Tumbleweed Wanderers and The Stone Foxes are staying in town this New Year’s Eve and have joined forces to co-bill what is sure to be a non-stop party. Both bands have huge and devoted fan bases, with a lot of crossover between the two, so you can expect a major SF family vibe at “Midnight On Mars,” aka Slim’s in San Francisco. Tumbleweed Wanderers, who are known for the diversity of their catalogue, have gotten into a harder and heavier vibe as of late and have plans to show off that side of their skills this Thursday. Jeremy Lyon of TW (vocals, guitar), took a break from rehearsals to talk about what’s happening on New Year’s Eve and beyond.
Wendy Oakes: Tumbleweed Wanderers’ New Year’s Eve show is a real San Francisco music community show.
Jeremy Lyon: Yeah. The Stone Fixes came to us with the idea; they’d been asked by Slim’s so they invited us to be a part of it. The focus from the start was to have an evening celebrating Bay Area rock bands, celebrating the community. We’ve never played with Stone Foxes or Coo Coo Birds. We didn’t really start out as this much of a rock band but we moved more in that direction, so it’s fun for us to be more a part of that community.
WO: You’ve never played together but you’re friends.
JL: Yeah, I’m friends with Elliott [Peltzman]; I play with Elliott in Surf Bored. I probably know him best, and we’ve been talking to Shannon [Koehler]. The Stone Foxes especially have been doing lots of stuff to – they [have] a lot of guests coming and tons of ideas for it. I think it’s gonna be pretty spacey and quirky.
WO: Can you divulge any of the guests that they’ve invited?
JL: I don’t know if I’m at liberty. We’ll have backing singers and Greg’s [Greg Fleischut] coming back to play with us. He hadn’t played the tour; he went back to school, but he’s playing the show with us again. He played with us in LA which was a lot of fun. He never really left; he just couldn’t do the tour.
WO: That’s wonderful that Greg’s gonna be back. We can hear “Easy Come, Easy Go” that way, aside from the fact that he’s such a great musician. You were talking about how you’ve moved more toward rock and obviously your shows always span Americana to soul to rock. What will your focus be on New Year’s? More on rock then?
JL: It’s rock. It’s more of our fun party set, so less ballads and less folk stuff.
WO: You and Stone Foxes are co-billed for this one. What are the set times for you both?
JL: We’re on second; they’re on last. It’s Coo Coo Birds, us, Stone Foxes. I think we’re playing an hour 15, so it’s pretty much the length of what our headline set would be; we’re co-billing with them but they’re last. I’ve gotta check the advance but I think it’s 10 till 11:15 or something. They’re on during midnight. We’ve done Bottom of the Hill 2012 – 2013 New Year’s and that was a lot of fun. We headlined that so it’s always nice for us to play a little earlier so we can kinda….
JL: Celebrate, yeah.
WO: The last big show that you had in the city was your record release, for Realize in June.
JL: That was the last headline show; we’d done Halloween opening for Greensky [Bluegrass] at the Fox. This year is nice; we’ve been doing the holidays this year, Halloween and New Year’s.
WO: Plus your album release show last spring and you had a show for Dan’s [Dan Blum, formerly of Tumbleweed Wanderers] last night onstage with the band in February 2015. Your first single off of Realize was “Bad Blood.” What beautiful timing of Taylor Swift to release her single of the same name at right about the same time. What was your opinion on that?
JL: I thought it was gonna be a big showdown between us and Taylor Swift. Who’s gonna sell more, first week? I guess I come up with poppier titles for songs. “Take It Back,” we had written that and we were gonna put that out and then Norah Jones had a song called “Take It Back” as well on her album that came out around the same time. There’s a Bastille song called “Bad Blood” too. It’s just a catchy title. I wasn’t aware of those, and then you’ve already done it.
WO: Since then you’ve just released a new song, a B-side for The Bay Bridged.
JL: Yeah, “Every Song.” That one was fun! We’d recorded that during the sessions for Realize. We’d recorded like 12 songs and thought we were done, and then decided there were too many ballads so we went back in and recorded “Restless” and “Into the Mines” and “Easy Come,” which is another ballad but we really like that song. We [had] cut some more soul ballads that we had recorded earlier in the sessions, so “Every Song” was one that we had cut. That was me and acoustic guitar and live vocal. We overdubbed the harmonies and percussion and Pat [Monaco-Glynn] had this really cool organ sound. The Bay Bridged hit us up ’cause they were wanting all these unreleased tracks. Dan mixed that version. He works at a recording studio, sent it to me. It’s on the compilation, so I think he was stoked about that too. We’d written that one a couple of years ago. We’d written that the summer of 2013, at five in the morning at a festival.
WO: You just did a really cool new video for “Ghost” with Blake Boxer. How did that come to be?
JL: Caitlin [Gowdey], my girlfriend, had shown me this Battlehooch music video for a song called “Yeah, That” that Blake had done and it’s got all these trippy geometric influences goin’ on. It’s really us trying to do something weirder. We were like, “Let’s just make it as weird and trippy as possible.” We didn’t want anyone to see our faces.
WO: So that’s you behind the masks?
JL: Yeah, we’re all the guys behind the masks. Rob [Fidel] and I are the birds, the jokers; we’re the jokers and we’re pulling the strings on this ghost couple. It’s a trippy murder ballad, was kinda what we were going for. Greg is the male ghost and the Pat’s the lady in the white dress. Some of the dance moves were a little tougher so Erin [Chapin], who’s also in Rainbow Girls did some of the dancing. She’s Pat’s stunt double!
WO: That’s hilarious.
JL: Yeah. Making music videos are a lot of fun for us. We actually filmed a lot of it in our rehearsal studio; we just got a bunch of black curtains and just went in there with some lights with some different color filters for a couple days.
WO: Such great effects.
JL: Thanks. She’s a great editor too. She did probably four or five versions of it.
WO: The theme of your New Year’s show is “Midnight on Mars” so sounding a bit trippy there too. What is “Midnight on Mars” all about?
JL: It’s spacey; there’s gonna be a projectionist. The Stone Foxes are tying a lot of stuff into their set. I think there’ll be people in costumes, sexy martians and stuff.
WO: So is you ever wanted to wear your antennae, this would be the time.
JL: Yeah definitely!! Anyone that’s got a spacesuit or a sexy alien costume, or a not sexy alien costume, this is the chance to wear it.