When it comes to the world of country music, there is nothing more refreshing than an artist who’s true to himself. Enter Erik Dylan, a singer-songwriter who has honed his craft as a writer while also pursuing his own dreams of being a performer. With over ten years in Nashville behind him, Dylan’s dreams will continue to come to fruition this October 21 with the release of his new album, Heart of a Flatland Boy.
Dylan recently released the album’s first single, “Pink Flamingos,” which he describes as “different than anything else on the record.” However, the song was chosen to represent Dylan as artist because of that very fact.
It was kind of a move where we wanted to try something that was almost so shocking to people when they heard it…whether they liked it or they hated it, at least they would pay attention,” Dylan says. “As a new artist, that’s the main thing I’m trying to go for, rather than shoot straight down the middle and maybe get missed by everyone. At least this is something that hasn’t been done a lot in country radio.”
As he prepares to release Heart of a Flatland Boy, Dylan admits that the project is his “Frankenstein album,” combining a bit of red-dirt country with Nashville country and even a bit of “Nirvana in utero and Seattle stuff.” The ten-track project is made up of four or five years of songs that were whittled down to a final product that he says is intentionally “rough around the edges.” When it came to recording, all of the songs were tracked live with his band in the studio, so that it can be recreated during a live show. While he admits that the experience was different, it was one that gave the songs an organic feel. “Sometimes we process things to a level that they lose the emotion. I didn’t want to do that.”
When asked to choose a favorite track on the album, Dylan points to the emotional “Fishing Alone,” which is already resonating with fans.
I parallel family and fishing and that’s a song that’s just about regret and wishing you would’ve spent more time with someone while they were here. That’s my favorite song on the record,” Dylan says. “When I play it live, it always touches someone in the crowd. I always have someone come up to me after the show to talk about that one, so I know that song is touching people.”
In addition to the music on the album, its cover also tells a story all its own. Dylan gushes when talking about the album’s artwork, which was painted by a retired Kansas schoolteacher from his hometown, Susan Buck. Buck painted the cover just by listening to the record and the image includes elements from all of the songs, allowing the listeners to see the tracks in addition to hearing them.
Aside from writing for his own record, Dylan recently had his first single release as a co-writer on Eric Paslay’s “Angels in this Town.” He’s also had cuts by Justin Moore and Kip Moore, garnering fans along the way. “A lot of artists go on the road and play 3-hour honky tonk sets for a long time before they get a shot at recording a record,” says Dylan. “I kind of did it a different way, being in Nashville and writing for other artists… A lot of them (his fans) were Kip Moore fans to begin with and they got to know me through ‘Comeback Kid.’ I’ve seen that a lot where they align me with an artist I write with and I gain fans that way.”
When it comes to writing, Dylan admits that in order to stay sane, he mostly writes for himself and if the songs resound with other artists, he’s grateful to get outside cuts. Writing over one hundred songs a year, Dylan admits that it would be a dream to get a cut by George Strait, Eric Church or even one of his influences outside of country music, like the Foo Fighters.
When it comes to a song he wishes he wrote, a few are immediately top of mine for Dylan including the Garth Brooks classic “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old),” Eric Church’s “Give Me Back My Hometown” and “anything Springsteen ever wrote.” In order to become a great writer, Dylan is also an avid listener. “I’m a big, big fan of songwriters,” he says. “When I’m not writing, I’m usually listening.”
One of Dylan’s greatest influences was Guy Clark, who was a mentor, co-writer and supporter for the aspiring singer-songwriter. While Clark passed away in May, Dylan was able to honor his legacy recently at a tribute show at the Ryman that also included Steve Earle and EmmyLou Harris.
It was amazing, I pretty much had goosebumps for two hours while everyone was singing,” Dylan recalls. “It made me feel more special than I’ve ever felt in Nashville. I enjoyed every minute of it as a fan and as an artist, and the only thing that could’ve been better would’ve been if Guy was there. Losing him was really tough…he was a one in a million type of person.”
As he preps for the October release of Heart of a Flatland Boy, Dylan says he’s currently living out his career bucket list. “What I want in life is to write songs for a living and continue to make music too…I just kinda walk through any door that opens up and I don’t know what level that will build up to…” he says. “I think I’m really lucky to be able to have a publishing deal, get cuts, write songs for a living and make records and play in front of amazing fans so I really am doing exactly what I want to do.”
We’re also thrilled to premiere an exclusive track from Heart of A Flatland Boy, entitled “Girl That Got Away.” Listen here: