Dylan Paul

Dylan Paul

Remember that kid in high school who all the teachers called a "Renaissance Man"? Dylan Paul Hilpman was that guy at Free State High School, and he took it to heart.

Now 24, Hilpman is enjoying a full-time career as a roving stage actor in productions like "Othello" and "Fiddler on the Roof." But his booming voice wasn't simply made for the stage-it was made for actual pop music: the kind that Maroon 5 and Justin Timberlake sizzle. It's so catchy that you might want to hit him in the face-and that's cool with him, as long as you get on the dance floor.

With a six-piece band currently backing him, Dylan Paul (he truncated his stage name) is on a quest to "get some emaciated, indie-rock-worshiping scenesters to shake their asses." He stopped by our two-bit podcast hutch to share some new tunes and discuss his disastrous 15 minutes on "American Idol," his infatuation with all things Disney, and stuff.

Podcast episode

The Dog and Pony Show

Hitting His Marks

Remember that kid in high school who all the teachers called a "Renaissance Man"? Dylan Paul Hilpman was that guy at Free State High School, and he took it to heart. Now 24, Hilpman is enjoying a full-time career as a roving stage actor in productions like "Othello" and "Fiddler ...

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No-fi highlights from the podcast

lawrence.com: So you're a songwriter, actor, musician, you can run like a raptor, and you're an Eagle Scout.

Hilpman: Dude, you got it. I feel like I should clap for myself.

You're also skilled with a rapier?

Rapier and dagger.

Does that make you a skilled rapierist?

Arguably. It's very punny.

Sorry. This has already started on a bad foot. What's this new track called?

"Growing." It's one of the tracks that will be on the album that we're cutting right now that should probably be released in three or four months. We have this EP out called "One at a Time" and it's just six tracks. It's very low-budget and we just kind of released it last year under the radar.

I heard you had a brush with "American Idol." Is that true?

Oh lord : I got from 10,000 down to top 50, which is technically actually top 25 because they take the 25 best and the 25 worst.

And you were:?

Hopefully in the best. It was very strange because they had a camera crew follow me and one other kid. They had me re-enter as if I just walked in off the streets and casually looked around like, "Oh-there's an audition going on here? I guess I haven't been waiting in line for the last three days. I'll just walk in and sing."

Past Event

Dylan Paul Band

  • Friday, February 22, 2008, 10 p.m.
  • Jazzhaus, 926 1/2 Mass., Lawrence
  • 21+ / $4


Fortunately you're an actor and you were able to pull that off.

I got into the final round and they asked me, "What makes you think that you're the greatest undiscovered talent in America?" I looked at them and I said, "I don't think 'American Idol' is going to determine the greatest undiscovered talent in America." I mean c'mon-let's be honest. So I didn't exactly start my final round audition off on the best foot:

They had advised me in the prior round not to sing the song that I'd been singing-a Gavin DeGraw song called "Chariot." I was going to sing some Stevie Wonder, but if I butcher Stevie Wonder in front of the entire country, how awful am I going to feel? So I decided to sing Gavin DeGraw and it was really good. The song is about how nothing that's natural is good enough; how it has to be artificial and affected. At the end of the song Simon says, "Why would you sing a song about watermelons?" I just looked at him and I thought to myself, "That was the stupidest comment I've ever heard in my life."

In the end, I did get a vote from Paula Abdul. But Simon was very offended. He told me that I wasn't moving, and I told him that there was a spike mark and that security told me if I moved I would be tackled. I guess someone had gone after him the year before and they were very paranoid. I wasn't going to move from my spike mark. I've acted enough-I'll hit my mark and I will stay there.


Submitted photo

Dylan Paul Band is (L to R) Dylan Paul Hilpman, J.J. Willems, Kyle O'Neal, John Furst, Andrew Algren, and Colin Constance.

What's the biggest difference between your current sound and what the EP sounds like?

Everything is up-tempo and in your face. The EP feels very sterile now, whereas live it's an experience. I love the ambiance at the Jazzhaus and the people who come out to shows there. There's a function and a utility to the music that is just so much clearer at live shows-we want you to get up and shake your ass.

You guys actually covered a "Newsies" song?

Oh, yes! I love Disney music! You know what Disney does? Disney writes hits. Aside from the whole slave labor thing, Disney is great. We started doing a "Jungle Book" cover. It's so killer! We do a full "Newsies" cover-and that has three movements to it. When I transcribed it, it was 17 pages long. It's a blast. "Newsies" fans are intense : They'll make eye contact and they'll be out on the floor.

You're working on a musical theater piece?

It's a full-length musical that I've been working on for over a year and a half : Everything except for two numbers is now written. It's called "The Oregon Trail." It's not a historical drama : It's actually more about the video game. There's a kid who has a fixation with the game and it's what he uses as a coping mechanism when he loses his father and he collapses into this world that he's fabricating.


UncleDirtytoes 15 years, 3 months ago

But what about your starring role in the film musical "Air"? That has to be some of your coolest work! I love you in it (spikey mohawk hair and all!)

Drew Alan 15 years, 3 months ago

what about your gig as a boyfriend in a box?

jd61883 15 years, 3 months ago

that oregon trail musical sounds awesome!!!!

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