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New Jersey Music Spotlight: Tula Vera

For many local artists, the nationwide quarantine has resulted in an immense struggle to stay motivated and continue producing work. Some bands, however, have taken this epidemic in stride, teasing new music for their fanbases in hopes that concert schedules will soon resume normalcy. One such band is New Jersey-based indie rock group Tula Vera, whose momentum doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

Tula Vera originated in Montclair, New Jersey, the hub for other accomplished NJ bands such as Pinegrove and Forth Wanderers. The band had humble beginnings, playing high school music shows as early as 2015. They started small, like most D.I.Y. bands tend to; local venues close by, such as The Meatlocker in Montclair or Boontunes in Boonton.

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Guitarist Dylan Drummond. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Batista.

Playing these smaller shows led to a healthy increase in fans, coinciding with larger gigs at the famed Stone Pony in Asbury Park and the eventual release of their self-titled album. When asked about his favorite gigs to play, lead guitarist Dylan Drummond told me it had “to be the New Brunswick basement shows,” and that “the energy we get from the audience is really intense which amps up performances in a really cool way. If you’re in the room, you’re in the music.” As a Rutgers University-New Brunswick student, this had to be my favorite answer from our interview.

The lead single that came off of the aforementioned debut album, titled “Sunspot,” has garnered over 30,000 plays on the band’s Spotify page since its release.

However, coronavirus forced the band to halt a tour that was certainly building their fanbase across the Midwest. When asked about his thoughts, bassist Joe Jansen said that he has “faith that, once the public feels safe going out and socializing, live music as a whole will bounce back,” and added that “there’s a need for music and people will want to go out and hear it.”

Produced by Astrid Dong.

With hope that shows will be on the horizon again soon, the band has released the first single off of their new album, titled “Gone With the Leaves,” which has already amassed 12,000 plays on Spotify in just three weeks. The single also earned the band a spot on SiriusXM Radio on May 3. They plan to release their second single, “The First Thing,” on May 15.

For drummer Margaret Marino, it was the significance of their debut record that helped the band establish its roots in the New Jersey music community. “It’s an important first step we need to take to begin growing as songwriters,” she explained. “The debut album fostered confidence to propel us into a world of exploration and experimentation present in the upcoming sophomore record.” Marino has also been enjoying virality on her Instagram during the state-wide quarantine, accumulating over 50,000 views on various videos of her percussion techniques. You can check her videos out here.

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Drummer Margaret Marino. Photo courtesy of Channing Huskey.

As I continue interviewing New Jersey’s best bands on the rise, I caught up with the members of Tula Vera to discuss other musicians from our state that have the ability to achieve success in the industry:

“Junkanoo is a band I would love to see become successful commercially, critically, and just overall as musicians. They are so talented, musically diverse, and unique! One thing that is important for a band’s success is its memorability. Every friend I’ve brought out to hear them, leaves hooked, and remembers them long after. Good melodies, great grooves, and really rockin’ when they need to be (gotta love ‘My Sharona’.) As a person of color, it’s also really important to me to champion groups like Junkanoo, who are so diverse and inclusive. I know Tula Vera is also a reflection of that thinking and that gives me a different kind of fulfillment that music, on its own, doesn’t give.” – Dylan Drummond (Guitar/Vocals)

“Doug Gallo is the hardest working man in the Jersey music community. His musicianship, audio engineering precision, and production mastery are second only to the generosity, compassion, open mindedness, devotion, and drive he exhibits as a professional and as an individual. He is playing a big role in making a lot of dreams, including ours, come true. I wish him and the team of AGL Sounds health, growth, and success for years to come.” – Margaret Marino (Drums)

“I hope everyone has success. Plenty of musicians in the scene have inspired me and made me want to become a better musician, and a better person.” – Joe Jansen (Bass)

Tula Vera was able to reschedule their upcoming gig alongside Hodera at Boontunes for July 18th, and are optimistic that the gig will go forward as planned. For more updates on the band, check out their website, Facebook, and Instagram.