Along with their father, Amanda and Tyler Wilkinson were part of the successful trio The Wilkinsons in the late 1990s and early 2000s. After pursuing solo projects, the brother and sister from Canada reunited as a duo, Small Town Pistols, and are blazing a new trail in Music City and beyond. They graciously took some time to talk with us about Colour Blind, the state of the music business and more.
You were part of a trio with your father, then you each pursued separate projects. What spurred you to reunite as a country duo?
We were going through a lot of life events prior to coming together as a duo, which precipitated a heavy duty songwriting process. We were writing for others and having artists cut our songs and we kind of had a moment where we were like ‘wait a second, there’s some magic here in this group of songs.’ We really decided that we needed to consider putting out a new record.
It was not a conscious effort to sing and write country music. The harmonies and the songwriting just fell naturally into place. It was very organic; we let creativity guide us. There is nothing better than singing together, it is like coming home.
Has the music industry changed from when you were a trio?
The music business is so difficult and it is getting harder and harder every day, especially for new artists trying to break through. For a lot of people it is not an easy go. We have a foundation; people remember our history. We also have an insane amount of passion and don’t really care what people think. There are easier ways to earn a living for sure. We just want to make music; and whether that takes us somewhere or not, at least we have had our say with our songs.
I love so many things about the state of the industry right now, but you know, when something cranks, it cranks in a big way. The industry is so difficult for chicks and you know, half of this band is female.I think what we are doing is very different from the mainstream, so we really have to love what we are doing. We want to create something so that in twenty years we can look back and say no one forced us to do anything. There is so much that goes into making a record, it is not a hard job per se, we sing for the people who have hard jobs, but being a male and female duo in the industry is an uphill battle. We really need someone to sit up and say ‘hey, we need a bit of a change here;' someone who will be champions of us and other artists at radio so we can get our music to the masses.
Is the country music industry in Canada much different than Nashville?
Canada is much smaller, but a lot more open to new ideas. It also has a wider spectrum of what it will accept in the genre.
Both are just as hard to break into and become successful. My Dad always said that ‘if you want to climb Mt Everest, you have to go to Mt Everest.’ Nashville is one of those places that no matter where you are in the world you know what Nashville is about and if you have success there it is a whole different ballgame.
Talk about your song Colour Blind which you wrote with Joey Moi.
Amanda: We met Joey through a label connection and were asked if we wanted to go to Vancouver and write with him. We knew of him from Nickelback, but learned he was branching out into other areas, so we thought sure, why not, because we are always up for challenging ourselves and writing with new people.
Writing with someone new is like going on a blind date; it can go horribly wrong or amazingly well. We instantly clicked with Joey from the get go. Our first day of writing was very inspirational and that tune [Colour Blind] just fell out. Tyler came up with the hook for this joyous and celebratory song that encourages you to embrace your individuality and let your true colors show. We have a great relationship with him and couldn’t be prouder of him.
Tyler: We had gotten some social media backlash with regards to the song; people thought it was racist. But that is far from the truth. I think everyone has felt judged or alone at some point in their lives; and instead of seeing someone as black and white, we need to be compassionate and show love to one another; see every piece of who a person is and who they can be.
If you watch the video, it is people from all walks of life showing love, having a good time and being united, which is the whole point of the song; that this is the way it should be in the world. We wanted people to be able to watch the video, enjoy it and think about what we are saying without smacking you in the face with the message.
You have been really busy promoting the video for Colour Blind.
Yes! We were on ZUUS Country, CMT and were in Country Weekly two weeks in a row. You know, we have been away for a good jaunt; we even look different than we used to. Of course we didn’t know if people would accept us, with the name change and the fact that we are adults now. Country Weekly, Music Row, CMT and so many others have been amazing.
What are your plans, professionally, for the summer?
We will be at CMA Fest playing the Riverfront. It has been awhile, and we are so excited to be back! Nashville is electric, but during CMA fest, the population explodes and there is a magnetic buzz in the air. The true blue music fans are there to have a good time and enjoy the music.
We have a lot of festivals on the books and we will also be working on the new album. We cut four songs and are looking to get back in the studio to cut another batch.
Is there on recent album that you have on repeat?
Amanda: I love Dierks Bentley’s Riser record! As far as male singers, he’s done things very differently. We listen to a lot of different types of music; right now we also like Bad Suns.
Tyler: Riser is fantastic! Sam Smith is absolutely incredible too!
Follow them on Twitter
Find them on Facebook