Q&A: Phil Young of Tires

A typical Tires set-up.Photo cred: Tires' Facebook page

A typical Tires set-up.
Photo cred: Tony Galloro

Tires has been making waves in the Des Moines music scene–as well as outside of the city limits, too. What started out as a bedroom project by band member Phil Young brought on by a family loss turned into their first album, EP1. “My Grandfather had passed away and I had taken 3 days off from my day job to attend the funeral in Indiana,” Phil says. “When there were logistic complications and I ended up staying in Ames where I lived at the time. Unable to attend the funeral, I wanted to do something positive and creative to commemorate the memory of my Grandfather. So, for three days I stayed in my room and dove deep into a project that would later produce the first batch of Tires jams.”

Phil pulled personal contacts to help the first compilation come together. “When my roommate Jordan would come home for his lunch break I would sweet talk him into sitting down behind the drum set in our home studio and listen to the songs via headphones then, immediate record a couple takes of drums,” he says.

One of my favorite aspects of the band is the fact that you never know what to expect at each show. New songs, guest band members, flashy-ass light systems, instruments no one has ever seen played before–it’s an event. Phil (Cedar Rapids), Jordan Mayland (Rake, Iowa), and Chris Marshall (Ankeny) make up the trio. And although they all come from different areas of Iowa, Phil considers Tires’ hometown to be Ames, where the three met. In the year-and-a-half the band has been around (only playing shows for one year), you can imagine their success considering their first public show was opening for Xiu Xiu at Maximum Ames Music Festival. And it only gets better from there.

Jordan Mayland (left) and Phil Young (right)Photo cred: Tires' Facebook page

“When my roommate Jordan would come home from his lunch break, I would sweet talk him into sitting down behind the drum set in our home studio and listen to the songs via headphones then immediate record a couple takes of drums.”                                                                                                                                                     Jordan Mayland (left) and Phil Young (right)
Photo cred: Tires’ Facebook page

Band Bombshell: Where did you play your best show and why was it so awesome?
Phil Young: We have had the pleasure of playing with so many incredible bands over the last year: Neon Indian, Kreayshawn, Wild Nothing, Young Prisms, Big Troubles, Xiu Xiu (and all those shows were within the first two months of us playing shows). It’s been an incredible journey with this band and we’ve been overwhelmingly blessed to have shared the stage with such incredible musicians. One of my personal favorites was KURE fest 2011 where we opened for Neon Indian (& Kreayshawn). I was a giddy school girl when Alan Palomo (of Neon Indian) introduced himself to me backstage. I have been a big NI fan for a couple years now and being given the opportunity (thank you KURE & M-shop!) to not only meet him, but open for him at our band’s third EVER show was beyond honoring.
The show that really sticks out to me performance-wise though, was GDP [Gross Domestic Product] this last year. We (Jordan & I) played with 2 additional percussionists, Matt Dake (You Are Home) & David Olson (Poison Control Center). There was an incredible thunderstorm that night causing the trees to bend over outside and just drench downtown Des Moines with a mini-flood. All of this was going down DURING our set. It was all very intense and I think that just fueled our energy and excitement that night.

BB: Who are you musical muses?
PY: This is a hard one. I think in the beginning I was drawing a lot of influence from bands like Holy FuckOut Hud, and other electronic/kraut-rock bands. But now that the sound of Tires is much more collaborative we are drawing influences from a much wider range of genres. We all come from somewhat heavy, aggressive musical background; Jordan with Volcano Boys, Chris from Callen’s Mudmen, myself (along with Jordan) with The Wheelers. Heavy music is something that resonates with all of us. But even still most of our songs are around 3-4 minutes long, which stems from “pop song formula” style of writing. In short, it’s a melting pot for us to throw in our favorite parts of a lot of different genres to create a collage of sounds.

BB: What’s your favorite venue to play?
PY: Well this is a toss up. I always feel very at home playing at The Vaudeville Mews. It’s like playing in our living room with a fully stocked bar. (laughs) But I also really enjoyed playing the main room at the Blue Moose Tap House in Iowa City opening up for the Antlers at Mission Creek Festival 2012. It’s a huge room with a great sound system and with Red behind the mixer, you know you’ll sound awesome.

