Q&A with Singer-Songwriter, TYLER HILTON – Talks “One Tree Hill,” Portraying Elvis Presley, New Album and More!
Posted On 11 Sep 2014
Tag: All Access, All Access Music, All Access Music Group, Artist Interview, Beats, Canada, CBS, CW, Deezer, Elvis, Elvis Presley, Extant, Halle Berry, Howie Day, Indian Summer, iRadio, Johnny Cash, One Tree Hill, Palm Springs, Pandora, Pledge Music, San Jose, Slacker, Spotify, The Storms We Share, Tony Lucca, Tyler Hilton, Walk The Line, You'll Ask For Me
A huge fan of Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Robert Johnson, and Muddy Waters, Tyler Hilton spent several years performing at open mic nights and clubs, and playing blues and jazz covers for tips in coffeehouses and restaurants. “I did pretty well with the older clientele because they loved that stuff,” Hilton says. “It wasn’t until I signed with Maverick Records that young people even came to my shows. I’d always be so shocked when a kid came up to me and said he liked my music, because usually it was: ‘Oh my parents heard you at the Crab Shack and they loved your rendition of ‘Wonderful World’ and I’d be like, ‘Thank you.’ And that’s when I got out of Palm Springs.”
Hilton moved to Los Angeles and released a self-titled independent album in 2000. He also indulged his other passion, acting, by appearing in The CW’s One Tree Hill and the indie cult favorite Charlie Bartlett, and playing Elvis Presley in the 2005 Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line. Hilton’s songs have been included on the Grammy Award-winning Walk the Line soundtrack and on all three of One Tree Hill’s popular soundtracks.
All Access Music writer, Nicole DeRosa got to catch up with the singer between touring and acting on the new CBS show, Extant with Halle Berry.
Hi Tyler! Can you offer our readers who don’t know that much about you, a brief journey of your musical career so far?
I’m a singer/songwriter from Southern California who’s been recording, touring, and writing for other people since I was 15. I come from a heavy folk/ country/ blues foundation and turned that into my own kind of rock n roll. I’ve been lucky enough to have some songs make the pop charts and make their way into some movies and TV shows and tour with a bunch of people I’m huge fans of. Phew! That’s the briefest overview I’ve done yet!
You starred on the hit CW television show, “One Tree Hill.” How did that come about? Did the show’s producers approach you? What was that experience like and how did that help your music career?
They had written a part that was meant to feature a musician who could play his own songs and come on the show for a couple episodes. I had a song called “Glad,” on my record at the time, that the producers really liked so they asked me to come on and play it and do some scenes as this character. I had a blast with it and it ended up turning into many more episodes over the seasons that followed. In terms of visibility, it was huge for me musically. Plus, One Tree Hill fans are heavy music fans and they have broken a lot of artists just with their interest alone. It’s a pretty incredible fan base when they get behind you.
Before you wrote the songs that appear on your latest album, “The Storms We Share,” you had never written anything but love songs. How do you capture the inspiration of a song when it comes to you? What usually comes first, the music or the lyrics?
Usually the music comes first and I’m not sure if I’ve only written love songs before this record, but this record did have broader subject matter for sure then just the puppy love I knew when I wrote other records. I still have no idea how songs come. They’re like dreams I don’t know what goes into them. I just feel like singing certain things and sounds and words and by the end it’s like this whole piece. The older I get the weirder and weirder it gets to think about. I try not to understand it too much for fear it will stop!
You are currently working on another album, entitled, “Indian Summer.” How is that going? I understand you are using a site called, Pledge Music to support the release. What made you decide to use that site?
The album is going great. I have a few more songs to cut and then mix it and I’m done. I decided to use Pledge cause it was different and sounded like something interesting to try. Making a record on a third party platform where the fans can buy their way into the recording process as it’s happening is intriguing for sure and seems like something I’d be into as a fan. I didn’t think too much about it. I’ve always wanted to do a more folky record and this seemed like a good opportunity to do a record that sounded and felt closer to the audience.
Where did you grow up? How do you think that influenced your style?
I grew up between the Palm Springs area of SoCal and the San Jose area of NorCal. Palm Springs is full of retired folks that tipped bigger when I played the older classics that I would do at my coffee house and bar gigs in high school. (laughs) It really encouraged me to learn more of those. And San Jose was a big city compared to PS and had this huge music scene. I was so inspired by the other musicians my age. When I moved there for awhile I realized I wasn’t a big fish in a small pond anymore. It really pushed me.
Do you have any upcoming radio appearances coming up? Any favorite radio stations?
No radio appearances coming up. My main goal was branching out to an international audience with this one which we did in 3 different tours of Europe in the last couple years. For the next record, I really wanna focus on country radio. They have some really fun great stations around the country!
You had the honor of playing the epic role of none other than, ELVIS PRESLEY in the Johnny Cash biopic, “Walk The Line.” What was that like for you?
It was the biggest things I could have been asked to do because I was such a massive Elvis fan even before I knew there was other music in the world when I was a kid.
How much “method acting” and preparation did you do for that role?
I read a bunch of stuff on him as a young man and listened to a lot of interviews of him when he was just starting out before he broke so I could play him more as a young teenage kid from Memphis instead of the “King Of Rock” like we know him now.
And…. most importantly, did you indulge in Elvis’ favorite fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches?
Haha and no on the fried food. Well…once. 🙂
What are your thoughts on satellite radio and streaming radio services like Pandora, iRadio, and Slacker, or on demand services like Spotify, Deezer, Beats, and others?
I like them. Music is becoming bigger and bigger and more and more artists are able to get involved. I know we don’t make as much on sites like Spotify, but the truth is, I learn about so many artists I wouldn’t have otherwise. And 2 songs can’t be the same price if you listen to one 100 times and the other once. That’s why I like Spotify because the profits are shared by who is played more. Not who has tricked the public into buying it and being disappointed with the most ad dollars. You have to earn plays.
If you had the opportunity to work with any act/artist from the past, present or future, who would it be?
It would be Elvis 100%. Not only am I fascinated by him in general, but he had this lightness and effortlessness about his singing and presence that I’d like to experience in person.
What is your favorite song to perform live? When it hits and I’m plugged into it, there’s nothing that gets me more then “You’ll Ask For Me.” It’s not just the words and sentiment, but the rhythm and…I don’t know what. It’s just feels great when it feels great.
You are currently out on tour. How is that going? Any fun stories from the road you’d like to share with our readers? Any pranks that you Howie Day and Tony Lucca like to play on one another or are you a pretty chill bunch of guys?
No pranks everyone is pretty chill. There is no “yay we’re finally on the road lets let loose” mentality with guys who are always out, but the hang is great and the stories shared are pretty hilarious.
What’s on tap next for you, Tyler?
You can see me on tour around the states and Canada in the next few months and on a new show on CBS called Extant starring Halle Berry every Wednesday night!
Visit Tyler Hilton’s Pledge site to support his next album, INDIAN SUMMER!