, because, "I'm not doing this, I'm not doing that." So, when I was doing the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, I wasn't planning on working with Marilyn Manson. He just happened to be on Californication and I was doing the show at the time.

And I don't know what it was, he just wouldn't leave me alone for a year. Finally my wife was just like, "Yeah, he's not going to leave you alone. You should probably have him over, see if he's serious and see what he's got." So, we had a tremendous creative relationship, and he brought out a lot of really good things in me. Conversely, I did in him as well. And we had two very successful records, and I toured the world with him, which was amazing to play my first arena at 48 years old when I had been doing it my whole life, right?

So, that was pretty cool. But again, it wouldn't be fair to burden him or burden Jerry Cantrell when I'm playing with Jerry with my desire for my own music to be heard. And with Manson, I've written a lot of music, so we're playing a lot of those songs, but it's not fair to these artists for me to impose my personal artistic interests in their thing. I'm still a guest collaborator. I'm rockstar adjacent, and I'm perfectly cool with it.

Like Jerry is my friend, I love him, I think he's an incredible artist. It feels great to be with everybody who's playing in the group, playing his music. I mean we're going to add at least one song that he and I wrote for John Wick 2, to the next leg of the tour.

Don't burden your friendships with all of your own negativity.

So, the point being, it's not fair to your spouse, if you have one, to burden them with your lack of friends outside of your marriage. I mean, if you need to go out and party with some dudes or shoot some pool or play golf or whatever the hell it is that you do to blow off steam, don't burden your partner with that. Don't burden your friendships with all of your own negativity. Of course we all vent, but we also have to have the presence of mind to be uplifting for other people and to welcome them in their challenging, difficult times.

I know that's a very tangential response to what you asked, but my point is, I didn't necessarily have the energy to do everything that I had done. I could always just say, "Oh man, I'm busy," and I was always busy. But if I didn't say yes to Marilyn Manson, I would not have gone to Moscow and not played because we had a bomb threat and got pulled off the stage. That was our first gig. That was our first gig, and we didn't play in Moscow. It was hilarious. I mean the tech hands me my guitar. "Have a great show, dude," and then 20 guys in fatigues and machine guns come up on stage.

Wow, that's crazy.

That's how it began. But it was fun.

What about as a parent with music as a growth and development tool. How have you and your wife, Lisa, been able to help use that through in your parenting journey to help raise your kids with that love of music? And how has that helped them?

Well, they've seen it normalized. I don't do exactly what either of my daughters are interested in. However, my oldest daughter is 21. Lola, and she's a very accomplished musician and songwriter and singer. And so Jerry Cantrell asked her to open our first tour last year. So, she and her band opened the tour, and then we had a situation in our European tour where our keyboardist couldn't make the tour. So, he's like, "What are we going to do? We need somebody who's a great singer, who's a great keyboardist."

I'm like, "I don't know, we just need somebody who could do whatever Lola can do." And he says, "Well, what about her?" I'm like, "Dude, she's 20. We're a bunch of dudes. We're a bunch of old dudes." He's like, "Yeah, I know, but would you just ask her? Just ask her and if she's into it, then I'll ask her. I don't want to pressure her."

So then she ended up coming out on the road with us and did a whole European tour, and she's in the band and she's got her own things she's doing. But she's playing with us this weekend and also on the six-week tour coming up.

If you really do the work, if you really create yourself as a genre, then nobody can take that away from you. You then have to just find a way to connect with your audience.

But I think there's just people around our house and I mean there are a lot of people you would know, but it's not Hollywood. It's a very safe, chill vibe. And so it's been normalized so that they see that it's a sensible thing to embrace music and art and culture, and I think it's a travesty that art and music are not more intensely supported in our society here in America, because music is a language. I've experienced it many times in my life where I don't speak a common language with another person, and we've played music together and exchanged laughs and emotion and been able to make a connection that you couldn't even do verbally.

So, I think there's so much value in that, in understanding people and understanding yourself to explore music, even if it's not your career. So, it definitely teaches discipline as well. To me, I think that's great, and I'm really proud of both my girls and their unique journeys. They're entirely different people and after different things, but I'm excited for them even in this TikTok world of shit.

