Tyrone Wells has a lot to celebrate. He has a new album. He has a new tour. And he’s doing it all himself, independently, without a record label.
Wells’ Where We Meet hit storeshelves in March. This is his fourth album and arguably his rawest and realest. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to it – and you’re a fan of honest, soulfully written music – pick it up today.
Wells is on the road in support of the album. He’s playing a second sold-out show at City Winery tonight, and fortunately we were able to grab a few minutes from the singer/songwriter.
You’re in the middle of a country-wide tour. You played City Winery last week and you’re back there tonight. How’s everything going?
It’s been great, man. I’m loving playing the new songs from the new record. We’re just hustling out here, and we’ve got two sold-out shows in New York which is always fun. We’ve got about another month on the road before we head back to California.
You’re latest record, Where We Meet, has been out for a couple of months. This is your fourth full-length studio album. What’s the reception been like?
It’s been received very well. I keep hearing that it’s my best work, which is really encouraging. I definitely took some time to get there. I took about two years and wrote about 80 songs that were considered for the record. It’s been received very well. I’m encouraged about it.
What’s happened to the songs that didn’t make the cut for the record?
We actually recorded around 24 or 25 songs out of those 80, so we are going to be releasing some of those in EP form or one form or another…And I guess the rest just get put down.
You say this new album is a fresh start for you. What do you mean by that?
You know, we had done two records previously with Universal. Being free from that relationship felt like a new start. I’m not a disgruntled artist. My relationship with the label is cool, but I was just ready to do my own thing. A lot of the momentum we had I felt was created by me and my team anyway. We preferred to do it independently and it has been really great to be calling the shots and have the freedom to do whatever we want to do.
How did you approach this record differently than the ones that were released with the label?
We could do it on our own time. We weren’t locked into any budget or preconceived notion about what the record should sound like just to please the radio people. We weren’t worried about that. Other than that, and other than the fact that we were funding it ourselves, in terms of the way I approached it, it really wasn’t all that different. I did enjoy the freedom to do whatever we wanted to do and release the record that I wanted to release without any sort of pressure at all. That was really freeing during the process of making it.
Working without a label, what was one of the harder things to overcome?
In terms of promotion and a radio team behind you…if you do want to take a single to radio, it costs you a little bit. We did release a single to radio, though, and it’s been doing well. We’ll see. There’s just so much going to radio from all over the place, so it’s a little hard to contend with the labels and their radio teams. It’s been doing well, though, in some cities. Hopefully that will translate to other cities as well.
Your last record, Metal and Wood, was released a couple of years ago. Even in that short period of time, technology has evolved so much. Did services like Spotify, iTunes and the Cloud affect the process of making Where We Meet?
It didn’t affect the way we approached it, but it definitely helped. There are more ears on it. There are more and more ways to come across music. It’s been great. I think there’s never been a better time for an independent artist to release a record than in today’s day and age. There’s just a lot of ways to be heard.
You’re in New York during a pretty tumultuous time with Occupy Wall Street in full effect. The May Day protests were yesterday…what’s your take on the Occupy movement?
I’ve just become more aware of it from my publicist. I don’t feel like I have enough information to speak intelligently about it. My wife and our two month old were walking around the city yesterday and somehow we didn’t see anything. We were out wandering all of New York and we missed it somehow.
You’ve said Where We Meet is just the beginning, but it’s your fourth album! What’s on the horizon for you?
I think it feels like a new beginning just because the sky is the limit as far as what we can do. I just feel like unfettered. There is nothing stopping me from doing what I want to do. This year I plan to release maybe three different projects. When you write as many songs as I do, it’s really freeing to know you can get them to the people when you want instead of waiting around. With every new song I write, it feels like a bit of new life. In a lot of ways, it’s the same, but it feels new.
Before I let you go, is there any new music out there you’re digging?
I really love a singer/songwriter named Ian Archer. I’ve actually written a little bit with him. He plays guitar with Snow Patrol sometimes on tour. He just writes beautiful songs. I’ve always loved what I call ‘vulnerability’ in music, where you can hear someone’s weakness. Instead of always representing strength, I like stuff that feels vulnerable. I don’t know what that says about me!
Do you think your music is vulnerable?
I try to make vulnerable music. I feel like it’s honest. It’s way more honest than music that is not vulnerable. I don’t know how better to say that. I don’t know if it’s for everybody, but Ian Archer is a singer/songwriter that I really love.
Thank you for your time, Tyrone. Good luck at City Winery tonight and with the rest of the tour! Congratulations on Where We Meet!
Thank you, brother!
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