BAY ROBERTS, NL — Tyler Young grew up in a household that loved country music, but it wasn't the sounds of modern Nashville that captured the Bay Roberts native's attention.
"That what I was raised on, old country," explained Young, currently a Grade 12 student at Ascension Collegiate. "I've got a big passion for it, and it's something I enjoy to sing."
Born from that passion for the songs of Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and George Jones is the five-piece group Forever Young, formed earlier this year.
Young handles most lead vocal duties and plays guitar, accompanied by Simon Andrews on bass, Tye Clarke on guitar, bass and drums, Ethan Rose on lead guitar, and drummer Zach Wheaton. They're all Grade 12 students at Ascension Collegiate except for Andrews, who graduated high school earlier this year and is now taking college courses.
Young played songs at home with his acoustic guitar for years, but he caught the performing bug last March, participating in the Ascension Idol competition. The rest of Forever Young served as his backup band for the event.
"We got a really good response, and a lot of people said there's something here," said Wheaton. "We decided to actually get together and try to start something, and it just kept rolling from there really."
Listening to the band, one becomes immediately struck by Young's deep singing voice. The sound comes somewhat unexpectedly considering his young age.
"Tyler's got a very unique, deep voice," said Clarke.
Since the Ascension Idol gig, Forever Young has performed publicly over a dozen times, taking the stage at events like the Brigus Blueberry Festival, Cupids Soiree, Lassy Days in Spaniard's Bay and Upper Island Cove Days.
Over time, all five members developed a feel for Young's favourite style of music, although it was a bit of a new thing for some.
"Me and Tye started off playing Metallica together, and now we're playing George Jones," Rose said with a laugh.
In addition to the band's repertoire of country tunes, Andrews takes an occasional step up to the microphone to sing Tragically Hip and Pearl Jam songs. But otherwise, it's strictly old country.
The band's name comes from a brainstorming session Young had with his mom.
"The 'Young' (in Forever Young) kind of fit because Tyler's last name is Young," Andrews noted.
As far as favourite songs to perform go, Andrews gives special mention to Haggard's "Mama Tried," and Young speaks of his fondness for singing Jones' "The Race Is On." A video of the band performer the latter tune can be found on YouTube.
All five members are eager to make more of Forever Young. Andrews and Young are writing original songs and intend to eventually insert those into the band's setlist. Forever Young also wants to get gigs in St. John's and reach a wider audience.
"We want to get off the island," said Andrews. "We want to get big."
"Straight to Nashville," Young added.
Forever Young has a gig this week, Oct. 27, at the Sheila NaGeira Theatre in Carbonear opening for Chad Hunt, who will also be performing a slew of old country numbers.