Ill winds mark its fearsome flight | And autumn branches creak with fright.
The landscape turns to ashen crumbs |When something wicked this way comes...
The Wicked Truth: while a beautiful truth may set you free, it can often be a wicked thing many would rather keep hidden than bring into the light to face. A haunting namesake (that alludes to the characters Wicked and Truth in the “Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter” novels) conjured up by CODY JOE TILLMAN who creates music that forces us to savor the deepest darkest parts of our souls. Eerie in one note and colorful in the next, his is a musical fusion of Jazz, Funk, Southern and Alternative Rock and more. As they work on recording their debut album at Houston’s famed SugarHill Recording Studio, Cody Joe Tillman & The Wicked Truth is planning to inject a strong dose of, well, something wicked into today’s musical landscape.
“Our music is very hard to categorize we’ve been told,” stated Tillman. “It’s a unique mix of styles that are organic and have a whole sound about them. The songs are also more than just words strung together, they are heartfelt and can be felt to down to the core.”
Admittedly rough around the edges, Tillman, who has been singing “since he was old enough to talk,” watched his father play guitar at home, played in the church band and spent considerable time with his cousin, Mike "Mo" Land, who was in two different Southern Rock bands (Second Helping and Justin Time). Picking up the guitar at 12, Tillman penned his first song at the age of 15.
“Of course it was about a girl, aren’t they all,” he says with a laugh. “I was playing in my room with some friends and my mom came in and asked who wrote the song. She didn’t believe any of us when we told her it was me.”
Taking note of his talent, an uncle enrolled him in New School for the Arts in Arizona. While others played in bands, Tillman went at it alone winning a talent show playing acoustically. Joining the Army later, he played for comrades in Iraq and won more than a talent show; Tillman is a decorated veteran, put in for a bronze star and receiving an Army Commendation Medal with Valor Device.
Returning home a changed man, Tillman went through rough times personally. As his marriage fell apart, he lashed out for a period of time by turning to fighting and drugs before a musical reprieve put him back on track.
Loaded with inspiration, Tillman’s struggles came to life through music and he became the voice of two bands, BLOWN and DRIVEN. Signed to an indie label in Austin, BLOWN shared the stage with Bob Schneider and Push Monkey and made numerous appearances on Austin’s Infynit Hour TV Program. When that didn’t pan out, he returned to Houston, where good friend "Mean" Gene Kelton (Texas Blues Hall of Fame member) introduced Tillman to his sons, Sid and Jamie, who joined forces to form DRIVEN. Between the two gigs, Tillman appeared on Season 5 of America's Got Talent where he truly learned what musical direction he was destined for.
“My style was described by Sharon Osbourne as showing ‘soul and emotion,’” stated Tillman. “I carry so much of each in every song we play that it’s hard not to relate. Everything I have written is real so it’s hard for others not to feel it. All the comedy, hurt and happiness are from my own life or from the outside view of those close to me.”
Through this honest and emotional telling of life experiences, Tillman moved from the harder rock of his previous bands on to a melodious, refined style that compliments his unique vocal abilities. Surmising lyrics that are subliminal yet subtle, he is brutally honest adding in sarcasm and hilarity for good measure while his truths are told in a style shadowing the legends of his influences: Scott Wieland (Stone Temple Pilots), Layne Staley (Alice In Chains), Chris Cornell (Soundgarden & Audioslave) and Jim Morrison.
“I grew up with the southern greats like Skynyrd because that’s what the family listened to,” Tillman recalls. “I learned about phrasing and good ole boy lyrics from guys like Ronnie Van Zant. The rock stars I followed were influential because their vocals sounded cool. You always knew who they were because their voices were so distinct and memorable.”
Tillman’s musical history, which is filled with many hits and misses, has now spelled him as the leader of The Wicked Truth and while he admits that, “finding band mates with the same goals and vision was hard,” he is confident about where they are headed.
Dreaming big and relying on dedication and hard work, the band’s music is sure to strike a chord. And, as with most things that appear surreal, the music of Cody Joe Tillman & The Wicked Truth is an ethereal experience of wonder. It touches the listener in unexpected ways; introspective and entrancing, yet mellow enough to relax, it has enough flavor and energy to make your body move and your mind open up to new possibilities. We invite you out to experience it for yourself and relish in its wickedness!