Like many of his fellow 23-year-olds, rising star Michael Tyler is already in full party mode for St. Patrick’s Day, March 17. But the guy with the Bieber-ish hair and mile-wide smile has an extra reason to be pumped for the traditional Irish feast day.
March 17 happens to be the release date for Tyler’s major album debut, fittingly titled “317.” The album contains the current single “They Can’t See” along with 10 other tracks, all of which he co-wrote. Tyler sat down with S&E Nashville in Music City to talk about the album, co-writing and how “They Can’t See” describes his ideal woman.
“It’s so exciting,” Tyler says with youthful enthusiasm as he anticipates the release. “It’s the craziest feeling in the world. Now that the album is coming out and everyone gets to hear what I’ve been working on, it’s a little scary. I want to know how people connect with it.”
The single “They Can’t See” would appear a sure-fire connect with fans. Written by Tyler, Jaron Boyer and Brandon Hood, the tune speaks to the intangible qualities of a young man’s lady love, the things that people don’t see from the outside. As one line reads, “She’d give her last dollars to change the world.” It’s Tyler’s view of the kind of woman that would strike his particular fancy (ladies take note). The song, he notes, is not autobiographical or based on any one special person.
“It’s more about my ideal woman,” he explains. “It’s the kind of message I wanted people to hear. You know, looks do fade. When you get to a certain point [in a relationship], you have to talk to that person, eventually,” Tyler laughs. “You have to be able to have a conversation. You have to bond. I do think the world is too much like, ‘Wow, she’s gorgeous. I don’t care what she says, I don’t care how she treats other people.’ Well, I do care about that and I think a lot of other guys do, too.”
Tyler’s knack for insightful writing has been constantly developing since his teenage years growing up in a small community. He remembers that he wrote his first actual song at around age 13. “I started writing before I was doing shows,” Tyler says.
Tyler hails from a corner of the country straddling the Missouri-Arkansas border, the railroad town of Thayer, Missouri. That geographic area, as remote as it may seem, has nonetheless spawned the likes of Sheryl Crow, Chris Janson, David Nail and other hot acts, a notion that hasn’t escaped Tyler’s attention.
“It is kind of a hotbed of music,” he agrees. “It’s weird how that happens. I guess it’s because there’s nothing much to do,” Tyler adds with a quick smile. “If you pick up a guitar, you’re probably going to get good at it because you’re gonna practice hard.” His first musical memories centered around the sounds of country wafting through the radio waves. “Country music really touches you in that part of the country,” Tyler says. “There were other influences too, but country is what hit me the most.” On several summer days, Tyler recalls, he’d ride around in his uncle’s truck, listening to Alabama, Johnny Cash and other country stalwarts who provided his inspirations.
His writing acumen, certainly mature beyond his years, caught the attention of Music Row producer Michael Knox, the man behind Jason Aldean, Trace Adkins and many other artists. Knox convinced Tyler to move to Nashville, which the youngster did in 2012. “I sort of knew how publishing worked,” Tyler says. “But I didn’t know much about being an artist. I guess if you knew beforehand what it takes to become an artist, you’d probably have second thoughts.”
Like many aspiring artists before him, Tyler has found his earliest success in Nashville as a writer. He co-wrote Dierks Bentley’s 2016 No. 1 hit “Somewhere on a Beach” as well as the Jason Aldean/Kelsea Ballerini duet “First Time Again” from Aldean’s “They Don’t Know” album.
Now, he’s writing them mostly for himself. “There were some outside songs that we looked at for this project,” Tyler notes. “But in the end, we felt like we had strong songs. I definitely do not take the attitude that every song has to be mine, though. My buddies send me stuff all the time and there are things we’re looking at for future projects.”
On top of the release of “317,” Tyler will continue hitting the road with label mates LoCash as part of Live Nation’s “Ones to Watch” tour. “We’ll also do some fairs and festivals this summer, and we’re putting some things together for the fall,” Tyler says. “The love that’s growing for country music is just amazing, and I’m so happy to be part of it.”
Tyler’s new album, “317,” is available now.