DT: NOVEMBER 4, 2011
TIMOTHY B. SCHMIT
TO LAUNCH LATE FALL TOUR
NOVEMBER 25 IN PHOENIX AND WRAPPING DECEMBER 13 IN PORTLAND
A CONVERSATION WITH
THE GROUNDBREAKING VOCALIST, SONGWRITER & BASS PLAYER
FOR THE EAGLES AND POCO
This fall, groundbreaking vocalist, songwriter and bass player TIMOTHY B. SCHMIT— well-known for his work as a member of THE EAGLES and with the country rock group Poco–is gearing up for a U.S. tour. For the month-long trek (see dates below), TIMOTHY and his full band will perform songs from his fifth solo effort EXPANDO (2009, Lost Highway/Universal) as well as gems by THE EAGLES and Poco.
Written and produced by SCHMIT, EXPANDO presents a diverse mix of Americana, folk, country, rock and blues with an eclectic array of iconic artists including The Blind Boys of Alabama, Garth Hudson, Kid Rock, Graham Nash, Van Dyke Parks, Benmont Tench and Dwight Yoakam, among others. Highlights on the varied 11-song disc include “Parachute,” “Downtime,” “One More Mile,” “White Boy From Sacramento,” “Good Day” and the new single “Friday Night.”
Watch the video for the current single “Friday Night” here:
The late fall trek will take TIMOTHY and his bandmates to clubs offering an intimate vibe. The tour will kick off in Phoenix, AZ (11.25, Compound Grill) and visit the following U.S. cities including Solana Beach, CA (11.28, Belly-Up Tavern), San Juan Capistrano, CA (11.30 Coach House), Agoura Hills (Los Angeles-12.3 Canyon Club), Santa Cruz, CA (12.6 Rio Theatre), Bend, OR (12.8, Tower Theatre), Bellingham, WA (12.9 Skagit Valley Casino), Seattle, WA (12.12, Kirkland PAC) and Portland, OR (12.13, Aladdin Theatre).
Here’s a Q&A with the three-time Grammy Award-winning Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame inductee where he talks about his inspiration as an artist and songwriter and collaborating with idols throughout the years; his most pivotal artists and albums; the night of his best live show ever; and what surprises him most about his career so far.
What songs can fan expect to hear on this fall U.S. tour?
TIMOTHY: Mostly, I hit the new album pretty hard and I sprinkle it with some history. I do a few things from Poco and I do a few things from The Eagles. And I’m still considering a couple of other songs. It’s strong on the new stuff, but not without some nostalgia.
Can you talk about how you came up with the set list? Is that all you or did it come together with you and your band?
TIMOTHY: Actually, this is my thing, so I have been putting it together. It’s been interesting, because it’s different for me to be the alpha dog, although it’s very much a group effort when we’re on stage. But I make the decisions and the set list.
On EXPANDO, you’ve diversified and it’s reflected in the music. It’s a mix of Americana, folk, country, rock and even some blues and a verified array of guests. What inspired you to keep musically expanding?
TIMOTHY: Every artist wants to keep expanding; otherwise it gets dull, boring and meaningless. This album was my first attempt, at the risk of sounding corny, to find out who I am musically. I tried to be fearless on EXPANDO, and I thought, “What are my roots? Where does this all come from?” Well, it comes from folk music, and I’m still on this path while I’m writing a new album. It’s just me and an acoustic guitar, and I record that first. Everything else comes afterwards. I want the song to be able to stand on its own, as is, in its most naked state. So, as these songs develop, I just have a lot of fun experimenting with things. For instance, on “Friday Night” there aren’t any real, traditional drums. Well there are a couple drum hits, but the drum sounds are mostly a result of banging on guitars, chairs and walls. I like to create and have fun with different sounds. The bass drum on the song is a Sparkletts water bottle.
As far as having collaborations, only until after the songs are developed, do I think of who might be right for a certain song and what it needs. I was a big fan of Keb’ Mo’, but I had only met him once. So I got his number and talked to him and within a couple of weeks he came to my studio, which is at my home. That’s how it worked this time around.
On your current single “Friday Night” you had Garth Hudson from The Band as a guest. What do you feel he brought to the song?
