Local band Tires ends its journey


Courtesy of Tires/Rob Braune

The Des Moines-based band Tires has broken up, ending their three-year run of bringing a unique blend of hard rock and electronic music to the Iowa music scene. 

Waylon Sternhagen

The Des Moines-based band Tires has broken up, ending their three-year run of bringing a unique blend of hard rock and electronic music to the Iowa music scene. 

While many bands break up because of creative differences or tension within the band, founder Phil Young said Tires’ split was a matter of necessity. Members of the band are involved with many musical projects that are picking up steam. Something had to give.

“We’re all so busy with our other projects at this point,” Young said. “It seems to be the logical piece to set aside.”

Despite its relatively short lifespan, Tires far exceeded Young’s expectations. In a way, the band was a happy accident.  

In early 2011, Young’s grandfather passed away. Young took time off from work to attend the funeral, but he was unable to line up transportation to Indiana. Stranded in Ames with no other plans, he set out to make the most out of an unfortunate situation.

“I decided to do something creative and positive over those days instead of just wallowing around being sad that my grandpa died,” Young said. “I locked myself in my room and started making music.”

Young enlisted Wheelers bandmate, and then-roommate, Jordan Mayland to add drums to his solo recordings.

“He would come home from work over his lunch break, and I’d have the headphones waiting for him at the drum set,” Young said. “So he’d play whatever and I’d patch it all together and make a drumbeat behind the songs.”

Young didn’t think the project would have a life beyond the few days he spent recording the songs. Nonetheless, he posted the completed tracks online. 

A few months later, Nate Logsdon contacted Young. Logsdon was planning the first Maximum Ames Music Festival and wanted Tires to perform. While the show would give Young the opportunity to open for one of his favorite artists, Xiu Xiu, he was hesitant to take the gig.

“I didn’t know how we were going to pull it off,” Young said. “They were all just songs in my computer. It’s a lot of synthesizers, electronics and manipulated audio.”

After a few weeks of rehearsals, the band was confident they could perform their material live and agreed to play at MAMF. Despite spending ample time rehearsing, the gig at MAMF was still a nerve-wracking experience.

“I’d never been in a band that used a computer,” Young said. “We had to deal with a laptop that is slower than the cellphone I currently have.“

Nonetheless, the show was an overwhelmingly positive experience and went off without any major technical difficulties. In the months following their performance at MAMF, Tires opened for bands such as Young Prisms, Wild Nothing, Neon Indian and Antlers.

“It was kind of surreal,” Young said. “This brand new band that was kind of an accident was playing all these shows with these bands that I really admired.”

While the core of the band consisted of Young, Mayland and multi-instrumentalists Chris Marshall and Cory Wendell, the band featured a number of guest musicians from other Iowa bands. Collaborators included David Olson of the Poison Control Center, Matt Dake of Nova Labs and Mickey Davis of Is Home Is, among others.  

The band played a single show with vocalist Amy Badger of Love Songs for Lonely Monsters. This experiment was short-lived, and the band continued to play without vocal accompaniment.

Though the band produced several EPs and played many high-profile shows, the project was never a primary creative outlet for any of the members. In addition to various solo projects, band members are active in a number of bands including Annalibera, The Wheelers, The Volcano Boys and Easy Fruit.

Eventually, the group stopped writing new songs, and their shows consisted of the small amount of material they developed early on. Soon it was clear that it was time to move on.

The band played a final show at Inkblot Studios on Sept. 26 as part of this year’s MAMF. It was a fitting conclusion for the band’s career, taking place just one block away from where they’d played their first gig at MAMF in 2011.

Though Tires has ended, Young said members of the band will continue to be active in the Iowa music scene.

“Even though we’re calling it quits as this form of Tires, we’re all very active in the music scene,” Young said. “There’s a reason we’re ending the band to focus on these other things. I hope that people will check out the other projects we’re working on as well.”