by Tina Hall
Tyler Bryant jumps
photo by Andy Merrick
Tyler Bryant won the Robert Johnson Foundation’s New Generation Award at the age of 16. He is the youngest endorser Fender and has shared the stage with legendary artists like Vince Gill, B.B King, REO Speedwagon, Styx, and Heart. His song ” Who I Am” is featured on Guitar Hero 5. He appears in the Robert Knight documentary film, “Rock Prophecies”,with the likes of Jeff Beck, Santana, and Slash. He is without a doubt one of the most talented of the new guitarists.
Maximum Ink: At what age did you first start trying to imitate Elvis? Do you remember that and what led you to do that?
Tyler Bryant: I decided I was gonna be Elvis when my first grade teacher, Mrs. Witcher, showed the class a video of him playing live. I was seven years old and instantly hooked. He was the coolest guy I’d ever seen. I didn’t know anything about rock and roll before I saw Elvis. I was obsessed. I’m sure all the other kids thought I was out of my mind! My mom even let me dye my hair black and made me some leather pants and a shiny gold jacket. I remember my first grade teacher telling me to “be quiet”..I raised my lip at her and said, “Thank you very much.” She called my mom and told her I had an identity crisis. Later I realized that I wasn’t Elvis.
MI: What did it feel like to win the Robert Johnson award at such a young age?
TB: It felt really really good. Ha. I submitted a video of me playing “Walkin’ Blues”. I honestly didn’t think I had any chance of winning, but I figured it was definitely worth a shot. I’ll never forget getting a voicemail from Steve Johnson saying that I was the winner. That was a happy day for sure.
MI: What was it like to work with the legendary photographer Robert Knight?
TB: Working with Robert Knight definitely isn’t boring. He’s got some of the craziest stories I have ever heard! It’s really cool to hear about all my favorite bands from a guy who was hanging out with them while they were making history. He was there to document it all. From the first shots of Led Zeppelin to some of the last shots of Hendrix, he’s seen and heard it all! It’s pretty cool to get approval from a guy who’s been around the business for so long. He’s a total rock star. He just holds a camera instead of a guitar.
MI: Is it difficult to play the blues as you do while living in a small town? How has coming from where you do influenced your ambition to become a professional musician?
TB: Honey Grove was perfect for me. It was definitely hard to find people my age to share my love for music with, but then again, I was listening to music that their great grandparents probably didn’t even listen to. Ha. It was great because it forced me to sit at home and learn how to play guitar, but at times I wanted to be somewhere where music was important to everyone. I found a group of older guys to jam with and put together a little band. When I was seventeen, I decided I wanted to move to Nashville to write songs. I met a couple of guys my age and we decided to put together a rock and roll band. I remember the first time I asked Caleb and Calvin if they knew how to play a blues shuffle. They laughed and started to jam one. It felt so good to have friends that I could relate to and play music with. We mainly play rock and roll now, but it’s comforting to know that we can take it back to the start if we need to.
MI: Where can your fans go for the latest information on your career? Is there anything you¹d like to say to them in closing?
TB: www.tylerbryantmusic.com/ I just want to thank everyone for coming out to the shows. We’re getting ready to hit the road this summer and I can’t wait to play some new music for everyone!
DVD: Rock Prophecies Record Label: Tyler Bryant
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