TIMOTHY: First of all, The Band are one of my all-time favorite artists. It’s really crazy how this collaboration happened. My friend Van Dyke Parks–who is also on EXPANDO–was over doing some recording with me. We had a lunch break and we went up to the house. Out of the blue, a friend of his called who was in Los Angeles for The Grammys the year The Band was awarded the “Lifetime Achievement Award.” This friend happened to be sitting with Garth Hudson and said, “Garth is kind of bored, might you know anybody who would like him to play?” I couldn’t believe the serendipity, it was just fantastic. I jumped on it and within a couple of days Garth was in my studio. I was thrilled to have him there at all. He’s a very eccentric guy. He’s a challenge to record since he is wonderfully experimental. I finally discovered the best way to record him was to have him play the whole song top to bottom and record everything. After he worked on the song, we went into edit mode. He was seriously all over the place and that wildness is what’s so great about him and it comes through in a subtle way on this song. It was a great opportunity that dropped into my lap. The timing was impeccable. I couldn’t believe it.
What inspired the sentiment behind the song ‘White Boy from Sacramento’ and also, what do you feel Benmont Tench added to this more autobiographical track?
TIMOTHY: Well, the song is a little tongue-in-cheek, just goofing on my life a bit. I started thinking about my coming-of-age and what my influences were at that particular snapshot of my life. At the time, I listened to popular radio and a lot of R&B and Motown, but I lived in a real suburban, Waspy area and the song title came to me, so I went with it. Everything, in these short verses is true..
Benmont Tench brought his great piano playing. I played the song once for him and he instinctively nailed it out of the gate. He just did it. I recorded him once more, just for safety, although I didn’t need to. Benmont is one of those guys that just knows what’s needed. He knows the appropriate stuff, doesn’t play too much and doesn’t play too little. So if you get a chance to work with someone like him, you jump on it.
Something about the song “One More Mile” surprised you. Why?
TIMOTHY: I love raw, soulful, funky stuff and this song did surprise me, in a good way. I treated that track in a very basic fashion. I plucked the banjo and played the ukulele, and did some one-take percussion. But first of all, I performed this song completely live, although the rest was layered after my initial performance. I suppose its sort of country, and kind of bluesy. I don’t have a label for it. This one came very easy. Some songs take a lot more work than others, and it’s always good when they just flow out. This is one that came easier than others. I don’t know why.
On ‘Parachute’ you brought in Graham Nash & Kenny Wayne Shepherd…
TIMOTHY: As I was writing the song, it became really obvious that it was reminiscent of early Crosby, Stills and Nash. Rather than trying to take the song in another direction, I embraced it and called my friend Graham to sing on it. It was the right thing to do for the song.
With Kenny, I wanted a blatant rock-n-roll bluesy guitar and that’s what he does best, and he agreed to come to come over. The studio is my little workshop. Most of the people I called were available to come down in-person and play. These days, you can send a file away and have someone overdub in their own studio; but I’ve never wanted to do it that way. I’d rather it be more personal.
If they couldn’t make it to the studio this time around, then they weren’t on the album. When you send songs away and say ‘do this’, ‘do that’, you don’t have any more input until you get the song back. If something needs to be changed, you have to keep sending it back and forth. It’s far better and more rewarding to go through the process in-person together.
What would you like for people to take away from listening to EXPANDO?
TIMOTHY: I want as many people as possible to hear the record. I hope it brings some pleasure and joy into their lives.
I’ve spent most of my career in bands, so there’s always give and take, trade-offs and compromises when it comes to songwriting. There are ideas you get in there, and some things you don’t. Working on my own, I decided I was just going to do whatever I wanted to without anybody else’s agenda. This is not a complaint in any way about band members past or present, it’s just a little more freedom for me. I was finally ready to embrace that freedom on this album. I’ve had solo albums in the past and for the most part, my favorite songs on all those albums are the songs I wrote myself. It’s all a learning process; an ongoing thing.
What were the pivotal albums in your life, growing up?
TIMOTHY: That’s a tough one. I grew up with music, my dad was a musician. That’s how he made his living–he played clubs mostly. The first record I bought was an Elvis record when I was 10-years-old; it was ‘Hound Dog.’ I bought a lot of 45s when I was really young, single records; where you’d pile them on the record player and each one would drop to the next. I mean there was Elvis, Bobby Darin, The Everly Brothers, The Del Vikings, Little Richard, and the list could go on and on.
