Interview with Thaddeus Kyle
Character Interview with Rockstar Tad Kyle
By Lashell Collins
I’m standing in the den of the spacious California home, a room that is both cozy and fun with a music instrument of some sort tucked neatly into each corner. There’s an electric drum kit, a keyboard, a case of harmonicas. Not to mention the dozen or more guitars and basses mounted on the far wall. I’m here to interview Tad Kyle, the most talented and down-to-earth rockstar I’ve ever met.
I look around and note that the wall above the couch is dotted with a myriad of photos in sleek black frames. Images of Tad and Shelby with their family and their famous friends. I want to stand and gawk at them all, but my attention is drawn by the antique instrument to my right.
The oddly-shaped relic sits inside the open hardshell case that is obviously original to it. Propped up in a special stand and situated at a place of honor in the room, there is no mistaking its importance to its owner. My head tilts to the side as I wait and study it with a sense of wonder. I wonder what it sounds like.
“She’s a real beauty, isn’t she?”
The voice is easy and good-natured, and just the sound of it makes me grin hard without ever seeing the face of the man it belongs to. He saddles up beside me and joins my quiet contemplation of the 1920 Gibson Harp Guitar.
“She’s beautiful, Tad. So this belonged to your great-grandfather?”
“Yep. And then it sat in my grandpa’s study my whole life until he passed away.”
I glance up at his ruggedly pretty face. Long black hair flows over his shoulders like liquid obsidian. At the ends there are light wisps of curls dancing about the middle of his back that any woman would envy.
“Did he play it? Your grandpa?”
“Oh, yeah. All the time. Theo and I used to sit mesmerized by it. We could watch him play for hours. I was always fascinated just watching his fingers go, you know? It was like magic to me the way they could move so fast over the strings. And man, could he make this baby sing!”
“So you actually come from a long line of musicians, yeah?”
“In a fashion, yeah. I mean, neither of them ever did anything remotely professional with it. They weren’t rockstars or studio musicians or anything like that. Both men were fairly religious and active with church choirs and community groups, that sort of thing. I never actually knew my great-grandfather or got to hear him play it, but I have vivid memories of my grandpa playing the harp guitar. As I got older, and because he knew what a budding metal head I was becoming, he would let me hold it sometimes, and he showed me how to play a few old gospel hymns and things.”
I can’t help grinning at him. Our interview hasn’t even officially begun yet, but already he’s revealed so much about himself. “You’re eyes sparkle when you talk about that time.”
Tad grins and he almost looks bashful.
“It was a special time. My grandpa and me … we really weren’t all that close or anything. The love of music is the only real thing we had in common. And honestly I was shocked when he passed away and I was told he’d left the harp guitar to me. It came with this incredible letter he had hand-written to me, telling me how proud he was of me and all my big music dreams. Proud of the things I had accomplished in my career up to that point. And he said he knew I would make the rest of my dreams come true one day. Said he believed in me, and that he knew he was leaving the harp guitar to the right person.”
He flails his arms in an attempt to downplay the seriousness of the moment, but it’s too late. I can see the emotion heavy in his eyes. He fights hard to keep it from spilling over.
“Lashell, I was blown away. I can’t even tell you. I had no clue that he felt that way. I was just so honored and humbled by that.”
“I can understand why.”
He nods and turns away, wiping at his eyes. Then he taps my arm and gestures to the side of the room. “Come on, let’s sit down and get this interview started.”
He leads me over to the couch. It’s upholstered in a funky zebra print fabric, and the back of it is tufted, and when I sit, I sink down as if on a cloud.
“Oh, wow. This is a great couch!”
Tad laughs at my outburst, and his smile is swoon-worthy.
“What? It is! I could fall asleep here so easily.”
“I know! I love this couch. This couch was the first change Shelby made around here when we got together.”
“Yeah. During one of her trips out here to visit me, we were just hanging out and goofing around. She pulled me into this quirky little furniture store out in the valley. She spotted this thing and flopped down on it, and fell in love just like you just did. She said, ‘I’m buying it!’ And I was like, what are you going to do with a couch, you gonna have it shipped back to South Bend? And she said, ‘Nope. I’m having it delivered to your place.’ And that’s exactly what she did.”
