Recently, I interviewed a local Nashville band, Humming House, that has worked with NowPlayingNashville in the past. The band consists of members Justin Wade Tam, Bobby Chase, Joshua Wolak, and Benjamin Jones. They have a fun story in that they formed out of jam sessions that Tam held in his East Nashville living room. Read how they define their musical style, the story behind their latest album Companion, and what’s coming up for them.
How did Humming House originate and when?
Justin Wade Tam: Humming House started in 2011. I had a batch of songs that I wanted to record at the time. Mitch Dane at Sputnik Sound in Berry Hill kindly invited me to try a recording with him. That session went so well that it became our first single, “Gypsy Django,” and gave me the confidence to try a full album. I gathered a bunch of friends to play on the record including Josh Wolak and Ben Jones. The album ended up sounding more like a band than a solo project. So, we decided to become a band, because playing with friends is way more fun. Bobby became a member when we started touring more regularly a year later.
Your sound is a mix of folk, soul and bluegrass, but how would you personally define your music?
Justin Wade Tam: We often call it folk-rock. The definition doesn’t really matter to me as long as people are connecting with our music.
What do you want listeners to feel from your music?
Bobby Chase: The deepest emotions known to mankind. But honestly I hope that listeners can just feel connected to our music in some way. I hope they can grasp onto the energy and optimism we throw into many of our songs.
You released your most recent album, Companion. What’s the story behind its creation?
Bobby Chase: This album was a journey. From start to finish it was a very fulfilling, very exhausting several months of arranging, recording, composing, experimenting, and everything in between. The studio is one of the most terrifying and exciting places to be as a band because the songs can go in so many different directions with the smallest change in arrangement. We threw our rule books out the window with this album. We went on a hunt for fresh sounds with some fantastic producers (Jordan Lehning, Eric Masse) who helped push us in a really cool direction as a band. And we felt lucky to have our brilliant friend Ed Spear mix the album and blow our minds with his fearless, musical approach. All that to say, we are so proud of how the album turned out, and had a blast all along the way.
You signed to Soundly Music last year. How did it feel when signing that record deal?
Justin Wade Tam: Incredible! You can work for years on your art without anyone taking notice. So when an honest, kind, and hardworking company comes along to put a record, it feels amazing. Stephanie Hudacek and her team are wonderful people and really know their stuff.
Name your favorite song that you’ve recorded to date.
Josh Wolak: When we first started the sessions for our latest record, Companion, pretty much everything felt amazing. I had transitioned from playing only mandolin to using all the other, louder instruments I picked up over the years. Recording the title track, “Companion,” made me feel like I was a kid again.
Anything new on the horizon for Humming House?
Josh Wolak: Haha, yes… we’re going to Turkmenistan! Earlier this year, we toured Central Asia on a state department program called American Music Abroad. We spent a month doing shows in Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. Pretty special opportunity, I can’t wait to go back.
Fun Facts About Humming House:
Who is your musical influence?
Justin Wade Tam: Oh man, so many artists! However, I always also come back to Paul Simon as a true north songwriting inspiration. I love his lyrics, arrangements, and production choices.
Favorite Live Music Venue in Nashville?
Josh Wolak: The Ryman. I mean, I don’t think any player in town would say otherwise. It’s the mother church. The spirit is there.
Favorite festival you’ve played?
Josh Wolak: Literally *any* festival that’s not SXSW, ha!
Favorite place to eat in Nashville?
Bobby Chase: WOWOWOW where to even begin with this one. I don’t know if you know what door you just opened with this food talk. So many top contenders, but I’ll be brief and go with the tried and true, could-eat-there-every-day, Mas Tacos. Authentic Mexican style tacos with a modern twist. Just go, have some tortilla soup (seriously so good), grab 2-3 tacos (get wild with the habanero powder on the counter if you’re a spicy boi like me), an iced coffee with horchata, and thank me later.
Favorite nonprofit to support? Why?
Justin Wade Tam: There are so many fantastic non-profits in Nashville. On the conservation side, I love the Sierra Club, The Nature Conservancy, and Sound Forrest. I also am huge fan of The Conservancy for the Parthenon and Centennial Park and their Musicians Corner program. Open Table and The Contributor are doing great things for the homeless community. Martha O’Bryan Center, the Oasis Center, and Thistle Farms are doing wonderful important work as well.
Bobby Chase: We do kind of have a band hobby…it happens spontaneously depending on the setting, but we like to spice up life on the road with a little recreational sport action. I’m talking billiards, foosball, darts, cornhole, you name it. The Northeast Mid-Summer Table Tennis Invitational 2017 was legendary. Let the record show I am still reigning champion.
Learn more about Humming House at Humminghouse.com.
Follow Humming House on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.