The big, anthemic sound of Phil Young’s (the Wheelers) new instrumental project TIRES was inspired by the recent passing of his grandfather. “He was kinda a cranky old guy to me most of my life,” Young told me in online chat. “We were one of the only families that didn’t live in his home state of Indiana so we didn’t see him as often as everyone else, so there was definitely a disconnect because of that. When I wasn’t able to physically make it to his funeral I wanted to commemorate his memory by doing something positive and creative instead of dwelling on the negative memories of him at the end of his life.”
It was time well spent. The experimental electronic rock that resulted from the three-day sequester — a mix of synths and live guitars and drums — is driving, bombastic and distorted, evoking post-rock stalwarts Trans Am’s first three albums and Madison’s so-called “emergency rock” band Cougar. Every song on the album doubles the adrenaline rush of the previous, making for a thrilling ride with zero chill. It’s a fun listen, but it’s not background music — it’s the soundtrack for whatever superhero spy missions you have going on. A trip to the gas station becomes a triumphant mission where everyone is saved.
Appropriately, then, the last track “11” is the closing credits for this movie. Certainly the slowest song on the album, the glistening synth runs swirl around a gigantic guitar solo. The highest notes cleave to a big chorus that would make Brian May of Queen proud.
Young says, “I think the mentality of creating upbeat material as my personal form of antidepressant has stuck with me since the day I created the first songs.” By taking a dark and sad personal event and flipping it, TIRES has created a perfect audio mood enhancer for the rest of us.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 214.