'Rollin Home, Hooptie-Style!'
With an appealing blend of luck, pluck and sheer musical talent, 20 year- old troubadour Tyler Hilton has launched a career that promises to take this gifted Palm Springs, California native all the way.
You can hear that promise fulfilled on the eleven exemplary tracks of Tyler Hilton, the artist's stunning major label debut on Maverick Records. With a formidable ear for timeless melodies, a keen lyrical sensibility and a natural knack for heartfelt performances, Tyler Hilton is one of the most impressive new arrivals on the modern musical scene.
Tyler Hilton is a collection of eleven original songs that together serve notice of a major new musical talent at the beginning of a long and richly rewarding career. Highlighting such key cuts as the rousing "When It Comes," the evocative "Rollin Home," and the infectious "Glad," Tyler Hilton showcases a creative confidence and intuitive grasp of melodic and lyrical interplay that would be rare in an artist twice his age.
Chatting with the young man himself just recently, we discussed all manner of this Tyler, but started with his recurring role on the WB's 'One Tree Hill':
Where are you currently and what are you up to? “Willmington, North Carolina. I’m filming ‘One Tree Hill’ for the WB. I play this character whose name is Chris Keller and he works at this record store and he’s one of those guy’s that knows in his heart that he is truly the hipest guy in town. And so, being the manager of this record store, he feels like he’s got his finger on the pulse of everything. I love independent record stores and I’m in there all the time, but one of the things that I despise about them are the people behind the counter. And so it’s funny now to be, in a way, satirizing one of these people on a show like this.”
Why do you ‘despise’ such people?! ”Because everything you buy you feel like they are always looking at you thinking, ‘God, how un-cool is that?!’ And that’s what this guy is all about.”
Do you ever watch yourself on TV? ”Yeah, I really like to watch it if I can right when everyone else is watching it. There’s just some kind of excitement about that, you know. But, I don’t like to watch it as I’m very, very self-critical. However, I was surprised in TV work to find how little directing of the actors there is. You probably only meet the director the day before and he’s got all these other things to get right and so he’s not that focused on how well you’re doing and is just kinda hoping you’ll do your job! So, a part of that is that I really wanted to watch these episodes ‘cause I wanted to see how I was coming across.”
What was the name of your High School band? ”Well, actually it was one I had in the 8th Grade and we called ourselves The Blue Note Trio. I think that was the name that we decided on because that was the name that I was hoping for and we were all kind of leaning that way. We were playing like blues and rockabilly and it was kinda like the Stray Cats. I really liked the Stray Cats and Brian Setzer and so we were really trying to go for something like that.”
So, it was the need for Johnny Lang tickets that opened your first real door then?! ”Oh yeah. I was a fan of Jonny Lang ‘cause when I was in Middle School he had this album out called Lie To Me. I remember hearing about this young guy and thinking that this was something that I had to find out more about. I just bought all his albums and the sheet music to his songs. And then I heard that he was coming to town and I had never really seen a live concert and so I called this radio station, KLOS. My dad had said that if you play them this Jonny Lang song that you’re playing at your coffee house gigs as a cover, I’m sure they’ll give you the tickets. So, I played it for them and they really liked it and they gave me the tickets!”
How would you describe your music to a newbie? ”I think this CD has got the basis of an American folk album, but I mean there’s no denying that it’s a pop album at the same time. And even rock at times, so I guess you’d call it a pop album deeply rooted in folk rock. I think that’s how you would call it.”
Which song on the album stands out the most to you as a complete-on-all-sides piece of work? ”I think that would be ‘Rollin’ Home’, because I wrote it in several stages. It’s the story of me traveling around Europe and it’s a song that I could probably spend my whole day talking about! I think ‘Rollin’ Home’ is a song which really takes me back to the Summer after High School when I strapped on a back pack and kinda just decided to brave the world. Yeah, it’s probably my favorite song on the album, just because I think it was such a brilliant effort on everybody’s part – the producer’s, the musicians – everybody really came together. It was really nice.”
Was it always going to be self-titled? ”No, I wanted to call it A Study In Scarlet, ‘cause one of my favorite authors is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who wrote the Sherlock Holmes series. And when I got into collecting old books I got into collecting a lot of old Sherlock Holmes. I think I’ve got them all now, but my favorite was ‘The Study in Scarlet’ and I thought it would be a great phrase to explain a study in passion, a study in love. So, I wrote that lyric into the song ‘Pink and Black’ thinking that would be the title of the album, but everyone thought that it would be too arty and that no one would get it. So, I’m gonna save it for a later album date, I think.”
In the lyrics for ‘When It Comes,’ what’s a “Hooptie”?! ”It’s like an old car. I’ve got a 1982 Oldsmobile and it’s pretty run down and so everyone in High School just ended up calling it the ‘Hooptie.’ And so, that’s what it is … and old car!”
