April , 2015
By Nolan Smith
Tyrone Wells: JAM Magazine Interviews Singer Songwriter And Musician
JAM: Let's start out with some easy questions first... I understand you're originally from Seattle, lived in California; what sports teams do you root for, and what sports do you follow if any?
Tyrone Wells - Being from Seattle I'm a huge Seahawks fan. I also should say that I am fan of the Jacksonville Jaguars because my brother in law works for them. It's been kind of a tough couple seasons for them, but things are looking up for them right now. As a Washingtonian I loved the Supersonics growing up, I was really sad when they went to Oklahoma but I still follow them and have some love for them. Huge Seahawks fan growing up even back to the Steve Largent days when I was young, Sean Alexander is a running back that I really loved and I've actually been able to meet a couple of times. I actually got to go to the Super Bowl this past year. I got tickets from... and this is going to sound really weird but Ben Roethlisberger is a fan of my music; so we worked out a a barter thing where I am going to do him a solid in the future, and he got me Super Bowl tickets. Was really super cool, really cool thing for him to do. Almost all Washington teams I do like, although I do like the LA Clippers and I think honestly it's because they were like the unwanted stepchild for so long. I routed for them back when everyone was all Lakers. I live outside of LA now you know.
JAM: What's your favorite place to eat?
That's a great question. Umm. You know, growing up I was in a band in college, and we used to always go to this place called Albertos Mexican Food in southern California and it was a place that was open 24 hours. C'Mon... I mean it's soo good!
JAM: Dogs or Cats?
Definitely Dogs, although I also grew up with a couple cats. But, now my wife and I we have a little Maltese that we also travel with a lot, he's the perfect size to travel with. His name is Pono which means goodness in Hawaiian, because my wife is from Hawaii. Awesome awesome dog. Love him. He loves to lick my whole head (laughing).
JAM: Do you have a lucky number? What is the significance of it?
I do not have a lucky number. Although actually sometimes I guess the number 13 which is my wife's birthday.
JAM: Do you have a favorite quote at the moment?
My newly aquired drummer is from the UK. He says "Lovely Jubbly" I keep being like wait is it Jubby or Jublee...what is it again? It just means amazing apparently but for some reason I really like it. We have been saying it pretty regularly on the road on this trip. And I've also been trying to get to the core nuances of the Lovely Jubbly. Like is there an element of surprise in Lovely Jubbly or does it just mean amazing? I keep trying to figure it out how can I use this. We were playing a game and he just blurt out Lovely Jubbly when something good happened.
JAM: Besides the guitar, what other instruments do you play?
I play a little bit of keys, besides the guitar and acoustic guitar. I play some keyboard a Eukalali and little harmonica. Aside from the guitar everything else I just play well enough to fake it, or to write some melody with it. The guitar is my main instrument, although I'm a rhythm guy, I'm not the dude who is going to take a ripping lead.
JAM: You've worked with some pretty incredible names out there, Martin Terefe Jason Mraz, KT Tunstall, James Morrison) and Iain Archer (UK indie artist and Snow Patrol co-writer) in the UK, and Tim Myers (formerly of OneRepublic), David Hodges (formerly of Evanescence) and Matt Scannell (Vertical Horizon) among others; What is that like working with another artist trying to create something new versus doing it alone? What was that like? And, any future collaborations coming up?
Yes, a lot of big song writers really and great producers. I love collaborating just because typically like anything in life if you work together with somebody towards something you usually have a better end result than if you were by yourself. Although, there are those songwriters out there that you wouldn't want them to write with anyone else because for some reason what they come out with on their own seems to be the best. I have a friend named Andrew Belle and everything he writes is just fantastic. He doesn't really co-write that much and I tell him all the time, that he shouldn't co-write because what he does alone is so great. But I really like that process for me and I try to do a lot of writing by myself and a lot of writing with others. Cuz you just never know what comes out, when you work somebody else they help you push past any walls you might hit. So it's a really positive thing for me.
Everytime I record a new record I end up writing with different people. I do have some go to writers that I really love working with and one person you didn't mention is Jordan Frye, who is just so amazing I hope to collaborate with him until the day I die honestly. Another songwriter I like to write a lot with is Dave Barnes who is in Nashville he is really great. You mentioned Matt Wertz earlier before the interview, which is funny, I'm friends with Matt Wertz and he has sung on some things I've asked him to sing with me on, but we have never written together but we absolutely should. He's great as well. I have a lot in common with Matt and David because I'm also a Christian and think we kind of have bonded over that. Also my producer Dustin Burnett we wrote three of the songs on the new album and I really like how the album came out so I hope to keep working with him in the future.
JAM: I've heard you say you think Roll With It, your new album, is your best work so far. I'd tend to agree, it's just a great album straight through. What do you attribute that to?
Dustin Burnett had a huge influence in the way the album came out. He's a great producer. I also tried intentionally to write more upbeat stuff and so this is by far my most upbeat record. I think I go through phases where I just like to write more upbeat stuff. Dustin brought a lot of modern sounds to what we were doing and I really enjoyed that. I think as being a singer songwriter sometimes you can just always lean on your acoustic guitar and your acoustic instruments which I of course absolutely love. It was really a lot of fun to really produce these songs and really go for it.
