PUEBLO, Colo. ― Tyler Bryant remembers being real young, maybe 6 or 7 years old, when his mother attempted to put him on the back of a bucking chute near his hometown of Honey Grove, Texas.
Even though his father and grandfather were bull riders, this would be Tyler's only time.
"I just got annihilated," Bryant laughed. "I just got the crap beat out of me. That was the one time. I was like screw this; I am going to stick to rockin' out."
The guitarist and lead singer for Tyler Bryant and The Shakedown began his talented guitar-slinging career as a 6-year-old child prodigy and has since climbed the rock charts as a rising star in the world of rock 'n' roll after touring with industry star Jeff Beck.
However, Bryant and his band will be making a return trip to the bucking chutes ― even if it's from a distance ― when Tyler Bryant and The Shakedown kick things off at this year's Official PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals Kickoff Party at Las Vegas's South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa Showroom on Oct. 22 at 9:30 p.m. They will then perform a pre-show opening the next night at the Thomas & Mack Center.
On Tuesday, Bryant and his band released their latest song, written specifically for the PBR, entitled "Keep Me Down." It is available for download on iTunes.
"The idea of 'Keep Me Down' is a song that I have been wanting to write for a while," Bryant said. "It reflects that kind of spirit of, 'Yeah, you're not going to keep me down, and I am going to make it back up swinging.' It felt like the perfect time to follow through with that, and I am just happy that it worked out."
The song mirrors the rock 'n' roll band's variety of musical influences and has a "Southern, swampy" kind of sound to it, says Bryant. "Keep Me Down" certainly has an honest, "dirty" feel after Bryant recorded the song in his Nashville, Tenn., basement.
Originally, the plan was to re-record the song, but the natural sound of the song was exactly what Bryant, the band and the PBR were envisioning.
Bryant and drummer Caleb Crosby, who recorded the song's drum work in Bryant's laundry room, worked together to write the song ― sometimes working from midnight to seven in the morning.
It certainly can relate to the world of professional bull riding, as well as a variety of other things.
"That's the beauty of it ― that it has that dirt vibe that it's like you're getting a face full of mud," Bryant said.
The 22-year-old wanted to really capture the "whole spirit of everything that has to with bull riding" when he sat down on his back porch to initially write the song. Whether it be from the bull's perspective or the rider's, there is always a battle. He even reached out to his dad, Scottie, for some advice about the bull riding culture.
"I was kind of thinking about something that could be relatable to bull riding, but could also be about someone fighting something," Bryant said. "Really anything you have to battle. Whether it's the bull going, 'You know what? You're going to try and ride me, but I'm going to buck you off,' or the guy going, 'I'm going to hop on and I'm going to hold on and do this.' Or maybe it's somebody battling addiction."
The song's chorus, "You can shake me, you can break me, chase me out of town, you can knock me out, I got no doubt, but you sure as hell can't keep me down," Bryant says can be either the bull saying, 'I am going to annihilate you,' or the rider saying, 'I'm going to get back up, and I'm going to do it until I get it.'
Tyler Bryant and The Shakedown released their latest single on Tuesday.
Bryant, whose first concert experience was seeing George Strait, slowly began to hit the music scene when he began to play with blues guitarist Roosevelt Twitty as an 11-year-old. At 15, Eric Clapton invited him to play at his Crossroads Festival. Bryant was then awarded the Robert Johnson Foundation's New Generation Award a year later, recognizing him as one of the most promising new guitarists in the music industry.
He was also the only unsigned artist at the time to have a song in Guitar Hero 5.
The musician attended a Black Crowes concert that would inspire him, and change his life forever, as he decided to drop out of high school his senior year and move to Nashville to chase the rock 'n' roll dream, while finishing his classes online.
Rock 'n' roll stars and professional bull riders have their similarities, believes Bryant.
"It's the same spirit," Bryant said. "There is a sort of rebellion to it (bull riding). You don't know what's going to happen and it is very similar to rock 'n' roll."
Tyler Bryant and The Shakedown didn't begin to turn a profit until recently after the band spent its first three and a half years trying to make a name for itself. The group has certainly done just that, having released two albums, the latest being "Wild Child."
They've traveled the nation in pursuit of the dream just like many of the PBR's toughest riders on both the Built Ford Tough Series and in the Touring Pro Division. The riders have to sometimes spend hours upon hours on the road as they pursue the $1 million World Championship dream.
"You can't just sit at home because you are not going to come out on top, because then you are never going to come out on top," Bryant said. "You kind of have to climb. That's what it is all about with music, and I am sure it's a similar thing with bull riding. You literally just have to go out there, have no fear and just do it."
That risk has begun to pay off for Bryant and his band with "Keep Me Down" and their upcoming World Finals concert.
It also still feels somewhat unreal that he was able to play an encore with Jeff Beck and play alongside Aerosmith he says.
"When you're walking amongst your heroes, it's pretty surreal," Bryant said.
When Jeff Beck asked him if he would like to play the encore with him in 2011, the young guitarist tried to "keep it cool."
"I just completely played it cool and was like, 'Yeah, that will be cool," he remembers. "Then I went and lay down on the floor of my van and started screaming. I couldn't believe this was happening. I stayed up all night practicing."
The musical journey for Tyler Bryant and The Shakedown continues this October, and the band is excited to play in front of the PBR's fans during World Finals after visiting Vegas recently.
"It's been a crazy ride," Bryant said. "We have had some wild
experiences and gotten to do some things I would have never dreamed
I would of gotten to do as a kid. It just doesn't feel real. I
still don't believe a lot of those things to this day.
"It's like living a dream."
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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