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The Word Alive’s Tyler “Telle” Smith On Pursuing Your Dreams

Hello readers, this marks my third blog featured here on, and I'm pretty excited about how many of you have been responding to me on these blogs and on my personal pages. It's really a great feeling to know that something I've written could help someone in some way, so I just want to say I'm honored that you're taking the time to read what I have to say.

For this blog, let me take you through parts of my journey, and hopefully it can show some of you aspiring musicians out there that no matter what your circumstance, anything is possible.

Let's start back to some of my earliest memories as a child. I always remember being around music. I remember going to my parents’ choir practice, I remember looking at my Dad's diverse record collection and both my parents singing all the time. It taught me to be open to lots of different kinds of music and not be closed-minded.

Moving several times, switching schools, going to live with our Dad when my parents divorced, dealing with a lot of personal family struggles, and nine years later I started to discover music in a new way. I didn't want to just be singing along to the radio. I wanted to play instruments, to write lyrics, to create. Soon I became more open to all kinds of new music. Blink-182 was a big part of my teen years like so many of my friends and generation. Zao, Luti-Kriss (who later became Norma Jean), and Deftones were my start for heavier music. I couldn't stop listening to music. I wanted to keep discovering new bands, and with all the money I could save I started buying tons of CDs. I slowly started wanting to play guitar more and, for my birthday one year, I got the Fender Strat Pack. Yeah you probably got that, too, and yes... it was horrible. But it got me the start I needed.

Once I was 18 and a senior in high school, I went to a private school called Spring Valley Academy in Centerville, Ohio, I decided I wanted to start a band with some friends of mine. We were probably worse than the local band at the show last weekend you saw where you knew it was a disaster but you couldn't stop watching because it was just that bad. Yeah, that was us. Once I graduated, the other guys weren't really into the idea of pursuing getting better and taking everything as serious as I was, so I sought out other local bands and tried out until I found one. At the time, I had already turned down a scholarship to play basketball at the NCAA division II level for a girl, but that was ultimately a blessing in disguise. I started to play more shows locally and knew that's what I wanted to do. I lost the girl and dropped out of college... but music remained. That was kind of a theme in my life. No matter what happened, music always was there.

I was in a local band called March and Collapse from Dayton, Ohio, where I'm from, and we played some shows with a band who were called Corsets Are Cages. If you are a fan of early Emarosa you know that was them before they changed their name. After MAC ended, I went on tour with Emarosa who had just changed their name and signed to Rise Records. I quit my job at a Lexus dealership and just got in the van. I didn't know what to expect, but I knew that there was something drawing me to that life.

We got back from tour a little more than a month later, and it just wasn't the right fit. So instead of going back to work and college and being surrounded by family and friends I knew, I decided to pack up my car and drive to California to pursue music full-time. I didn't look back, and I didn't say goodbye. I ended up trying out for a new band at the time called In Fear and Faith for lead vocals and got the job. We wrote and recorded an EP called Voyage, which would be my first real CD. Fast-forward seven months and I decided it wasn't best for me or them and left the band. It's funny now we're all better friends than we ever were while I was in the band. Some things are just not meant to be. Plus, now they have a great singer in Scott who is a friend of mine, so it was a win-win.

I tried out for some bands that needed singers, and while doing so, a band called Greeley Estates heard a tryout and decided they wanted me in their band. I learned all the bass parts to their songs and joined. Again, I packed up and moved. This time to Arizona. I ended up parting ways with GE, but it lead me to exactly where I was supposed to be – in the Word Alive.

I joined TWA in December of 2008, and we have been going strong ever since. From the day I decided that music was going to be my life and number one passion, it took me less than a year and a half to be playing the full Warped Tour back in 2008, playing Bamboozle Festival, and playing to thousands of kids across the country. If you want to play in a band, tour the world, and experience things few people get to you have to be willing to sacrifice. I talked about that in my last blog, and it's the No. 1 reason I'm where I'm at today. I gave up being with my family, ultimately my engagement to a girl I loved, and countless friends to pursue what I feel I was meant to do. I've recorded three CDs I'm proud of and get to wake up everyday knowing that no matter what is going on in my life, I'm doing what I love.

I went from a kid listening to bands like Silverstein and Underoath, to touring with them. When I see kids write me and say "I hope to tour with you one day," I can't help but smile and hope that a few of them have the desire, the passion to do it. I have an amazing family who once I started touring, I realized I had taken for granted. Now every day I live my life to the fullest to not only be happy but show them it's worth the sacrifices they have made to allow me to pursue my dreams and to have a positive impact on the world and my generation. I am nothing special. I want you all to know that. I came from Dayton, Ohio, worked construction, then at a Lexus dealership, and dropped out of college to go on to be where I'm at today.

Anything is possible. So cliché as it may be, pursue your dreams. You never know what awaits you.

My playlist this week:
Moving Mountains
Ocean Is Theory
Deas Vail

What are you listening to this week?

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