“Time flies when you're having fun” (and staying busy) and that's exactly what I've observed about life in Nashville. Life has been crazy this summer in Nashville, but it's been so cool to see how amazing Music City is and to be a small part of the music industry. People come from all over to chase this crazy dream and it's great to see all these individuals show off their hometown traditions and lifestyles through their music. One person who is doing that extremely successfully is Tyler Dial. I sat down with Tyler and talked about his EP "Way Back When”, how going to school at the University of Texas in Austin shaped his career, how this EP captures who he is and the songs that influenced him growing up.
Get To Know Tyler
"My dad was a tour promoter so we always had guitars laying around the house. He wanted to do music growing up but was not very good at it. Instead, he got into tour promotion and worked with numerous artists in Texas. My dad was an entrepreneur so I always had that entrepreneurial music spirit. I grew up playing guitar casually. There was a time when I watched School of Rock and saw middle school kids playing Hotel California and I was like "I'm going to do that next year". I started playing guitar seriously in middle school and began listening to Keith Urban and John Mayer as well as my dad's favorite bands like The Rolling Stones and The Eagles. Dad told me if I could write songs, that would be my “in” to music. I started writing songs in high school, usually after soccer practice late at night.
I had a few D-1 offers to play soccer in college, but by that point music was where my heart was. I got into the University of Texas and that sealed my fate. This was an opportunity to live in the "live music capital of the world", which was pretty badass. We played pretty much every weekend on 6th Street, playing 4 hour cover gigs. I hustled a lot to get gigs and pretty much every home tailgate we were booked for a fraternity or something similar.
I didn't even know Texas Country was a thing. I grew up listening to Country radio and was a huge fan of Sam Hunt and artists in that lane. Then I got to Texas and discovered Turnpike Troubadours and Randy Rogers which I thought was so cool. Every summer of college I interned in Nashville, mainly as an excuse to be in the place where everyone was writing songs. I was at Toby Keith's management company the first summer. The next summer I interned in Starstruck Studios down on Music Row as a studio intern. I knew I was going to move to Nashville one day. I wrote songs those summers and would bring them back to Texas and fit them in our live shows. I began to build a small fan base in Austin, mostly friends. We started to get some opening slots for artists rolling through town - like Cody Johnson, Cole Swindell and Pat Green. College helped me get comfortable on stage and taught me how to entertain a crowd. I moved to Nashville the day after I graduated and put out an EP of some songs I wrote along with some songs I didn't. But that EP wasn't really "me". At that point, I hadn't written hundreds and hundreds of songs.
Now I've been in Nashville for 4 years and been keeping my head down. I’ve had weird jobs on the weekend so I could write songs during the week. You must be where the best writers and artists are. The last 4 years I've been learning in every writing session and learning to sing in the demo session on a microphone. My musicianship has gotten better. I've figured out what my direction is, who I am and what my values are. Those experiences brought me to this EP and teaming up with Virgin and Make Wake. I’ve got this badass team supporting me. I have a full album ready to go."
Throughout the article, Tyler touches on how the songs in this "Way Back When" EP reflect who he has become, while blending influences of songs and artists from the past that he grew up on. As I always say, the trajectory of an artists career in Music City aren't just about how well they can sing or how well they can write a song (don't get me wrong, this helps a ton), but the biggest X-factor to me is an artist who has a great attitude, knows who they are and works their ass off day in and day out. Tyler has all three of those attributes in his DNA and those are the major reasons he will hit big time success in the near future. "Way Back When" IS AN ABSOLUTE VIBE top to bottom. This six song collection takes all the chapters of Tyler's life thus far and blends them together for a painted masterpiece. Tyler showcases his pleasant and majestic vocals with production that makes you want to roll around some backroads with the windows down, taking in the cool breeze and sunset. Tyler wanted to hit that center line between a commercial sound and making sure his authentic voice was heard. He hit the nail on the head.
