Tweed’s Electric Donuts Tour landed in Great North: Music & Arts Festival, held from September 9 -11 in Minot, Maine this past weekend. The electrifying Philadelphia based jamtronica band has been showing the whole country the sort of transformative funk they bring to turn any venue into a psychedelic paradise. Playing alongside bands like The Disco Biscuits, G-Nome Project, and The Indobox at this year’s Great North Festival, it’s arduous to not be impressed by one of the hottest up-and-coming bands on the scene.
The jamtronica powerhouse has been altering minds one high-strung, rhythmic show at a time, while inviting the masses along for the mind-winding ride as the band has already surpassed well over 100 shows in 2016. Tweed seems to be on a cohesive mission that inspires rage induced dance parties and searches through the expansive ocean of your psychedelic mind.
Since the beginning of this tour, the band has gained recognition for their tremendous amount work and welcomed sit-ins on their sets from musicians like Jason Hann of String Cheese Incident and EOTO at Astral Observatory Festival in Astral Valley, Missouri.
Whether it’s waiting for exhilirating emphatic licks out of AJ DiBiase’s guitar, witnessing their psyche become a shifting paradigm with knob-turning exploration on the keys from Jon Tomczak, dancing in the deep heart bass grinds of Dan McDonald, or following the high-energy rhythm train of Joe Vela’s drum kit, the crowds keep grooving and they keep coming back for more, spreading the word around town that Tweed is here and it’s time to party.
Filling the 4:30 P.M. slot on Saturday at Great North Festival, the band was met with an ominous sky that began to bring down an aquatic drizzle of rain that was quickly crushed in intensity by Tweed. Fittingly, the band transitioned from “RL WRLD” into “Big Sky”, which appeared to rein in the falling sky back to the clouds just after opening up the set.
It’s an amazing thing to see what a band of self-described “best friends” can do when armed with instruments that are as dangerous as burning fire in skillful hands. Just after their set, I was able to sit down with Tweed and admiring fans at the rear end of their touring van, “The Valiant Stallion,” and got to know a little bit more about these electric funk-masters in what came to be an enlightening interview. Enjoy!
Live For Live Music: Hey guys, thanks for sitting down for an interview. So, how’d you all feel all about your set?
AJ DiBiase: It was really awesome to be able to play here again at Great North and we found ourselves really get into some deep jams.
L4LM: That’s awesome to hear. What’s it like being able to come back and play Great North for the second straight year in a row?
Joe Vela: This is actually a different location and we have a really beautiful 360-view of the skyline. We’re here with a lot of bands we’re friends with like G-Nome Project, The Mushroom Cloud, Teddy Midnight, Manifested, and Chachuba, who I got to sit in with for their entire set…so yes, it’s a lot of fun.
L4LM: How has the band responded to such an intensive tour full of shows spreading across the U.S night after night?
Joe: It’s the never-ending Tweed tour 2016!
Dan McDonald: This run has definitely built up to this (Great North Festival). We were at Astral Observatory Festival last weekend in St. Louis, and we had a really great time over there. We pretty much did a slingshot across the country from Missouri to Maine in a week.
Joe: It’s tough, but you can’t take yourself too seriously as a musician. You’ve got to know when to kick back and go with the flow, and this tour can be demanding of the ability to do so.
AJ: This has been a very demanding schedule and we’ve made long treks between almost every show. I’d say every show on the tour leading up to this music festival has been a success.
Joe: We’re hitting a lot of cities that we’re going through for the second and third time this year and we’re starting to build up each of those: Chicago, St. Louis, Kalamazoo, Rochester, Buffalo… So we’re getting a lot of repeat customers in different places across the country.
Jon Tomczak: It’s been super exhausting, but I think I speak for everybody when I say there’s nothing else we’d rather be doing. We’re on a MISSION and quite honestly it’s totally worth it to push our limits. We may be tired if we’re pushing it every single day, but that doesn’t mean we’re tired of it.
L4LM: You mentioned a mission. What is that MISSION for Tweed?
AJ: We’re HUNGRY. We want to play music for as many people as we can everyday. Music in general is just such a great thing to spread and is a positive energy. I think it’s a good thing to spread to more and more people. We have a lot of fun doing it and it seems like people have a lot of fun hanging out with us.
Dan: It’s also a personal mission of being a musician and wanting to get better playing with people. That’s what we were all doing in the first place when music developed into a love and a passion and now we’re pursuing it as a career.
L4LM: What’s it like having friends and fellow musicians like Jason Hann of String Cheese Incident sit in with you at your shows?
Jon: That was pretty surreal and reaffirming to sit down and play with guys who are amazing musicians and becoming peers to us now.
Joe: Of all the musicians that we meet, I often find that the ones who are most successful are ones who are extremely humble and down to Earth. That really resonates with me–stay humble, those are the type of people that everyone wants to work with.
L4LM: In the jam music scene particularly, bands pride themselves in offering a unique and different show each and every night they’re performing for their fans. What sort of preparation goes into putting a Tweed set list together?
AJ: I spend a good amount of time crafting our set lists, I’ll look at what we played the last time we were in the area and I think that being able to play a different set every night makes for a formula to keep things interesting.
