An Interview with the Friendly Bandmates of Driver Friendly

todayFebruary 25, 2015 12

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by Mathew Zuniga

Tyler Welsh is the lead vocalist as well as keyboardist of Driver Friendly. He was nice enough to speak to me before their big show at Emo’s supporting Motion City Soundtrack. Jeremi Mattern, Driver Friendly’s drummer, also semi-joined the conversation, as he was preoccupied with Taco Bell. Driver Friendly had been playing music in Austin since 2004 until they signed with Hopeless Records a few years ago, which led them to tour across the country. Two of the nicest people I have ever met made for a fun interview and later for a great show.

Driver Friendly singer and drummer
Photo by Mathew Zuniga

Mathew: The tour has only begun with Motion City Soundtrack but you have toured with them before, how did you meet those guys?

Tyler: We meet MCS on Warped Tour 2013 via us meeting The Wonder Years, because they were label mates with us. Basically there is a contingent of bands on Warped Tour that are just kinda nerds and play games and they kinda just have their own faction. MCS is definitely a part that as well as The Early November and The Wonder Years, so we kinda just got introduced into them that way. From there we just vibed the same way, we’re a little bit older than the younger bands and we’re cool with just playing shows and relaxing. We don’t have to be partying the whole time, I mean we do party though, but you know (laughs) we’re just very compatible and honestly its just nice of MCS to take us out the first time and this time it’s even crazier.

M: I know I always see y’all playing the card game Magic the Gathering, would people be surprised how many bands play Magic?

T: Yes! Warped Tour every year gives bands cards and, so two years ago they sent us a big box of Magic cards and we were like “What’s this all about?” So you’re sitting around on tour and you got 8 hours to do nothing so you load in and you’re like, well let’s play Magic. It’s just one of those things were the lifestyle is really conducive to the game and then on top of that it’s just fun (laughs) it’s just super fun strategy collectors game and I’m pretty sure some of your favorite musicians play magic.

Jeremi: It’s about a fifty-fifty that your favorite musician plays.

M: So, Driver Friendly is coming up on 3 years being signed to Hopeless Records, how has your lives changed personally and how has Driver Friendly changed over these past years?

T: Wow. Has it really been 3 years? Sometimes I don’t even take time to look back because I’m so focused on right now. I mean, from where we were 3 years ago to now is just insane. 3 years ago, almost to the date, we did a record release for “Bury the Dream” which is an album we recorded ourselves and we did a kickstarter to fund and when you think about going from there to playing about 100 shows last year to being on tour with MCS it’s just kinda insane. Our lives in a way are completely different but also were the same people, we’re just busier (laughs).

M: I know Driver Friendly tours year round, what’s the hardest part of that?

T: The hardest part is being away from the people that you’re connected to at home but fortunately we have really awesome significant others that support us. But it’s still a constant challenge to make sure you are connected with them and they feel they are part of the relationship. Because, when you’re on tour you’re focused and you don’t really ever think outside of today and so you are constantly thinking about where you’re going, and what you have to do at what time, and then you also need to be thinking about everything going back on at home, which probably for most people isn’t as big as a deal but we’re all 28 and three of us are married and the other two are in very serious relationships. It’s a constant battle to make sure everybody’s happy but it’s a good battle, its a good thing.

M: What’s the most fun part of touring?

T: the most fun part is…

J: There is a million fun parts!

T: (ha) One, just being able to be with your bestfriends, they are literally my only friends. When we’re home we usually don’t hang out much and so its really cool spending 24/7 with them. Two, being able to play your music in front of people. It’s such a honor for us, I’m surprised that every time we take the stage people just don’t walk outside (ha) it’s just an awesome feeling to play music in front of people and they pay attention. As a musician you couldn’t ask for much more.


M: Being constantly on the road, how close do you get to your bandmates?

J: Well, Tyler is literally a brother in law with Juan our trumpet player (laughs).

T: We know everything about each other, we’ve been bestfriends since we’re sixteen so after twelve years we’re family, we’re not friends. It’s kinda creepy how close we are, we’ve all seen pretty much every inch of each other (laughs) but yeah it’s great. It’s very rare you meet bands in our situation, where they’ve been together for forever, usually it’s two or three years or so. Everyone is like “Man that’s weird, how do y’all not hate each other?” and we’re just like we don’t know (laughs).

M: Now that you’ve played across all the states, is it still special coming home and playing in Texas?

T: Oh yeah! Because we love Texas, not just Austin but the whole state. It’s amazing to play a show like this where we get to show everyone at home what we’ve been doing and what we’ve accomplished and how hard we worked just for this moment. Also, it’s special getting your family and your friends to come out who saw you play when there were only like five people at our show and now were here at Emo’s playing in front of a thousand people tonight. For us the best city to play is your hometown on a tour. You’ll have great shows but this one is always special.

J: Also, you get have higher nerves (crunch). Because you gotta come back here when you’re done (laughs) you gotta see these people again.

M: So, Driver Friendly is supporting MCS on “Commit This to Memory” 10 year anniversary tour, ten years ago could you of even imagined being apart of this tour?

T: Oh God no. I mean for me personally I remember the first time I heard “CTTM”. I was at my friends house and he was like “Yo, check this out” and it was track two and I was like this is it this is the best thing i’ve ever heard. They had a synthesizer and I was like “I want one” and they’re the reason I bought one. We still constantly listen to it and to think that somehow we are connected to it ten years later, in a small ways of course, it’s just bizarre in the best way possibly.

M: If you could tour on any albums anniversary what album and band would it be?

J: This year would be 20years for Third Eye Blind’s self titled album and that would be amazing.

T: To tour on Devil and God by Brand New, even though no one would like us in that crowd (laughs) it would still be awesome. Or in a weird way if Bear vs. Shark did a tour of Terror Hawk (laughs) I mean nobody would be there but it would be great!

J: I think they would still be a co-headliner (laughs)

T: Any of those things would be awesome. It’s just crazy to see an album you’ve had in your head for years and years get played front to back, it’s just always a bizarre and amazing experience.

M: Driver Friendly is signed to Hopeless Records which is predominantly pop punk and tour mainly with pop punk bands but y’all sound  little different than others, how would you describe your horn driven sound?

T: I think we are pop rock with horns. That’s what we try to do but people say we are so many different things all the time. I think we are just so not in a category people don’t know where to put us so we just got pushed into pop punk or whatever. Which is fine but we know we don’t sound at all like any pop punk band but that’s fine. Sometimes we have trouble describing ourselves but I think we just finally settled on pop rock. We love rock and roll, and we love pop, and we have horns. It’s not really a category but I think we just made our own.

M: What can fans expect from Driver Friendly for the rest of 2015?

T: Well we have the Cartel tour in April and May and then our biggest focus will be writing. We wanna get started on the next record probably in the summer and take a break from touring, unless something cool pops up but potentially even recording this year.

J: I definitely think we’re gonna record this year, just gotta find a producer and a studio and everything…

T: And write the songs of course, but that’s our focus to do music and keep expanding our sound to see what we’re capable of as a band.

M: Last question, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and Ariana Grande fighting for your love who wins?

T: Ariana Grande! I love her, I’m married but I love her!

Driver Friendly singer on stage
Photo by Mathew Zuniga


You can listen and learn more about Driver Friendly at as well as keep up with them via Facebook and via Twitter

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