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Tyrone Wells – Rolling With the Changes

Updated: Apr 10

Tyrone Wells plays at World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, on 5/2/15. Photo © 2015 Adam MacDonald. All rights reserved.

Tyrone Wells

Rolling With the Changes

by Ethan Serling

Tyrone Wells has had much success in his music career over the last decade. Some of his most popular songs have been featured on American Idol, Grey’s Anatomy, and One Tree Hill. The singer-songwriter, who was born in Seattle, last talked to us back in 2007 after he released his album Hold On. Since then, he has become a father, gone back to releasing his albums independently, and added way more production value to his tours.

When Tyrone recently hit the stage at his Philly gig, he immediately started with some fan favorites like his hit “Running Around In My Dreams,” from his 2010 album Metal & Wood. He then went to introduce and play some songs from his newest album Roll With It. His new production really showed, as the band was backlit with some amazing visuals and lights from LED panels scattered across the walls, and a projector that threw beautiful designs behind Tyrone while he sang.

Back in March, Tyrone Wells released Roll With It, and last week he stopped by the World Café Live in Philadelphia to chat with us about the album, his career, and why he could beat you in ping pong.

Tyrone Wells plays at World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, on 5/2/15. Photo © 2015 Adam MacDonald. All rights reserved.

Would you mind talking a little bit about the process of writing or recording the new album?

Yeah. My role with making a record is I just write a bunch of songs, like anywhere from 40 to 100 songs. I do a lot of collaborating. I like to co-write as well, and do quite a bit by myself. Then at the end of the day we just pile them all up and decide which ones we think are worthy of recording. That’s kind of the process. Then in terms of producers, we just looked for somebody that we thought would be great on an indie budget, but still make it sound like it could rival any record out there in terms of production quality. We found a guy named Dustin Burnett, who is in Nashville, Tennessee. He is fantastic and he made a great sounding record. That process was a lot of flights back and forth from Nashville to LA. We did some recording in LA at my home studio, and some at his studio. It was a great process.

What has it been like touring this album as compared to previous ones?

This one definitely has more production, so this is the first time I brought a light show and just more elements. I’m playing more instruments than I ever have. Usually I just used to play acoustic guitar. On this tour I’m playing keys, I’m playing ukulele and then even not playing any instruments for some songs. There’s a lot of up-tempo stuff on this record, so the show feels like it has a lot more energy, which I dig.

Has there been a certain stop on this tour that you’ve really enjoyed so far?

Yeah, being from the west coast whenever I play the west coast I always love it. I tour more on the west coast than out here, so Seattle and Portland are always amazing experiences. On the east coast I would probably say – no offense to Philadelphia (laughs) because I love playing here – but there’s something about playing in New York. We usually do two nights at this venue called the New York City Winery, which I really love. But World Café Live in Philly is one of the best venues on tour. I always love playing here.

Tyrone Wells plays at World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, on 5/2/15. Photo © 2015 Adam MacDonald. All rights reserved.

You’ve been really big into indie distribution; in the past you released two albums with Universal, but since then returned to indie distribution. Could you talk about that? What is so attractive about releasing your music this way?

Well just being independent. For me, the best-selling record for me is actually the record that I released after I was on Universal, which is really great because then I own it outright. A lot of times when you sign a deal it’s funny, because you usually get a good signing bonus but then you usually don’t see money for a really long time. You have to recoup all that, and then they spend a lot of money on marketing and make you recoup that as well. Which I get, but as an artist and a singer-songwriter it was actually really beneficial for me business-wise to get off the label and start selling my own music. It was really cool because they helped up the profile of the music and get the music out there. As an indie artist, distribution in record stores isn’t quite as important as it used to be. There are still those like me that like to go into a record store, but very few people buy music in record stores anymore. They buy it online or they stream it. The game has changed a lot so there hasn’t been much of a need for distribution. We are starting to work with a company on putting them in certain record stores across America, but I just feel like for every 20 albums people buy, maybe one of those is in a record store. So I don’t know it’s all that important.

Tyrone Wells plays at World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, on 5/2/15. Photo © 2015 Adam MacDonald. All rights reserved.

Since we last talked to you, you became a father. How has that affected your career?

It’s a lot harder to leave on the road honestly. I have two daughters, one is three, and the other just turned five months. So, just being away right now, especially with the five-month year old because she’s changing so much. They both are really, so that just means a lot of Facetime (the app) and talking to my kids. Also I think it gives your work more meaning though, too. When I was single working at music I just had different reasons. Once I got married and had kids, now I’m providing for my family. It infuses the music in my career with a lot more meaning and I love that about it. I try to tour more strategically and not be gone forever.

Tyrone Wells plays at World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, on 5/2/15. Photo © 2015 Adam MacDonald. All rights reserved.

You’ve had a lot of success having your music being played in TV shows, what’s that experience like, and having your music reach people through that platform?

It’s great. Radio is something everyone’s gunning for but very few actually hit it at radio. I’ve had some radio success, but not a lot. I have had a lot of stuff on TV and film. I like it because it just introduces the music to a whole new audience. There have been times where it’s kind of a weird usage of one of my songs, like this one murder mystery they were talking about the grizzly details of this murder and one of my love songs was playing in the background. (Laughs) I just thought, “this is so weird!” As an artist and a musician today that is still a great way to make some really good income. We call that mailbox money, and we love that they just send you a check.

What is one thing your fans might not know about you?

They probably don’t know that I could beat almost all of them at ping pong. I beat a famous professional athlete at ping pong once, which was cool. He’s not a ping pong player, but he’s the quarterback of the Steelers, so I beat [Ben] Roethlisberger at ping pong. He beat me six times and I beat him once!

Copyright ©2015 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: May 12, 2015.

Photo Credits: © 2015 Adam MacDonald. All rights reserved.

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