Joey Sykes: Multi-Talented Musician
and Meredith Brooks Guitarist
Joey Sykes is a full-time musician, who was born and raised in New York. He currently resides in L.A. He got his start in the industry with the band Boystown. Sykes signed a singles deal in England with EMI, toured and recorded several albums. His second break was lead guitarist/co-writer in the band Coward.
Since this interview was originally published back in June 2011, Joey Sykes released a new album Classic New Rock. He has also joined another band called Honey River, and has toured with the legendary rock group, The Babys. They also released a new album that includes a song written by Sykes called “I See You There.”
TSM: Joey, thanks for doing an interview for TSM . It’s great to have you here.
JS: Well Jessica, no problem…thank you
TSM: What inspired you to become a musician? And at what age did you start playing the guitar? Tell us about the musical training you’ve had.
JS: Well, at about age eight, my father kind of forced me to take up a musical instrument……
(I guess to kill some time and stay out of trouble)….So, the first few years were kind of uneventful……Then, about age thirteen or so, some things started to make sense, and I was able to make some pleasing noise..Then I discovered Kiss, Aerosmith and The Beatles – thanks to some older kids in the neighborhood, and Mom’s record collection – it was pretty much all I needed to continue life…..The ironic thing is that my father couldn’t be less happy that I’ve stuck with music.
TSM: I know that your first break in the music industry came with your band Boystown. The second big break came with your band Coward; you were the lead guitarist and co-writer. In 1995, after only six months playing around Manhattan, you signed a deal with Elektra Records. Then shortly after this deal, you signed a publishing deal with Warner-Chappel. When and how did Boystown form? Tell us a little more about this band and your band Coward. How did it feel to get your big break with Coward so quickly?
JS: Boystown was my first real “break”….It was one of those bands that everyone thought was gonna be the next big thing, but due to some unfortunate events it just never happened…We did some cool things – released a single in England and went there for a couple of months, also played Boystown, Nebraska at the legendary home for wayward children….We got a write up in USA today, for being the first band to ever play there – ”Boystown in Boystown!”
Now Coward was a whole nutha level…..We formed in fall of ‘95, got signed to a HUGE contract in ’96, and released our CD in early ’97…..We made a video, toured around the country, had a single on the radio….great times…..The record was produced by the late, great Jerry Finn(Green Day, Blink 182, Butch Walker, etc..)..I learned a lot about producing and making records during that time. I would have to say that a big part of why Coward wasn’t more successful was the fact that the band Third Eye Blind was on the same label, at the same time, and they were hot, right out of the box with “Semi Charmed Life”……Record companes usually don’t get behind more than one band at a time who have similar audiences. So, Coward ended up as the odd band out.Too bad…It was a great, cool band with a great debut album.
TSM: What’s your process for writing lyrics? And where do you get the inspiration for your songs?
JS: Lyric writing is probably the most challenging part of writing songs…It’s just hard to say something that hasn’t been said a billion times…..I’ve been going to Nashville for the last five years and that has made me a better lyricist….Now, I’m very cool with it. Inspiration comes from imagination, unless there’s a specific incident, or subject that I am writing about…It’s always tough because I’m very into words, wordplay, and double meaning, etc…It can be easy to “outclever” the listener…So, you end up with people thinking “what the f++k is he talking about?”
TSM: Currently, you have a self-titled debut album out. Was this something you you had been wanting to do for awhile? Tell us about this album.
JS: I started to have all these songs piling up because I write ALL the time…I also place songs in various TV shows and films…..So, I just set out to make a JOEY SYKES album, and Wa La! – I’m very proud of it.
TSM: What was it like performing with Meredith Brooks?
JS: Playing with Meredith was great. I got to achieve a few lifelong dreams, like playing Madison Square Garden. Being born and raised in New York, it really doesn’t get bigger than that. We opened up for the Eurythmics…..We also played a bunch of TV shows, which was, to quote the great Miley Cyrus, “really, really cool”…The band was also amazing – The keyboardist, Will Hollis now plays with the Eagles and Don Henley. The drummer, Herman Matthews has played with Richard Marx, Kenny Loggins, Tower of Power, Tom Jones, etc. The bassist was Mark Meadows who played with Edgar Winter, John Waite, and many others…and me on guitar great band.
TSM: You have performed and shared the stage with many artists including: Don Henley, Hall & Oates, Third Eye Blind, Barenaked Ladies, Nsync, Bryan Adams, John Mellencamp, Queen Latifah, Collective Soul, etc. Wow, that’s a lot of artists! Can you share one of your most memorable working experiences with us?
JS: There are so many great, memorable moments…Probably one of my favorites was auditioning for Don Henley – Just getting to play and sing harmonies with him – so cool and I played like seven songs…..writing a song with Daryl Hall on speakerphone was pretty hilarious, but way cool…..Having Paul Stanley from Kiss jump up on stage and play “Strutter” with one of my bands in Puerto Rico was pretty goosebumpy.
TSM: What was the first concert you ever attended?
JS: I think it was Kiss
TSM: If you had the power to do something in the world today, what would it be and why?
JS: Own Clear Channel (the company that controls radio), start a record label, sign me as an artist, go back to vinyl records (cuz I never had a chance to make a vinyl album), play my songs on all the radio stations, tour the world, sign some other bands I like…and world peace – Gotta have that.
TSM: Anything else you’d like to share? And where can our readers find out more about you and to purchase your music?
JS: Why not go to my website and pick up a copy of my CD…I guarantee that it is available! www.joeysykes.com. Also, please check it often…I am producing some really great, young artists that I would love to turn you on to.
TSM: Thank you so much again for doing an interview for TSM and wish you the best of luck with everything in the future.
JS: Thanks, I’ll keep you posted.