Bandhas and Badasses: @TylerMahanCoe, the “Crown Prince of Country Music,” Talks Yoga

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Before we get started here, let me state right up front: I know the alignment is screwed up.  Ironic on a yoga blog, right?  I don’t know how this happened or how to fix it, but believe me, I tried and … yeah, I ranted about that on Twitter, too. Moving on.
I have had quite the week.  I randomly ended up on the river last Sunday dancing to some bluegrass.  A few days later, I got all up on my soapbox about Savasana, then I tricked my family into eating vegan fare, and it all came to a head when I started shooting the shit with Tyler Coe on Twitter.   I have spent more time in the last 10 days laughing and shaking my head than I have in the last 10 weeks combined.  When randomness rains, it pours.
When Tyler Coe brought up the idea of an interview, I was a bit perplexed.  I didn’t know much about Tyler at all and, even after Googling him, he was still very much an enigma.  Mostly he’s known for being David Allan Coe’s son and playing guitar with him, but I didn’t this interview to be about DAC or music because, well, that’s not what he wanted to talk about and it’s not exactly what this blog is about, either.  Finally, when you mention DAC to anyone, you’re likely to get one of three reactions: 1. Never heard of him, 2. That racist asshole?, or 3: I LOVE DAC.  It’s the 2nd answer that convinced me to do the interview.  Since this interview is not about DAC, I won’t go into it all, but suffice it to say that he has been misunderstood or at least misrepresented (even if he did some of the representing himself -we’re human and we make mistakes, you know?)  Anyway, part of what I try to show on this blog is that Yoga is for everyone and it is often misunderstood, as are the people who practice yoga.  To that end, this seemed like a great opportunity to again address that issue.
Over the course of several days, I interviewed Tyler via email.  I had hoped that he would be as colorful and unpredictable as his father and he didn’t disappoint.  I nearly didn’t do this interview, but I am so glad I did!  It was entertaining, educational, and enlightening, to say the least.
I’m sure many of you know who David Allan Coe is, but I promise that even if you don’t know DAC, you know his words.  DAC is one of the most impressive and evocative songwriters in history.  He was one of the original outlaws, spent 20 years in prison, lived in a cave, and still lives at the height of controversy (Google him.)  DAC is still touring, singing songs like The Ride  (embedding is disabled for that song, but watch it.  He’s wearing red Converse which, as you know, I have a soft spot for,) You Never Even Called Me by My Name (again, no embedding,) Tennessee Whiskey, and Longhaired Redneck, amongst many, many others.
Tyler Coe, b. 1984, is Coe’s oldest son.  Tyler started going on the road when he was 2 years old and first sang with his father on stage when he was 4 (see below.)  Tyler grew into a musician of his own right.  He taught himself to play guitar after a few official lessons left him cold.  Tyler has been touring with his father as a lead guitarist for several years now.  If you search YouTube, you’ll find a few videos, but even Tyler admits that the quality isn’t that great on any of them.  That said, they are worth checking out because, off to the side, you’ll see a tall, thin, red-headed long haired guy (the tresses were recently shorn, I assume) doing some magical things with a guitar.  You can find him on Twitter and roaming around Springfield, MO, thinking unique thoughts and stirring the pot.  No wonder I liked him immediately.  What follows is our conversation, and his responses are word for word directly from his mouth (um, keyboard – twas email, remember?)   Any emphasis in his answers (represented in bold) is mine.  And again, yes, I know the alignment makes all us yogis want to poke our eyes out.  If it bothers you that badly, just call me and I’ll read it to you.
I’m totally lying.  I won’t do that.
***********************
Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions.  I was a little surprised at first: people don’t usually approach me to interview them, usually it’s the other way around, BUT I think this is excellent.  I’m passionate about showing the public that Yogis come in all shapes, sizes, persuasions, political parties, religions (or completely absent of religion,) etc.  I think many people are put off by the idea of yoga because they believe that they have to be all dressed in white and chaste and sober and “pure” and chant and the whole nine esoteric yards.  I personally think that there’s room in the yoga community for *everyone,* so the inclusion of your story will help make my point.
TC: Hold up… You don’t have to dress in white and not fuck people to do Yoga?! I don’t even…
Okay, it is a couple hours later. I have calmed myself.
You’ve described yourself as “The Prince of Country Music.”  Growing up the son of David Allan Coe and touring with him as a guitarist in your father’s band doesn’t sound like the typical path that would lead someone to yoga.  How  and when did yoga become a part of your life?
TC:  Crown prince of country music, actually. But that is a distinction to be discussed another time. Yoga. I remember doing “yoga” as a kid, honestly. I obviously didn’t “know” what I was doing back then but I think that’s a major selling point of yoga, that it is a natural tendency that the body has. But it seems to me that a lot of people, at least in America, have a bad habit of disregarding signals from their body. (Like, I don’t know about you but if I eat a #3 from Arby’s my body only takes about 15 minutes to be like, “Dude… Look at what you’re doing to us right now…” And that fucking place is still in business.) As far as a conscious and deliberate “practice” it was not until my early 20s that I began to try to work it into my daily life. Credit most likely should go to Aleister Crowley for that. There have been periods since then when I have neglected to do any yoga at all and that was both reflected in and a reflection of the state of my general well being. (Not good.) 
I love what you say about honoring what your body is saying and how it is our natural tendency to move intuitively.  Do you practice a particular style of yoga? (Iyengar, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Jivamukti, Bikram, etc.)  If so, what do you like about that particular style?  Anything you don’t like?

TC:  Particular style of yoga. I’m gonna go with Hatha but let me go recheck what all those words you just said mean on Wikipedia.  

 
Later: Okay, some of that shit is ridiculous. I’ve never taken a yoga class or anything like that. I’ve read a lot of books on the subject. (Some of them were ridiculous.) My two favorites are one called Awakening Ecstatic Kundalini by “Yogani” and one called Acu-Yoga by I don’t remember who. I’ve pulled a few pranayama exercises from other sources but could not tell you from where. Here’s what I do: a very light loosening up with a few asanas, three breathing exercises (Sheetli, Bhastrika and Nari Sodhan) and so-called “meditation” to just feel the effects of everything and let it all flow. This is first thing in the morning, before eating or drinking anything. If I have enough time and energy I will then go ahead and do whatever exercise I have planned for the day. I do the same set of asanas, pranayama and sitting at night, followed by one of the four routines in the Acu-Yoga book, followed by my last meal of the day. Is this boring to read? It seems like it is.
Not boring.  At least not to me! Do you practice while on the road?  If so, what is the reaction of others in the band?  Do they practice with you?
TC: I practice on tour if I am able. If it’s a toss-up between yoga and getting enough sleep, I sleep. If I don’t have a private area, it ain’t happening. The guys in the crew know I do something with the blue mat I carry in to the hotel but I don’t think they know exactly what. It probably keeps them awake at night trying to figure it out. (Probably not.) Nobody practices yoga with me. It’s a very private thing for me. Without getting too weird here, for me “actual” yoga is about getting in touch with my god-parts (I just made that up.) and having another person around can screw with that in a lot of ways.
I make things up often, too.  Creative license, right?  How would you say yoga has – or has not – shaped your life?
TC:  Um, Octagonally. 
 You live in southern Missouri, yes?  We’re neighbors! How is the yoga scene where you live?  Any favorite studios?
TC: The yoga scene in Springfield, MO is not something I’m very familiar with. I do know that a lot of girls are into Hot Yoga here. I’ve never done that so I can’t really comment on it other than to mock it like any other thing I don’t understand. Like, I have an image of chicks just sweating all over the place and there being a few dudes there who are either really into body odor or really oblivious of their own body odor. I’m probably very wrong about this.
I taught hot yoga for quite a long time.  Not Bikram, mind you, but hot yoga.  I loved it, but you’re right in one aspect: you never forget that smell.
What’s your favorite Asana?  Least favorite?
TC:  My favorite asana is not an asana but a bandha I do in the middle of an asana routine. Uddiyana bandha. I would try to describe it but I don’t think I could do it justice. (A thousand orgasms?) Anyone who has never done it, check that shit out. Try to not pass out. I would have to say that my least favorite asana is paschimottanasana (seated forward bend) just because I am really tight in the hips and it is so uncomfortable for me. It’s like having to sit and write thank you cards for the socks your aunt gave you for Christmas. “Fuck this. I don’t care. Fuck this. I don’t care.”
Ah yes, the “fuck this” mantra. I usually repeat it over and over and over again in full Navasana. Kapalabhati Pranayama, Nadhi Shodhana and Shiva Prananyama are my fav for practice, but Sittali (same as Sheetli, some folks use the H, others don’t) and Sitkari are fun to do because they freak people out.
 I used to get a shocked reaction from people when they found out that I am a devout, committed yogi and yoga teacher (sometimes I still do,) because I don’t necessarily fit “the mold.”  I would assume that has happened to you, as well, because of your heritage and your job.  If it has, how do you handle it?  What do you say to them?
TC:  I have actually been asked if I do yoga by strangers after concerts (I don’t know why. It seemed weird at the time too.) and just flat out denied it because I didn’t want to talk about it to them, for various reasons, depending on the person. I’m not gonna try to explain to the dude in camo overalls drinking Hamm’s that he is god just like me. I don’t know. This question would probably be better asked of someone who isn’t me and thinks about me way too much.
