Twenty-six-year-old Jeremy Waun grew up in rural Michigan, just outside Port Huron. He laughs easily, is cagily smart, plays in a bunch of bands, and gets by "merchandising flowers and tropical plants for a wholesale greenhouse." I'm not sure what that means, but it sounds pretty hippy-ish. Waun says that "I feel real deal vibes and want to convey emotion through words and sounds," when asked about searching for a guiding principle or philosophy. But that was such a hippie question, anyway!
Waun dresses in neon tie-dye, wears his hair long, and his first solo LP, the excellent and limited edition City Vibes, just released by Feeding Tube Records in Florence, Mass., is powered by acoustic guitar and his own voice, not really anything else. Sometimes he double-tracks on the vocals, and he's not afraid to let both the guitar and the vocals get deeply in the red. So there's a lot of distortion, but it's a mellow record, which is a swell dichotomy. His last tape was called Nu Metal Guru, because having a sense of humor is important.
"It's always funny being the solo guy — paint a huge picture with as little as possible," Waun says. "I have been recording mostly to cassette, sometimes with boomboxes. The songs on City Vibes are all from two of my sold-out cassettes."
The next tape is called Nu Kingdom; he ought to have it in town here before he goes on tour later in March.
"I've released a lot of tapes; some are shorter in length," he says.
"Usually about every time I go on tour I record whatever I'm tossing around at the time," he says. "My favorite tape is Nature's Tongues. I feel strongly about all the material on it, and it was my first tape."
Tapes in general have become a crucial part of Waun's process, not just his discography.
"A few years back, I met this rad dude named Johnny running a record shop out in Ferndale called Hybrid Moments," he says, of the founder of zzz tapes. "I played some shows, and it was always a blast. This guy came to me with an idea for a tape release — it would kick off a new label he wanted to start. He had an old karaoke machine and brought me out to a swamp in the middle of the night. He also photographed the session and used actual 35mm negatives on each of the tapes. Johnny once went on tour with me doing percussion on my sets and slinging his tapes. I had like $150, and we were in my car and went for like a month. He kept me human; truly an amazing guy."
Metro Times: To what extent is your recording style intentional?
Jeremy Waun: I guess it's all part of the plan. When you go into a recording session with literally junk mics and machines, you are going to come out with something raw. I usually put out quite a bit of sound, with my style of playing and singing, just naturally. Sometimes when it isn't maxed out, I feel like you miss out on the intensity. For Nature's Tongues I fed a condenser mic into a karaoke machine, and the other tracks were recorded via TASCAM Portastudio, with plastic mics.
MT: In what ways does your music fit in with what else is going on around town at the moment?
Waun: I'm not really sure if it does, or ever really did. However, this is my home and I love working on music here. I have had nothing but great times playing my music in Detroit. It has been a fruitful experience living here in spaces conducive to hosting events. And still to this day I meet new people in this ever-expanding creative membrane. It's awesome!
MT: In what ways does it not?
Waun: Detroit is a lively spot! And though maybe on an acoustic scale I might be lively, myself, I can't strum up at the holy Electronic Movement Festival! This is something I am trying to tackle. I have some works that I've been crafting via Casiotone, loopers, and delays. This platform is a little more fun live than acoustic. I can whip chains off stuff and be blasting through the spiritual sub-woofers.
MT: Do people not always get your sense of humor?
Waun: I have talked between songs about nu-metal, getting real deep and conceptual with it, only to look up and see silent people staring at me like a dumbass. I have also gotten to the point of acoustic Korn twist improv moments on tour, while people were going literally insane. Humor has become a theme in itself during my sets. I want to be serious, and am all about the most deepest imaginable thought. I might take it to the next level.
Jeremy Waun performs a record release party with Hurricanes of Love, Clyde Moop, and Lil Howlin Wolf at 9 p.m. Sunday, March 1st at "the Bagley vision building," 2144 Bagley Ave., Detroit; the event is pay what you wish.