oct 15th 2002 - e-mail interview by SEB WOOd
- Can you introduce yourself ??
Yes! My name is Timmy!
- You've just released your solo debut. Does that mean that FUCK split up for good or is 'With the Hole Dug' something you wanted to do on your own (with Doug Easley) ??
Actually, Fuck goes into the studio at the beginning of November to start work on a new recording. The new CD will be on an Italian label, Homesleep. We will be recording in Italy until December. We will also play some shows, but maybe only in Italy; we are still working on the details.
As for "with the hole dug", I knew that fuck was in the middle a long vacation. I had a bunch of songs saved up from over the years; either songs that I had presented to fuck which we ended up not playing ("I love to be with you", "Lost Love","Quittin' Time"), or old songs that I had written for other bands ("Mr. Lucky", "Rollin' On"), or songs that were too "traditional" for an "innovative" band like Fuck ("love me, love me not", "twas not courage", etc). I tend to write songs faster than fuck can record them, so I took advantage of the Fuck vacation by getting those tunes together and hooking up with some Memphis friends with whom I've always wanted to play.
You could say that the whole thing started about 20 years ago when I first met Doug Easley and we were supposed to record an album together (actually, "at 3 a.m." and "rollin' on" were written way back then, though they have both changed quite a bit over the years). I seem to remember that someone broke an arm back then, so the recording sessions were postponed. It simply took a little while before the opportunity presented itself again. (Time flys!)
- With some perspective, what do you think of FUCK's discography ??
It seems to be standing the test of time. Fortunately, I don't find any of it to be too embarrassing. You?
- No. Why is your biography written as if you were dead ??
We were looking for a 'format' for the bio. I decided on the Encyclopediae format, whereby the information is presented in past tense (since most people included in Encyclopediaes are dead). Though this has caused discomfort for a few, anyone who reads beyond the first paragraph will discover that , indeed, I am still alive and kicking.
I suppose another reason that it reads "post-humously" results in the feeble attempt to make a tie-in to the CD title, art, and mood.
- Because of its atmosphere, it seems like it was written late at night, alone but then, there are a lot of guests, so what was recording 'With the Hole Dug' like ??
Indeed, most was written late and alone. The actual recording sessions were fairly loose; whoever was available would stop by and play along. I knew that Geoff Soule would be in town for a few days , so I made sure I saved "Like a Lullabye", "Sweetheart of Mine", and "I Love to be with You" for when he got to town, since I knew that those songs needed a drummer and Geoff is such a great drummer. Other guests, such as Megan Reilly on backing vocals, were suggested by Doug Easley; I asked if he knew anyone who could do "ethereal" , so he called her up. She was supposed to come in and just do "Sweetheart" , but she ended up working on two others as well. As I say, it was loose.
Though, as a whole, most of the time it was just Doug and I ; one of us in the control room while the other played a part. Doug plays a lot of different instruments and I went into this project with the idea that I would take full advantage of his musical abilities. So, a large part of the process entailed myself laying down a track of guitar and vocals, then asking Doug if he had any ideas for an accompanying track. He usually came up with something by the end of the week.
The CD could have been attributed to "tim and doug", but he didn't want it. That's why I came up with the title, which sounds a lot like "with the whole Doug".
- I really like your voice in this album, it seems very close and restrained and it generates an atmosphere of confession. Did you take a lot of time during the recording to create such an impression ??
Yes and no. The mood of most of the songs lent themselves to a quiet whisper. But when I tried to sing forcefully on other songs, it always seemed to disrupt the flow of the CD. Invariably, I went back to the quiet whisper so as not to disrupt the flow. I became aware of this problem early on, when I was doing demo versions at home. So, on a few occasions I re-wrote the songs(slower tempos, sparser arrangements) in order to make it more appropriate for whispering.
During the studio recording, the most important thing I learned was that I sang a lot better when I closed my eyes.
- Some songs seem to be naive folk songs on the verge of becoming sad. They bring into relief the lyrics which often are touching confessions (my favourite is '3am'). Do you think that there is a Peeping Tom aspect while listening to these songs ??