JAM: Of all the places in the world you've been able to play, where was your favorite place?
In terms of cities I just love playing in New York City, I mean, you just can't beat that. In terms of locations, I play a gig in Santa Barbara wine country at this vineyard and I play it in a cave that is at the vineyard that is completely acoustic and completely unplugged I do that once or twice a year that is like 100 tickets is all, it's amazing, that is probably my favorite gig. The other one would be in Annapolis Maryland, on a sailboat acoustic again totally unplugged that a friend of ours owns and runs. Those kind of gigs that are left of center, really unique, smaller crowds, unplugged. Those are just so much fun.
JAM: What's one of the most memorable things to happen at one of your shows?
I actually get a lot of proposals at my shows. I like that though, in fact sometimes I'll assist I'll say something like "this next song goes out to Julie, and by the way Julie... Matt has something he wants to say to you"; and just kick into the song. And that's a great moment for everyone in the room. There have been people who have hopped up on stage usually because they are inebriated and they just think it makes sense. One lady, (laughing) we were in Orlando, I'm doing a cover of "Ain't No Sunshine (When She's Gone)" and this woman just kinda walks up on stage and starts singing into the mic with me, and I was like what is going on and she was completely hammered. Security got her off stage, and in her mind it was like I had asked her to come up on stage and she didn't know she did anything wrong. Completely thought she was doing what I asked her. That was really pretty funny though afterwards. Nothing else too crazy.
JAM: How did you get the idea that you wanted to write, and create music then decide that would become a career?
I started writing in college and was hoping I could make it a career. There was part of me that, I didn't know anyone who was actually making a good living doing music as a career. So it was kind of like this big mystery like how do you connect the dots. I've just been blessed and fortunate enough to run into certain people that have assisted me along the way. One of those would be Tyler Bacon my manager. He also owned a publishing company. He helped get some of my stuff into TV and film which was a big help for me. Then just helped me envision how I could make it a career, quit working and focus fully on making music only. For several years every Thursda night I had a standing weekly coffee shop show, the fact it kept selling and people kept coming and it became a scene. I started believing I think if I put all my eggs into this basket I think this could really work. That was a big step. And then there was always that concern of is this going to wrung out at some point? But I think I really believe now, that as long as I'm being vulnerable and honest, writing songs and speaking from my heart that people are going to be drawn to that. I may not pack out arenas, but I'm playing at great venues like the Kessler and all over the nation I'm getting good crowds to show up and enjoying the music. For that I really can have nothing but have a lot of gratitude for that. To do what I love I'm really grateful for that.
JAM: When you start out with a new song, do you start with an idea, a lyric, a music riff, what starts the writing process for you?
It's different from time to time, but most of the time normally I'll sit down and start playing acoustic guitar and start to feel some melodies coming out, and then maybe start humming and then start asking myself what does this feel like and that usually is how it start. Occasionally I'll have a lyric first, but that is really pretty rare.
JAM:What musicians do you think influence your singing and musical career so far, past and present?
Definitely a lot of the old singer song writers, and I feel bad saying old but I mean people who I grew up listing to in the past. James Taylor, Stevie Wonder, Simon & Garfunkel I just love that stuff and I do feel like it influences me. I grew up listening to a lot of R&B and Gospel stuff so that finds its way into my music. I really love stuff like that. One of the tracks on this new album probably the most soulful tune on the album is a song called "Every Night" and I just love that song. You know it's just got a nice vibe and I think it might be the 2nd best-selling song off the album in terms of singles so I'm finding that people like when I bring that soulful, R&B feel to a song. And that's really one of the things I will always have at least one song that that comes out in. I'll tell you a story, I met James Morrison when I was in the UK recording a record called Remains, and he was in the same studio. When I heard that guy sing he was just unbelievable and he does that so well, that I just don't think I'm going to try to do that anymore. He has the soulful market covered. I felt like it was a watershed moment at the time, I probably shouldn't be the white soulful guy is what I was thinking probably at the time. In hind sight that may have been really short sighted though of me, because that's the stuff that I really respond to well and I absolutely have that in me, so that is always going to make its way back into my music
JAM: Understanding you would likely change them out each time, who are your top 5 favorite artists/bands to listen to?
I'd say I'd probably have to say Stevie Wonder, Patty Griffin, Jon Foreman (lead singer of Switchfoot) puts out some amazing acoustic albums out, I would have to say Andrew Belle he's amazing, and probably Coldplay I really love what they do.
JAM: What should we expect from Tyrone Wells in the future?
Hopefully I get to father another child or two with my wife. We have two little girls now; our youngest is just 4 months now. My wife keeps sending me these great videos of her just laughing which are just great and so cute. I love it.
JAM: What else would you like to say to your fans out there?
To those of you that know the music, thank you so very much! Thank you for listening and supporting what I do. I have so much to be thankful for and a big part of that is because of those of you who listen, purchase songs and albums and come out to my shows. If you haven't heard the new album yet, give it a shot and go listen, maybe start with "Gravity," "Neon Dreams" or "Every Night" on the new record and see if you like it.