“There’s nothing in the world I’d rather do than just be with the four of us making music,” Tyler Tingey occasionally thought while separated from his bandmates during his mission in London. Tyler and two of his bandmates, cousins and fellow missionaries Spencer and Oliver Tingey never forgot about their music dream while their fourth member, Dylan Self, honed his drum skills back in Las Vegas.
Their band, Brumby, ultimately survived the three years apart while band members spread to different parts of the globe — from Las Vegas to England, Mexico and the Philippines.
The band members have created stirs within the Provo music scene since returning, taking first place at Velour’s 2014 Battle of the Bands competition on June 14. Previous winners of the same competition include Neon Trees and Imagine Dragons. Brumby had a hectic week at the time of the competition, playing at five different concerts, both in Utah and Idaho. Band members felt relieved when the competition ended and the judges came to a decision.
“We heard our name announced, and it felt really good,” Self said. “We worked hard for it, and I thought it was a pretty heartening moment for all of us.”
Brumby has turned heads recently but, like most bands, had small beginnings. Tyler Tingey, Spencer Tingey and Self, who all grew up on the same cul-de-sac, always had an intense interest in music. Self’s dad was in a band in the 70s, and he bought his son a drum set. Tyler Tingey started playing the guitar when he was eight, and Spencer Tingey would later learn to play the bass. They knew they had potential together when Oliver Tingey picked up the microphone for the first time.
They started performing at different venues while in high school but used a different name at each show.
“We didn’t want to officially be a band because we thought that was kind of lame when we were younger,” Spencer Tingey said. “Eventually we were like, okay, we need a real band name.”
Their family’s favorite movie, “The Man from Snowy River,” inspired their decision. The movie’s plot revolves around wild horses, called brumbies, that cause havoc for Australian ranchers. Band members tossed the name The Brumbies around for a while but knew immediately they’d found their name when one band member suggested through text, “Brumby?”
The cousins’ mission calls interrupted the band’s progression, but absence made their hearts grow fonder. They credit their time as missionaries for stimulating creativity because they experienced “an array of emotions that you don’t get anywhere else.”
“It was sort of like a creative dam, where everything that we had was … churning,” Spencer Tingey said. “Once we came home, the dam was open, and we could let all of those ideas flow.”
They nixed most of the songs they wrote in high school and discussed their new song ideas upon returning. They debated each song idea thoroughly before releasing their new EP, “The Westwind Kid,” which they produced with Joshua James. Creative differences can cause problems between band members, but their weekly “companionship inventories” help rectify differences.
“Writing songs is such a personal thing,” Oliver Tingey said. “It’s like, ‘Oh, I had this idea that I created in my mind.’ And then you show it and they’re like, ‘Yeah, I don’t really like it.’ That hurts.”
“Not very many bands are able to walk out of the practice room and still say, ‘Hey, do you want to get street tacos?’” Tyler Tingey added.
The EP features a Western theme, and many think of the group as a Western-alternative-rock band, but the group doesn’t identify with any certain genre. They, similar to Coldplay, like the idea of themes that change from album to album.
The cousins decided to study at BYU after their missions but had to convince Self to leave his other band and move to Provo. He always had plans to regroup with them, but Self, who is not LDS, had a harder time adjusting to life in Provo.
“The idea of me moving out to Provo was kind of a big deal,” he said. “It was just a culture shock for me completely.”
Band members study majors as a “Plan B” but also as a way to further their music careers. Tyler Tingey plans on applying to the School of Music, Spencer Tingey studies neuroscience and Oliver Tingey is a business management major with an emphasis in entrepreneurship.
“It’s not the typical Marriott School business to start, but it’s very much a business, so if this is my entrepreneurship, so be it,” Oliver Tingey said. “There’s the business side, there’s the creative side, and learning how to balance those two has been a really great thing.”
The band members have always spent most of their time together. Even Spencer Tingey’s wife, Natalie, spends a lot of time with the band. Tyler Tingey, who is engaged to marry on August 2, also passes much of his time with his fiancée hanging out with the band. He explained to his fiancée from the beginning he had plans to play the guitar for a living to make sure it was okay with her.
“When you’ve had a dream for so long, since we were this young, we’re just wired to try to succeed for it,” Tyler Tingey said. “We feel very blessed that our families have been supportive and haven’t called us losers and to get a real job.”
Brumby has spent this summer touring all over the West Coast: in Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon and California. Provo offers a chance to perform in music venues for people of all ages, but Las Vegas proves difficult as most venues are bars and, of their most interested age group (18-24 years old,) half can’t enter. The band holds its Las Vegas shows in a house on Westwind Road, where the members built a stage and backdrops out of wooden palettes.
Their future plans are to continue touring and performing “The Westwind Kid” as they continue tweaking it. More music videos are on the horizon, and more albums will come later as Brumby makes a career out of its passion.
“You can just be in some sort of garage band where you don’t take it that seriously, or you can make it your life goal,” Self said. “We’re really excited to have it as our life goal … because it’s the most rewarding thing.”