How do you follow up such an impressive debut album ... and have you begun the recording process yet? ”I haven’t even started recording for it yet. I wanted to really give myself time to tour for this one and I really wanted to give the sophomore effort as much time as I gave this one. I mean, we really, really spent a long, long time working on this CD and that’s why it’s so great to hear that you guys like it so much. It makes all that time worth it and we hopefully can give the same attention and care to the next one.”
Tell me more about your role as Elvis Presley in the upcoming Johnny Cash biography ‘Walk The Line’ - which also features such heavy hitters as Reese Witherspoon, Joaquin Phoenix (as Johnny Cash) and Shelby Lynne! ”Yeah, Shelby Lynne is such a favorite of mine. I opened for her once at the Sundance Film Festival and so it was kinda cool to see her again and be in this movie with her. It’s a cool movie man and the soundtrack is going to be just un-believeable. So just wait until the soundtrack comes about … it’s just gonna be insane!”
Your role in this film is as the young Elvis Presley. So, did you do any personal research on him? ”Well, they wanted me to do what I’d done in the auditions which was pretty unrefined, but they were just going for a vibe. They just wanted an essence of a young, excited guy about his upcoming music career. It’s not necessarily Elvis, but the cool part of the movie is that you’re looking at a kid happens to be named Elvis. This kid is just 19 and really excited about what’s going to be happening to him in the near future. But, yeah, naturally being an Elvis fan, I bought so many old recordings and watched so many old interviews, and read so many old books on him so that I could really capture him at that age.”
Did you master the infamous lip curl?! ”Yeah, I did that every once in a while, but the crazy thing was at that stage he wasn’t anything near what people portray him to be when he got to Vegas. He was still really young and he was still coming up with these traits, and even his dancing was crazy! He’s still just shakin’ his legs! There were a couple of scenes where he was dancing and I wanted to keep it real. Real sexy, and real confident, but his legs were just flying everywhere as he was still learning the fact that these girls were diggin’ it!”
You've been described as being "accomplished, gifted and emotive", but I'm sure there's been times when you’ve felt that you’ve been none of those things! So, please reveal an incident where you were not quite the ‘perfect’ person that your bio makes you out to be! ”Well, there’s this one time when I played this song on the air - for that radio station that we talked about earlier that discovered me – and it was a song I wrote about this person that I just happened to see at an airport but never got her name. She was like 23 and I was 16 so this radio station asked me what if they could find her? I told them that they would never be able to find her, but anyway, they ended up finding this girl and flew her down and sat her on stage at this big Christmas show that they had. And so, as I didn’t expect it, I had to play this song that I’d written for her right to her there and then! And so, here I am at 16, my first big performance, no one knows who I am, I have insane acne, and there’s this 23 year old girl who’s so hot, who I’ve never even met, sitting there on the stage whilst I sang that song for her! Man, you couldn’t sound any more psycho than that! I was far from cool, accomplished, gifted or emotive at that moment right there,” he laughs.
If your record label asked you to shave your head for the next album cover, would you do it and lose that hair? ”Yeah,” he admits quickly and loudly! ”I was gonna shave it for this album, but I decided to keep it for ‘One Tree Hill.’ I had it shaved like when I got signed, but then my hair happened to grow out to be as big as it is! And so, yeah, I would totally go back and have it shaved if asked!”
If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be and why?! ”I think I’d like to be a little more cut. Like Spider-Man cut, not like Arnold Schwarzenegger cut. I think it would be cool to be lean and buff like Spider-Man!”
So what kind of a body do you currently possess?! ”I’ve got that rock ‘n’ roll road body,” he laughs.
What makes Tyler Hilton stand out from the musical crowd? ”My family. When you’re raised with the kind of people that I was raised with – the musicians and singers that they were – and then somehow through them and the group of friends that I made along the way, getting into pop music was great. I think that’s how I stand out. I doubt there are many out there that were as soaked in bluegrass and blues and old country the way that I was and yet somehow turned it around into pop.”
If you were locked into a studio and asked to create a song with a three other musicians, who would they be, which instruments would they play and what would the name of the song be?! ”Wow,” Tyler exclaims. ”That is a good one! Wow! Well, OK, I’d like to be in the studio with another like me. So another guitar player, songwriter who’s into that whole folky thing … and I think that would have to be Jack White from the White Stripes. I’d like to write something with him. Then, I’d like to get Paul McCartney in there on bass or piano, and then, I know, … I know, …. let’s put BB King in there! So, there’s the three of them and me and the song that we would be writing would be called, … ‘Me and my Mellow Hooptie’.”
Finally, please sum yourself up in three words ”Lucky, gifted-somewhat, and honest.”
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
If you would like to win your own copy of Tyler's great new CD ... personally autographed to YOU by Tyler himself! ... just answer this easy question: How many times has Tyler's pal Shelby Lynne been a Grammy winner ... and in what year(s)?
Send me your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these wonderful new CDs ... personally autographed to YOU by Tyler himself! Just send us an e:mail here before February 27th with your answer and the subject title 'TYLER HILTON CD' to:
CLICK HERE TO BUY IT TODAY FROM AMAZON.COM!
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