You guys remember Kyle Turley, right? For those who don't or for those newer members of Who Dat Nation, Turley was drafted by the Saints in 1998 and played guard/tackle for five seasons in New Orleans, including a first-team All-Pro season in 2000, before being traded to the Rams in 2003. There was also this little-known play.
"Instead of writing a book, I wrote a record." - Kyle Turley
Since retiring from the league in 2007, Turley has spent his time as an activist for retired players and following his other life passion: music. He now lives in Nashville and is fresh off the release of his latest album, Anger Management. The newest single from that album, "Another Whiskey" will be premiered on CMT.com in the coming week so be sure to check it out there.
A few days ago I had the esteemed pleasure of spending thirty minutes talking with Kyle about football, music and the intersection of both in his life. Read on and catch up with the former fan favorite lineman, then give a listen to a couple of his most recent songs, included after our conversation. Special thanks to Kyle for taking time out of his day to chat with me.
Dave Cariello: How closely do you still follow the Saints and what kind of relationship do you still have with the team? I am assuming you were paying attention to their Super Bowl championship run.
Kyle Turley: I've got great associations with that team. Guys that play on the team and coaches that coach for the team. From Coach Payton who was the quarterbacks coach at San Diego St. to Reggie Bush who lived across the street from me when I was in college, there are some good connections there still. I'm always going to be connected to that team because that team isn't just about the team, it's about that city. The city means a lot to me and it always has. It's unfortunate I had to leave but, you know, that's football and now that I'm playing my music I can continue to come back there. Now I'm the 12th man on the side cheering them on and I will be forever.
Fans can actually see how we were a part of the championship by going to our website, GridironRecords.com, and watching the "My Soul Bleeds Black and Gold" video. We had already booked a tour and planned on going down to the Super Bowl before the Saints were even in it. As we were making our way down there they just kept winning so when we got there it was awesome. We played three shows down there and our last show we played was for about 1,500 screaming Saints fans right outside the hotel where the players were staying. It was awesome just to be a part of that.
DC: What are some of your fondest memories of the Saints?
KT: Playing in New Orleans where the fans are just so dedicated. We had a lot of great games. Obviously, winning the first playoff game in team history was huge. Playing for Ditka was a big deal for me. Having the success we had with our running game with Rickey Williams and Deuce McAllister. It was a lot of fun all around. It was just a great five year experience in my life.
DC: Do you miss the NFL and playing football?
KT: Oh yeah, always. And I always will. Football was just one of those dreams come true. It's something you think about as a little kid. You just dream about it. The likelihood of playing in the NFL is slim and the fact that I got an opportunity to play in it is something I will cherish forever. I will always think about playing football again. I still talk to some of the older guys while at the retired players stuff I'm involved with and some of the oldest players still think they can go down there and get in one more play. I think that goes for any competitor that's ever put a uniform on, gone out there and played at that level. You always want to go out there and do it. You believe you can. And that will never leave me.
DC: The NFL and your experiences as a player are obviously a big inspiration for the music you write with songs like 'Final Drive,' and 'My Soul Bleeds Black and Gold.' You're not one to hold back and some of your lyrics are aimed directly at the league. What message are you trying to send and what do you hope your music accomplishes?
KT: I just speak the truth man. That's what I've always done. Sitting down, writing a few of the songs on my record there are some direct relations to my life experiences in the great National Football League. It's not all a bed of roses. It's a business; it's a big business. At times it is very much a revolving door and there's not enough care given to the guys that played this game. I take that personal because I believed in the whole team concept and I still do. The fact that I went out there and fought for all those people, whether they were management or my teammates, I cared. I cared about it all. It wasn't just a business for me and it never will be. Some of the things on my record are as direct as you can get, some are a little more subtle. But, you know, it is what it is. That's just the real Kyle Turley. Instead of writing a book, I wrote a record. And if you listen hard enough, you'll get a great understanding of my experience in the National Football League.
DC: What is your song writing process?