He shrugs his shoulders like he still can’t figure out how it happened, and I can’t help but laugh at the look of bewilderment on his face.
“She really turned your life upside down, didn’t she?”
“Oh, my God.” He shakes his head and his sky blue eyes twinkle when he thinks about her. “I don’t even know where to start. Shelby is like a little force of nature. She is without a doubt the best thing that ever happened to me.”
I smile at him. “You say that so freely.”
“Why wouldn’t I? It’s the truth.”
“I don’t know. I thought there might be a little macho man denial going on here.”
“Doing the macho thing would get me nothing but in trouble, so why bother? No, seriously, there is no doubt in my mind that I would never have made it through some things in my life in the past couple of years if Shelby hadn’t been at my side. No doubt whatsoever. She saved my life; she saved my … my sanity, I guess. After Theo I could have easily fallen so deep into depression or the whole drug and alcohol thing, but she was here. Holding my hand, propping me up. Giving me something to keep living for. Doing exactly what Theo asked her to do, which of course enabled me to do exactly what he asked me to do. Keep rocking.”
He’s quiet for a time, and seems to study the zebra print of the couch. I know I should backtrack and begin this interview properly, but right now it seems prudent to keep moving forward.
“How hard has it been?” I ask, trying my best to be delicate.
Tad slowly shakes his head, then he looks up and a pained gaze meets mine. It takes him a moment, and just when I think he might say nothing more on the subject his eyes dart to the wall behind us. I look up to see a stunning black and white photo of the twin brothers. Tad’s hand is on Theo’s shoulder and they’re both laughing their heads off about something. It’s professionally matted, and the stylish silver frame sets it apart from the other pictures on the wall.
“I still pick up my phone to text him, or to call him about something. And then I remember.” His voice is quiet and his eyes never waver from the photo.
I nod, feeling helpless as I watch him. I grasp for something more to say. “The photo is beautiful.”
A small smile tugs at Tad’s lips. “Shelby took it. That first time she was here and Theo and my kids came out? You wrote about it in the book.”
“Yeah.” I nod, remembering the trip.
“She gave us each a framed copy of it for our birthday that year.”
The love and the pain of loss are all over his face, and I hurt for him.
These interviews with my book heroes are supposed to be light and fun, but I have no idea how I’ve lost all control over this one. As I’m struggling to get back on track, Tad suddenly smiles at me.
“I have completely brought this thing to a screeching halt, haven’t I?” Mercifully, he laughs, and runs both hands over his handsome face and then through his flowing black hair. “Leave it to me to bring the whole thing crashing down around us. Jeez! You will never want to do another character interview again after this!”
I laugh with him, thankful for the much needed lift in the atmosphere of the room.
“What the hell, right?” He looks around the room still making light of his behavior. “I get emotional about my grandpa, I practically weep over my brother. I gush about Shelby, the love of my life. Man, I’m a mess. I’m an emotional mess. Someone hold me.”
He’s smiling, and I struggle to get my laughter under control.
“So, I’m here to interview you for our readers, so they can get to know you a little better, but I almost feel like you’ve completely bared your soul to them already!”
He nods. “I know, right? Fuck. Your readers won’t want to get to know me now. Okay, don’t put any of that earlier stuff in the interview. Let’s just start here. They’ll never know the difference!”
He's laughing, but I can’t tell if he’s kidding or not. Not that it matters. My response is definitive.
“Oh, no way. All the earlier stuff stays, as is. Are you kidding me? That stuff was gold.”
“Aw, Lashell, come on. Don’t do that. Please. I’ll seem like a blathering idiot if you do that. Your readers will think I’m a pussy or a cry baby or something.”
The grimace tells me he’s actually serious about what he’s saying, but I can’t comply.
