When local rocker band Welshly Arms released its song “Legendary” in 2017, which has surpassed more than 100 million streams on Spotify, new doors were opened to reach audiences far beyond Northeast Ohio.
Sam Getz, lead vocalist and guitarist, said the success of the track came first from determined emailing and calling people in the music business. Once it gained an impressive number of overseas streams, record labels and managers came knocking.
“[The song] changed the landscape for us,” Getz said. “It made it possible to go to new cities, or even new countries, and have people know who we were and be interested enough to buy a ticket.”
The song, a stadium rock anthem calling to mind influences from The Black Keys and Imagine Dragons, hit platinum status in Europe.
Getz said having a physical, tangible token of success reminds the band of just how many people around the globe have heard the song they created.
“That’s a really big recharge for me,” Getz said.
Founding what would become an international sensation
Welshly Arms, which takes its name from a 2001 “Saturday Night Live” sketch that features Will Ferrell, Rachel Dratch, Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon, formed as a four-piece band in 2013.
Getz invited his high school friends Mikey Gould, Brett Lindemann and Jimmy Weaver to his home for a barbecue, where they ended up jamming on their instruments together.
The quartet fiddled around with bluesy, soul-infused rock songs and got into the routine of playing together every weekend after.
“We started doing that for a couple months every Sunday, and then it kind of became a thing,” Getz said. “We said, ‘Hey, why don’t we line up a show at the Beachland and start playing this stuff for real?’”
Gaining recognition with a steady tour schedule
As a four-piece, Welshly Arms released a debut EP, “Welcome,” in 2013, followed by a covers EP and self-titled, 10-track album in 2015. Two years later, vocalists Bri Bryant and Jon Bryant joined the band.
The six-piece began touring all around the globe, embarking upon what would become a busy and demanding tour schedule.
Just this year, the band members played back-to-back shows in cities throughout Europe, filling up the entire month of November with stops in the UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria and Switzerland.
From these international stops and widespread presence in countries around the world, Welshly Arms gained a larger fan base worldwide.
Getz said playing on large stages for crowds of 10,000 people or more felt surreal.
“Festivals are funny because you never know what you’re gonna get out there,” Getz said. “One in Slovakia, there was a decent crowd for the band before, but then as soon as they’re done it starts to turn over and people are walking to the other stage.”
He said in these instances, he and his bandmates anticipate the crowd to thin out a bit. To their surprise, listeners were excited to stick around to hear the Cleveland group.
Getz made a point to say that the overseas festival experience isn’t “normal”—while touring Europe, the band would hop from a massive concert with an expansive lineup to playing an intimate club with a significantly smaller audience.
“[Touring has] got good and bad all over it,” Getz said. “We enjoy each other’s company, we enjoy being together, but I think we did it a little too much for a couple years, and we did get really tired.”
He said in 2019, the band decided to slow down and focus on writing and recording new music, which the band plans to release in January of next year.
Returning home to record an album
Welshly Arms released the album “No Place is Home” in 2019, which contains themes centered around being burnt out by the road, feeling lost and having the sense that they don’t belong anywhere.
The album was inspired by the nonstop touring, as well as a 19th-century home the musicians rented in Cleveland. The space served as a home base or headquarters to record the album, create new material and house their instruments and gear.
The band viewed the home as a safe space with no pressure, where they could write songs in any room and let their artistic sensibilities come to life.
The album’s first single, “Sanctuary,” contains lyrics sung by Getz, reciting “You are, you are safe with me,” backed by an organ, a choir of vocals and rhythmic hand claps that recall the peace, comfort and elation many might experience during a church service.
Creating the soundtrack to today’s mass media
The band’s larger-than-life sound has undoubtedly contributed to its widespread appeal, whether it is recording a hymn-like tune in a Cleveland home, creating a safe space through song in a small local bar, or blasting out anthems to large festival crowds far away from their homes.
The band has accumulated a large Internet following and a listener base beyond concert crowds with its original songs appearing in movie trailers, Major League Baseball promotional campaigns and feature films, including Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight.”
Tarantino’s penchant for Spaghetti-Western influences in his film aligns well with songs on Welshly Arms’ latest album, which features whistles and a larger-than-life wall of sound reminiscent of the music used in standoff or duel scenes common in this classic film genre.
Finding comfort in their Cleveland roots
Getz resides in Avon with his wife and two young children. Slowing down the international travel and rigorous tour schedule allows him and his bandmates to spend more time close to home and book shows in the local area.
“There’s something therapeutic about coming back here,” Getz said. “We have a lot of family and friends and then people who have been listening to our band since we started it in 2013, and they feel like friends too.”
The band will return to its home turf to play a show at the House of Blues Nov. 30.
Following the Cleveland stop, Welshly Arms will embark upon a U.S. tour beginning Jan. 17, 2020, in Louisville, Ky.