Blazing through guitar riffs on stages across Texas isn't something an average 15-year-old does. But Tyler Tallant of Keller/Fort Worth area isn't your average teenager. He's someone whose passion for music causes him to spend most of his waking hours mastering the craft of guitar playing. And his constant practicing has paid off, earning him a sponsorship with Ernie Ball - a leading premium guitar string manufacturer - and entry into an esteemed brotherhood of mind-blowing guitar artists: The Brotherhood of the Guitar.
Tallant's love for music began while riding in the car with his parents who'd listen to bands such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers - whose funky "Dani California" offered a tantalizing adaption of Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze" solo - Pearl Jam, White Stripes, Black Keys, Rush, the Who, Led Zeppelin...
At 11-years-old, Tallant, an excellent video game guitarist, was blazing through the elite levels of various Guitar Hero video games when he thought it'd be cool to try the real thing. So he asked his parents for a guitar and received a Squire electric guitar combo pack - which includes a 10-watt amp, an instrument cable and a "stylish" gig bag - for Christmas.
"My first real guitar was a Les Paul Epiphone," Tallant later explains. But then he realized that everyone around him was playing Gibson. His answer? A Fender Stratocaster '62 reissue.
Tallant then began taking guitar lessons at a recreational center in the DFW area. "At first it was hard," he says, because the other kids didn't really want to learn. But Tallant's determination, his passion, drove his desire to master the guitar. Harnessing his inspirations - Red Hot Chili Peppers' John Frusciante, Pearl Jam's Mike McCready and Frank Zappa - Tallant impressed his guitar instructor, so he offered the talented young guitarist private lessons where he learned to play riffs to popular songs like "Crazy Train."
There's got to be more to playing guitar, Tallant thought, and his parents agreed. "I started feeling like he needed to be with a group of kids who could help him, challenge him," says his mother, so she started searching the DFW area for programs that could help her son take his guitar skills to the next level.
Enter School of Rock, an organization that has been inspiring musicians' dreams for more than a decade. "They teach you how to improvise a solo into a song," Tallant says. "It's kind of like a cool idea." But he was too advanced for the Rock 101 program, where an aspiring guitarist learns the basics of music theory and other guitar fundamentals, so he jumped into the Performance Program, where students play full live shows at a "legit" live venues with non-virtual fans.
In August 2012, Tallant formed Under Rage with vocalist Payton Taylor - "the definitive 'Rock Chick'" - bassist Brady Gouthro and drummer Cam Gouthro, an amazing 10-year-old who's been beating the drums since he was 3. The band members all met at School of Rock and became fast friends.
"After each show I try to remember, you know, the best moments of the show," Tallant says, "but I can't remember anything because it's all a blur; I'm still in the moment." Another "dimension" is what he calls it in his brotherhood video. It's one frequented by all the great players. (Hell, Keith Richards has a castle made of guitar picks somewhere near the dimensional border.)
Under Rage has been jamming at various venues across Texas, but it was when they played a gig at Grover's Grill in Frisco, Texas, opening for the Micheal Lee Band, that things would quickly change for the talented young guitarist.
Famed rock photographer Robert M. Knight, one of the first rock photo journalist to capture Jimi Hendrix's magic onstage and Stevie Ray Vaughn's final performance, had come to the grill to watch another guitar player, but when he arrived, Under Rage was playing. "The drummer could hardly see over the drum kit," Knight says. Then Tallant stepped forward and blazed through guitar solo after solo, and Knight thought, There it was again, someone who had the gift.
In 2012, Knight established the Brotherhood of the Guitar and began scouring the country (and the world) for talented guitarists. His friends at Ernie Ball, Fender and Guitar Center all are providing funds and the tools to make these kids' dreams come true. Since its inception, the organization has sponsored 29 talented musicians by making spotlight videos.
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When he saw Tallant igniting his guitar on stage, Knight approached Tallant's parents about the possibility of interviewing their son for the Brotherhood. They agreed, and in June, Knight returned to Dallas and filmed Tallant at Guitar Center on Central Expressway.
Averaging 10 to 15 hours a day of practicing for more than three years, Tallant began to gain recognition and respect across the DFW area. He's still part of School of Rock and juggles the Deans List, Performance Band and his own band Under Rage. In July, he learned that Ernie Ball was going to sponsor him.
"Amazing, huh?" asks his mother. Indeed.