“Or maybe you’ll seem like a real person with real emotions and you’ll worm your way even deeper into their hearts. I mean, come on, Tad. Don’t you know anything about this genre? We read Rockstar Romance because we’re all searching for that sexy-as-sin rocker with a heart of gold. Like it or not … that is you, my friend. Just like the real life rockstar you’re based on.”
Tad looks up at the ceiling, trying to conceal the roll of his eyes. “Here we go. Todd Kerns.”
“Nothing.” He stretches out his long, delectable six foot four frame, leaning back against the couch, and folds his tattooed arms across his chest.
“That is not nothing. That is definitely something. What gives?”
He shrugs a shoulder but doesn’t respond.
“You don’t like Todd Kerns?”
“I like him fine. He’s a decent musician.”
“A decent musician?”
“Okay, the guy’s crazy talented. I just …”
He hesitates, and I frown. “Just what, Tad?”
“I just don’t …”
“You don’t like the comparison?” I can’t believe what I’m hearing.
“I don’t. No,” he shakes his head. “To be honest, it kinda bugs me.”
My mouth is hanging open and I stare at him. Is he for real? And how is it that my own characters keep managing to shock me?
“You’re not serious!”
“I’m dead serious.”
“Thaddeus Kyle! I don’t even know what to do with that. I had absolutely no clue you felt this way!”
“Well. I wasn’t gonna go around advertising it.”
“I seriously don’t know what to say. I mean … I based your character on this man — his personality, his talent, his looks. I interviewed him specifically for your book. You are him. He is you!”
“I know. I get it.” The words come out with another roll of the eyes, and I’m floored.
“Oh, my God. Todd would get such a kick out of the knowledge that you don’t like him.”
“Well, I never said I didn’t like the guy. I just don’t like being compared to him all the time. I am my own person, after all.”
I study him feeling totally discombobulated. “Okay. I can sort of understand that. I guess.”
Tad sighs as he stares at me. “Well, don’t look so disappointed, Lashell. I mean, if I’m so much like the guy then he’s gotta be pretty cool, right? ’Cause I like me, most of the time. I’m a reasonably fun, cool person to be around.”
“Yeah.” I glance around the room still trying to wrap my head around this one.
“Ask me another question,” Tad prompts.
“What’s your favorite color?” It’s the first thing that springs to my mind.
I frown at him. “Black?”
“Well, what’s Todd’s favorite color?” He makes a face as he gives me the snark.
“I don’t know. I never asked him that!”
“I’ll bet it’s black. Ask me something else.”
“Hey, who’s running this interview, you or me?”
“Apparently neither one of us,” he blurts out with sheer mirth in his gorgeous eyes, and I nearly double over in laughter. “I have effectively sabotaged it with my unmanly emotions, and you’re struggling to pull it back from the brink. I think we should both give up while we’re ahead!”
“Are we ahead here?”
My sides hurt from laughing so hard, and I can’t seem to pull back from the edge. The truly funny thing is that I feel as though I’ve just spent an hour in Todd Kerns’ presence — happy, excited, dazed and slightly confused. Tad can dislike the comparison all he wants, but it doesn’t change the facts of his creation.
I take a deep breath and pull myself together. But I can’t look him directly in the eyes yet or I’ll start laughing again.
“So, what’s next for Tad Kyle?”
“The Outlaw Posse gets back into the studio to work on the new album in a few weeks. We tour again after that. But before all that craziness begins, Shelby and I, and my kids and my niece, we're all going to Fiji for a little family R&R."
“Sounds like you two have discovered a balance.”
He shrugs his shoulders. “When you love someone you find ways to make it work. Both of you have to bend, you know? If it’s important to you, you’ll learn to bend.”
“Great advice. Thanks for talking to me today.”
“I’m pretty sure I killed your character interview series, but you’re welcome.”
I giggle. “Not at all. This was actually great.”
He takes my hand and leans in to kiss my cheek. “Well, thanks for lying about it.”
I crack up laughing again.
Well, there you have it. My exclusive interview with the charismatic Thaddeus Kyle. I hope you enjoyed getting to know the multi-instrumentalist a little better. Be sure to add True Romance to your TBR List, or CLICK HERE to get your copy Now!