a.k.a. Andrew Terrett
By Tom Jeffrey
Once in a while as music fans, we get very lucky. We stumble upon an artist that seems to have tapped into some mysterious source. An artist that pulls from a place that is somehow beyond the grasp of the rest of us. When we are fortunate enough to find such an artist, our minds become strangely soothed. Our eyes stay fixed upon them. Hoping that if we don’t look away, we may catch a glimpse of the magic that fuels their brilliance. This is the way I felt when I first heard Andrew “Tubby Love” Terrett. It was around six years ago, on a trip to his home town of Savannah Georgia. It was a slow night in the city, and my friend and I felt like seeing some live music. We called a few of the local venues to see who was playing, and when we heard the name Tubby Love, needless to say we were more than intrigued. We arrived at a venue called Live Wire, and besides one man sitting at the bar, we were the only patrons. Even though the venue was barren, Tubby Love and his musical partner Graymation played three extremely energetic 45 minutes sets. We were completely floored! Who are these guys? The two of us were running a record label at the time and representing some very talented bands, but we both knew that the two musicians in front of us were on another level entirely.
A few days later I returned home to San Diego with Tubby Love’s debut album. What I held in my hand felt like the musical equivalent of a trump card. My roommates and I had all grown up playing reggae guitar, singing and rapping our favorite songs together on a daily basis, so needless to say I was very eager to share this new found treasure with them. Not surprisingly, it was an instant classic amongst us all.
So here we are. Six years later, and this music was just as brilliant and fresh to us, as the days we first started listening. I received a text from one of my old roommates the other day, letting me know that Tubby Love was on a west coast tour called “Spirit, Soul & Songs”, that stopped at the Solana Beach Belly Up Tavern. I was thrilled to get a chance to see how this exceptional talent had grown and evolved over the past six years. It probably won’t come as a surprise at this point, but to say it simply I was not disappointed! Tubby Love had clearly been paying his dues, and his musical presence had grown to a seemingly larger than life level. He completely owned the stage. Commanding the crowd with a seamless combination of acoustic guitar, furious beat boxing, and a classically trained voice that is as smooth as any soul singer on the scene today. I had a chance to sit down with Andrew after the show, and listen humbly to his experiences and perspectives, that have made him such a truly unique person and artist.
Tubby Love: Super stoked to be here man.
TJ: Like I said before, your style and what you do, has always impressed me since the first time I saw you.
TL: Thank you man.
TJ: Cause I remember the first time I saw you, there was like 3 people there…
TJ: Me, Weaver, and some dude at the bar talking to the bartender, and you and Graymation played a hell of a show. You guys put every ounce of your soul into it, and it seriously touched us. And being able to take your music home and show it to my friends, and see how everyone liked it, beautiful thing man. I just wanna say thank you so much for what you do.
TL: Yeah man , it’s really cool to have someone who’s seen me in my evolution, you know not a lot of people here at the show have seen me like seven years ago when I was playing for no one. In my home town of all places, so that’s really cool man.
TJ: So right after I saw you, I understand you were about to go to Berkeley School of Music.
TJ: I remember you guys were talking about it. Gray went too right?
TL: Yeah Gray went too.
TJ: So my first question is how did that experience of going to Berkeley, if at all, influence your song writing process or how you approach a song?
TL: That is a really good question. I feel like song writing is something that can’t really be taught, but we’re all born with the ability to express ourselves in some way. You can’t really teach someone how to express themselves, but you can give them tools, and I feel like at Berkeley they try to enrich you with tools. Maybe tools inside of the box. Ya know I feel like a lot of the classes maybe teach you what the box is, and its up to us as artists to completely break all those rules. At Berkeley I had to burn a couple of my song writing teachers CDs because they never heard of certain artists. You’re teaching me The Beatles song forms, and stuff like that but I’m listening to Radiohead. I’m listening to Groundation. These are guys that are totally not abiding by any rules at all. They’re fully free. So that’s what I’m most inspired by. That’s really what I found when I went to Berkeley. I found a community of people that were listening to music that I had never heard of and passing it to me and totally influencing what I listened to and the inspiration that comes from it.
TL: So first and foremost it was Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. That’s what my parents were listening to when I was growing up, and that’s how I learned how to sing harmony. Listening to the greats of that time, and l listened to what was on the radio. I was totally a mall kid ya know, and I grew up in rural Georgia. It wasn’t til I went to Berkeley College of music, I mean I don’t want to give Berkeley too much credit, but it wasn’t til I broke outta my bubble that I started meeting other people that were doing things that weren’t ordinary. I was in a community of musicians, and I started realizing the music I liked, the same people liked that music. It’s kind of like a web. Everything is connected, and through the grapevine I started opening for bands, or going to see bands and meeting them. Becoming there friends or just showing up and bringing the vibes. By becoming friends music brings people together. It’s a force. It’s a force of nature that has connected me with some of my favorite people on the planet. Ya know. It connected us!
TJ: Most of our friends are musicians and I don’t think that’s a chance thing.
TL: Not at all. As of right now I’m so blessed, and stoked to say that most of my favorite musicians are either my friends, or are going to be my friends.
*Both of us laugh* (I’m pretty sure that is one of the coolest things I’ve ever heard someone say.)
TJ: So you’ve been playing all over the world now. What places are bringing out the most in you? What places are pulling your soul, and making you feel like “I’m doing my best work here.”
TL: Hawaii’. Hawaii’ right now is what inspires me the most.
TL: Well I’ve been on the island of Oahu. That’s where I met Mike Love. I met Mike thru a good brethren of mine named Paul Izak who is an epic farmer, musician. Roots musician. He is doing the work! He’s holding it down right now. He’s planting up food on the lands, and singing songs about the land and bringing awareness of that. He’s throwing a roots festival called Yogarden which is Yoga, and gardening, and music all day long. Totally in the roots music, bringing the organic food vibe, so for me that’s where I go to get my knowledge of what I wanna sing about, and see the movement in action. And Mike plays like every night of the week on Oahu.