Joe: And importantly, it keeps it interesting for us.
L4LM: What kind of improvisation techniques do you guys use while playing a show?
Dan: Our personalities come through on stage in how we move. When I’m watching these guys, I’m always listening to their musical cues. When you play with someone for so long, you can pick up on the most subtle body language. It’s like we’re having a conversation, it’s just that fluid now.
Joe: One specific cue we have is when you want to extend the jam, you just rub your nipple. Milk it! Whoever is feeling it, stretch it out.
AJ: The improv spectrum is just about getting comfortable in the pocket together and we’ve worked up a pretty good chemistry over the years. I think we’re playing a lot more consistently now.
L4LM: When did you all realize that Tweed was able to do this for real, full-time, and when did you jump into the circuit and do such intense tours?
AJ: We’ve been going full steam since January and had to kind of take a leap of faith. Music is our life now and it’s a beautiful thing.
Jon: I feel like we really found ourselves once Dan showed up and we all put a little bit more time into it, sat down, and made it a point to really dive into the music.
Joe: It’s also not just playing, we spend a lot of time forming our sound. It’s ever constantly changing, but like, ‘what is the vibe we want to have?’ Us four can jam up there, but I don’t think it would be the same as playing with intention.
L4LM: According to Wikipedia, Tweed is a rough, woven fabric, or a soft, open, flexible texture that’s closely woven together… How would you then describe the band, Tweed?
Jon: We don’t have a great true story for why we chose the name Tweed, it just rolls off your tongue, but we have several stories that we’ve concocted over the years. We embrace the idea of being interwoven in all different fabrics and textures in one cohesive piece.
AJ: There’s a couple choice words from that description, the fact of Tweed being interwoven, you think of the composition and fabric of Tweed, that we basically have come together as one throughout a course of our time playing together.
L4LM: We all have goals in life and each band has their own goal every time they step on a stage. What’s that goal for Tweed?
Joe: For me, it’s simple: make people dance. I also want to sell out MSG.
Jon: I always tell people who see us that I hope that’s the best show you’ve ever seen from us and the worst show you’ll ever see again. We’re trying raise the bar and get better as a group every show and have fun doing it.
L4LM: Your first studio album drops at the end of this month on September 30, what should we expect from The Chunky Life?
AJ: We’re excited for The Chunky Life EP. We’ve been living the chunky life a while and this album has been a long time coming. We’ve got some nice ear candy that we’re very happy with and excited to finally get out there.
Joe: We recorded at Brooksound Studios with our good friend, Jeff Mahajan. I think people who have seen us live will be really pleased with this album and these songs have been live tested this whole year. We’re already working on some new music for another album because it’s necessary to keep putting out music and to keep it up.
L4LM: What should we expect from Tweed as we get closer to the end of the year and start transitioning into 2017?
Joe: I would like to go on tour out West like California, Portland, and/or Seattle. It’s hard doing those because you got to be on the road for four or five weeks to make it worth touring all the way out there and back. There are a lot of festivals on our hit list for 2017 that we didn’t get to do this year so we’re going to start hollering at them soon. Email us now if you want to book us.
Jon: There’s always room to expand, a new scene to check out, a new group of people to share our art with, all types of artists to meet, all while perpetuating something real and keeping it original.
Dan: We’ve been hitting the road, but when we’re at home we’re practicing for performances so as soon as January hits we’re going to fine tune some new songs that we want to integrate into our shows and new album.
L4LM: We wanted to end this interview with keeping it an open forum, is there anything last to add that you think we should know about Tweed before we wrap it up?
Joe: We’re all very easily reachable and if you want to say ‘hi, come to my city,’ just let us know and we’ll make it happen. We also love fans who can cook!
On September 30, Tweed releases their first ever studio album that includes some of my favorite tracks “RL WRLD” and “Big Sky” and will bring it home to Philadelphia for their album release party at Underground Arts on October 1 and another album release party in New York on October 13 at American Beauty.
Watch out for upcoming tour dates near you, as the ever growing schedule, announcements and more can be found on the band’s website.
Upcoming Electric Donuts Tour Dates
Sep 14 The Metropolitan – Annapolis, MD
Sep 15 Pink Moon Festival – Rock Camp, WV w/ The Mantras, McLovins, Earphorik
Sep 16 Chameleon Club – Lancaster, PA w/ Native Maze
Sep 17 BRYAC – Bridgeport, CT
Sep 18 The Vigil for Ecology & Peace (Central Park Bandshell) – New York, NY
Sep 24 Autumn Equinox Gathering – Rockin Ranch, NJ
Oct 7 The One Stop at AMH – Asheville, NC
Oct 1 Underground Arts – Philadelphia, PA
Oct 13 American Beauty – New York, NY
Oct 14 Carpe Noctum 3 – Lehighton, PA
Oct 15 Luna Light Festival – Darlington, MD w/ Tipper, Electron, The New Deal, Dopapod, more
Nov 23 The 8×10 – Baltimore, MD w/ Bunk Buddha
[All photos courtesy of Caitlin Eddolls]