Tunnel Vision: Lions and lightning and sharks, oh my!

Tunnel Vision

What a phenomenal year this is turning out to be for Southern California’s Tunnel Vision. Hayden Hanson (vocals and guitars), Jacob Hernandez (bass), Matt Risley (keys), and Tanner Payan (drums), along with Daniel “Dela” Delacruz (sax, Slightly Stoopid) are living life to the extreme, setting world records, and raising awareness for a worthy cause. All while playing their primo blend of surf, ska, and reggae music! These guys deserve a Grammy for being the most outrageously adventurous band in the world!

But with so much to tell, where do we begin? Let’s start with the dream tour that just wrapped up after thirty-something incredible dates, The Beer Run tour. It all began last year when the guys were on the Spring Blackout 2016 tour with The Expendables, Passafire, Roots of Creation, and Edjacated Phools. Tunnel Vision became fast friends with Roots of Creation’s trombonist, Billy Kottage. Billy also happens to play with Reel Big Fish, the headliner of The Beer Run tour.

“We were stoked to be on the road with those legends because they’re one of our all-time favorite bands! It was a killer tour with this really cool lineup,” Hayden enthused. “We had The Expendables, which have the reggae vibe, Reel Big Fish with the ska and horn section, and The Queers, an old ’80s punk rock band. It was the ultimate trifecta of what we’re all about!”

“Hanging out with Reel Big Fish for the last six weeks, it’s just been insane. They are super nice guys, we got along with them super well. And watching them play never gets old because they put on such a good show every night.”

One of the concerns for a coastal band on tour is the severe lack of beaches on the road. The guys love to surf and admit to getting a little disoriented when they are traveling around inland. It got so bad a couple of years ago that they called their tour the “Life Without Surfing” tour. “But if there are waves, we will try and surf because that’s what Tunnel Vision is all about,” Hayden assured.

Last month, on June 20, The Beer Run hit The Fillmore, Philadelphia’s newest 2,500 capacity venue. The day before happened to be one of the band’s rare days off. Since the City of Brotherly Love is only about 60 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, Tunnel Vision seized the opportunity and took a little day trip.

“We went to Long Beach Island to catch some waves. When we got there, there was a full-on lightning storm going on,” Hayden recalled. “The winds turned offshore, so there was a swell in the water. The waves were five or six foot, just offshore, perfect conditions for surfing… Except for the fact that there was a lightning storm and it was raining. Still, we paddled out because those waves looked insane. To be honest, when we were out there, it was really creepy. No one else was out there, it was dark, there was lightning, and the sky was just dumping rain. Then, when Jake and Tanner were going over a wave, they saw this big old fin pop up out of the water.”

OCEARCH is a non-profit organization that is unequalled in its extensive research on great white sharks and other large apex predators. Part of their work involves tagging and tracking sharks all around the globe. Mary Lee is a 16 foot, 3,456 pound adult female Carcharodon carcharias (great white) that was named after OCEARCH expedition leader Chris Fischer’s mother. The shark was tagged on September 17, 2012 in Cape Cod. On June 17, 2017 at 6:45 a.m., Mary Lee pinged just off the coast of Long Beach Island.

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“It was pretty mental,” Hayden continued. “Matt and I had drifted down and we were by ourselves. We didn’t see the shark, but everyone on the beach was whistling at us and yelling, ‘Shark!’ So we came back to shore. It was really creepy, a full-on ‘Sharknado’ moment with tornado siren’s going off and everything.”

Steve Alten is a best-selling author who has written about sharks for 20 years. Next year, on August 10, the long-awaited and highly-anticipated MEG (Steve’s first novel) will hit the theaters as a summer blockbuster that stars Jason Statham and Ruby Rose. When asked if the guys in the band might have been in any real danger, Alten replied, “Wow, that’s a big shark! Great whites see the silhouette of a surfer and mistake it for seals, often rushing up to the surface from below. If these surfers see a fin — get out of the water.”