TJ: So what was your first introduction to Roots music, and Reggae music?
TL: Outside of Bob? I mean you can’t discredit Bob, the originator of the roots, but it was definitely when I moved to Boston. Someone tossed me the first roots I listened to outside of Bob. I think it was Groundation, and Scientist. Which are two totally different ends of the spectrum. Scientist coming from a truly original roots background. I mean him and King Tubby were the innovators of Dub music, and Groundation is to me one of the first groups to pull out the original roots music into the future roots music.. Not dance hall, but staying true to what Bob was doing, and coming with new arrangements. Like full Jazz breakdowns, but still super roots. So for me it was definitely Groundation, and also John Browns Body. Living in Boston some of the guys from John Browns Body have a band called Dub Apocalypse. It’s a bunch of other amazing musicians. Every Sunday night in Somerville Massachusetts, they play in a hole in the wall bar, and they play the dirtiest dub music you’ve ever heard. Dub Apocalypse. It was my church. I’d go see them every Sunday that I possibly could. Going to see them evolved into getting up on stage with them, and getting to do a song. Actually one of the tunes on my last album “Love is Alive”, “Get up and Move your Body” features some of those musicians on the record. It’s an evolution for sure.
TL: Yeah man. Such a beautiful soul.
TJ: We were in the hotel, and we were like lets go see a band tonight. So we called a bunch of venues to see who was playing. As soon as we heard Tubby Love was playing we were like, I don’t know what the $@%# that is, but that’s the coolest name of any of the bands tonight! So thats why we went and saw you.
TL: Haha for sure!
TJ: So what is Tubby Love? What’s the deal with Tubby Love?
TL: That’s a really good question man! I ask the same thing everyday. I’m like what’s the deal with Tubby Love. Am I Tubby Love? Am I a part of Tubby Love? Is Tubby Love me? And I’ve been dealing with it, and going through identity crisis, and trying to get back to the root, of like who I am. Cause I used to go by Tubby Love, and be like “Hey I’m Tubby!”, and recently I’ve been introducing myself as Andrew again, because that’s my birth name. Tubby Love is just a vessel for the music, and it’s something that will catch somebody’s ear like “What is that?”. It originated from a nickname that was given to me in high school.
TL: Yeah, and you know it’s all about the music, so anyway that I can serve that, whether it’s Tubby Love. Whether it’s a band with a different name, it’s all the spirit that we bring anyway. I’ve just learned recently through touring, and opening for other bands, that it’s so important that I don’t put my worth in being a musician. Because musician is just the same mask as saying “I am this, I am what I do.” Which is not true. I’m a spirit inside of a body, like everyone else..
TJ: There’s the whole rest of the day. The rest of what you do besides being on stage.
TL: For sure! What I do is not who I am, and that’s been the whole thing for me. Tubby love is something that I do.
TJ: So that brings me to my next question, and it’s kind of a personal question, so be as discreet or as clear as you want about it.
TL: Bring it!
TJ: What kind of spiritual influences do you have in your life? What pulls you?
TL: *singing* “Jah Love is everywhere!” Jah man.
TJ: So Rastafari?
TL: I believe that Rastafari is one way to say it, but it’s the same. It’s all the same to me.
TJ: Just God. Just Jah.
TL: Yup I and I. Like I said earlier, I’m a sprit inside of a body, and I feel like the breath of life, Aloha, the breath of life is in everything. Everything is alive. Everything is moving. These walls around us are made out of trees. You know what I’m saying? It’s all connected. I believe in the connection of all things, and I believe that’s what I and I is. I am this, I am that, I am comma that. So the same breath that is in me is in all beings. I and I!
TJ: So the final question I have for you, is tell us a little bit about your new album. Tell us about how the evolution is feeling to you from one album to another. I don’t know if the album I got when I first met you was your first album, or your third or what?
TL: Ah well I don’t even count that actually when I tell people about… Which is cool! You got Tubby Love and Graymation, which is like an underground cut. That was made in a basement with my brother Gray.
TJ: Those are some amazing songs!
TL: Yeah! I was eighteen years old.
TJ: Did you produce it?
TL: Gray and I produced it together, and he engineered it. I wrote a lot of the songs, but we co-wrote some together. Actually I just got to see Gray. He’s killing it right now! He’s scoring television shows. He’s doing “Drunk History” right now for comedy central. Really rocking it! I love Gray. He’s an amazing musician, and he’s still doing a lot of music. The recent album that I just came out with is more of a roots album. Meaning that it’s all acoustic instruments. It’s beatbox, percussion. Sam Ites who plays with Mike is playing all the percussion on it, and actually Mike Love is featured on a tune. It’s a collaborative album with my brother Paul Izak who I mentioned earlier. It’s called “Camp Fire Anthems Vol. 2”. I think there’s gonna be infinite volumes. Basically it’s just mantras you can sing around a camp fire. It’s catchy hooks. Hooks that everyone can sing together, also with a little bit of my own personal truth in the verses. Paul and I wrote the songs together, and it’s my little lovechild, baby, project. I engineered, produced, edited, wrote all those songs with Paul. It’s been a part of my evolution, as a musician that gets to wear more hats than just a performer. All the hats of producing and creating.
It will be a thrill to see where Andrew “Tubby Love” Terrett’s spirit and music take him next. One thing seems certain. With so much talent, and a pure passion for life and love, it’s going to be a wonderful place.-TJ
Tour dates, music, and videos can be found at: www.tubbylovemusic.com