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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 20 years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, and B-movies. Part time ninja. Kicked cancer’s ass. My memoir, ChemBro, is out now!
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Humming House Invites Everyone To Join In Their ‘Revelries’
Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Whoever said home is where the heart is clearly didn’t know about Nashville Americana quintet Humming House. The fivesome, in a bit of nomenclature irony, are most at home when they’re on the road, entertaining audiences.

It just so happens the road is where Humming House are right now, as the band is enjoying a run of dates on Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors’ tour, and will be opening for a number of Kacey Musgraves west coast dates.

On March 24th, midway through their tour, Humming House’s sophomore album, Revelries, will be released via Rock Ridge Music. I caught up with Humming House founder Justin Wade Tam to find out more about the project, the tour, and the revelries the band has enjoyed.

Adam Bernard: First off, you sing, you play instruments, but I hear very little humming. What’s up with that, Humming House?

Justin Wade Tam: Well, you see we make up for that in the fact that we have llamas on our shirt design, and stickers, because llamas hum a lot, so we figured we’d make up for it in the merchandise. {laughs}

Adam Bernard: Do llamas actually hum?

Justin Wade Tam: Yeah.

Adam Bernard: Other than the humming, what’s the llama connection with the group?

Justin Wade Tam: Oh man, what’s not to love about llamas, right? I’ve been obsessed since I took a backpacking trip to Peru in 2007. I did a four, or five, day hiking trip in the Andes, up the Machu Picchu, along the Inca Trail, and there were plenty of llamas and alpacas about, and I kind of became a little obsessed with them.

Adam Bernard: When all is said and done, are you going to own a llama farm?

Justin Wade Tam: Probably not. I actually picked up this Peruvian instrument, the charango, which is used on our song “Carry On,” on that same trip. It’s sort of like a super ukulele.

Adam Bernard: I like the idea of a super ukulele.

Justin Wade Tam: Have you ever seen the movie The Motorcycle Diaries? The charango is all over that soundtrack.

Adam Bernard: You are currently on a tour that will keep you roaming across America through the middle of April with the likes of Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors, and Kacey Musgraves. You have a reputation for great live performances, so tell me about the growth of this aspect of your work.

Justin Wade Tam: It’s something we just really love to do. For us it’s sort of a conversation with the audience each show. We really want people to participate in what we’re doing, because at the end of the day we’re entertainers, we’re there to entertain a crowd, and instead of hiding behind the art, we like to really include people in the show, and by that I mean we throw in some fun covers people who might not know who we are would enjoy, and bring them into what we’re doing.

We’ve been playing together for four years. When you know people that well, musically, as musicians in a band, it’s a beautiful thing. You can anticipate where people are going a lot better.

We know each other extremely well now, so I think it shows in a live setting with the tightness of the band these days.

Adam Bernard: You mentioned the occasional cover. What would you consider your most unexpected cover?

Justin Wade Tam: A fan favorite is Justin Timberlake’s “My Love.” We actually put that on our Party! album, the live record we put out last August. That’s definitely been a fan favorite, for sure.

Adam Bernard: Do you do the T.I. part, as well?

Justin Wade Tam: {laughs} No, we actually don’t. I think there’s a wicked fiddle and mandolin solo in that part.

We used to do some Beastie Boys, so we’ve had our fair share of live rapping, but it’s been a while since we’ve brought it out.

Adam Bernard: I’m trying to imagine the Beastie Boys done in an Americana style. That has to be pretty wild.

Justin Wade Tam: Yeah, we used to do “Intergalactic.”

Adam Bernard: That song is really electronic, and you’re really acoustic. How do you go about arranging something like that?

Justin Wade Tam: A lot of booze. {laughs} No, we come from diverse backgrounds. A lot of us are hip-hop fans. I grew up in Southern California, in San Diego, so I grew up listening to indie rock bands out there. Ben (Jones) studied classical composition in college. Bobby (Chase) studied violin and recording. Leslie (Rodriguez) and Josh (Wolak) were in bluegrass bands in college, but Josh is the same way (I am), he grew up on indie rock. I think it’s that variety of pop music backgrounds that influences our pop songs, so we like to (give a) nod to those things.

Adam Bernard: Your current tour is promoting your upcoming album, Revelries, which is due out March 24th. A revelry is a celebration, so what does this album celebrate?

Justin Wade Tam: It celebrates a lot of things. There are some themes of travel, for sure, on it, and I think that has a lot to do with the fact that we sorta learned how to be a band while we were writing this album. The first album was kind of a batch of songs that I had written personally, and then I decided to work with a producer, and then I kinda formed a band and went in to record it. After that we figured out how to be a band. That meant touring all over the country, and writing about those experiences, and those revelries on the road, if you will, so you’ll catch those themes on it, sort of like vignettes of experiences.

The title comes from the song “Carry On.” It’s about a tour that I was on a long time ago with a different band. It tells a story of different images, and moments on that tour.

Adam Bernard: It sounds like you pretty much get to relive all your favorite moments whenever you perform.

Justin Wade Tam: Yes, and some fictional ones, as well.

Adam Bernard: Is it obvious which ones are fiction, and which ones are nonfiction?

Justin Wade Tam: Not necessarily. The song “Atlantic” I actually wrote prior to being a musician full time. I used to tour manage, and event manage, for a production company based out of Nashville, and I used to go to West Palm Beach (Florida) a lot and work at the Cruzan Amphitheatre, which is a lot of fun. I had a day off in Northwest Palm Beach and drove up to Jupiter, Florida, and spent the day. I took a long walk on the beach, and this song just kinda fell out of the sky, but it’s a pretty meaningful tune.

The story of the grandfather and the grandson in the song is completely fictional, but the sentiment of not being able to buy back memories, and that wealth isn’t the end-all, is definitely meaningful.

Adam Bernard: Speaking of memories, do you have any especially memorable moments, good or bad, from the recording process of the album?

Justin Wade Tam: As far as the recording process goes, we try to do everything as live as possible in the studio. It’s a lot of fun.

There’s only one guest musician on the whole record, a cello player, Melodie Morris, just to fill out some of the string arrangements, but everything else was played by the band itself. We’re really proud of that. A lot of bands come in and have a ton of session players paying on a record, but everybody in this band plays a lot of different instruments, so it was really cool to feature a lot of those additional skills.

Adam Bernard: How difficult is it to stand out as an Americana band in Nashville, and how have you made that happen?

Justin Wade Tam: We’ve always been very strategic. We don’t play Nashville very often. We only play it a couple times a year, just to make every event very special when we do play.

We try to play with artists that we really respect, and appreciate, and we do festivals, and things like that.

If you play every week in Nashville no one’s going to come to your show. If you just stay in the city, and you don’t tour, and you don’t go out and make friends outside of the city, you won’t have a career as an artist.

Adam Bernard: Finally, when a band is on the road they are bound to get into trouble in some way, shape, or form. With that in mind, what’s the closest you’ve come to getting arrested without actually getting arrested?

Justin Wade Tam: {laughs} Let’s see. It was in Knoxville, I know the specific occasion. It was at the Rhythm N Blooms Festival in 2013, and our manager's assistant at the time, this guy Garrett, happened to drop our van keys down into the gutter, so our bass player, Ben Jones, came to the rescue. He took off the grate, and jumped down into the sewer, and rescued our keys. In the middle of this key rescue the local police force decided to come over and tell us that we weren’t allowed to do that. It was very close. We had to explain that our keys were in there. He was not happy with us.

Interview originally ran on Arena.com.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 3:00 PM  
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