“I did pretty well with the older clientele because they loved that stuff,” Hilton says. “But I’d always be shocked when a kid came up 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 the hell out of Palm Springs.” So Hilton moved to Los Angeles to launch himself as a musician.
After releasing a self-titled independent CD, he signed to Warner Brother’s imprint Maverick Records, which released his major-label debut The Tracks of Tyler Hilton the same year that Hilton made his acting debut starring as the musically talented, but totally arrogant, Chris Keller on the second season of One Tree Hill. Other roles soon followed, including playing Elvis Presley in the critically acclaimed movie Walk the Line, co-starring in the indie film Charlie Bartlett with Robert Downey Jr., and returning to One Tree Hill for its final season in 2012.
Yet while his cover songs appeared on the Grammy Award-winning Walk the Line soundtrack and his Americana-flavored originals were featured on each of One Tree Hill’s popular soundtracks, Hilton had yet to release another full-length album of his own.
He recorded one, The Storms We Share, in the fall of 2010, but its release was thwarted by a shake-up in leadership at Warner Bros. But, as an artist, Hilton did what artists do and channeled all of his frustrated emotions into a batch of songs, the bulk of which make up his new album Forget the Storm, which Hilton has released on his own label, Hooptie Tune Records.
Lyrically, the album is an unflinchingly honest piece of work that finds Hilton reflecting on his relationship with himself, with his loved ones and even with music — reveling in the good, owning up to the bad and examining everything in between. “You could probably learn more about me by listening to this album than you could by talking to me for an hour,” he says. “It’s very personal and much closer to who I really am than what I’ve revealed in the past, but it’s easier to write from that place when you have nothing left to lose.”
We here at Elite had the opportunity to catch up with Tyler and ask the start a few questions about his career, his life and his comeback to music.
Tell us something about your hometown or childhood that left an impact on you today?
I grew up in Palm Springs, California, which is a huge supporter of the arts. I had an amazing theater program in school and everywhere I used to play (coffee shops, restaurants), they were great tippers!
When was the first time you realized you wanted to get into music and acting?
I’ve never thought otherwise. Ever. My family were all musicians and actors, and I always thought I would get into the business knowing full well it’d probably be on a small scale and that I’d be totally happy with that. I never imagined I’d even get to where I am now!
What about these industries makes you passionate to pursue them?
I’m just drawn to them. I see the world and all my activities in it through music and acting. It’s weird but that’s just my passion.
When you first broke out as a musician on the season finale of One Tree Hill, what were your initial plans for the future?
I had already planned on releasing Forget the Storm and touring the world. I had been working so long on the record I just couldn’t wait to put it out.
After you signed with your label, you experienced a 5 year period of inactivity. What did it feel like having your music career prolonged without being able to move forward?
Ultimately it drained me of inspiration. My hands were completely tied. I left the label and started my own as a last ditch effort to get that initial tingle I had in the beginning of my career when I’d play. It needed to be fun for it to look fun. You can’t act that kind of shit.
Now that you finally released an album after 8 years, what about you validates your position in music the industry?
I’ve been doing it a long time. I’m really proud of that. I started playing shows and doing small tours when I was 15. I love this industry but I also feel like it’s anybodys game at this point. There are no big industry guys that can tell me I’m wrong to do what I’m doing cause it has never worked before. What they’re doing isn’t working now, mostly.
Music is a naturally saturated market, what do you plan on doing to stand out?
Things get saturated and homogenized when we try and sound like others. Stay true to who you are, ultimately, and you will stand out. I have to think I’m my own brand of “off”.
We know hoardes of loyal fans followed your career on One Tree Hill, many who would love the chance to date you. Could you tell us what your type of girl is?
I like smart girls. Flexible girls, not physically but sure that too. I find people with open minds super attractive.
What is the craziest way you have ever been approached by a girl?
Just showing up at my hotel room. I get a knock on the door and it’s like…you aren’t room service!
If you could date anyone in the music industry, who would it be?
My girlfriend Megan Park is killer and been with me a long time. She’s a great singer! I guess she’s not in the music industry, but she’s on a TV show right now (ABC’s “Secret LIfe of an American Teenager”).
Besides performing and producing albums, what other career plans do you have that we may not expect?
Who knows! I have so many different dreams every day about other things I’d like to try, but right now traveling to a different city every day is about all I can handle. I love performing.
I’m sure you didn’t expect waiting 8 years to release your album, where do you see yourself in the next 8 years?
8 albums farther in my career!