ABOVE: Watch the video for “Livin On The Outside” by Small Town Pistols.
TORONTO — Their self-titled debut is up for Country Album of the Year at this year’s Juno Awards, but the members of Small Town Pistols are anything but award show newbies.
As The Wilkinsons (with father Steve), Amanda Wilkinson and younger brother Tyler Wilkinson released four albums between 1998 and 2007 and racked up nominations for Junos, Grammys, Academy of Country Music Awards and Canadian Country Music Awards.
The Juno nod for their latest musical project is “a pat on the back” for the pair.
“If anybody said that you had one of the top five best of anything in the country… if you’re not humbled by that you need to quit what you’re doing and start something else,” said Tyler, who fronted rock band Motion Picture Ending after The Wilkinsons disbanded.
“It’s so cool for us,” added Amanda, who released a solo album in 2005. “We haven’t been [to the Junos] in such a long time.”
Amanda and Tyler were pitching their songs to other artists when they came up with the idea of re-teaming as Small Town Pistols.
“It just made sense musically for us to do it,” Amanda, 32, told Global News.
“It was undeniable to us at a certain point [and] it just felt so personal and like we had something to say again, but in a unique way that wasn’t like The Wilkinsons or my solo stuff or Ty’s rock album.”
Tyler, 30, said they discussed trading on their previous incarnation but decided to let the material speak for itself.
“I said I don’t think we should shove it down people’s throats that we’re siblings, I don’t think we should shove it down people’s throats that we were in The Wilkinsons,” he recalled. “If they’re going to figure it out, they’re going to figure it out, but let them listen to the music first. Let them decide if they are fans of Small Town Pistols.”
Both said they found it easy to collaborate again.
“We have no filters. We lay all of our stuff out on the table,” said Amanda. “We may not agree but the fact that we have as much passion as we do for what we’re doing… at the end of the day we come back to the best result.”
Tyler agreed: “We both respect and know the fact that each of us wants whatever we are doing to be the best it can be and it’s not because of an ego or thinking you’re right.”
What feels right for the Small Town Pistols, of course, is breaking into the world’s biggest country music market.
“It changes everything,” Tyler said of finding success south of the border.
“We love playing in our home country. We will play in Canada until they tell us to stop but if you make it big in America you’re usually going to make it big everywhere else in the world. It’s pretty huge.”
Both said they enjoy using social media to maintain relationships with their fans — something they weren’t able to do back at the first peak of their careers.
“It’s unbelievable how invested people are,” said Amanda. “Our fans are like our family.”
Tyler agreed. “There’s a lot more interaction and connection with your fans. It’s important to us.”
He said they got a kick out of the online response to people who suggested the single “Colour Blind” is racist.
“Fans of ours were just jumping down their throats,” Tyler recalled, “and giving them long explanations of what the song was about.”
The 43rd Juno Awards will be handed out on March 29 and 30 in Winnipeg.
© 2014 Shaw Media