As teenagers, the duo launched their career as The Wilkinsons, a band made up of themselves and their father, Steve Wilkinson. Together, they produced two consecutive stateside Top 20 singles, “26 Cents” and “Fly (The Angel Song)” and achieved success at Country radio that led to the success of their first album, Nothing But Love, which reached No. 16 on the Billboard Top Country Albums charts in 1998. That same year, the group garnered nominations for the Country Music Association’s Horizon Award and Vocal Group of the Year Award; the Academy of Country Music’s Single of the Year Award; and two GRAMMY Awards (both for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group).
A few years later, with nine Canadian Country Music Awards, a Juno award (equivalent to the American GRAMMY) and a hit reality television series under their belts, Tyler and Amanda both set out to pursue solo careers, but it wasn’t long until they would recollaborate and form Small Town Pistols.
While working on separate projects, Tyler and Amanda both went through tough break-ups and the devastation of learning their mother had cancer – a fight their mother would later win. Due to the circumstances and inspiration behind her emotions, Amanda called Tyler, who was playing with his Rock band in Canada at the time, and convinced him to come back to Nashville to do what they do best — write. “We were just trying to find our light again,” said Amanda.
With no intention of starting a duo, they were simply “just having fun being creative and having an emotional purge,” said Tyler. A few songs in, however, they had an ‘Aha’ moment. What they were writing sounded like them, but at the same time, it sounded like nothing they had done before as The Wilkinsons or even as solo artists. Amanda and Tyler knew they had something special. Named after their Grandma Ida, whom everyone considered a pistol, Small Town Pistols was born.
Gaining traction with their debut, self-titled album in Canada, Amanda and Tyler were anxious to bring their music back to Nashville. “It’s home for us,” said Amanda.
Their first single and video, “Colour Blind,” which is now available on iTunes and YouTube, is a reminder to see everyone’s unique colors and to enjoy all of life. “It’s a song about how we truly feel about the world,” said Tyler. The duo co-wrote the song with Joey Moi, who is credited for producing the track (“Colour Blind”) as well as producing hits by Florida Georgia Line (“Cruise,” “Get Your Shine On,” and “Round Here”) and Jake Owen (“Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” “Days of Gold”). The co-owner of Small Town Pistols’ label, 604 Records, Jonathan Simkin, paired the duo with Moi. “I think Jonathan knew us, he knew Joey, and he knew we would click,” said Amanda. And they did just that.
Half heartbreak, half healing, Small Town Pistols’ album is an honest story of what the duo was going through at the time and what they hoped to find in the future. “There were a lot of songs on this record that we didn’t only write, we lived,” said Tyler. Each of them brought years of experiences and life lessons to the writing of each song, but they also had the help of one other co-writer: their dad.
Steve Wilkinson co-wrote “Living on the Outside,” as well as two other songs on the duo’s album. Even though the siblings have a long list of people who inspired and influenced them musically, at the top of the list is their dad, the man who brought them to Nashville for the first time.
The young duo is ready to make a new name for themselves, while also keeping in mind all the life lessons they learned during their careers as solo artists and as The Wilkinsons. “Thank God for those lessons, because we’ve seen the top of the mountain and then some,” said Amanda. With a lot to say and a great way to say it, these two pistols are sure to take Country Music by storm.
|June 4, 2014 11:00 am||CHEVY RIVERFRONT STAGE – Wednesday|