"The only real difference is there are less people in the seats when we do our shows," Tyminski jokes. "We've been spoiled a little bit with Alison."
With some of the same players for a Krauss album, is there a difference between recording an AKUS disc and his own?
"The main difference for me is song selection ultimately rested on my shoulders. That being the main difference, the process of recording was pretty much the same. Once we decide we have a song we like, we sit down with the full group of us, and we start throwing ideas around. We play the demo of the songs so we know how it goes. Then, we start piping up with ideas. This band, as with Alison, it's really an easy process. It's pretty obvious. Everybody nods their head, and we just move on. I don't think we ever had to labor over the arranging. When you have guys that you respect and that you trust, it definitely makes it an easier process."
"I'll kind of weigh it against the first album, which I had a lot of songs that I wanted to record, and I kind of carefully built the band around each song and made sure that I had the right people. For 'Wheels,' it was more about picking songs that fit the band. I knew the people that were going to record this record, and we were trying to make sure we had a sound we could reproduce and fit our style, and we looked for songs that worked for this combination of people."
"While we were in the studio, we found what ended up making up about half the record. We had songs. I had a list of songs that we could record. Until the song is actually put down, you never stop looking. Some people made the fast track to get some songs to us that ended up (on the CD). I couldn't imagine doing the record without a couple of these songs."
Tyminski wrote only one of the dozen songs on "Wheels." He readily acknowledges that songwriting is not his forte. "I'm not a very prolific songwriter. I don't write a lot of songs. Every once in awhile, I'm able to finish a song." Band mates Steffey and Stewart also wrote one each.
"Definitely other aspects come easier to me," says Tyminski. "When I listen to music even to this day, I pick out the different rhythm patterns more than I do the vocal. I am first drawn to the music and secondly am I drawn to the vocal."
Tyminski's "How Many Times?" on "Wheels" was "born out of desperation," according to Tyminski. "I had the guys together. We knew we were going to tour and were getting ready to do a showcase for music buyers. We wanted to have something new. I didn't know exactly what. It was still in the very early stages of putting the guys together. I needed some new material. I sat down one day. Although it sounds like it's about a about a woman, it's actually written about the songwriting process. When I first sat down, I thought how many times have I been down this road before. I thought I've got one, and this slips away. Minus the choruses, you can see how I'm trying to finish a song."
"How many times have I started one and not finished it," Tyminski laments. "I think 'I've got you.' It's right there, and then it slips away. It is not necessarily an easy thing, but I was really happy to be able to finish a song that worked for the guys."
Tyminski reaches way back for the upbeat "Whose Shoulder Will You Cry On," penned by Kitty Well and Billy Wallace and a hit for Wells in 1955. "That's been in my memory banks forever," Tyminski says. "I remember my mom singing the Kitty Wells version when I was very very small. I remember playing a bluegrass festival...Danny Paisley guested with us and got up on stage, and he did that song. He did it faster, a little more bluegrassy than on the record. Once I heard Danny did it, that song stuck with me ever since...I thought it would be a really neat song to record if the opportunity ever came up."
Tyminski can thank Del McCoury and Krauss for his version of "Who Showed Who" by Harold Tipton, one of several murder songs on the discs ("We had to make sure to stay bluegrass," jokes Tyminski). Tyminski says he has "known about for a long time. I have grown up a Del McCoury fan, and I've had highest respect for everything Del's done...I have to credit Alison Krauss, who called me one morning, oh gosh, it was probably just after 7 a.m. I was still asleep. I remember when the phone rang, I groggily answered, 'Hello.' The only words out of her mouth were 'Who Showed Who' 'Who Showed Who' 'Who Showed Who' to which I responded 'who is this?' If I've learned nothing after all these years is this - that when she feels that strongly about a song for me, it's something I should give consideration to. She has picked them well for many years, and I trust her."