Tyler, how has your California upbringing influenced your music?
I couldn’t be more proud of where I come from. I was raised in this amazing hub of culture in Northern California in between Sacramento and Chico. We were always about 2 hours from anything we could want to do — the mountains, the beach, the big city, the sticks, the lakes, college towns and more. There were shows of all types readily available to go to and be inspired as a young musician. I was surrounded by everything from Country to Hip Hop, old Rock n Roll to Reggae and Punk Rock. I can hear all of it in the music I write, and I can feel it every single night when I walk on stage.
Your interest in music and songwriting started with your family singing together at Christmas time and progressed when your cousin introduced you to Strait, Brooks, and Jackson. You’ve said you wanted to be like your uncle, playing the same country songs he did. Has he inspired any of your songs? Do you still use the guitar your grandparents gave you?
He absolutely inspires so much of my music. Whenever I am writing, I always think, “would this be the type of song he would sing at a party? And, would everyone get excited and be singing along?” Because if not, then it’s time to get more creative. He always said, “the best songs can be played acoustic on some simple chords, and easily sung along to by those listening” and that’s really stuck with me. That old Yamaha has an amazing home right now… somewhere.. wherever it is.. ha but I wish I still had it!
Your job with Red Robin lead to them helping you while you chased your dream as a musician. What would you recommend to artists looking for work to support themselves while pursuing their music dreams?
Find a boss or a company that simply just gets it — somewhere or someone that understands your job with them may be temporary but their encouragement is fueling the beast. Once the mutual understanding is in place, then no one can ever get upset when you have to leave tour for a chunk of time to go chase your dreams. Restaurants and bartending are perfect for this! I also used to play casino lounges, 4 hours a night, 5 days a week on my off days. Hours and hours of cover songs, and practicing for a lot of people not listening. It was the greatest “job” of all time haha.
What about “The Difference” really stood out for you to make it your Valory Music Co. label debut single?
It had all the elements I believed would be a hit song. It was catchy and fun, but more importantly, it was clever. The lyrics if you really dive in, are SO well written. It reminds me of the beach, and California. It just feels good, and makes you feel good when you listen to it. You can dance to it, two-step to it, and sing it to the person you love. “The Difference” just had the “it” factor we were looking for as my debut as a new artist.
The effects of a breakup are so powerful in “11:11.” What drew you in when you first heard it?
There is such a true desperation in the lyric of “11:11;” you can really feel the pain in the way it was written. It comes from the perspective of someone that can get by all day fine, and mask their pain and torment with alcohol, and happy hours with closes friends. When the clock strikes 11:11, you are supposed to get anything you ask for — because it’s rare to see it — and the only thing after all that time that still comes to mind is wanting that person back … another chance at not messing things up. It’s raw, and it’s real.
“Leave Her Wild” — what’s the story behind your new single?
My fiancée Sabina’s favorite quote has always been “If you’re gonna love her, leave her wild.” That’s where the title came from. But, there was a specific moment when we started dating that really triggered the whole concept. One of her friends told me when we met, “thank you for giving us our friend back.” Sabina had been in relationships in the past that had stifled who she really was, her wild, crazy, fun, dancing self. And, when we met, they said she was finally her self again. I wrote this song about truly loving somebody for who they are, and not trying to change them. So many times we have our own ideas about how someone should be living their life, rather than just supporting them for who and what they are. If you’re gonna love her… leave her wild.
Is there anything in particular that you’d like people to take away from listening to your music?
I want people to hear my songs and feel like they really know me. I’m trying to be more transparent in my writing and storytelling because it’s so important to be able to connect with your fans, and inspire them, and move them when they listen to your music!
More times than not, influences tend to bleed through. What artists have consistently inspired you?
I love the older stuff like Creedence Clearwater Revival when trying to strip it back to simple and powerful songwriting, which takes me to Garth Brooks as well. There’s not many artists that can effectively get a crowd singing as much as Garth and Keith Urban can. Keith is the main artist that really inspired me in my twenties with not only writing, but with his vocal approach. He has such a way of caressing each word he sings, and I’ve really studied his style. I think all three of those, if you really dig into my catalog, would be fairly evident.
What was it like to perform at the Grand Ole Opry?
It’s my favorite thing in the world. It honestly feels like you are walking into a huge family party. We have now played 4 times, and I can’t wait to get back. The band is the best you can find, the crowd is so kind and welcoming. There is just a magic when you walk onto that stage and into that circle that is indescribable.
What’s the best advice you have ever been given?
I had the pleasure of meeting Garth Brooks shortly after moving to town. He told me something I’ll take with me forever, and I try to spread this gospel to every new artist I meet. “Always write the best songs you possibly can, but always record the best songs you’ve ever heard.”
The story of how you came to adopt your dog Abby and have a tattoo of her is so sweet. How do you and your fiancée Sabina continue to be involved with animal rescue organizations?
Thank you! Abby is my best friend, has been since I rescued her 13 years ago, so she deserved some real estate on my forearm for sure! ha Sabina has the biggest heart in the world, and is always teaching me new ways to get involved and organizations to work with. One of our favorites is is Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation in Sherman Oaks, CA. In China, and other parts of the Asia, specifically Yulin, they have the dog meat festival every year on the summer solstice, where they truly believe that torturing the animal first makes the meat more tender and is part of an ancient tradition. They burn, skin, and chop these poor dogs alive. And, this foundation goes out there, purchases the dogs “to eat,” then rescues them and brings them back to CA for rehab. Most of the dogs they bring back are missing limbs, and go through serious rehab to trust again. So, you can go in and play with the dogs to help the process. Please look into this foundation and ways to help, we are all currently trying to make these practices illegal, but it’s hard when it’s another continent, so all we can do is help the sweet pups that make it back to us, for now.
When you’re not performing what do you like to do?
Going to movies and theme parks are my two favorite hobbies outside of playing music. I think I love both for the same reason … There is such a mental escape for me from all the stress of my career and regular life. Long live Mickey! ha
What are the five things you can’t live without? Might at least one be Harry Potter related?
Horror movies, Disney, my fiancee/friends/family, fruity candy (of all kinds), & Harry Potter for sure!
What’s ahead for you in 2019?
So much! Releasing new music this month and hopefully recording again soon for my debut full-length album. We are playing a ton of bucket list festivals (Boots & Hearts in Canada, Faster Horses, Stagecoach, etc), and will be all over the country touring all year long, come see us!