Tyler Hilton is happy to be on his own

9/12/2012
BY KIRK BAIRD
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Singer-songwriter-Tyler-Hilton

Singer-songwriter Tyler Hilton.

Singer-songwriter Tyler Hilton.
Singer-songwriter Tyler Hilton.

After eight years between studio albums, singer-songwriter Tyler Hilton released "Forget the Storm" on his own record label in April. Known best for his performance as Chris Keller, an egotistical and troubled singer with a habit of speaking in the third person, on the WB's One Tree Hill, Hilton is keeping busy now with tour dates, including a stop Friday at The University of Toledo's Music Fest 2012.

No relation to the other Hilton and her family, he is scheduled to perform a half-hour set beginning at 8:30 p.m., as one of several acts on the bill. The concert is free and open to the public. For more information, visit utoledo.edu/musicfest.

Hilton, 28, recently chatted with The Blade.

Q: It's been a while since you released a studio record. Talk about "Forget the Storm."

A: I spent so many years in the studio trying to get to this point where I could put out this record and finally tour it and so it's nice to see this all come to fruition. I took a lot of chances with this record. I was on Warner Bros. for nine years and I was getting tired of what I call permission-based music where I had to get permission to record any song I wrote. After just years of that it was starting to take the fun out of it and the kind of garage band vibe out of it. It just felt so parental. I made this record on my own, I opened my own record company. So every month is kind of exciting; I'm touring, I'm promoting something I worked really hard on myself, and I'm making things happen that I hadn't gotten to do before -- like go to Europe -- and get to be creative and not ask permission to do it.

Q: What's the difference between the record you self-released and the albums you released through Warner Bros.?

A: The songs that I put on the Warner Bros. label they were just really picked over. The record that I put out in 2003 was a record that I'd written mostly in high school because I just graduated when I got signed. A lot of those songs were there already. ... Since then, though, I've written hundreds and hundreds of songs, literally, for my follow-up record on Warner Bros. And they were so picked through and this was changed about them and that was changed and [I was told] 'What about writing a song more like this?' After a while, you're like, 'Man, I feel like I'm in some kind of gadget company or something.' I don't even know how to write songs, they just come, and after thinking about it for so long I was just starting to lose it. That's kind of the difference. I think there are a lot of good songs I put out on Warner Bros. but to get there there were a lot of songs that didn't make it and didn't get to any record at all and I was tired of that.

Q: Warner Bros. might say, "We had your best interest. We were trying to pick songs we thought would be hits."

A: That is their intention and sometimes that works. I think the hard thing is, you have to know there is no set formula. What happens is you can end up strangling something too. There are a lot of artists on my label and nothing would come out because three people at the label would be like, "This is a smash. We have to put this out now.' And one person would be like, 'I don't know. I don't hear it.' And the other three people would be like, 'Oh, yeah, maybe not.' It's a decision by a committee. And even though [the artists'] best interests are in mind, budgets are getting tighter and record companies need surer and surer bets. And in the music world, that's a really tough thing to be sure about. ... Boy bands, they are going back to that a lot with One Direction and the Wanted because you can be sure of those things. You can market things in a certain way, have a dance-inspired pop tune and be a lot more sure of that than rock and roll or singer-songwriter.

Contact Kirk Baird at kbaird@theblade.com or 419-724-6734.