“Look, I know it’s a lot of names, talk to my mom.”
That’s how Tyler Lance Walker Gill addresses the unusually long name he bears. It’s a perfect snapshot of the honky tonk enigma hailing from Bullitt County, Kentucky who is not afraid to not take himself too seriously and have all the fun he can have with himself, and those curious enough to follow him. And does he ever reward them for that curiosity with his one-of-a-kind personality and now one hell of a honky tonk record, too. But just who is Tyler Lance Walker Gill?
“I’ve been playing country music with my band for about three years now,” Tyler said as we spoke recently. “I’ve been in a lot of other cover bands paying a wide variety of music, but once I sat down and started writing country music it just really clicked for me. It just happened. So I sat down and wrote a bunch more, and I just thought to myself ‘Fuck, this is what I need to be writing.’”
It wasn’t just an out-of-the-blue epiphany for him, however. Country music has always been a part of who Tyler Lance Walker Gill is, even if he didn’t embrace it. “As a kid I grew up south of Louisville in Bullitt County and my mom was a country singer. I grew up every weekend going to the Mt. Washington Jamboree that my aunt helped run, and my aunt and my mom would always sing with the band. As a kid I was inundated with all this classic country music, but being honest I just didn’t give a shit about it because I was a kid. I was more interested in learning the whole AC/DC catalogue. But as I got older I regained that appreciation for the country music that I grew up on. And it turns out that country music was the only thing I could really write and feel like it was worth doing.”
In 2018 Tyler and his band released what would best be described as an accidental live EP entitled “Live From A Parking Lot”. “My drummer Chris runs a really great festival here in Louisville called Seven Sense Fest for on the rise bands in the area from all types of genres,” he began, explaining how he EP came to be. “One of the times we played it was at a brewery on a stage set up in the parking lot. We didn’t actually go on knowing we were recording. The guy running sound recorded it and he offered to mix it and master it for us for a really good deal and we were like ‘Well fuck yeah!’ It wasn’t our greatest show, but it wasn’t our worst. We were happy with it, and I thought naming it “Live In A Parking Lot” was really funny because it was true.”
Tyler returns on Valentine’s Day of 2020 with a self-titled debut studio album featuring 10 tracks of all original honky tonk bliss. In the week leading up to the release he used his social media platform to promote the record with a series of Valentines cards meant to strike the fancy of potential listeners, and it’s hard to argue with the results.
“I thought it would be a funny way to promote the record. That’s why I do anything, you know? Is it going to be funny? So I have a buddy who does some photography and I was like ‘So, you wanna take pictures of me in a diaper?’ and he was like ‘Sure, I guess,’ so that’s how we really came up with the idea. People seem to have found them all funny, and I’m glad of that.”
The album features Grammy Award winning fiddle player Michael Cleveland, who won the 2018 Grammy for best bluegrass album “Fiddler’s Dream” and repeated the feat again in 2020 with his album “The Tall Fiddler”. Asking about how Cleveland came onboard with the project Tyler conceded it was a twist of fate. “I was still pretty new to the music scene when we went into the studio to record. I had a backing band already, but as we prepared to go into the studio I knew I needed to hire some auxiliary instruments that we don’t have to fill out the record. Stuff like pedal steel, fiddle, harmonica, and some keys.
“The first person I reached out to was Aaron Bibelhauser who is an excellent songwriter and musician. He’s won awards at the International Bluegrass Music Awards, and his band Relic is fantastic. He asked if we had a fiddle yet and I said no. He said ‘Do you want to have THE fiddle player on this record?’ I said of course, and it turns out Michael Cleveland is one of his best friends so he hooked us up and we brought him in for the record.” Tyler said having such a renown musician in the studio was great for the record. “It was amazing. He was a true professional. It was crazy watching him record, he’d record a part and it would be perfect. Then he’d want to do it again, and he’d do it even better the next time.
Featuring 10 tracks, the album leaves no doubt it is a honky tonk powerhouse. Plenty of drinking, carousing, George Jones, being too stoned to remember the words, sinning, and jail are all covered within the release. “Most of the songs on this album were some of the first that I’ve written. There’s other ones that just didn’t make the cut, but the main reason for that is these are the ones the band knew the best when it was time to record.”
Tyler went on to reveal a little more about the recording process, saying “We made this record on a shoestring budget in about 7 days time, so we had to be really smart and get the most out of every minute of studio time we had so rolling with the songs the band knew the best was the main deciding factor, honestly. Since then I’ve written enough for a couple records, so when it’s time for more we’ve got them ready to go.”
The album is also brave enough to stand up with “So Called Christian Politicians”, an unapologetic protest to the current political climate in Kentucky and beyond that has been an instrumental song to Tyler and his career. “That song really came about from collaboration here in Louisville,” he recalled. “There were some musicians putting together some songs to basically say ‘fuck you’ to our then Governor Matt Bevin. I’m a very political person, even to my own detriment in country music. So I wrote the song for that, and the people putting the project together loved it. They wanted to make it the featured track on the record. It went a long way to getting me noticed around Louisville, because the original recording of it from that time was all me. I laid down all of the instrument tracks on my own and mixed and mastered it and everyone wanted to know who was in my band but it was just me.”
That made it an easy choice to include on this record for Tyler, not just because of what it did for him early on, but because he believes in the song’s voice and it’s message. “I definitely wanted to include it on the record even though it does stand out from the rest of the songs a little bit,” Tyler began, excited. “It gives people just a little extra look at just who I am. It’s a real weird time to be a liberal putting out country music, but I also feel like a lot of fans and even artists my age can identify with it, even if they may not be as vocal about it publicly, you know? I just… I don’t fucking care. To me it’s about speaking the truth. Be a decent human being to other human beings. I want people to know exactly what I think.”
In the midst of a Country Music Renaissance Tyler Lance Walker Gill embodies the heartbeat of honky tonk. An unabashed, no frills, straightforward three chords and the truth style gives him the kind of raw and real edge that makes country music the special experience it can be. This album packs in it all the wit, alcohol, pot, heart, and soul it takes to be special and that’s exactly what he’s delivering to you this Valentines Day: A special album you need to hear, and get your hands on.
“My goal with my music is to write real country songs for real people. Stuff that you can play when you’re happy and play when you’re sad, music you can get drunk to, go dance to, whatever you want to do. Barroom honky tonk music. I don’t take myself too seriously, and I don’t think anyone else should take me all too seriously either,” Tyler said, laughing. “I sing about the serious stuff at times, but country music can be fun. And it should be. I have a fucking blast when I listen to, and play country music, and that’s what I want for my listeners: to listen to my music and have a great time.”
Head on over to https://www.tlwgmusic.com/ to order your copy now!