BB: If you had to describe your sound, what words would you use?
PH: I don’t even know where to begin… uhm, I usually just tell people Aggressive Electronic Rock & Roll. But thats seems too pigeon holed. I guess I would just say come to a show and try to describe it for yourself.
BB: Any new projects in the works?
PY: Always. Now that Chris, Jordan and I all live in the same house its a little difficult not to have new ideas, projects and recordings in the works at all times. We are probably going to be releasing a new EP in the next couple months. We’re also toying with the idea of releasing a full length that would be more true to how we sound live. Jordan’s band Volcano Boys is finishing up their full length album and Chris & I have joined up with friends Anna Gebhardt & Ryan Stier in their project Annalibera to round out the acoustic duo into a full band and will be starting to play shows soon. Jordan and my other band The Wheelers will be releasing our new full length album in 2013 as well.
The trio in actionPhoto cred: Tires' Facebook page

The trio in action. Chris (left), Phil (center), Jordan (right)
Photo cred: Tony Galloro

BB: How do you keep the music fresh? 
PY: Well, for almost the entire first year we were playing shows, we’d change the line-up for every show. Different people doing percussion, vocals, etc. There was a show in Ames where we played as a 5-piece! Though I really enjoyed a lot of the different variations of the band the main point of the experiment was to find people who really gelled in the band and the direction I wanted to take the music. I’m sure we’ll play with guests again at some point, but we’ve really hit a groove lately and we’re going to ride that wave for a while. Another way to keep the live shows interesting is we use different lighting effects. We started with 2 table-lamps that were sound-activated, then the “TIRES” sign (also sound-activated), now we have the light boxes that I programmed to sync up with our live shows.
BB: Is it hard to experiment with different sounds when you don’t have lyrics?
PY: Absolutely not. I think it gives us more freedom to make weird noises and jam out more, we don’t have to worry about staying on the “verse riff” long enough to get all the lyrics sung. We can mashup our songs and just get real weird with stuff. I like listening to instrumental music because even with no lyrics, each song can trigger an emotional response, but in my opinion its much more personal. It’s not someone singing about a sad story–then you leave feeling sad. It’s a specific chord that is struck that makes you feel. It makes you feel however you want to feel not how the singer wants you to feel.
BB:What are you favorite instruments to play and have you incorporated any really out-there instruments into your music?
PY: One of my personal favorite instruments to play with are synthesizers. I love synths, especially old ones. I also love crappy little casio keyboards and weird noise makers (like the little “Guitar Hero” guitar with buttons that make weird noises & the electric drill that I use live). I am not nearly as proficient at guitar (or any other instrument) than either of my band mates, but hey, that’s why they are in my band! (laughs)
BB: Which city have you found to have the best local music scene?
PY: I love Des Moines, I love Ames, I love Iowa City. But I think it’s so much more than one city. The entire state of Iowa has an impressively diverse and unique music scene and it extends well outside of our state. I’ve seen what a truly supportive music scene looks like in Ames. I’ve seen what a truly diverse music scene can be heard here in Des Moines and I’ve seen some of our most beloved local musicians move across the country and extend our unique view on supporting each other instead of competing with each other.
BB: Forget the Des Moines city limits. If you could play at one festival or venue anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
PY: That’s a tough one. I mean, sure, I’d love to play at the Hollywood Bowl or for Austin City Limits. I’d be ecstatic to play at SXSW or CMJ. But the reality of it is, I just love playing music with two of my best friends and if that’s at the Vaudeville Mews or at Lollapaloza, it doesn’t change the fact that I’m there to have fun and enjoy myself. We’re not doing this to try to make money or get famous. We are doing this for fun and enjoyment, and if you are there enjoying the music with us, that makes it exponentially more exciting for us. This music is for you, the listener, not for profit.

2 thoughts on “Q&A: Phil Young of Tires

  1. Pingback: Year in Review | DSM Band Bombshell

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