All signs pointed early to Tyler Flathau taking a real interest in music.
There’s actually a photo Flathau recently rediscovered in which he’s pictured holding a guitar at the age of four. He took lessons later on and even participated in a chorus class.
But none of it really clicked for him like sports did.
Flathau prepped at Sacred Heart Catholic School and quickly became a standout soccer and football player as a Crusader. As a result, he was presented opportunities to play either sport at the college level. He chose football and signed with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College as a punter.
After two years in Perkinston, Flathau signed to play at the Division I level at Arkansas State. It was there, about 15 years after that infamous guitar photo was taken, where the dots connected for him.
“There wasn’t really much to do up there [in Jonesboro],” Flathau said. “I came home on vacation, and my mom had bought me a guitar. I had never wanted to play it or even try, but I ended up taking it up back with me to school.”
The rest is pretty much history.
“I ended up teaching myself how to play in about three months. It’s become a pretty big part of my life right now.”
Now Flathau suits up for his hometown team, the Southern Miss Golden Eagles. He transferred home after just one semester at Arkansas State in the spring of 2017. He brought with him his leg and his newfound music ability, which he credits to YouTube.
“You only need to learn four chords basically to learn every song,” Flathau said. “In general, yeah, most of the songs are just four chords. Then you want to start playing the more complex songs and those get kinda hard.”
Flathau started learning those tunes, too. Before you know it, he was writing his own stuff and performing it on the regular. Locally, he’s played at Nick’s Ice House and Southern Miss’ Talon Awards, the school’s award banquet for student-athletes. His first official show came at Boots and Spurs in Ocean Springs about a month ago. It was a show he or his mother, Heather, will not soon forget.
Flathau says his mom is both his “biggest supporter and biggest critic”, and that he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I was pretty nervous,” Flathau said. “At first, I took a break midway through, and my mom was like, ‘You sound like you’re in fast forward’. I was nervous and even playing faster than I should. But I slowed it down, and everyone started getting out there dancing and singing with me.”
So what really changed? Aside from just being bored, what brought on this fascination with making music?
“I’m not a vocal person. I don’t really share my emotions with people,” Flathau said. “But I can write it down, and I can sing it in a song way easier than just telling you how I feel. I think it’s like my artistic escape I guess.”
Flathau’s genre is country. Specifically, he says it’s “sad country”. Some of the songs he’s wrote are “Runaway Girl”, “Broke My Heart and You Didn’t Even Know It” and “No Man’s Land”.
“Some of it [was from inspiration],” Flathau said. “I’m also pretty good at putting myself into other people’s shoes. Some of the stuff would happen to me, and I’d get down and write a song. Some stuff happened to my friends where I would be able put myself into that situation.”
Flathau says his main country influences are Adam Doleac, Riley Green and Sam Hunt. All three are former Division I athletes and are currently at a place in their careers which Flathau dreams for.
“I would love to see where this dusty, old six-string can take me,” Flathau said with a smile. “We’ll see, it should be a good time.”