Musician Grant Hill grew up in Surrey and now lives in Los Angeles. “Going to parties in Surrey, you could never let your guard down, even if you were the guy singing,” he says. (submitted photo)

Musician Grant Hill grew up in Surrey and now lives in Los Angeles. “Going to parties in Surrey, you could never let your guard down, even if you were the guy singing,” he says. (submitted photo)

MUSIC

With ‘Fly,’ Surrey-raised musician gives debut album wings at age 53

‘It took a little longer than expected… and I think it’s been worth the wait,’ says Grant Hill

From Surrey to L.A.’s Sunset Strip to Florida and back to California, it’s been quite a rock ‘n’ roll trip for Grant Hill to release a debut album.

At age 53, the Whalley-raised musician has put out Fly, an album that’s been a lifetime in the making for the current Los Angeles resident, who recorded songs at EastWest Studios with his band, M.O.S., and producer Les Camacho, whose credits include work with Iggy Pop and Massive Attack, among others.

For Hill, writing and recording of Fly began way back in 2013.

“It took a little longer than expected, but here it is, and I think it’s been worth the wait – at least it has for me,” Hill said in a phone call prior to the album’s Feb. 19 release date.

Polishing the songs for release became a pandemic-era project for Hill, whose Surrey roots include his birth at the hospital on King George Boulevard, high schooling at L.A. Matheson and Prince Margaret, baseball-ing with Whalley Little League and, by 1981, a first song he wrote and sold “for a kiss,” as the story goes.

“I used to play my guitar in the boys locker room at L.A. Matheson for 40 or 50 people hanging out, guys and gals,” Hill recalled.

Bands and local stages followed, including stints with Direct Drive and The Spokes, before Hill turned his attention to making some real money in the construction business. Work in the rebar-installation sector took him to San Diego and, eventually, a permanent home in California, where he’s lived for two decades.

(Story continues below video)

Life hasn’t been all sunshine for Hill, who in 2005 found himself facing a 40-day stint in a Florida county jail, for a drug-fuelled assault at a house party. The charges were later dropped, according to Hill.

Two years earlier, he discovered the Sunset Strip music scene and “went down a rabbit hole” of sorts.

“I went with my brother one night to see some music and we just hung around,” Hill recalled. “I walked into the Rainbow Room and saw my future ex-wife there, flashing her boobs – you can bleep that out if you want.… Lemmy (Kilmister, of the band Motorhead) was actually supposed to marry us, because he was ordained, and there’s all kinds of fun stuff that came out of that.

“It’s a blur but also very in focus, too, because I got to be a fly on the wall in the rock ’n’ roll world,” he continued. “I knew the owner very well, Mario, and I ate meals there all the time and got to know people and see the real deal. I realized that I didn’t want that, that rock ’n’ roll side. I want the music, but not all that.”

In 2002, two years after he moved to California, Hill’s father, Leslie, passed away, an event that shook him enough to start writing music again. A number of songs emerged, including the roots of some that show up on Fly.

Years later, at a seminar, he met his current wife, Jill, the mother of his two sons, Xander and Hunter.

“I got married three different times, and now I have two beautiful boys,” Hill said. “And that’s another reason to do this now, to show them and have them hear this music, too.”

Hill says his roots in Surrey helped prepare him for life in Hollywood.

“It really did,” he emphasized. “It’s a tough town, a real tough town – the games that get played, you know, and people with promises and mostly false promises, things like that. You know how to carry yourself walking onto Sunset (Boulevard), instead of looking to the sky and being in wonderment of everything around you. I think I developed a sense of awareness about what was around me at all times. Going to parties in Surrey, you could never let your guard down, even if you were the guy singing.”

Today, those who click on surreyboy.com are taken to the website for Hill’s music.

Fly features a mix of music styles, including blues, soft rock and singer-songwriter vibes.

“It’s been really hard to tell people exactly what genres this lands in, because it crosses a couple of them for sure,” Hill explained. “It all pretty much connects to the music I grew up listening to – Black Sabbath and Thin Lizzy but also Depeche Mode and Tears For Fears, you know, thanks to my older brother. My father brought the old country in, Willie Nelson, and also Neil Diamond. I’ve been very blessed to have a lot of influence in my life, as far as music goes.”

Meeting Camacho on a project job site in 2013 was the foundation of Hill’s professional career in music, and they became fast friends. Hill began laying down tracks and recorded when he could at EastWest Studios, and formed the M.O.S. band.

“We’ve been rehearsing like crazy,” Hill noted, “and we have a very safe environment for that at a studio here. So we’re ready (to play live), and it’s kind of the story of my life, the little engine that could, but you just gotta keep going.”

The album release date is a couple months ahead of a planned album-launch concert for Hill and band.

“Because of the pandemic, the show we had lined up has been pushed until May,” he explained, “but I can’t wait any longer for this to come out.”

As for Surrey, he hopes to soon return to the city of his youth.

“My mother still lives there, and right now that’d be the only reason to come back, to see her,” Hill started. “I mean, I do miss my hometown, because I haven’t been back in 15 years. Life got in the way, and I’d like to have my kids see where their dad grew up, and I want to bring the music, too.”

Online, look for Grant Hill’s music at granthillandmos.com and also facebook.com/GrantHillandMOS.

Music

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Delta Police Department’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Unit: (from left) Const. Joel Thirsk, analyst Jody Johnson and Staff Sgt. Sukh Sidhu. (Delta Police Department photo)
Delta police respond to rising number of hate crimes

Police have received 15 reports so far in 2021, compared to 12 in all of 2020

Marchers supporting Indian farmers rallied in Surrey last month, from Bear Creek Park to Holland Park along King George Boulevard. (File photo: Tom Zillich)
Surrey MP says mayor’s motion to support Indian farmers is his to make

“He has his own sovereignty, right,” Sukh Dhaliwal says

Researchers say residents should leave sleeping bats alone while they exit hibernation. (Cathy Koot photo)
Spring ‘signal’ brings White Rock, Surrey bats out of hibernation

Community Bat Programs of BC says it’s best to leave sleeping bats alone

(Photo: Creative Outlet)
YOUR MONEY: Tax tips for a complicated tax season involving CERB and more

With April 30 tax deadline, ‘it is important to understand the tax implications (benefits) will have’

This map illustrates the number of active COVID-19 cases in Greater Vancouver from April 4 to 10, 2021. (BC Centre for Disease Control image)
Active COVID-19 case in Delta hit new high

262 cases for the week of April 4 to 10, most since BC CDC began releasing weekly city-level data

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Dr. Bonnie Henry – in a B.C. health order that went into effect April 12 – granted WorkSafe inspectors the power to enforce workplace closures with COVID-19 spread. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
24 workplace closures being enforced in Fraser Health under new COVID-19 order

WorkSafe inspectors the power to enforce closures if COVID-19 has spread to 3 or more employees

Maple Ridge Fire and Rescue were conducting training operations at Gold Creek Falls when a firefighter broke their leg. (Eileen Robinson photo - Special to The News)
Firefighter suffers broken leg during swift water rescue practice in Golden Ears park

A training exercise at Maple Ridge waterfall on Wedesday results in mishap

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch # 91, is disappointed the Legion does not qualify for COVID financial assistance from the provincial government. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C.’s pandemic aid package passing Legion branches by

Federal non-profit status stymies provincial assistance eligibility

Latest modelling by public health shows cases generated by COVID-19 infections into places where it can spread quickly. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Industrial sites, pubs, restaurants driving COVID-19 spread in B.C.

Infection risk higher in offices, retail, warehouses, farms

Most Read