Did you miss our SXSW daily broadcasts? Did you love them so much you want to listen again? Either way, here they are: www.wrct.org/2013/03/28/sxsw-coverage
In the four broadcasts, you’ll find show reviews, interviews, commentary on Austin city culture, and round table discussions of WRCT’s experiences at SXSW 2013.
Think Bob Dylan and Joan Baez – free-spirited, threadbare, dazed. This is what I encountered when I met with Zak Mandel-Roman, lead guitarist of Oakland, California’s Tumbleweed Wanderers. Since seeing him in high school (as he was two years my senior at Lick Wilmerding in San Francisco), his hair had grown shaggy and unkempt and he had inexplicably lost the ability to wear a shirt beneath his denim vest. Nevertheless, it was a happy reunion and a great opportunity to catch up with an old friend who is achieving his musical dream.
After dropping out of college in 2011, Mandel-Roman and guitarist Jeremy Lyon formed the band’s zygote, playing on streets and in small venues throughout the Bay Area. Eventually, they were able to establish a following and develop a characteristic sound: soul, funk, and rock and roll. Their songs weave these genres together seamlessly, skillfully shepherding the listener between dark chaotic banjo-rock, intimate acoustic harmonies, and energetic explosions of soul.
Following the release of their debut record, “So Long,” in 2011, the band has plans to release their newest EP (“Worn Down Welcome”) in the Spring of 2013. Whether it be busking on your street corner or playing in a major venue in your town, Tumbleweed Wanderers is certainly a force that won’t be stopping any time soon.
You can stream and download their music at their bandcamp page, here: http://tumbleweedwanderers.bandcamp.com/.
Post by Chloe Lula. Check out her interview with The Tumbleweed Wanderers here: http://www.wrct.org/?p=3811
Could you introduce yourself and your band?
I’m Zak with the Tumbleweed Wanderers here at SXSW. We formed two years ago, we started in the Bay Area, me and Jeremy. We got two other guys to play with us since then. We were working then at the time and then we dropped out of school. Then we just stopped working and went full-time. We’ve been touring since December of 2011 off an on and we recorded an album that we released in July and we’re about to release an EP. We play a lot of soul- and folk-influenced rock and roll.
What projects specifically have you been working on recently?
Well the EP we’re coming out with has been our most recent recording project, it’s called Born Down Welcome. It’s got four songs on it. We just wanted to release some singles that would catch on in the media world. We’re just kind of rolling with it, touring a lot. We just got off a tour opening for Tea Leaf Green, which is kind of a jam band from the 90s. We just did our first tour through the South on our way here, Snowball Festival, we’ve got a lot more festivals coming up this summer.
Could describe how your band evolved and how you all met each other? I know you and Jeremy went to high school together – how did you meet everyone else?
Yeah, so me and Jeremy went to high school together and then, at the very beginning of 2011 I dropped out of school and was kind of working and doing some other stuff like biking around. Then the next quarter – I was at UC Santa Barbara and he was at UC Santa Cruz – he dropped out of school and he wanted to play music so I was like, ‘yeah, let’s play music together.’ So that’s when we started the band. It was initially just the two of us and we would play on the street. But we got our first gig at a little place in Alameda called Roosters Roadhouse and we needed some other people to play with us so we got Daniel, who’s our drummer, and Pat, who’s our keyboard player. We initially just got them for the gig but then it went so well so we just kept them. Since then it’s just been…playing a lot of music (laughs).
Do you have any plans for the future? Do you know where you want your band to go yet?
I mean, we’re kind of working towards just keeping playing music and touring a lot. Obviously we’re always trying to reach more fans. Just keep playing, I guess. It’s going well.
Who are your greatest influences? Do you write all of your own music?
Well we do covers every once in a while but we’re mostly all original music. Jeremy, Rob and I are the main songwriters, but recently it’s been a very collaborative process in terms of the way song writing goes. Modern bands we would compare ourselves to would be, like, My Morning Jacket, Delta Spirit, Dawes, all those bands we’ve been able to see in the past couple of days. Jim James we saw last night. Other bands like Dr. Dog, Edward Sharpe. Those are the current bands I would compare ourselves to. But we have a lot of older influences, like a lot of soul music, blue grass, rock and roll, all that stuff.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
We’re releasing our new EP on April 26th at The Independent in San Francisco, so we’re really excited for that.
Interview by Chloe Lula.