Inspiration Behind "Way Back When" - EP
"When I first got to town, I knew I wanted to be different and stand out. I feel like you have to here. I didn't want to chase trends or be the next Sam Hunt. All my favorite artists seem to be the first of their own. I spent the first two years in Nashville writing about girls and partying, beer and trucks. It's so easy to go into a write wanting to write a hit for radio. I learned in the first two years not to be competitive. It took me a while to figure out who I was and what I was trying to say with my songs. I am who I am,where I'm from and my experiences. There aren't a lot of people in Nashville from the desert and Arizona. There aren't a lot of people who went to the University of Texas in Austin and that's such a cool culture. The songs I started to write reminded me of the songs I grew up loving from "way back when". That's why I made that the title of the EP. "Way Back When" felt like a Keith Urban song I grew up listening to. "Wild Thoughts" reminded me of “Speakers” by Sam Hunt. I've tried to strike a balance between the commercial sound and Texas Country. The reason I picked these songs is because they sound like some of the songs I grew up loving, but were the songs that opened doors for me behind the scenes. I want people to hear how I have matured as a musician, songwriter and a singer. I definitely hear growth within the songs I have out now and the songs we are getting ready to roll out. A song like "Left of Center" was the first time I wrote a song that summed me up in three minutes and put a flag down on my values. It was also the first time I sang about smoking weed, which I love to do; it can be a controversial topic whether it's my grandma listening to the song or my girlfriend's parents. I don't know if I would have been as open writing a song like this when I moved to town four years ago. These songs, in a way, are both the new me - the direction I want to go in and being open, but the old me - in the sense of the songs I grew up loving."
Q & A With Tyler Dial
Q: What was that "light bulb" moment when you knew you wanted to pursue music?
A: "I remember it so clearly. I learned "Free Falling" by John Mayer for the 7th grade talent show. My mom took me to a Keith urban concert around the same time. He was in the middle of the show and stepped out in the center of the runway and sang "Raining on Sunday". It was just him and his guitar and you could literally hear a pin drop. All I was thinking was "I want to do that". One day I would love to play arenas. I'm not quite there yet, but I'm hoping. I'm getting closer."
Q: In your music career so far, what's one failure you can look back on and are thankful for?
A: "It's hard because I wouldn't look at it as a failure, but it was more of a learning experience. I think it was that "Repaint" EP. I was working with people who were hit songwriters and in my head I was like "they are going to make me a star, I just need to get out of the way". I had no experience in studios. I would sit in the corner and let them do their thing. Sometimes I would come in and they would be like "we started the pre-production on these songs, this is where we think it's going". My response was "I love it". That was a huge learning experience for me. Not only did I not believe in those songs, but I didn't know what it was like to believe in a song. I wouldn't go back and not put it out, because it opened some doors for me. As a result of that experience, I learned to ask for what I want as well. It's not just about working with hit songwriters. All of my favorite songs were written by people that don't have hits, believe in me and are so talented."
Q: What does music mean to you?
A: "I feel like these days, music impacts people less and less in the short form content world of reels, memes and Tik Tok. I don't believe they listen to music like they used to. Music makes me a happy dude... driving with a sunset, there's nothing better. Driving in a car, windows down with your new favorite song, it's the best feeling ever. Ever since I moved to Nashville, the best feeling is being able to write one of those songs. Being stoked on it for a week... writing this great song. Entertaining a crowd, playing a sick show with the songs I wrote would bring me the ultimate happiness."
Q: Who are some influences that you incorporate into your music?
A: "Sam Hunt and Keith Urban were my early influences. I had this country radio and Classic Rock vibe growing up and then found this Texas thing with the Turnpike Troubadours and Randy Rogers. Even old school guys like Jerry Jeff Walker, Robert Earle Keen and those real troubadours impacted me. Then I moved to Nashville and listened to indie music, not even country. There are a few artists in Nashville, such as Brothers Osborne, Miranda Lambert and Kacey Musgraves, who get me so excited to be a part of it"