“I am living in a random dream come true”
Palm Springs, California native Tyler Hilton took some time to chat with our Managing Editor in a recent phone interview about his whirlwind career. If the name sounds familiar, you may remember Hilton starring in a little television show called One Tree Hill as bad-boy recording artist Chris Keller. With his new album City On Fire being released this Friday, he told us about his backstory, growing up being surrounded by music and his almost accidental big movie break.
While he was young, his uncles were all musicians, touring with Fleetwood Mac and George Harrison, so needless to say, music was in his blood and surrounded his childhood. His family would play bluegrass, blues, and California country, influencing his musical talents. “If girls, weren’t obsessed with musicians, who knows if I would have pursued music in my teenage years, I remember I also got into juggling but I don’t juggle anymore,” Hilton laughs. “How lucky that something I loved is so celebrated in our culture.”
When he was just fifteen years old he made the decision to pursue a career as a singer-songwriter and was discovered by a local radio station out in L.A. From there, at just 19 years old after going in to audition to play guitar as a background character, he was cast as Elvis Presley in the Oscar-winning movie Walk The Line. All the while he continued to pursue his music career, which led him to his next project. He auditioned for a small guest part on One Tree Hill and the rest from there is history. “Before I filmed it, I binge-watched the whole first season and I loved the show,” he tells us. “Imagine watching season 1 in one weekend and then meeting everyone on Monday”. Chris Keller became a character that fans of the show absolutely loved to hate so Hilton was continually written into the show on and off for almost a decade. “I got to hang out with the coolest people ever, we all went through the show becoming huge together and really bonded,” he says of the cast which became like family.
Fast forward, Hilton is gearing up to release a project he says is his favorite record he has ever recorded. City On Fire will be available this Friday (January 18th) and features thirteen tracks that encompass a new blend of genres. When discussing the vibe of the album, Hilton explains he likes to call it “western indie-rock” explaining he is the Venn diagram between Johnny Cash and The Strokes. He wrote the songs during a time of change in his life, his grandfather passed away, a friend passed away, and when California was experiencing terrible wildfires. During our conversation, he explains that the most recent breakout of fires were wreaking havoc through his home state and he could look out the window and see ashes falling from the sky.
City On Fire also features Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum, who Hilton lived with when he first moved to Nashville in 2007. In the same house, Kelley and Hilton lived with Dave Haywood and Jason “Slim” Gambill, who have all had major success with Lady Antebellum. “They were great songwriters, nobody knew who they were, we had a blast drinking, grilling and writing songs together. I thought they were amazing,” he tells us. “They told me about finding a girl on MySpace, talking about Hilary, and they just sounded so good”. The newly formed band even opened for Hilton once in Nashville and he recalls every record label coming to his show to see them. “After that, they just took off, it’s been so cool watching my old roommates kill it”.
Next up, Hilton is hitting the road to promote City On Fire and will be playing at City Winery in New York City on March 2nd, tickets available here. Pre-order or pre-save City On Fire here and check back on Friday for our First Impression. Be sure to follow Tyler Hilton on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for all upcoming announcements.
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