Up and coming band Tunnel Vision sat down with Reggae in NYC on their way through New York to talk about how the band got started, the self-titled debut album and being on tour with The Expendables.
Reggae In NYC (RN)
Tunnel Vision (TV)
RN: Tell us about the name Tunnel Vision, what does it mean and who came up with it?
TV: I (Hayden Hanson) got the name. Me and Jacob (Hernandez) we were in high school and started Tunnel Vision. We are all surfers and skaters. We grew up in San Clemente and so that’s how we know each other. We are a tight knit group of friends. Tunnel Vision came from the idea of getting barreled when you’re surfing. The view you have when you are inside the barrel looking out. I like to think of it also like a path, like looking at one goal and getting there you know? It could be anything, whatever you love to do, whatever it is surfing, skating or playing music, as it is for us. You keep your eyes on the prize, but really it’s just happiness.
RN: Many people would think of tunnel vision as a bad thing? But it sounds like for you it’s a positive?
TV: It’s the journey, it’s the ups and downs to get there. Do what you like to do and be happy. Looking for that and that being your goal whatever it is.
RN: This has been a pretty big tour, being on both the Winter and now Spring Blackout Tour. How has it been playing with Roots of Creation, Passafire & The Expendables?
TV: Great. It has been awesome. Everyone is super cool. The shows has been great. It’s nice to be playing bigger venues and opening up. The Expendables is one of our favorite bands, we grew up on that. We started out playing their songs when we were younger you know, listening to that.
"I like to think of it also like a path, like looking at one goal and getting there you know?"
RN: How did link up with them?
TV: Through Whisky Records. Also our manager Anthony Bravado. He used to be their tech and be on the road with them as well as Slighty Stoopid & Pepper and stuff. He hooked it up, we sort of met up with them, played one show with them and ended up getting along and they invited us on the Spring Blackout Tour.
RN: There is a great community of artist support for eachother in reggae music. Have you experienced that and had an opportunity to learn from the other bands on the tour?
TV: For sure. Also playing for half an hour every night and tightening up our set. Playing in front of people and focusing a lot on the show, you want the sound to be the best it can be.
RN: So it just a lot of practice?
TV: Yeah, practice. It is nice to play every single night, it’s definitely cool. It’s cool watching them when they play. Watching everyone kind of boosts you up for the next night. Like I said they are one of my all time favorite bands, so being able to play and then sit back and watch them play, watch what they do every single night and just study it. It’s just definitely a great experience and it inspires us.
RN: You just did the One Love festival, how was that?
TV: We had a good set. We played early but there wasn’t really any other bands playing when we played, so we actually got a good crowd and really good reaction. We got to meet people, a bunch of new people, and it’s right in our back yard pretty much. Literally 20 mins from my house.
RN: You have your first album out, how has the response been to the album so far?
TV: Good we got #3 on the radio charts on iTunes it was only like 5 hours. We were in front of couple of Bob Marley albums we were like “wow”. That’s the first thing and obviously it went back down, but we stood steadily. We have been selling a bunch of CDs and always get a good reaction , especially from fans. I get people hitting us up all the time saying that the music touches them, and that’s cool. Nothing but a good response from all the reviews. Pier.org did a good review for us and we were stoked with everything they had to say about it.
They are singing the lyrics at us. That’s when we know, when you are out there and you see somebody in Baltimore singing or Boston. Seeing people you have never met before in a place you have never been, people hearing your music and singing it back to you. Wow it's a mind trip, but we are so thankful that we had an opportunity to play music and it’s positive you know.
RN: On your album you got to work with Angela Hunte, who has partnered with artists like Jay-Z and Alicia Keys. How was that for you?
TV: We actually just went down the studio with them a couple of weeks ago in Miami and messed around. We just kind of collaborating, letting her kind of do her thing herself and we played around with some stuff. We are excited for what we are going to do with it. We are still playing around with ideas. It was a really cool experience, you know, she really pushes you and you get out of of your comfort zone and try different stuff.