Entertaining Options wondered if that experience had put the guys off from surfing for a little bit. Hayden laughed, “No, we surfed the next day at the same spot… But it was sketchy.”

Knowing what you now know about this intrepid band, it might not come as such a shock to learn that those aforementioned world records that the band set earlier this year were a result of hiking to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, to perform a live-stream concert that raised awareness of ivory poaching.

“Tom Maxwell is the owner of Whiskey Barrel Records, where we currently are signed,” Hayden informed. “He works with all sorts of different charity foundations and one of them is the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation — they do these insane expeditions for charity.”

The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation supports projects around the world that build climate resiliency, protect vulnerable wildlife, and restore balance to threatened ecosystems and communities. Last year, DiCaprio reportedly paid $95,000 to go on an expedition with Swedish explorer Johan Ernst Nilson in Mongolia.

“Tom called me one day and asked, ‘Would you be down to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and maybe play a set on top of the mountain?’ We were like, ‘Yeah, definitely!’ He asked, ‘Do you think you could make it to the top?’ And we were like, ‘Yeah!'”

16422346_638323099684993_6468549240379969195_oClimbing to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro is a deceptively dangerous trek. Though it is a “walk-up” mountain, the extreme elevation (19,341 feet) can bring about a condition known as Acute Mountain Sickness. Once the human body ascends beyond 8,000 feet, oxygen levels and air pressure begin to decrease, producing dizziness, nausea, headaches, and shortness of breath in many individuals. In rare cases, the sickness can cause complications with the lungs and/or the brain. Statistically, less than half of the adventurers who attempt to climb the mountain actually make it to the summit.

“The fact that it was for a very good cause was a strong motivation factor for us. It definitely made us want to be part of it even more because of what’s going on out there. There are over 30,000 elephants being killed every year by poachers. It’s really messed up.”

Over the past decade, the elephant population has dropped by more than 60%. With more elephants being slaughtered than are being born, some estimates place the elephant extinction taking place in less than a decade.

“It was a pretty last minute thing,” Hayden told Entertaining Options. “We got our tickets two months before we went and that’s when we knew it was actually happening. We didn’t really have any time to train because we had shows planned right up until we left. In fact, two weeks before we went to Africa, we had a set of shows in Todos Santos, Mexico. We came home for two days and then we flew straight to Africa, so probably the only training we did was with tequila,” he laughed.

16835932_10158299390140553_5215943488199025798_oDuring the climb to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, hikers pass through five distinct climate zones: Rain Forrest, Heath, Mooreland, Alpine Desert, and Arctic.

“Were there snakes?” Entertaining Options asked.

“Yes. We saw all sorts of animals. There were lions, giraffes, hyenas… It was pretty crazy. At one point, we watched a lion eat a wildebeest. And that happened only about 20 feet away from where we were standing!”

“It took us six days to get to the summit,” Hayden recounted. “First we traveled through the rain forest and brush. After that, it was mostly a desert until the glacier at the top. Then, it took us two days to come back down. It was definitely the hardest most physical thing I have ever done in my life! There were men with us who had been training for this for a long time and they didn’t make it. But everything worked out in our favor. The weather was right and we were able to get all of our equipment up to the top. It was magical. I still can’t believe we did it.”

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After Tunnel Vision’s triumphant return home, San Clemente’s City Council saluted the musicians at a council meeting on April 4, 2017. Hayden, Jacob, Matt, Tanner, and Daniel each received certificates of recognition proclaiming world records for the “Highest Live-Stream Concert” and the “Highest Live-Stream Sax Solo.”

“All in all, it was an insane trip. Coming up next, we’ll be releasing a single that is a mash-up of a song from UB40 and a song from The Gladiators. We’ll be releasing it on iTunes and all the proceeds will go to help raise awareness of ivory poaching. We also have another single that we’re working on called ‘Holes in My Shoes,’ and that should be available shortly as well.”

Tunnel Vision: websiteFacebookInstagramTwitter
Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation: websiteFacebookInstagramTwitter
Steve Alten: websiteFacebookTwitter

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