There are a lot of things I could say about the importance of Jay Curley and the music he made with TUMBLEWEED but I think other humans will say it better. I’d like to keep this tribute simple by quoting something I wrote about TUMBLEWEED’s 2013 release “Sounds From The Otherside” which goes like this:
“It’s no secret to those who know me that Tumbleweed is a pretty big deal for me. They are a band I’ve worshiped for the past 18 years of my life and courtesy of my brother I was given a copy of “Galactaphonic” on cassette tape for Christmas back in 1995. The music of Tumbleweed changed me and shaped a big part of my musical identity. In 1995 I had no perception of what “stoner rock” was and at that point I don’t even think that genre itself was a term that people used. Perhaps it was, fuck, I was only twelve years old at the time. All of that aside, one thing that I knew that I loved about Tumbleweed was how fucking heavy it all was.
With Tumbleweed, there were always riffs galore that were wonderfully pushed along by the swagger of the bands rhythm section giving the music an incredible amount of groove. With all of this heaviness you’d expect that most humans would apply angst and attack vocally but Tumbleweed were blessed with having Richie Lewis as their singer. The wonderful part about Richie’s voice is that he brought a melodic approach that mirrored the Beatles more than it did Black Flag or anything punk rock. There was a degree of intense escapism through his lyrics and whilst there was pain and heavy emotion flowing in and out of the songs they had a wonderful narrative with sprinklings of fantasy scattered all throughout the lyrics.
All of these dynamics helped set them apart and really made them pioneers of a sound that so many celebrity hungry young 21st Century Humans try to replicate. When Tumbleweed released their last official album “Mumbo Jumbo” in the year 2000 it felt like the band was coming to a bittersweet end. Since 1995 the band had gone through multiple line-up changes with only Richie and Lenny being the only real original members left by the time the band called it quits in 2003.
For a very long time I thought that “Mumbo Jumbo” represented the natural evolution of where Tumbleweed had to go as a band. After sitting through “Sounds From The Other Side” it has become quite clear that this is not the case because the music made by Tumbleweed circa 2013 is more intense, heavier, and weirder and covered in a hell of a lot more psyche and prog dynamics than Tumbleweed circa 2000. What “Sounds From The Other Side” represents is the natural evolution of the Tumbleweed sound circa 1995. Much like the re-united Dinosaur Jr whilst the band leans on the spirit of their formative years (1990 to 1995) the creative growth the band illustrated post Galactaphonic (Return To Earth and Mumbo Jumbo) is still on full display even though only three of the five members were present during this era.
Career Logistics aside, the main point to focus on is that this is not about Nostalgia and it is the first new steps of a new path for Tumbleweed. There were always going to be similarities stylistically to the bands older material but like Soundgarden did with King Animal, there is also a new mood for a new decade of progression. The importance of “Sounds From The Other Side” is in the fact that it re-establishes the band right back where it belongs, making incredibly vital alternative rock n roll.
As a fan of Tumbleweed I get chills every time I press play on this record. I am literally flawed with how brilliant the album is and I feel blessed to have Lenny, Jay, Steve, Paul and Richie back together making noise once again. When I first heard Tumbleweed, the term Stoner Rock was not something that existed in my vocabulary, but as the years progressed I started to understand that the love I started to have for “that sound” all started 18 years ago with Galactaphonic. In 2013 I feel like I’m a bit of a Stoner Rock fiend even though I hate the genre term myself but I guess I just love “that sound” which it’s attached to. To hear one of the pioneering bands of that sound making something so vital and so progressive in this current climate of mediocrity is so fucking refreshing.
I am in love with this album and I’m still discovering it which thrills me even more. There is longevity to this album and I feel like it will take me months to fully find all of the wonderful little nuances of each and every track. I may be a fan of lot of different genres of music but nothing gets me off like a really great rock record and “Sounds From The Other Side” is a fantastic and totally exquisite piece of rock n roll.
I can’t wait for the next ten years of Tumbleweed history, thank fuck they are back.
May they live for a billion years”
I always thought the band were invincible and to me they were like superheroes who I fucking idolised beyond belief. It always sucks when someone you admire who had a part in shaping your understanding of yourself passes away. Considering I never personally met Jay Curley I felt I learnt a lot about him purely through the music he made.
So for now, all I can say to Jay Curley is “thank you” for all the music you were part of making and for being one of the many humans who changed and saved my life.
Rest In Peace
Dan Newton xo
P.S. Turn this fucking song up loud and rock the fuck out xo