I'm a firm believer of a brick and mortar approach to developing yourself. If you really do the work, if you really create yourself as a genre, then nobody can take that away from you. You then have to just find a way to connect with your audience.

On your best day, what's an affirmation that you would write on a flashcard to show yourself on your worst day?

That is a very interesting question.

I would just say, "Remember, you had a worse day before." In my personal life and my career, I've experienced some heavy dark events and periods that I didn't know that I would have the strength to persevere through. And then when I took my diaper off and manned up about it, my wife, thankfully, would give me a little kick in the rear and say, "You know what? You've been down for a minute, now go do what you do." It's oxygen to me. So, the key is, is to not allow extraneous forces to take the sunlight out of your view, your worldview, your view of your own potential.

When I was signed to Atlantic, I was 31 at the end of that deal, and there was an article coming out on my band, and the publicist at the label asked if I wanted to state my age is 27? I'm like, "We're an alternative rock band, who gives a shit?" I said, "I am who I am. I came in on the road that I came in on, and I'm not going to apologize for it." I certainly would do some things differently had I had the experience or the foresight to do so.

But I think maintaining your authenticity helps you when you are in those down times, you know that you've had success as the person that you are, not as the person you were able to emulate at one point in time.

So, I think that that's really important, is just try and become the best person you can be. Work on it all the time within yourself. You don't have to be a walking therapy session for everybody around you, but when you're in tune with that, you don't get knocked off your horse so easily.

Final question, what's one thing you do to Win the Day?

I try and engage in an act of kindness, even if it's tiny, if it's the smallest thing, but I know it sounds like BS, because don't get me wrong, I get pissed off, I get into dark spaces, but I have to remember these aspects of my conscious and subconscious mind to, I think, move my life forward. And like I said, I never say never. And I really look for people who need help, where I think I can be effective in helping them, even if it's unpopular among other people for me to be there.

We can't just throw everybody away when they're no longer convenient for us to know or to be with. I mean, we've got to show a little bit more love and a little bit more humility as people. I think these days we're so quick to destroy people. I think we need to just take a step back and understand why we're feeling the way we're feeling. So, that's a whole other podcast right there!

Round two. We'll get you back next time. Tyler, thanks so much for coming on the show.

All right, thanks for having me, James.

Final steps to Win the Day...

💕 Share the love:

I hope you enjoyed that interview!

As you heard, our guests love to hear positive feedback, no matter where they’re at in their careers. Share a comment on the YouTube version of this episode with your favorite takeaway so our guest knows they made a difference in your life today.

Also, the right bit of inspiration can completely change the trajectory of someone’s life, so if there’s a friend or loved one out there who needs to hear this episode – or could use some help to Win the Day – share it with them right now.

🤗 Subscribe to the Win the Day podcast:

If you’re new to the Win the Day show, hit the subscribe / follow button so you can get access to episodes like this one as soon as they are released.

The Win the Day podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, Google, Audible, and wherever you listen to podcasts.

🙋‍♀️ Join the Win the Day movement:

We’ve created a safe space for the Win the Day tribe to connect with each other, share ideas, and upgrade their mindset. You’ll also receive access to content that you won’t find anywhere else.Join the Win the Day Facebook group.

That’s all for this episode! Get out there and win the day.

Until next time…

Onward and upward always,

James Whittaker

PS - If you have a question and want it featured on the Win the Day podcast, email your question (in writing or as an audio message) to:

Resources / links mentioned:

🎁 Join the waitlist for the Win the Day Blueprint (powered by Success Magazine).

⚡ Tyler Bates website.

📝 Tyler Bates Facebook.

📷 Tyler Bates Instagram.

🌎 Tyler Bates Twitter.

🎤 Tyler Bates Soundcloud.

🔥 Tyler Bates IMDB.

📚 ‘The War of Art’ by Steven Pressfield.

🎬 Subscribe to Win the Day YouTube channel

💚 Give the Win the Day podcast a 5-star rating on Apple Podcasts

🙏 Give the Win the Day podcast a 5-star rating on Spotify

💕 Win the Day Facebook group

📝 Win the Day newsletter [weekly LinkedIn exclusive]

Back to Newsletters >

Ready to win the day®?

Get actionable tips from James and the world's leading experts. Delivered to your inbox every two weeks ?
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram