In the next issue of [WM] we’ll be interviewing Grammy and Dove Award winner Ricardo Sanchez about his phenomenal new album “Taste and See”. I had the good fortune of seeing Ricardo and his band record that disc live in Texas, and was totally blown away. While the heart of worship was undeniable, the level of musicianship was simply phenomenal. We’re not just talking about great musicians, we’re talking about great musicianship.
Tyler Logan was the guitarist that night. He has played on three Grammy Award-winning recordings, toured the world with the likes of Israel Houghton and BJ Putnam, and has all the goods any worship guitar player would ever need. But more than all of that, he’s a dedicated family man, whose feet are deeply planted in his local church. Whether you’re in ministry or are thinking about a career as a touring musician, Tyler’s insights around music and ministry are nothing short of priceless.
[WM] The first time I heard you play was at the live recording of Ricardo Sanchez’s new disc “Taste and See”. The band was one of the best I’ve seen anywhere, and you were killing it on the guitar. From funky rhythms to smoking leads you did it all, and exceptionally well. Did you always play a bunch of styles or do you start with one main one?
[Tyler Logan] I appreciate the kind words, man, I was just lucky to be thrown in somewhere in the midst of it! I actually grew up playing bass and didn’t jump fully into guitar until I was about twenty. My Dad plays guitar, mostly as a hobby, but he would always tell me, “Learn to be the most rounded musician, not the fastest or flashiest. You’ll be able to sit in with a lot of great people if you do that one thing.” So, I’ve always challenged and pushed myself to embrace different styles… Country, Jazz, Funk, Latin, Metal etc. My main preferential style is a blend of Rock & Roll with Soul/Blues. I love the power and grit of Rock & Roll but the feel of Soul and Blues music.
[WM] Who were your early influences?
[Tyler] I can’t go forward without mentioning the tremendous influence my Dad had on me as a man, and a musician. He’s an electrician by trade, but an avid critic and aficionado of music. He always taught me to think outside of the box of what music is “supposed” to sound like. And he always told me to play with people way better than myself… that your observation and willingness to adapt is vital. I’ve always clung to that as a player and it consistently forces me to keep reevaluating myself… to see what kind of player and what kind of person I am.
Like I mentioned earlier, I grew up aspiring to be a bass player. My main influences were Victor Wooten, Flea and other bass guys, but as I began discovering the awesomeness of guitar I gravitated to people like Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and a lot of Classic Rock/Southern Rock like the Allman Brothers, Skynyrd, Kansas, ZZ Top, U2… basically anything that had interesting guitar; that felt like it was part of a band instead of just a solo guitarist. Although I genuinely appreciate guys like Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, and Eric Johnson, I’ve always been more drawn to bands and the beauty of the kind of chemistry that comes from it, the energy and determination that it creates. I was in a bunch of local bands all throughout High School. A lot of my guitar playing ironically started around the Punk Rock/Alt Rock/Emo era. Bands like Creed, Pearl Jam, Further Seems Forever, Relient K, Supertones, early Switchfoot, and early Skillet – they really shaped my Rock & Roll grit.
Later when I got into the one and only year I went to college, I got really into Metal and started jumping into the Hardcore scene. My brother and I would go to a lot of shows. I really started getting into the “riffing creatively” zone. Then I started reaching back to 80’s hair metal and absolutely loved the sheer audacity of it being totally glam and completely articulate at amazing solos… Bon Jovi, Whitesnake… Van Halen was a legend, but I think the guy who I gleaned the most from, at least from a stylistic standpoint was Slash. He was a super aggressive player that blended the Rock thing with the Blues thing in a way that felt so right to me.
It wasn’t until a few years later I discovered the other aspects of the “soulful” side of guitar playing when I got into Michael Jackson, Prince, John Mayer Trio, and I am a huge Jonny Lang fan. If I had my own solo project it would undoubtedly sound like him! Also, I’m mesmerized by Brad Paisley… he makes me want to quit guitar. And naturally, being in the church world I started to pick up the beauty of Hillsong United with Nigel and his approach to effects in music… it challenged me to start diving into gear and to discover new sounds.
[Tyler] I had been touring with Israel and NB for a few years prior actually, a little bit after they had recorded the “Jesus at the Center” album. I had even already been on a run a year prior when we did Indonesia and Malaysia. But I had actually just moved from Los Angeles to Austin, TX with the family to become the Music Director at Celebration Church with Pastor Joe Champion. I got a call within the first few months of being there that they were wanting to do another live album like the South Africa one, but this time to do it in Asia, spread out across multiple countries. Naturally, I was super hyped about it! But I literally met Israel just because I happened to be playing guitar at church one Sunday morning he came through Los Angeles. I’ve always believed that being faithful to the house of God is where God can use you in the best ways and He can be the one that promotes you. So, it was definitely divine intervention because his band is stupid good and most of the time I’m just trying to hang in there with the rest of the crew!
[WM] What were some of the most valuable lessons you took away from that experience?
[Tyler] Man, where to begin? I guess one of the main things I took away is that the kingdom of God is so much bigger and greater than my typical American perception. It looks different and sounds different across the earth, but the message and the hope of Jesus is the same. We’re all seeking to share the gospel, to grow deeper in our walks with the Lord. The people of Asia are beautiful, kind people! They’re way more hospitable and honoring than the current American culture. Their food is absolutely amazing and their admiration for tradition is astounding.
Also, being of a part of the record, I became very aware of how rigorous and overwhelming a project of that magnitude actually is. We’re talking weeks of rehearsing twelve hours a day, in multiple locations across the globe. Late nights, early mornings for weeks on end. Hashing out material, then forcing yourself to re-hash something even better. And then coordinating all the recording dates with six different venues in six different countries, many of which English isn’t the primary language!
[Tyler] Tye Tribbett… playing with him is like going on the world’s tallest, craziest rollercoaster and trying to stay focused! I learned so much from the depth of his musicality and how he challenges himself to create things that are so far beyond the norm in music. The changes he would come up, the licks, the subtle substitutions and the speed at which all these things would happen – it was life-changing.
BJ Putnam… playing with him is one of my favorite things to do because we’re so much alike on a musical level. He wants the music to run its course, but is open for soloing and jamming as well, which is kind of rare in most worship circumstances. He’s big into flow and hardly ever plans a set list, so it definitely keeps you on your toes, always observing and anticipating.
Ricardo Sanchez… he’s such a fun, dynamic person and it emanates from him when we’re out playing. He loves to dig in deep and bring the energy. He’s also a profound preacher, so I love backing him up! Working on the “Taste and See” album really made me confront my tone and my feel… and it was a wonderful exploration that I feel translated so well on that record!
Lucia Parker… most of the stuff I’ve done with her is in Spanish, but working on her new project “Revive” on the road, I really got into setting up scenes via midi from a controller on my pedalboard, and it helped with the initial tour so much! She’s a powerhouse on stage so it forced me to bring the same kind of energy.
Also, I played and currently play with some other pretty stellar people: Jojo (Pop), Coffey Anderson (Country), Josh Lopez (CCM/Gospel), Press Play (Christian pop) and Kevin Levar (Gospel).
[WM] You’re a composer, play bass, and produce. What did you do to build those ‘chops’?
[Tyler] I usually have a hard time explaining this. I know that as a kid, my Dad told me to sit by the radio and try to use my ear to pick out the parts that were being played. To this day, my strongest gift I believe is to be able to dissect parts, dissect chords, dissect sounds. As a producer, you begin to be a student of sound design, so that has definitely shaped a lot of the production stuff I’ve done. As far as building chops, I honestly don’t have a crazy routine or practice that’s my ‘go-to’. I really focus more on feel and creativity usually when I’m building arrangements on guitar specifically. Like I said, my ability to translate material from my ears to my hands is a gift from God I believe.
[WM] You’re primarily a Tele player these days, was that always your go to guitar?
[Tyler] Over the span of almost two decades, the Tele has been a staple in my guitar arsenal. I’ve probably owned 40-50 guitars… Gibsons, Ibanezes, Strats, Gretsches, Duesenbergs, and for some reason I always find my way back to them. I think they fit my musical and ideological philosophy in life, it’s just a ‘well-rounded’ guitar. With the help of just a pedal or two, I can make a Tele sit in any musical scenario. Although it’s a single coil, it has a depth to it, a beef to it, yet enough clarity to make really overdriven sounds just cut through the mix like butter. And obviously it cleans up like a champ.
[WM] What about Teles make them you ‘go-to’ worship axe?
[Tyler] I think they’re very simply laid out. Two knobs and a three-way pickup selection… no glitz or glam, just plain and simple. In a modern worship environment, you’re typically wanting to achieve tone and dynamics that are very consistent, so I think it’s what makes people gravitate to it. Also, it’s very iconic and rounded as a tool. You can get big gain, verge-of-breakup rhythms, searing leads, clear dotted 8th, straight up twang, straight up blues, straight up jazz – it’s a dream come true.
