Tumbleweed Stampede
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Tumbleweed Stampede

Athens, Georgia, United States | INDIE

Athens, Georgia, United States | INDIE
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"World beat, indie rock collide in Stampede"

With a name like Tumbleweed Stampede, your ears would expect a bluegrass or alt-country band dressed foot to skull in denim and pearl-buttoned plaid cowboy shirts.

Instead, a listen to the band’s two releases, 2010’s EP “Mean Mugs” and last year’s full-length “Guts,” opens up an amalgamated chuck wagon of influences — like a Southern Gogol Bordello with West African guitar clanks in place of gypsy roots.

But deconstructing Tumbleweed’s jigsaw puzzle can’t stop there. At one moment, lead singer Ben Papillon emotes like an indie rocker before the band’s horn section delivers a big band march a few bars later. On “Apologetics,” a math-rocking tune gets chopped up by artistic time-bends, before descending into a slapped bass pop-punk version of Vieux Farka Touré. On “Lost Boys,” a reggaeton beat tapped out on a Casio keyboard explodes into a high school jazz band after-party replete with horn swells.

Framing the Tumbleweed Stampede picture isn’t as important as just kicking back and enjoying the music — as the people playing the songs clearly are.

“Eclectic is a good base term to describe us,” bassist David Fortuna said. “I’ve always thought the songs sound different, but they have these musical themes tying them together. Generally, the songwriting is trying to make something inaccessible, accessible.”

So many influences collide in a Tumbleweed Stampede song: The lead guitarists digs Phishy jam bands, the drummer kicks it Latin-style, the singer/songwriter is an ex-college radio DJ with an extensive record collection, and the bassist, Fortuna, is a lifelong prog-rocker.

In any second of a Tumbleweed tune, all those disparate sounds are present, and it somehow makes sense.

Such diversity should be expected when a group as large as Tumbleweed convenes, said guitarist Colin Frawley. Tumbleweed’s horn section alone counts eight members.

Frawley said describing the band has been a long-standing struggle, but Tumbleweed grasps loosely onto the indie rock tag as new influences from around the world constantly trickle in.

Like other local bands Reptar and Quiet Hooves, Tumbleweed Stampede’s sound draws equally on both world music and quirky, under-the-radar American songwriters like Van Dyke Parks and Harry Nilsson.

Frawley said that shared, globalized approach to music favored by many under-30 musicians has something to do with increased availability of information in the digital age.

“Music like that appeals to us, and it can be on our doorstep in moments,” he said.

If the Internet distracts us and connects us into networks as never before, it also makes music as smashed up and kinetic as lightning striking a buffet.

But despite the intense frenzy bottled inside a Tumbleweed Stampede song, the band’s sound is building cohesion, Fortuna said.

“We’ve been honing our sound a lot more lately,” he said.

— André Gallant, Staff - Athens Banner-Herald


"New Addiction: Tumbleweed Stampede"

Recorded partially in Pennsylvania and partially here in Athens at Japanski Studios, "Guts" is T Stamp's new album coming out this week via Quality Faucet Records. Quality Faucet is made up of a gaggle of local artists (Reptar, Wyatt, Co Co Ri Co, etc.) all leaning towards that more experimental sound that's taken hold of Athens lately.

Tumbleweed Stampede fit right in with QFR, bringing a combination of light-hearted frivolity and delightful harmonies along with them. You can take a sneak peek of the album over on the band's bandcamp page. If you find some of Tumbleweed's label mates a bit hard to swallow, you needn't worry about these guys. They resemble the finer E6 bands instrumentation wise. There's a bit of Reptar in there too but it's more lyric and less dance than that. A pretty nicely balanced band I'd say. Give 'em a try at Tumbleweed Stampede's cd release show is this Thursday at Caledonia.

(Jordan Stepp) - Athens Music Junkie


"Tumbleweed Stampede "Guts" review"

Guts slams the door shut on all previous incarnations and flavors of Tumbleweed Stampede. Gone are the rote imitations of dozy, popular country-ish bands. Benjamin Papillon has reined in the band and recreated it in terms of frenetic, yet focused, modern college rock with a taste for Dirty Projectors and Animal Collective.

