Spreading the sound

Courtesy Photo / Tyler Howe
Tyler Howe

Courtesy photo

Courtesy Photo / Tyler Howe Tyler Howe

Stephanie Allen

Tyler Howe knows he isn’t the best musician in the world, or even in his hometown of Grand Rapids, Mich. He said he isn’t anything “crazy special,” just average, but he thinks he has something other talented musicians lack – the drive to network.

He uses that networking drive to find new opportunities everywhere. This fall, he acted in a web series with YOBI.TV and is currently recording with the Grand Rapids band East of Ransom.

At 21, the Grand Valley State University senior knows what he wants to do with his life, and it has nothing to do with his advertising and public relations degrees: he wants to perform.

Eight years ago, Howe received a guitar for his birthday and taught himself how to play. A year later, he asked for a drum set. He fell in love.

“I thought that’d be so cool if I could have someone come over and play drums while I play guitar,” Howe said. “We can jam.”

After having the drum set in the basement for a while, he decided to pick up the sticks. He never expected they’d be his favorite instrument, but an excited smile takes over his face when he talks about the shiny blue PDP X7 Maple drums.

He started dabbling in the Grand Rapids music scene in high school and has played guitar in two different bands. The first one was awful, he joked, but the second gained some recognition around the city, opening for national bands like Powerman 5000.

He has performed at Spectrum Health, the Intersection, Crossroads Bible Church and many other venues around West Michigan. Howe said playing drums for Crossroads, especially, gives him a rush because the services provide an audience of 400 to 500 people. He said he gets nervous at first, but after the first couple of seconds, it goes away and he can rock out. His faith has provided motivation and the strength to carry on despite adversity, Howe said.

Along with his involvement with East of Ransom, he has worked with multiple Grand Rapids artists. He played drums on Cornerstone University alumna Megan Tibbetts’ new album, “When Life is So,” which was released earlier this year, and worked with country artist Ryan Gallagher, now based out of Los Angeles.

His latest project, the YOBI.TV web series “New Stage,” made him step out of his musical comfort zone. Howe landed the role on the series after finding a casting call online and submitting his music for the show, which features Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino of MTV’s “Jersey Shore” and airs Tuesdays through December.

“It was amazing,” Howe said. “Getting to work with Mike was hilarious. We got to talk about Jersey Shore and just about his life growing up. It was fun seeing the ‘real’ him.”

“New Stage” is a 13-episode spoof of TV talent shows; Howe plays a musician competing in the singing contest, while Sorrentino portrays a judge. Along with performing music, Howe had to learn how to act for the behind the scenes clips.

“It was weird,” he said. “I didn’t know I was going to (act) when I applied for it. It’s hard to know what you sound like — you have to just trust the director.”

Although he said it was nerve-wrecking, he would love to do it again, he said. He joked that it was a little weird getting used to wearing make-up, but by the end of the week’s filming, he was a fan.

“I was like, ‘Wow, my face looks really smooth,’” he said.

Howe describes himself as “weird “and “a giant 5-year-old” when he’s with his friends. His family and friends are his biggest supporters and as an only child, his parents are his everything.

“They build me up and tell me how awesome I am, but also bring me back down to reality and tell me to work on things,” he said.

With the help of his faith and his family, he wants to stay true to his values and to his hometown.

“I love Grand Rapids,” Howe said. “I want to do traveling with music, but I always want to be based out of here.”

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