KT: Just me and the guitar really, man. Honestly, it's that simple. Sometimes it's just something that pops into your head or sometimes you just make up your mind, sit and think about it and write a song one day. You think about a few different things and you just go from there. It's as simple as that. I've always been interested in songwriting. It's an art form that is rare. I feel I'm pretty good at it so I'd like to continue to develop that talent, and I have. Living here in Nashville has been a great opportunity for me. I continue to go out, do the open mic thing and play gigs around town. I believe in that. Writing songs constantly is something I pride myself on because you never know which one is going to be 'The One.' It's like playing the lottery. Until you get those numbers right, man, you're just a player like everyone else. I want to be able to have that winning ticket at some point. Whether that's winning the Powerball or selling enough records and going gold. Just the fact that I'm out there, selling records, performing and being on stage is another dream I've always wanted to make come true and I'm doing that.
DC: When did you first realize that you can actually sing and make a career out of your talents?
KT: I've always known that just as long as I've been playing football. It was just a natural progression for me; getting out of football and moving on with my life and into this music thing. It's something I've wanted to do; something I've been working on for a long time. I've always had gigs, played in side bands and put on benefit concerts. People who know me and my football career well know about my interest in music and know how much music has been a part of it. And those that don't, it's just a matter of me getting out there and showing them that it's not just me out there trying to be a singer, capitalizing on a name they made for themselves doing something else. This is something that I've done before I was an NFL superstar and now it's a matter of me going out there and proving it, which is what I'm doing right now and I look forward to continuing that.
DC: So you've got a song called 'Flyin' Helmets' and you again mention helmet throwing in your song called 'Anger Management,' which is also the name of your first album that you've just released. Is it safe to say that you have no intention of trying to distance yourself from the one play that seems to define your career?
KT: Well, I think the song speaks for itself. If you listen to it hard enough then you can get that. It's something I never run from and I never will. It's a moment that happened in a game. It's a sporting activity, things happen. People blow up in high school gyms all across the country at basketball games. I just happened to be on national TV at the time but it was for a good reason. One of my teammates was being harmed and I did something about it. Whether I took it too far is neither here nor there. The intention was good and if I'm criticized for standing up for people or jumping into a situation where someone is being harmed then I will gladly wear that for the rest of my life.
DC: We've actually interviewed Fred LeBlanc of Cowboy Mouth here on Canal Street Chronicles and he told us you guys are friends and even worked together on a concert after 9/11. Is he still involved in your music career?
KT: I've been a great fan of Cowboy Mouth and Fred for a long time. We've got some personal connections on other levels but Fred is one of the most amazingly talented people I've seen. Just like the other artists I've been lucky enough to be friends with, I try to take as much as I can from them. Whether it's Cowboy Mouth, Slayer, Pantera or Darius Rucker - who I'm friends with - I try to take away everything I can. These are people I look up to. They've played the game, if you will. As a football player I looked up to Howie Long and Ed White; all these players from back in the day. Now I look up to those that are doing it and Fred's one of those guys.
DC: Do you have relationships with any other New Orleans musicians that we might know?
KT: I have a ton of friends that are musicians in New Orleans. Phil Anselmo and all the projects he's had, from Superjoint Ritual to Down, and all the guys in Corrosion of Conformity and Crowbar. My background is in heavy metal and those guys were all there and are huge Saints fans. Fred LeBlanc and Bag of Donuts. I've always stayed close to music and I've been doing benefit concerts down there [New Orleans] a bunch and playing other side shows on my own. We've been able to play with a lot of people. Michael Baptiste. I love playing shows and entertaining. It's going to take me places and allow me to meet a lot of people. I took full advantage of playing for the Saints. I was already a musician so I got to know those people as a Saint before they even knew I was a musician. It's good for me that they see what I'm doing now because it's a whole other association I have with them. Not just that they want to be an athlete and I want to do what they're doing; it's something we have together.
DC: Go ahead and tell fans about your foundation and how they can hear your music?
KT: Go to my website - GridironRecords.com. I have everything on there, from all my charitable affiliations to all my other sites like MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. Just go to GridironRecords.com and it will take you wherever you want to go from there.
DC: Are you going to be playing in New Orleans any time soon?
KT: The next show we have down there is Gretna Fest. We're playing on the Riverfront Stage on October 2nd (4pm).