[WM] You had a killer tone when I saw you with Ricardo! What are the ‘go-to’ pedals on your board and how did you hear about them?
[Tyler] Man, I appreciate that. So, I’m just gonna get this out of the way, I am a gear nerd! I study all kinds of new gear, including studio gear and PA and all kinds of gear you can imagine. I secretly want to be Pete Thorn one day, because he is my gear-demoing hero. How I hear about gear is typically word-of-mouth, because I like hearing real-life encounters with the gear, but I also lurk the depths of The Gear Page and YouTube.
But I tend to have a really simple philosophy on my sound. It’s hinges really deeply, really critically on the pedalboard… but ironically enough, I don’t have a ton of pedals on it. It goes: volume pedal > comp > little drive > big drive > modulation > short delay > long delay > short reverb > long reverb > amp. And I always set the amp as clean as possible. Obviously, there’s a lot of nuance in that, but it’s generally my method.
I use only two drives, crank the gain all the way to ten, and rely on my pickup selection and dynamics of my hands to control how they’re presented through the amp. I have a JHS Morning Glory for my light-medium overdrives and a Bondi Effects Sick As for my “high” (this term is relative) gain overdrive. In much of modern music, particularly worship music, there’s a bent towards a cleaner, clearer sound, but also a thickness to the mix. I use these quite frequently throughout the set. I usually set the Morning Glory for clear leads and powerful rhythm for slow worship tunes, or for funky, gritty stuff… like the verses in Relentless and the leads in Hallelujah. I set the Sick As for bigger gain, like the choruses of Greater, Greater and Taste and See, and the leads of You Are.
As far as the rest of the board, I started implementing MIDI into switching my modulation in my rig… game changer! I use the Strymon Timeline and BigSky, and I have an Eventide H9. I use a Boss MS-3 to switch between scenes on all of them. I can achieve literally any sound with these pedals.
[Tyler] I have plenty of amps I really enjoy; BadCat, Jackson Ampworks, Matchless, Dr. Z, Morgan, and Suhr… but the winner goes to the Vox AC30TB6 with Greenbacks. I don’t know why, but that scenario defines me! It’s like blending the chimey sound with the Marshall sound, I just love it!
[WM] If that is somewhat boutique, what do you like to use for backline rental when you’re touring?
[Tyler] I always shoot for an AC30 or AC15, I think because I’ve used it for more than a decade now and I’ve learned that sound intimately. Like I said earlier, I base a huge chunk of sound on my pedals and how they respond. I always shoot for a clean amp. After that I go for the Fender Blues Deville or ‘59 Bassman.
[WM] One of the things I enjoyed most about your playing was how versatile you are and how natural your feel is. What do you do to keep the various elements of your playing fresh and at the top of your game?
[Tyler] I’m a life-long student of music. I’m always trying to improve the gifts that God has placed in my hands, because that’s my way of presenting the glory of God through this art we call music. I’m constantly challenging myself to listen to different types of music. I’m currently into Snarky Puppy, EDM, the Belonging Co., and Trap music… an interesting combination to say the least! And I’m always finding ways to play with people better than I am. I don’t mind being the weak link in the chain if it means I’m learning and growing from the musicians around me.
[WM] You are on staff as Musical Coordinator at Celebration Church in Georgetown, Texas. What does that role entail?
[Tyler] I love my church with all my heart! Being on staff there is like a dream come true. It’s more of a creative role, creating big openers and features for services and events… also songwriting and much of the musical direction of the church. It also entails Ableton management across campuses, song arrangements, training with the rest of our staff in a developmental program we have at the church called Accelerate, and then being involved in people’s lives. Ministry is about people, not music.
[WM] I see that Celebration has embraced the ‘Dream Team’ model from Church of the Highlands. How has that impacted the worship community there culturally and musically speaking?
[Tyler] It’s a game-changer. From being on the road off and on for the past ten years, I’ve seen just about every church and model for church you can imagine, across the world. The Dream Team model is so great because it places importance on the ‘why’ rather than ‘how and what’. Why we get involved in church is paramount… to engage the local community of believers in a way that glorifies God, points people to Jesus and challenges one another to be the best disciples of Christ that we can be. When people focus solely on the ‘what’ side of it… what you do is play guitar at church for example, it diminishes the ‘why’. We play in order to set an atmosphere of worship so that people can encounter the presence of God effortlessly and engage dynamically with the Savior of the world! It has impacted our team greatly and brought us closer together than ever. It’s like a small town, a family now!
