FANS of Channel 4 teen drama One Tree Hill are in for a treat next week when Tyler Hilton makes his Capital debut.
Hilton, best known as arrogant musician Chris Keller, a man with a penchant for talking about himself in the third person, rolls into the HMV Picture House on Tuesday to promote his new album Forget The Storm, and he’s quick to point out that any similarities between his TV persona and himself end with their shared love of music.
“I feel like fans of the show expect me to be like Chris and it kind of messes with me sometimes,” he says candidly. “I’m so completely different and I can’t tell if people coming to my live shows expect me to be like Chris Keller.
“I always wonder if they are secretly hoping I will be mean to them. A lot of people say: ‘I didn’t want to come to the show because I thought you were really mean, but you’re actually nice.’ Sometimes, the way they say it, I’m not sure if it’s a compliment or not.”
Hilton’s love of music began at the age of five, when he discovered Elvis Presley, the most influential person in his “whole entire life.” He also played The King in the Johnny Cash biopic, Walk the Line.
“I became fascinated by him. He inspires me so much and I don’t even know why. When I got the part I was so nervous. Not so much because I cared what other people thought, but because it meant so much to me.”
To his credit, the film’s director, James Mangold, thought Hilton had “the attitude of Elvis at 19,” but despite his o- screen success, the 28-year-old’s true passion remains his music.
“I always knew I wanted to be a performer. I still think the industry and fans view me as a musician first... a musician who’s just been lucky enough to act once in a while.”
Hilton first realised he could live his musical dream while at high school where he released his first record and realised people were listening to it.
“I started to see more and more fans at the shows and I was noticing responses on my website. That’s when I realised that people were connecting with it, and that it should be more than something I do in a local coffee house down the street.”
The One Tree Hill years followed a short time later. Hilton joined the series in season two, stayed for three, left, and then returned for the ninth and final season, which aired earlier this year. Initially, however, there was no long-term plan to stay.
“The One Tree Hill thing was only supposed to be a couple of episodes, designed to promote my album, The Tracks of Tyler Hilton. The label was putting me wherever they could to get me out there.
“But One Tree Hill is one of the favourite things I’ve done, so I asked to continue on the show if they ever wanted me back... and they just kept developing Chris. He became less of a fun cameo and more of character role.
“I left because I hit a point where I felt like I was still promoting The Tracks of Tyler Hilton; One Tree Hill still felt like a promotion of that record. So I went. At the time, I thought that acting had been getting in the way of my music; only because I wasn’t writing. So in 2007, I started writing Forget The Storm, and just when I thought it was finished, the chance to do one last season of One Tree Hill came around.”
Forget The Storm reunited Hilton with two producer/musician friends, David Hodges and Steve Miller.
“They’re great writers. We had written songs together in the past, and every song we’ve written, I love. So we decided to just write the rest of the album. I was working to fund it myself. It all happened naturally and quickly. We booked studio time, I called in all my music friends and we made this record. We truly feel like it’s ours because we did it on our own.”
The result can be heard at the HMV Picture House on Tuesday and Hilton admits he’s looking forward to visiting Edinburgh for the first time.
“I’ve never been to Scotland, and I don’t know anyone from Scotland. So I’m going to roll in bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready for anything,” he laughs. “I’m so excited. If anyone has any suggestions, please tweet me @TylerHilton and tell me what I have to see, because I don’t know when I’ll get to come back.”
Tyler Hilton (the bill also features Boyce Avenue), HMV Picture House, Lothian Road, Tuesday, 7pm, £20, www.venues.meanfiddler.com/hmv-picture-house/home
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