On The Dial: A Conversation With Troubadour Tyler Dial and His Newest EP ‘Way Back When’

Written By: Anna Lee Palmer

Ever since he was a kid, Nashville newcomer Tyler Dial has worked to separate himself from the crowd. He grew up loving country radio while learning “Tequila Sunrise” on his guitar and wearing Chuck Taylors instead of cowboy boots; in doing so, he created his own perfect balance for his music and the way he wanted to live his life: “a little country, and a little rock-’n’-roll”. 

Raised up on his dad’s love for the radio and the heat of Arizona, country music has always been second nature to Dial. His love for music started from learning guitar and attending a Keith Urban concert with his mom and grew quickly with age. While he was in college, Dial became known in the Austin music scene for his “Texas-country-meets-rock” sound. After graduating from the University of Texas, he decided that it was time to pursue his career a step further and make the move to Music City. Since his move, Dial has been perfecting his artistry through his songwriting which has cultivated itself in his newest EP “Way Back When”.

Dial’s “Way Back When” has been on all streaming platforms since June 24th and features his latest singles “Runnin’ Downhill” and “Damn, Denver”.

We had the chance to talk to Tyler about “Way Back When”, his college years, and how he lives his life just “left of center”. 

How would you describe yourself and your sound to a first-time listener?

I was raised on my dad’s country radio and classic rock so I grew up loving artists like Keith Urban, George Strait, The Rolling Stones, and the Eagles. When I went to college in Austin, TX, I discovered this whole new genre of Texas country and immediately fell in love with the artistry of bands like the Randy Rogers Band, Turnpike Troubadours and guys like Charlie Robison, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Robert Earl Keen. The last few years, I’ve tried to strike a balance between the two different worlds of commercial country and the Texas scene. I think people like Kacey Musgraves, Miranda Lambert, and the Brothers Osborne do a great job of that. 

How does your Southwestern raising play into your music? How does it play into this upcoming EP?

When I first moved to Nashville, it was difficult trying to figure out what my unique voice and vision was for my music. It took me a minute to figure out that I just had to authentically be myself and tell my story of growing up in Arizona to spending 4 years of college in Austin. I have a full album recorded but wanted to kick it off with a chapter of songs that reminded me of the music I grew up loving in Arizona. It was so fun shooting all our videos back home in Phoenix so I could give people a glimpse of my upbringing and the stuff we used to do Way Back When.

Who or what are the biggest musical influences for your new EP Way Back When?

There are so many musical influences that inspired this project. It feels a bit like each song has its own north star. On “Way Back When” I hear a little Keith Urban, “Left of Center” Kacey Musgraves, “Damn, Denver” George Strait, “Runnin’ Downhill” the Brothers Osborne, “Wild Thoughts” Sam Hunt, and “Still Smokin” maybe Lucie Silvas or Eric Church. Not that I’m comparing myself or my songs to those artists but I can’t help but want to be like them.

How do you feel like you have grown as an artist and person because of your newest EP?

I’ve spent the last 4 years working side gigs on the weekends and building up my 10,000 hours while writing during the week. I’ve written hundreds of songs and have been fortunate enough to write with people who I consider so much more talented than me. Thanks to my collaborators, I’ve improved in every session as a singer, as a songwriter, and as a musician. There is no substitute to being in Nashville and doing the damn thing. I also found the courage to put myself out there and sing about topics like smoking weed. I don’t know if I would’ve had the confidence to be that open a few years ago.

Which song can you not wait to perform live?

I used to play shows every other weekend in Austin, whether it was on 6th Street or at a fraternity tailgate before a UT game. I got really comfortable on stage during those 4 years in college, but when I moved to Nashville, my focus shifted to writing great songs. So I haven’t been playing as many shows as I used to. Now that I have a whole project out (and more to come), I can’t wait to take it on the road and get back to doing what I do best. I’ve already played “Way Back When” and “Runnin’ Downhill” live a few times and they are so fun!

What’s the overall message that you would like to convey to your fans and first-time-listeners with this EP?

I just want people to know that it’s cool to be yourself. I feel like everyone is left of center in their own way and what sets you apart is what makes you cool. While I’d love to get that message across with that song, I’d also just love for people to turn it up in the car and take this record for a spin with the windows down. 

Where do you hope you’ll be in a year with your music? With your fans? What can audiences expect from you as a person and artist?

I hope to have my debut album out and I’d love to be out on some tours. Every year, I look back and can’t believe how far I’ve come as an artist and a musician. That “looking back” kept me going through times of doubt and frustration. I can’t wait to see how music fans across the country accept this music and I’m looking forward to putting more out consistently.

Hear more from Tyler Dial: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Website

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