[Tyler] Well, truthfully, I struggle at this. If it weren’t for my amazing wife, I don’t honestly think I would hold it together that well. She encourages me, supports me, tells me the hard things, and challenges me as a man of God as well. On a scale of 1-10, my organizational and administrative skills are like a 1.5 and my creative skills are a 10.5. If I’m home and in town, what I really try to do is dedicate 100% of efforts towards my wife, kids, and our friends. And when I’m on the road, I flip the script and devote 100% of myself to the task at hand. I’m an ‘all-in’ kind of guy!
[WM] Who were your main mentors and what are the most valuable things they taught you?
[Tyler] I’ve always valued mentors in my life, but more so from a spiritual mentoring/discipleship. Jesus urges us at the end of the gospel of Matthew to go into all the world and make disciples. The most valuable thing I believe is to be a man of God. To point people towards Christ, because He is the one that unites us, defines us, and gives us purpose… something that’s eternal and of utmost importance. Some real influential people in my life are people you’ve probably never heard of; my Mom and Dad both taught me so much good; my youth pastor growing up, Chuck Christensen; some spiritual mentors in Los Angeles, Leroy and Angela Williams; men’s ministry pastor out here in Austin at the church, John Fanning; my pastor Joe Champion… musically my mentor has always been what I listen to!
[WM] There are lots of guitar players who would love to do what you’re doing career wise. What practical career advice do you have for someone who is interested in having a successful career as a touring guitarist who works with Christian acts?
[Tyler] Funny enough, I’m actually writing a book about this very topic. I have a few key principles I live by. I guess in a very shortened, condensed version I would say:
- Be plugged into a local church somewhere… this is where most guys get it wrong. They get more caught up in chasing money than chasing after God. Even with tons of money, most guys I know still feel empty. The church should always revitalize and ignite you as a musician!
- Talk business up front, if it’s a comfortable setting to do so… this way you’re not disappointed by an outcome. Bitterness is just a symptom of someone’s unmet expectations not being met repeatedly.
- Constantly be striving to get better and explore… it will keep you sharp. And I apply this to production as well. They all feed into one another.
- Be 100% transparent with your spouse and make time every day to connect with your family… I learned this the hard way unfortunately. My wife had to sit me down through tears and explain how I was neglecting our family too much. It shocked me back to reality, in a good way. Now we’re stronger than ever.
- Have some sort of accountability measures set up in your life… I’ve seen a majority of the guys I go on the road with really struggle with drugs, porn, alcohol abuse, etc. Have someone that you’re willing to get just 100% REAL with; someone that will tell you the uncomfortable truth and also encourage you in the Word.
[WM] What kind of musical advice and suggestions do you have, especially for younger players who aspire to do the kinds of things you’re doing?
[Tyler] Trust God and His calling on your life and know that if He’s called you to do something like music and touring, then He’ll be faithful to provide for you! I’ve been through years and years of walking by faith, and not once did we ever find ourselves with no money in the bank account! The word of God says that God will “supply all your needs, according to His riches and glory.” Stand on the Word of God! Don’t give up! I’ve seen so many guys be on the edge of being a stellar musician, but because of whatever circumstances (college, a job, pressure from family, their own doubts, etc) they put it on the shelf. I’ll never say those were terrible decisions, because many of my friends went on to be quite successful in finance and engineering and business owners, but you have to be determined to stick out God’s plans. Proverbs 3:5-6,“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”
[WM] You’ve been part of a couple of Sweetwater’s Worship Connect events. What do you enjoy about doing those, and what are some of the big takeaways that people who attend leave with?
[Tyler] I enjoy the equipping of the local church and the creatives in it. Obviously, the caliber of musicians represented on the last particular event was outrageous (laughing) I would hope they leave with the confidence that they too can pull off creative and challenging things at their local church… that there’s no wizard behind the curtain and it’s just integrating technology with solid musicianship and leadership.
[WM] Anything else you’d like to add?
[Tyler] Thanks for having me part of this incredible interview! Doug, you’re a legend! It’s an honor to be invited to do something like this and I don’t take it lightly! Whatever your hand finds to do, do with all your might! Be blessed and keep striving to build the kingdom!