When Thomas Wynn was a young kid growing up in deepest Florida, his listening tastes veered towards the heavier end of the spectrum: Metallica, Soundgarden, Sepultura. Then one day, when he was 13, he discovered his dad’s copy of The Band’s majestic 1968 Americana touchstone, Music From The Big Pink.
“I hadn’t heard anything like it at all,” says Wynn today. “It sounded like they had created their own world with all these weird and wonderful characters. But it made me realise that the song comes first – that’s what important.”
It’s an ethos that the vocalist/guitarist has carried through to his band The Believers, who open this year’s Outlaw Country Stage. Their third album, the emotive Wade Waist Deep, drinks deep from the well of classic American heartland music while adding flashes of Black Crowes-y swagger and even the odd flash of Soundgaren-esque heaviness to the mix. The six-piece band also features Wynn’s sister, Olivia as co-vocalist, lifting the earthbound soul of Man Out Of Time and Heartbreak Alley heavenwards.
“It’s great, having Olivia in the band,” says Wynn. “I mean, sure, we argue about everything – what to eat, where to sleep, who’s the better singer. But we used to fight a good bit more when we were younger – now we have wives and husbands to fight with.”
Wynn himself earned his spurs playing in a local church band while he was still in short trousers. “A lot of musicians come up that way,” he says. “We just toured with The Temperance Movement and their singer, Phil Campbell, started in the church too. The church is wonderful in many ways and terrible in many ways, but music is central to it in a way that it isn’t in everyday life. At a church, music what starts the day, it’s what brings the gathering together. That’s what we want to do too.”
Wade Waist Deep – The Believers’ third album, but their first released on the Mascot label – channels that deep-rooted, all-encompassing spirituality. Its title came from a sign Wynn spotted in a lake on a Native American reservation while holidaying in North Carolina. “It talked about the Cherokee nation, and how they used to wade waist deep in the water and then bring it up over their heads and say, ‘Wash me from my hatred yesterday, wash me from my unforgiveness yesterday, wash me from my pain yesterday.’ Man, that had so much impact on me, because you see it in Christian baptisms, you see Hindus in India bringing their dead down to the water and washing them clean and then letting them go. There’s so much imagery of cleansing and renewal.”
That’s much the same feeling you get from Thomas Wynn & The Believers. Take the plunge and let the water wash over you.
Thomas Wynn & The Believers play the Outlaw Country Stage on Saturday June 30. Buy your tickets here
You can also see Thomas Wynn & The Believers + Kris Barras and headliners Therapy? at Friday Night Live! at Maidstone Leisure Centre on Friday June 29 only a 5 minute walk from all campsites! Buy your tickets for friday night here
Words by Dave Everley