I throw in random stuff on my blog all the time because there’s more to a yogi than their yoga.  To tie it into the other sort of stuff I have posted, I have a few more questions.
People ask me this question all the time and I tell them it’s like picking my favorite strand of hair, but give it a whirl and take a stab in the dark. What’s your favorite song?  
TC: I definitely do not have a favorite song. I’ve been listening to Pyramids’ self-titled album quite a bit. Also, Angels of Light’s We Are Him has been on my turntable a lot lately, in anticipation of Swans’ The Seer, which did arrive to my house the other day but I have not had an opportunity to listen to the whole thing. It’s long. 3xLP.
What’s your favorite food?
TC: Also, no favorite food. I’m not really a “favorite thing” kind of guy. I can tell you with no equivocation that the best meal I’ve eaten so far in my life was earlier this year at Kabuto, an edo-style sushiya in Las Vegas. I somehow managed to get a reservation for myself on short notice. You can order either a nigiri course or an omakase course. I had the omakase course and it was mind-blowing, life-altering. I did not know that food could have that effect on a person. I thought I had eaten good food before. Since that day Kabuto has been a recurring theme in 90% of my dreams at night. I can’t wait to go back.
There are a few YouTube videos of you and your dad.  Do you have a favorite?
TC: No favorite YouTube video. I’ve seen several and we are way too loud at our live shows for a camera phone to capture the sound accurately. The pro-shots from TNN when I was a little kid are funny. Everyone likes the “Daddy What If” one the best, I’m sure. I don’t watch it much because when my father starts crying it makes me cry. Not that this is a bad thing but I’ve usually got shit to do besides sitting around crying in front of my computer. Usually.
Close your eyes, Tyler.
I did a little research and found you have a few solo albums out there.  What can you say about them?  Any more in the works?
TC: I made one album. I can say that it was highly conceptual, wildly overambitious and I had no experience at all with the technical side of recording sound. With that being said, I don’t think there is anything else like it in the world and enough people whose musical opinions I respect have said things that let me know I’m not deluding myself in to thinking it’s better than it is. I’ve probably criticized it more than anyone else has, as a matter of fact. I’ve been “working” on a second album for quite some time, pretty much the entire time since the completion of the first, but I don’t think anything has been recorded that will actually be on the album yet. It might end up being a novella before it is an album, too. I’m not really sure. It solidifies more every day but it still has some growing to do before it takes material form. It probably won’t sound anything like the first album.
And because it’s always fun to stir the pot, what do you think about nude yoga?
TC: When I do yoga in loose clothing I trip myself up and it defeats the purpose. I can only imagine that doing yoga in the nude would be worse. The shorts I wear for yoga and exercise are ridiculously short and tight. I order them from China. You don’t wear underwear with them. They have a little jock strap pouch on the inside. That is what is comfortable to me, the support. I wear all of my clothing pretty tight. It just feels right.
 Anything else you’d like to share about yourself, your passions, your practice, your belief systems, or anything in general?  The floor is yours.

TC: I would like to share that everything is going to be FINE.

Yes, it is, Tyler.  Finer than a frog-hair split four ways.  Thanks for your time and, if you ever make it to Columbia, first drink and first class is on me.
 
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2 responses »

  1. Raw honesty and passion??? No apologies. Brilliant. This is why I fucking love you Sarah Wells Kohl! And he’s a Ginger too? Thanks for giving me a focus to start my day. And it’s going to be a great one, I can tell 🙂 well done lady. And Tyler; never hide passion for the sake of others. You are who you are and your passion for life is radiant. whomever doesn’t like it, well fuck the fucking motherfuckers is what I say. Usually not outloud. Ok, I do…. Now, ahem, I should probably find out something about country music eh?? Not my forte Sarah. But for you, after this, I have a place to start….You never disappoint. Every day I count you among my blessings my friend.

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