Whether you know it or not, you’ve most likely heard Tyrone Wells music; the singer/songwriter has had his work showcased on myriad television shows and films including Grey’s Anatomy, The Vampire Diaries, Scrubs, and The Odd Life of Timothy Green, to name a mere few. He is also an accomplished solo artist with 12 studio records under his belt, the most recent being Roll With It, which was released earlier this year. The Washington state native, who will be making a tour stop in Santa Barbara, promises that all 11 tracks on the new album will provide “a shot in the arm of feel-good optimism,” and that it will be hard to see this show without tapping your feet along to the music. In anticipation of the show, I spoke with Wells about homesickness, songwriting, and wedding singing.
Who were your earliest musical influences? My musical influence growing up was largely gospel music and hymns. Being the son of a preacher man, I guess it’s what you’d expect. I remember the first artist outside of that genre that really interested me was Stevie Wonder — he’s still probably my all time favorite.
So you grew up raised on gospel music alongside four sisters. How did your upbringing shape your early experiences with music? My sisters, my dad, and my mom were all very musical. I think it made me [not only] enjoy music, [but] be more interested in music from a very young age. It wasn’t something I just heard on the radio or on TV; it was something that was being played and sung right in front of me, by my own family.
When did you first decide to pursue music as a career? I got serious about music in college. I think that’s when I started recognizing I had the ability and believing that I could make a real run at it. The reason I wanted to make a run at it is because I couldn’t imagine a cooler job, and I still feel that way.
Is that what originally drew you to songwriting — the need to create art, music specifically? I was drawn to songwriting because I was so moved by other people’s songs. I realized that maybe I could write something that would move others on the same way….I’m inspired by so many things, but I’m typically most inspired by love. I think we all are. Love is a powerful thing. [It] brings us to our highest heights and also to our knees.
What was your worst performance experience? Early in my career, I was hired to sing and play at a wedding. I was asked to play a song that I didn’t write. I procrastinated and then crammed to learn it. Then at the wedding when it was my turn to sing, I sang about two lines and then literally just completely forgot how it went. It was awful! It sound[ed] like the shortest, worst song ever.
Do you talk with your family frequently or try to make as many friends as you can while on tour? I talk to my wife and kids constantly. I love meeting new people, but I’m not the artist that goes on tour to socialize, or hang out, I’m doing work….I definitely enjoy seeing the world and making music, but I’m always itching to get home. My love for making music and knowing that I’m doing what I was made to do [keeps me going.]
Tyrone Wells and Joe Brooks play Wednesday, October 7, at 8 p.m., at SOhO Restaurant and Music Club, 1221 State St. For tickets and information, call 805-962-7776 or see sohosb.com.