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A Conversation with Boyd Tinsley

By Zack Rippy
August 16, 2012

I recently had the privilege to spend some time chatting with Boyd Tinsley. We talked about his film Faces in the Mirror, the new DMB album Away from the World and a few words on touring and fans.


For anyone who follows Boyd on Twitter or has seen any of his promotional appearances, it is obvious that he has poured a lot of himself into his film Faces in the Mirror. I asked him about the impetus for the movie and Boyd told me that it all started with the Dean Carr's video for “Crash Into Me” back in the 1990's.

"Back in mid-90's, Dean Carr did the video for “Crash Into Me.” He made the music video look just like "Crash Into Me" sounded. The video was haunting and dreamlike – just like the music itself. It gives me chills even now [the video]."

"That music video kind of exists in that place between awake and asleep where you're not quite sure what's real or not. It was a beautiful video. Bittersweet and haunting. Music and the film were speaking same language and expressing the same feelings. That's what I've always loved about movies too – it is feeling something from them. I want to have an experience. I don't want to sit there and watch movie that doesn't really give you anything to feel. For example, a movie like Star Wars – music is such a part of that movie. The action is so huge but the music is just as huge and expresses that same drama and emotion. It's nothing but pure chills and thrills. That's what I love about most about movies."

He continued to talk about how he thought about stories and ideas on and off for years. The focus kept returning to the MUSIC. Music would be the key and is the foundation for Faces in the Mirror.

"We started the process with the music. I had the basics of the story. I gave that sketch to the musicians to take and, through their own experiences and hearts, to create the experience and soundtrack of this film. They made is straight from the heart. The movie deals with grief and the loss of a father. It deals with guilt and pain and all these things we all can relate to. Everybody involved took their own life and personal experiences and they brought that with them in creating this movie. The entire movie came from it. Director, screenwriter and actors – they all took their cues from the music. We started with the music and edited and 'danced' the film and visuals around the music. We were making the movie backwards from how a movie is normally constructed. We started with the music and built out from there. The goal was the emotion and to impart the feelings to the audience. You don't always need to see the actual film of a scene or to have even shot the scenes. You just need to know how it feels."

Boyd went on to share how great music and can evoke the emotions and actions of a film without ever having seen a single frame. He talked briefly about silent films and how they used live music to help provide an emotional core to films with no dialogue. He said that he thinks Faces in the Mirror plays like that in that there is relatively little dialogue. He was thrilled with how the film's lead, Ryan Orr, could convey so much emotion through his facial expressions and combined with the music, spoken words were often unnecessary.

It is quite clear that Faces in the Mirror is an intensely personal project for Boyd. He said the need to create it became all-encompassing in the fall of 2008 following the death of his friend and bandmate, Leroi Moore. He said he felt depressed and was quite down, but that thankfully, as an artist, he was able to focus that into something creative. "I knew I had to do something, he stated. "I had to do something to get myself out of the place I had been [after Leroi].” Then it hit me out nowhere – 'I am going to make a movie.' Who would have thought I could make a movie? I didn't know I could until I finished it but I knew I HAD to do it."


I asked Boyd a little about what his experience was working with producer Steve Lillywhite again after so many years.

"Steve is an amazing guy. Steve is an amazing person as a person and he's a brilliant person as a producer. Steve just understands DMB in a way I think nobody else does. He understands each individual member and their specific roles in the band in a way that nobody else really gets. And he also knows just how to get that music out of us. Steve's thing is a lot about vibe. It's a lot about making you feel comfortable and trusting yourself to open your heart and to just go. That's where Under the Table, Crash, Before These Crowded Streets and The Lillywhite Sessions came from - everything we have with him - there's just a vibe to it. There's a vibe of, 'We aren't going to put any restrictions on this. We're going to dig deep for the music and go until we find the good stuff.' It was so much fun. It was like the beginning days again. It was like all our creative bounds had been expanded. One of the reasons was that we had taken a year off [from touring]. We came [to the studio] with fresh ears, new ideas and an excitement to play. We got to the studio and it was so much fun. It might have been the best session or one of the best sessions I have ever experienced. A session of joy. Working with Steve was awesome man. It was a very grounding kind of thing. I had kind of forgotten what it was like because we hadn't worked with Steve in like ten years, but we've done like five albums with him. Reconnecting with him was like reconnecting with ourselves in a way that we hadn't since we had last worked with him. It was a really special session."

He goes on to talk a little more about Away from the World:

"The music that came out of it really just blew me away. It is stuff that feels like a Dave Matthews Band record. This feels like us! ...like if we had made Under the Table now at our ages and with all our experiences at this point. It has that same kind of excitement. Steve just brings out all these different subtleties of music from different instruments. He'll grab a little piece of violin and little piece of electric guitar and of horns and use it. He's always grabbing from the air. Those are the things that make the songs he produces so amazing. It's those little details. It's always fun to go dig for, as Steve would say, ‘those juicy bits' and those great musical moments that he can use in the context of the music. It was a lot of fun. It was really a lot of fun. I am really excited about the record. I think it is a really great record. It is an album in a story sense. It is one of those you can start anywhere but you want to stay locked in for the ride. You will want to hear the entire thing from beginning to end."


Before we wrapped up, we talked briefly about touring and his thoughts on the fan base and the relationship between DMB and their fans. He began by talking about the signs that are a staple at every show: "Sometimes you just can't ignore it. There are times if a crowd really wants a song, we'll give them that song if we can. We definitely take notice. Sometimes we will play it and sometimes we won't. We just have to feel it out. What the fans want is important to us. At the same time, the great thing we love about you guys [the fans] is that you guys give us the freedom to do what we want up on stage. The fans have been a part of this band since the beginning. It was the fans that put this band on the map with cassette tapes and people passing them around to their friends all around the country. The fans got the word out on DMB. We have been tight with the fans from day one and it is very important what the fans have to say all the way to what songs to play. And a lot of time I am really digging what the fans want to play! Sometimes I'm like, 'I hope we do that one.' Especially some nights with Halloween. I definitely dig that!"

I want to sincerely thank Boyd for a wonderful conversation. I appreciate him taking time to talk with me. It was a great pleasure. He loves interacting with his fans and I encourage you all to check out Faces in the Mirror and Away from the World as soon as they become available.

Faces in the Mirror (both the movie and soundtrack) will be available on iTunes on August 30, 2012.

To attend the world premiere or watch the live webcast on August 30, head to www.snagfilms.com/faces

Away from the World is available on September 11, 2012.

Follow Boyd on Twitter @bt_dmb

The views and comments expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of antsmarching.org.


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