The distance. It’s something every touring musician learns to deal with when it comes to relationships. Tyler Rich decided to bring the issue front and center on his debut album, TWO THOUSAND MILES, released via The Valory Music Co. The title references the stretch between Nashville and Los Angeles, as well as Tyler’s two great loves — the dream of his career and his biggest muse. More specifically, it signifies the door-to-door distance between the apartments he and actress Sabina Gadecki, whom he married last September, share in each city.
“Between Sabina, my record deal, and the road, my life has been a constant four-year back-and-forth between both places,” says the Northern California native who was named a 2018 CMT Listen Up artist on the strength of his GOLD-certified breakthrough single, “The Difference.”
“Almost every song that came into this project was inspired by that crazy grind and making that relationship work. It was clearly the obvious title for the first official chapter of my career.”
TWO THOUSAND MILES completes the introduction of a singer who has won over Country fans with diverse singles like “The Difference,” “Leave Her Wild” and “Rather Be Us.” A singer that Rolling Stone Country says is “rising quickly through country’s mainstream ranks, unafraid to fill his music with R&B vocal runs and modern-rock aggression,” Tyler has toured with Brett Young, Justin Moore, LANCO and Dustin Lynch, plus shared bills alongside Sam Hunt, Brett Eldredge, Cole Swindell, Dan + Shay and more. Recorded primarily in Nashville with producers including Lindsay Rimes, Michael Knox, Big Machine Label Group President/CEO Scott Borchetta and Julian Raymond, TWO THOUSAND MILES features the singles that already have earned Tyler more than 200 million streams, as well as several new tracks, including the rousing hit “Feels Like Home.”
It’s appropriate that TWO THOUSAND MILES begins with “Feels Like Home,” a sing-along anthem with an Irish flair inspired by a visit to a Dublin pub. The final album cut for the track was recorded in the spring of 2020 during the coronavirus sheltering with each musician contributing parts while sequestered in their homes in Nashville and Los Angeles. Other tracks, including “Real Love” and “Still Love You,” were completed with participants on opposite sides of the country.
“It’s crazy that we were calling the album TWO THOUSAND MILES, and my producer and I finished the album 2000 miles apart, as well,” Tyler says.
“Real Love” has the throwback sway favored by R&B groups like The Temptations. Tyler wrote the song shortly after he got engaged, along with Andy Albert, who was about to pop the question to his girlfriend, and Rimes, who was already married. “When you’re looking for love, you’ll find all the wrong people or mess things up because you’re trying too hard,” Tyler says. “When it’s real, it finds you.” They must have tapped into some magic that day: “Everybody that wrote that song is now married.”
The same trio wrote “Still Love You” — which Tyler thinks of as “the polar opposite of ‘Real Love’” — the following Valentine’s Day. “We thought, ‘We’ve already written a song about finding love; let’s write the anti-love song,” he says. “Sometimes an Indie/Alt-Rock angst creeps into my music, and that song embodies it.”
“Here With You” envisions a future Tyler would just as soon never experience. “I wrote it imagining if something ever happened that led to Sabina and I not being together,” he says, “wondering what it would be like being with somebody else and comparing every single thing to her.”
“The Difference,” one of only three songs on the album Tyler didn’t have a hand in writing, also helps set the tone for his debut. In addition to reflecting his feelings about the woman who would become his wife, it also gave Tyler a chance to take some advice Garth Brooks gave him when he first came to Nashville.
“He told me. ‘As a songwriter, always write the best song you possibly can, but as an artist, always record the best songs you’ve ever heard.’” When Tyler heard a demo for “The Difference” near the end of a marathon listening session, “I was immediately hooked. By the time it got to the end of the chorus and I heard the way the lyrics flipped and the whole song came to life, I immediately knew I had to have the song.”
Like “The Difference,” “Leave Her Wild” highlights the shift from casual to committed relationships — much like his real-life courtship, which evolved quickly after the two met at Stagecoach in 2016. “There was a huge connection immediately, but we both pretended we wanted to keep it casual,” he says. “Within four or five weeks, though, it was head-on.”
“Leave Her Wild” was inspired by a line from Canadian poet Atticus, a favorite of Sabina’s. “I thought, ‘It seemed like it was every girl’s favorite thing to say, ‘leave me wild’ — why hadn’t anybody written that song?’ Tyler wonders. “So Chris DeStefano, Jon Nite, and I went in and wrote all about Sabina and accepting everybody for who they want to be, because that’s the only answer.”
Billboard says Tyler possesses “a blue-eyed soul sensibility propelling his California-grown country,” and that doesn’t appear more evident than on the album’s closing track, a version of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” that says volumes about Tyler’s inclusive approach to Country music. The song has been part of his sets for years.
“When I sang in casino lounges, sitting at the corner of the bar playing background music, I had to figure out what popular songs I could make my own that would get me tips,” he says. “I came up with this Country-Bluesish rendition of ‘Billie Jean’ that I could count on to get me 40 bucks a night.”
Tyler considers Brooks and Keith Urban his two biggest Country influences, but they’re only part of an eclectic musical template that gives TWO THOUSAND MILES its vibrant color. “Garth — along with Brooks & Dunn and the other ‘90s guys — sucked me in as a kid,” he says. “After I veered off for a while in high school, Keith brought me back.
“I feel like I can hear them as the common denominator in these songs, but then there will be tweaks like the Irish vibe in ‘Feels Like Home’ or ‘The Difference,’ where there’s maybe a little Jason Mraz in there. And the ‘Billie Jean’ cover hits my Bill Withers and Motown love. In my mind, TWO THOUSAND MILES a collection of my varied playlist, with a Country character throughout.”
Raised in Yuba City, California, about 50 miles north of Sacramento, Tyler’s love of Country music began with a sold-out George Strait concert at ARCO Arena when he was 8. He idolized his Uncle Tim — “At any family function, he would be the guy who would show up with his guitar and play songs, getting everybody singing,” Tyler says — and he received his first guitar as a Christmas gift from his grandparents just before he turned 14.
Impressed by one of Tyler’s Instagram covers, Dustin Lynch encouraged the aspiring singer and slotted him on a four-month tour before Tyler ever got a record deal. Jon Pardi, who grew up in the same part of California and coincidentally was coached in football by Tyler’s Uncle Tim, also provided invaluable introductions and advice. As their friendship has grown over the years, Pardi also invited Tyler to open select tour dates.
“I had champions in my corner when they didn’t really have anything to champion,” Tyler says. “They were authentic friendships that turned into opportunities for a person randomly moving two thousand miles across the country.”
Tyler’s passion for animals followed him across the country. He rescued his Husky named Abby, who appeared in “The Difference” video, when he was 19 and she was a neglected puppy. A Samoyed-Husky mix named Max recently joined the family. Through his Rich Rescues initiative, he uses Instagram on tour stops to feature local animal shelters and encourage fans to adopt them. “Almost every animal we’ve featured has been adopted,” Tyler says. “It also helps my fans and me make a deeper connection because they’ll send me pictures and videos of their animals.”
Musically and thematically, TWO THOUSAND MILES covers a lot of ground. Ultimately, though, Tyler sings about feelings all people have in common, whether they’re sharing a bed or separated by a continent — the needs for acceptance, devotion, and places to call their own. The songs on TWO THOUSAND MILES feel like home, and Tyler Rich feels like an artist who can go the distance.