She recorded ‘Citrus Skies’ that was really cool. I didn’t really get a chance to be in the studio with her when she did that. Jay Wiz is our recording engineering and obviously he is married to her so he was like “oh can my wife sing a this track, I love this song, she loves it.” We didn’t get to be in the studio while it happened, but we were stoked about it and used it on the album and now we are going back in to work with her again. We are just stoked to be working with people like that.
"It’s lifestyle music. What we sing about is things that we do; surfing, skating, playing music, going to the beach and hanging out doing that kind of a thing."
RN: Does that mean there is new music coming out soon?
TV: Yeah. Before meeting up with her, we worked on 4 songs, so we are just polishing things up. We might do a couple songs here and a couple songs there and then at the end of the year an album. But we are still writing and letting our creative vibes go. We have been touring a lot too so it’s hard to find studio time. One of the new songs that were are going to put on the new album we actually did at the Sugar Shack Sessions. You can check that out on Youtube. We are also playing two new songs tonight.
RN: What’s the writing process like you when you sit down and write a song?
TV: It’s always a different way. Honestly sometimes this guy will write a riff or I write a riff. Usually I write all the lyrics and we collaborate together and we structure the song together because that’s what brings us our sound. Tanner is a great song write too so in the past we have written songs together.
RN: As you put together the new album who would you like to have do a guest track?
TV: There are so many people that I would love. Rancid, we all love Rancid. Maybe someone from Slight Stoopid. We did our album there, so we got to hang out and would love to play with them. Jeff from The Expendables, we would love to do a track with.
RN: How would you describe your music to reggae fans who have mostly been listening to Caribbean reggae?
TV: It’s just like when rock & roll came out and they said this is black music and it became rock and its here to stay. I’m just saying the white reggae secene, however you want to call it, it’s real, it’s out there. We want our brothers to come in and dig it with us, because its here to stay. Its so real, these guys are so real, it's a new sound but historically California reggae is here to stay.
I like to describe it as like punk rock, that’s where it like starts, ska, reggae positive music. That’s the way I like to look at it. Feel good positive rock reggae. With us too we can change our whole sound, we play punk songs, reggae songs, ska songs. It’s lifestyle music. What we sing about is things that we do; surfing, skating, playing music, going to the beach and hanging out doing that kind of a thing. That’s why we feel like this is a lifestyle music.
RN: What’s next for the band after this tour?
TV: We got a show at The Movement on the 14th in Denver, with Roots of Rebellion. We are doing a 4/20 show, no it’s the 19th in Vegas and then the 20th we are doing a home town show. The day we get back and we are playing with Ease Up, Hazmatt and The Darenots. The Darenots are under Pepper’s label. It would be cool to get one of those guys on a track too. Then obviously the rest of the Spring Blackout Tour is going to be a killer time. I think we are setting up another tour in the summer, so we are going to be back around these areas. I think it’s going to be three months next time.
RN: On the tour so far, what’s the best surf spot you have hit outside of your home breaks in San Clemente?
TV: We scored and kinda got some waves in Florida. South Florida Miami, it was an epic surf that breaks like once a year. It was three feet, punchy little storm waves, there was a little cold front out there. The waves were good this morning, but we were lagging too hard to get in on it. And it’s cold. We only brought 3/2’s, we don’t have hoodies or boots. It doesn't work on the East Coast. Last time we surfed in New Jersey, we had some fun little waves, we all got barrells.
RN: What reggae do you have playing in your iPod right now?
TV: I have been jammin to the newest Jah Cure album, I really dig it, The Cure. It came out last summer, that was right when we released ours and he was above us. It was actually Bob Marley number one with Legend, then Jah Cure, The Cure, then Tunnel Vision. I love roots reggae. Honestly I have been listening to a bunch of like third wave 90’s ska. I haven’t been listening to much reggae right now. I was for a while just jamming to nothing but Peter Tosh. Sublime obviously, The Expendables, Slightly Stoopid. Some Buju. I just scored a Yellowman vinyl I found King Yelllowman, I was stoked to find that on vinyl.