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Interview: Tyler Booth brims with excitement ahead of his ‘Keep It Real’ EP release

Road warrior, songsmith, and proud Kentucky native Tyler Booth has been making a name for himself in country music since he first started playing festivals around his home state as a high schooler. Born and raised in Wolfe County, Kentucky, he grew up in a musical family, often sitting in on the rehearsals of his dad’s rock band.

After enrolling in Morehead State University’s Traditional Music Studies program, he quickly caught the attention of one of his professors, Scott Miller, an old friend of songwriter Phil O’Donnell (George Strait, Craig Morgan). After Miller made the connection, O’Donnell invited Booth to Nashville, where the two cut his first EP, Self-Titled, released independently in 2017. A couple years later he was featured on legendary duo Brooks and Dunn’s country swing-style ballad, ‘Lost and Found’ on their ‘Reboot’ album, and then in 2021 he released his own ‘Grab the Reins’ EP and on Friday, Booth releases his new EP ‘Keep it Real’. We talked all about it at the Long Road festival.

Lovely to speak to you Tyler. I saw your set this morning at Buddy’s Bar and it was jam-packed with people!

That’s great, man, that’s so cool. I love being over here in the UK and playing to you guys.

You were over here in March for the C2C festival as well. What memories did you take home from that visit?

It was great, yeah, I had so much. It was my first time in England, London was great to discover. Everybody was so nice. One thing that blew my mind was that people knew who I was and knew my music. I’d had people on TikTok live saying ‘we love you in England, or Ireland or Scotland,’ right? but I wasn’t sure that it was real, you know, but when I got here so many people knew my music, it’s crazy! It’s been nice to be able to come back and see all the same folks all over again, it’s a dream come true.

Tell us English folks all about Campton, Kentucky and what your home town is like.

Oh, man. It’s super-small, there’s only about 470 folks that live there and it’s very rural. Not a lot of traffic but a lot of tractors and there’s not a lot to do there, which was why I got into music. We did have sports like basketball but we were too small a school for football and other things like that. There was about 25-30 kids in my graduating year! (laughing)

Music was one of the things that everybody did. Bluegrass, Folk, that type of music, you know? Since I was 13 I’d been playing guitar and writing songs – it was all I ever saw myself doing.

Your dad was in a rock band. What sort of rock music did you grow up listening to?

So, Ozzy Osborne, Black Label Society, Zak Wylde, Zeppelin, ACDC – there were so many. Def Leppard. That inspired some of my music as a lot of my songs are a little bit more aggressive or uptempo in places.

There was a song you sang today where you gave me Eddie Vedder vibes in the way you finished the song and the notes you sang. It was like watching a Country version of Pearl Jam?

‘Greyhound’! I love Country music but I love rock music from the 80s and 90s. That’s a cool reference and thank you for spotting that. I love that music but I love Waylon Jennings, George Jones, Keith Whitley, Dwight Yoakam – all those guys. Keith Whitley only lived 15 minutes away from me! I love Outlaw Country and that has a big influence on me too.

How have you evolved as a writer since your self-titled EP in 2017?

I wrote a lot of songs since I first moved to Nashville back in early 2017. There’s no telling how many songs I have written! (laughing) I feel like I have developed my craft by writing and writing and writing. I heard Ed Sheeran say one time that you have to write a lot of bad songs over and over again to get to the ones that are good. That makes a lot of sense to me and I feel like I have definitely hit my stride now, particularly in the last year.

Did you have to learn how to co-write when you came to Nashville? I can’t imagine it was something you did a lot of back in Kentucky?

Yeah. I did. I’ve done a lot of co-writing since I moved to town. I didn’t know how that all worked at first but it is something that has helped me hone my craft too. Some days you don’t know who the person is that you are scheduled to wrote with and you have to get on Google and check them out! (laughing) I write mostly, now, with guys I have had success with and where I know I’m going to get a good song – that’s a good feeling.

Sometimes we start with a melody, sometimes there’s a hook. Sometimes I might just be noodling something on the guitar that we turn into something much bigger.

My two favourite songs of yours are ‘Palomino Princess’ and ‘Different Kind of Blue’. Have you got a favourite song that you’ve written or recorded so far?

Man, I forgot to put ‘Palomino Princess’ in the set list for the show this morning! (laughing) I’ll do it in the next set! That’s a hard question. I’d have to agree with you on ‘Palomino….’ which was the song that kinda got the ball rolling on everything for me although they are all dear to me in their own ways.

Your new EP ‘Keep it Real’ is out soon. (It’s out Friday 15th September) What can you tell us about the vibe and feel of that?

A lot of it is a good mix of traditional Country, 90s Country and a couple more uptempo songs too. I wanted this release to be as ‘classic’ as it could possibly be. That was the vibe I wanted to achieve with this EP.

You’ve been out on the road with Jake Owen this summer. What’s that been like and have his fans been kind to you?

It’s been great. He’s got a great crowd, super-energetic and super-enthusiastic Country fans. I remember the first show I played with him and I was in the bus, parked up and there was this banging on the side of it which I thought was some sort of homeless guy trying to get in or get my attention, right? It was Jake!! (laughing) He came in and we talked for 15 minutes and played a bit together – he’s such a fun guy and an awesome artist.

If you could go out on the road with anybody for the next part of the year, who would you choose?

That’s hard! I love playing shows with Dwight Yoakam, it’s been a while since I played with him. Darius Rucker would be cool, he’s great. Jon Pardi’s great, so maybe one of them.

Tyler Booth’s ‘Keep it Real’ EP is out Friday 15th September. Keep your eyes on our website for the review

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