Divided pretty cleanly into two halves, Guts' first “side” compiles a singular uplifting instrumental track, a creepy cabaret number, a call-and-response island R&B song and a fairly straightforward guitar pop song with a really good horn-punctuated section. I'd tell you the names of the song, but the track listing is so off-kilter it's impossible to tell which song is which. The second half is characterized more by its reserve and attention to detail than anything else. Every instrument is recorded extremely cleanly, and the mix is completely balanced. The bandmembers are fastidious self-editors, and the album is only eight tracks long.

Guts is a completely reasonable listening experience and reveals more of its personality with each spin. At first blush, the band may seem like another goofy, good-time party band with an ironic name, but it's actually quite an up-and-comer.

(Gordon Lamb) - Flagpole Magazine


"Dance-Age Rampage: Tumbleweed Stampede"

There’s certainly something to be said for fun, isn’t there?

Sure, it’s not the most meaningful of emotions, not like angst or rage, but it’s nice to have around, isn’t it?

Well, Athens indie pop rock band Tumbleweed Stampede thinks so.
Since March, this amalgamation of University friends has been pretty dedicated to the idea in fact, and people seem to agree.

It all started simply enough. Lead singer and guitarist Ben Papillon spent his first few years at the University writing songs for fun and occasionally playing with friends, including the band’s lead guitarist, Colin Frawley.

They eventually decided to get a band together, and what sprang from their desires was a rather large collection of musicians, a verifiable stampede.

It turned out they had just as much vitality as a herd of buffalo.
“I think we discovered really early on in our first show that there was just something really energetic about the way we played together in front of an audience,” said Frawley, who has lived with or near Papillon since their freshmen year.

With their live show identified as a distinct strong point, they decided to be on stage a lot.
“Through the summer [we were] pretty much playing constantly because we were new and no one knew us, so we figured it would just be best to play all the time,” Papillon said.

And hey, it hasn’t been all packed shows and naked girls, but what was the “F” word we were talking about earlier? Oh yeah.

“We have fun playing and I hope it’s fun for other people,” Papillon said. “If there’s just like five of our friends there that are just hanging out and having a good time then that’s good enough.”

Since then, they’ve continued their high-energy playing, and tonight’s show will mark the release of their new EP, “Mean Mugs.”

“That was one of the main goals of the EP, to capture that energy,” Papillon said. “And I think we did a pretty good job of capturing that.”

But just in case: “In the unfortunate event that the CD fails to capture the live show, we have a straight-up live track there to kind of unmitigatedly translate it,” Frawley noted.

Capturing the band’s live energy was a challenge, but the recordings, Papillon said, will spotlight oft-overlooked elements of songs — little stuff such as composition and lyrics that get run over by dancing feet.
Yes, under the jumping and hollering there lies some complex and tactfully composed songs, a result of collaboration and varied backgrounds.

“[A song] instantly turns into what it’s gonna be with the band,” Papillon said. “’Cause they’ll see it and just know … The rhythm oftentimes will define what the song ends up being as opposed to what it was in my bedroom.”

Their collaborative and live performance energies are undoubtedly related, and the fact they’re all having a good time probably doesn’t hurt.

“We were all friends going into it, but I think we’ve unquestionably become better friends as a result,” Frawley said. “The word ‘telepathic’ is not really appropriate, but it sometimes feels that way.”

Tumbleweed Stampede, Bigfoot, Sunspots
The Max Canada
Thursday, 10 p.m.
Free - The Red & Black


Discography

Mean Mugs -- 2009
- "The Dolphin" on rotation on Athens radio from 2009-2010

Guts -- 2011
- "Keep Keep Keep" and "Apologetics" currently on rotation on Athens radio

Photos

Bio

Tumbleweed Stampede is an octet of Russian Myatryoska dolls birthed from the musical pollination station of Athens, GA. The group delivers everything from fighter-jet melodies to big-band brass, adding generous dashes of harmony and playfulness in between. Hot off the release of debut full-length Guts—recorded with Kyle Pulley (Dangerous Ponies, Power Animal) in Philadelphia’s Headroom Studios—the boys known affectionately as “T-Stamp” by fans continue to buckle up their groove belts and pull wallflowers onto the dance floor every night. In the course of their adventures all up and down the East Coast, the Tumbleweed gents have shared the stage with such acts as Black Girls, the Extraordinaires and Jane Jane Pollock.