This psychedelic rock’n’roll band from sunny California has 2 albums, 3 EPs and a penchant for getting up close and personal with their fans!
Here, lead singer Jeremy Lyon of the Tumbleweed Wanderers tells tales from life on the road and shares advice on how to deliver a knock out performance on stage and in the studio.
What makes your music and performance style stand out from the crowd?
I think busking outside of shows is the most unique thing we’ve done as a band and helped us reach a new audience in a memorable way. We’d be out at 11pm waiting for big shows or festivals to load out, so we would busk and throw down a dance party. We met really cool people through that, and got booked for gigs playing everything from backyard barbeques to weddings, tech retreats to taco truck festivals. I think we built up a lot of momentum by viewing each day as an opportunity to improve our music and reach new people.
A performance FAIL?
We played this bar in Tahoe and the promoter got hammered, knocked over a bunch of our gear, and the bartender chased him out the venue with a tab worth more than what we made on the show, all while we were playing Let’s Get it On. It was our Blues Brothers moment.
A performance SUCCESS?
I just listened back to our set at High Sierra, 2013 and I was blown away by how much positive energy the crowd gave us. They could sense that we were genuinely humbled by the experience; we had a moment together.
Most important lesson you have learned about social media?
Publish content between 11am and 2pm and include a variety of images, links and videos.
Biggest challenge to breaking out and sharing your music with new people?
Making great video content on a budget that captures the essence of your band and makes people want to share it with their friends is a great challenge, but it’s a great way to reach new people and get them to your shows.
Your favorite vocal gear?
As far as mics go, I love the RE-20 and SM-7 because they roll off of those unnecessary high frequencies. They sound great when distorted, and singing into them feels more like performing live; we recorded all the lead vocals on our album with these two mics.
Do you have any backing vocal recording techniques?
We triple track a lot of our backing vocals, laying down a primary, then drastically changing the EQ settings for each subsequent pass. When we recorded to tape on So Long, we recorded around one mic but tracked the 2nd and 3rd passes at slightly different speeds, through different analogue preamps and compressors to thicken the vocal sound then added a chorus effect.
A musical lesson you’ve learned the hard way?
Write music that suits your voice. It took me a while to figure out how to craft melodies that I could sing comfortably that still had a climax that required me to put in 110% to achieve the desired effect.
A vocal/singing lesson you’ve learned the hard way?
When we started touring, I’d blow my voice out within a few shows. When you’re sleeping on floors and don’t have a day off for a week it’s difficult to regain your vocal health. So, I started warming up, not drinking before shows, and kept my stage volume down, and that combination prevented me from ruining my voice.
Most important lesson you have learned about vocal health?
Drink lots of water, warm up, and get good sleep.
One influential singer, and what it is that makes them stand out to you?
Jim James is a big influence on my singing because his voice has evolved and taken on new characters throughout his career while still being instantly recognizable. He possesses the rare gift of making his voice the passageway to his soul.
A few ingredients of a memorable vocal performance?
Spontaneity, energy, and choosing your moments to go for it lead to a memorable vocal performance.
Jeremy Lyon is the lead vocalist in the San Franciscan band Tumbleweed Wanderers. They are a true story of passion and persistence. Their hard work has resulted in national tours and major festivals. Their new album, ‘Realize’, is deep and colorful blending of the band’s collective influences of American traditions.