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

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Chief Constable Norm Lipinski, Surrey Police Service. (Submitted photo)
Surrey Police Service to begin public consultation late June, early July

Community input, chief constable says, ‘will occur’

Surrey RCMP reunited three stolen puppies with their mom. (RCMP handout)
Puppies stolen from South Surrey home located, reunited with mom

Surrey RCMP said they found the stolen puppies on April 16

Welcome to your park sign marks the spot where 84th Avenue will continue east from King George Boulevard 
to 140th Street as part of a $13 million road project. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Road Rage: Opposition mounts anew to Surrey’s plan for 84 Ave. at south end of Bear Creek Park

Same place, same project, same fight as Surrey prepares once again to connect 84th Avenue between King George and 140th Street in Newton

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

John Wekking, Merritt Road Report - Facebook
 Coquihalla Road Report
Wildfire sparks off Coquihalla in Merritt

The wildfire is located near the Dollarama off of Highway 5

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Most Read