Yes, I suppose that a few of the songs sound like accounts of "real life", whereby the listener would feel like they were eavesdropping. Socially, I spend a lot of time sitting at the back of a room, observing the interactions between other socially inept persons, imagining what they are talking about, who they are, where they live, etc. So, you could say that I am a Peeping Tim. A lot of my writing comes from mixing these observations with my own personal experiences. I would guess that most writers do the same.
- Other songs have a sinister atmosphere similar to Tom Waits or Nick Cave, in my opinion, even if your voice is totally different. For example, 'Mr. Lucky' and 'Rollin' on' are close to Tom Waits' sinister and quiet songs (on 'Alice' to mention something close). I don't know if you know him or if he has some kind of influence on your songs, anyway, what do you think about it ??
I would not say that he has any more influence than anyone else of his calibre (Dylan, Cohen, John Prine, Willie Nelson, John E. Rotten, etc). But, thank you for the compliment. I just got a copy of 'Alice'; best record he has done in years for me, his last few CDs had way too much of that demented-carnival-music-played-on-a-kitchen-sink goofiness; it's nice that he returned to form with some of his torch singing of yore.
- What and who are 'Rollin' on' and 'Mr Lucky' about ?? Who is this Rosa Mae who 'looks older than she should' ??
I was working in a small town in Texas. I would eat breakfast in an old diner. Though the waitress's name wasn't really Rosa Mae (I never learned her name), I wrote that bit from imagining what her life was like in that small town. Indeed, I overheard her talking to a white-haired man, complaining about her husband, and she did look like she was 20 years old and about to turn 40 years old. The beginning of the song was about myself, not knowing what I was doing stuck in a small town in Texas, very aware that I could turn into that waitress if I didn't get out of there.
"Mr. Lucky" is more of an amalgamation of a lot of different people, though one friend in particular was the initial inspiration. He became an alcoholic, his girlfriend left him, and he sunk into a deep depression. I sat down with my crystal ball and that was the future I saw for the poor sod (though, I also must admit, the 'bloody hands' and 'sore back' were mine)(I, too, have had one-too-many on occasion).
- Behind the depressive atmosphere, there are some bluesy/country guitar melodies from time to time. Is that Memphis effect on you ?? By the way, do you like this town because of its 'rock' history ??
Because of the 'rock' history, Memphis has more musicians than most towns of its size. Almost everyone I've met from Memphis knows how to play an instrument. Therefore, the competition is great; I have to work harder, which is good. After I moved here, I discovered that Memphis also has a big blues history. I see a lot of old blues musicians at street fairs and such. It is difficult not to be affected by it.
- From here, Smells Like seems to be a sort of little community in which friends would record albums together (for example, I think Doug Easley played with 2$guitar and Chris Lee did the artwork of you album). Is that true ??
Oh yes, it is a very friendly little community.
OK, now here are some very smart questions:
- "Was you ever bit by a dead bee ??"
Is that bit "insanity"?
- Do you like moustaches ??
On occasion, the "Fu Manchu" flips my wig, especially if it is worn by one of the fairer sex.
- What's your favourite chord ??
- Is Daniel Johnston worth worshipping ??
"Worship" is a dirty word, akin to "patriotism" if not "warship".
- Spinal tap or Gun's n'roses ??
- What's your favourite curse word ??
that "f" word.
- What's your favourite band of the moment ??
Margo Guryan (Canadian singer/songwriter from the late Sixties).
- What freaks the hell out of you ??
The future, as it is being doled out by our idiot puppet-king, Mr. Bush.
- What question would you ask in this list ??
What list ??
- What's your favourite pick-up line ??
It has been a long time since I've used a pick-up line; I am married. But, back when I was young buck, I seem to remember my best pick-up line was something like, "Hello". (I seem to remember having a lot of luck with that one!) But when that one didn't work, I'd try this other one, which was something like, "Can I spend the night with you?" ; not terribly romantic, but it got the point across.
And I thank you for the thoughtful questions.
Have a lovely day!
/pic from smellslikerecords.com /