Tyler Rima, bassist for Denver’s Churchill (god love ’em) and a man with many more musical irons in the fire, put some time aside to answer Thirteen Questions! It’s our first installment. Let us know what you think in the comments!
1) What brought you to Denver from Elkhorn, Wisconsin?
I first moved to Chicago for college. It was crazy going from a town of 6,000 or so to a city that big. When I was finished with school, I moved to Denver for a girl who I was dating that lived here. It didn’t work out, but I’m glad I stuck around.
2) You learned to play bass at age 15. What make and model was it and how special is that instrument to you?
All my friends and I wanted to be in a band. Bass was the instrument no one had picked yet. The first bass I bought was a midnight wine colored Fender Jazz. Her name is Ruby, and we have gone though some adventures together for sure. I added a second vintage Jazz to my collection about a year and a half ago, but Ruby is still my number one girl.
3) What kind of songwriting process do you enjoy? Collaborative? Solo?
I write on the piano in the safe solitude of my apartment. I really enjoy having a structured song given to me and being allowed the freedom to write the bass line. A good bass line can be such a huge part of a song’s structure or even its hook when done well.
4) You’ve played at Red Rocks twice. Any other venue that stands out as amazing in your experience?
Before moving to Denver, my friend took me to see Red Rocks. As we stood up at the top of the venue, I promised myself that if I moved here, I would play that stage. Doing it twice is one of my greatest accomplishments, and I thank my buddies in The Fray for making that happen. To be honest, there are far too many venues/memories to list, but walking on stage at the O2 in London was another moment I’ll never forget. That was the first time I’d played a venue of that size, and to do it at an arena as famous as the O2 was very special to me.
5) Speaking strictly as a fan of Churchill, it hurt my heart to see the band split. I was very keen to hear the Brendan O’Brien record, too. Is there anything you would want to say about the breakup or the album?
In a way, it makes me feel good to know that Churchill had fans that were so invested in the band. The breakup was unexpected and devastating to me. I am very much still trying to understand and come to peace with what happened. As far as the record goes, it was titled “The Way We Live,” and in my opinion, it was really good. I think people would have loved it. It truly tells the story of what we were experiencing as the band grew and also explains in a way what caused us to split. Working with Brendan on it was an absolute honor. Unfortunately, due to record label stuff, the release of the record is beyond our control.
6) Did the Churchill experience change you, add to you, teach you anything as a musician?
It was certainly an amazing ride. I always dreamed of being in a successful band, but in my dreams, I never made it as far as we did. The band made me the musician I am today. The experience gave me a new, healthy level of self-confidence. I learned what I am capable of as a man and a musician, but I also had a lot of my weaknesses exposed. The beauty of having those weaknesses exposed is that once you are aware of them, you can fix them for your next band.
7) What musical projects are happening for you now and what local bands are you enjoying?
I am tracking on the new Holly Lovell record. I’ve been a part of her band for a while now, and the record is going to be great. It is produced by Joe Richmond from Churchill and Ben Wysocki from The Fray. I am also about to leave on a tour with The Wild After and Matt Hires. I will be performing with both acts. We will have stops in both Denver at the Marquis and Greeley at the Moxi. Lastly, I recently started a new band with my friend and longtime Denver musician/fashion icon, Joshua Novak. It is called Oko Tygra, and we will be announcing our first run of shows in the near future. Double lastly, you can often find me performing solo at DJ Alf’s 45+1 events around the state. I think we are blessed to have a lot of talent and creativity in this music scene. There are a lot of local bands I really enjoy, but for a while now, I’ve really been digging You, Me, and Apollo. They create incredible music and put on a great show, too.
8) What does Tyler the Human enjoy when not making music or pouring a fine craft lager?
If I’m not performing either on stage or behind a bar, you’ll find me on the golf course. I’ve been playing golf as long as I’ve been playing bass, and I was even all-conference in high school. (Just barely if I’m being honest, but it still counts.) I also have three nieces here in Denver who are the center of my universe. They constantly remind me that I don’t need to be Tyler from Churchill to be a great man, I just need to be Unkie Tyler.
9) What do you love about our local music scene and what is it missing?
First, this scene is blessed with venues for days. Any size venue you could want to play exists here, and also, there’s Red Rocks. Every artist on the planet wants to play there, and we can just drive 15 minutes out of town to do yoga on the seats. Second, all the bands and the fans here are incredibly supportive. There aren’t rivalries or anything, just musicians and music lovers all trying to push each other to new and bigger things. Third, we have awesome festivals like UMS, Westword Music Showcase, and FocoMX that really focus on highlighting local bands. Last, radio here pushes local talent that is ready for a bigger stage, and has been responsible for taking many artists, including Churchill, to a national or even international level. That doesn’t happen in very many cities. I’m very grateful I got to come up in this music scene. It is truly unrivaled. As far as what’s missing, being that this is Colorado after all, I’m really surprised at the lack of a reggae scene.
10) Let’s say you could share the stage with any musician from any era, dead or alive. Who did you just think of?
11) Does spirituality affect you as a musician? Was it a theme for Churchill?
Everyone in Churchill was raised in the church. I think it was inevitable that our music would touch on subjects like God or spirituality. What I liked is that when those subjects would come up, it wasn’t always from a positive place. Whether you are religious or not, it’s human nature to have struggles and doubt, and some beautiful art can thankfully come from those same places. We always tried to focus on the possibility of redemption and the power of having hope in things getting better.
12) What’s the best thing you can cook?
I really enjoy cooking, but my favorite thing to cook is either stir fry or green curry. I love me some Asian cuisine.
13) Any words of wisdom for up-and-coming Denver/Boulder bands that might just break out of the regional scene?
Practice. When things start growing, practice more. Play together as often and as much as you can. When Churchill played that first night at the O2, we were pretty tired from the traveling, and if I’m being honest, maybe just a bit overwhelmed. Everything was running a bit late that night, and we hardly had a soundcheck. That being said, we had practiced so much and played together so many times, I knew we were going to pull it off. We did. Our guitar player and unofficial sixth member, Nate Meese, once said that we never played a bad show, regardless of any negative circumstances. I like to think it’s because we worked hard for years to be prepared for any 30 to 45 minutes the universe threw our way.