Later on, I was into folk music, that was a bit more on the commercial side such as The Kingston Trio. They were a huge part of my life. I would call them my first Beatles. Then, I picked up electric instruments and at the time I was listening to a lot of surf music as well as anything on the radio, a lot of R&B; The Beach Boys and the whole British thing after that, The Beatles, The Stones and that whole scene. The Fulfillingness’ First Finale album by Stevie Wonder, that was a huge influence and one of my favorites of his. ZZ Top, Alison Krause. I try to listen to a wide range of music.
On the road I listen to jazz in the morning. At night after the show, I usually calm down with classical music. For one of the songs on EXPANDO called “Downtime,” I was able to get one of the top vibraphone players in the jazz world, Gary Burton to play on that song.
Are there any new artists you’ve heard, that are sticking out?
TIMOTHY: There is this Irish woman; Cara Dillon. I think she is fantastic. She has an album out called Hill of Thieves, a really solid album. My wife is Irish and when we were visiting this summer, I got to meet her.
I try to keep up with what’s going on with the pop world, it’s changed so much. I don’t want to be hardened or be like an old grandpa talking about the new stuff. I can’t say it’s unlike any other time; there is always stuff you like or don’t like in any era. When my son, who is now 21, was a teenager, I took him to a lot of concerts–he loved it because I took him backstage. I saw a lot of bands and it’s kept me current. Mostly alternative bands…I saw some really good stuff and I saw some not so good stuff.
Any particular books that impacted your consciousness while you were growing up?
TIMOTHY: The first book that pops into my mind is Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. Recently, I’ve been reading all the works of Steinbeck. Honestly, I wasn’t a great student and didn’t read much when I was a younger. When I started going on the road, that’s when I really began reading. I’m still catching up on all of the classics. I just read The Grapes of Wrath for the first time, wonderful book.
Describe your best night on tour, ever.
TIMOTHY: When I was first part of The Eagles, we did Giants Stadium in 1980. We were playing in front of 60,000 people, a huge event. After the show, we ran into New Jersey State police cars and were whisked across the parking lot to waiting helicopters. As we hovered over the stadium, all of the people were still there and cheering. I remember thinking to myself “Wow, this is about as good as it gets. This is what I used to dream about. This is like The Beatles.”
Describe your least favorite night on tour.
TIMOTHY: Any night where you’re as sick as a dog, but you have to go on stage. There was a gig in Orlando, FL not too long ago and I was so sick. I couldn’t sing. I could hardly talk. I barely made it through “I Can’t Tell You Why.” I hope I never, ever hear that performance again, it would be humiliating.
Tell us about the players in your full U.S. band.
TIMOTHY: Hank Linderman is my friend and musical cohort in the studio. He’s an all-around talented guy. I originally hired him when I was building a home studio. I met him through my friend Gerry Beckley from America. After about a week, he became my engineer and we’ve been working together many years now. He is also a talented guitar player and he can sing.
I needed a unique drummer. I auditioned a few folks and I found a soulful drummer named Herman Matthews who’s an all-around great guy. Then I found Chris Farmer, who has done a lot of work with The Beach Boys. He plays keyboards, bass, and he sings.
I brought in Bobby Carlos who is my tech on the road with The Eagles and a bass player himself. I first brought him on the road as a tech, but there are a few songs where I need another player, so he comes up and plays bass when needed.
I hired three women–two of them sang on “White Boy From Sacramento.” I hired them just for one show, my first, in Los Angeles. It was so fun I kept them. Mortonette Stephens, Marlena Jeeter and Lynne Fiddmont. They’ve performed with everybody; Stevie Wonder, Elton John, and many others.
What’s the single best piece of advice that you’ve been given?
TIMOTHY: My dad was musician and I remember one night when I was about 16 years old and I was getting dressed in my band uniform and getting ready to go out and do a gig. We weren’t really close, but we weren’t distant either and we never had many deep talks. But on this night, he must have seen a sparkle in my eye; he came over to me before I walked out the door and said, “Listen, if this starts to work out for you people are going to write and say all sorts of things. Just remember, whatever they say, it’s all good.”
What has surprised you most in your career?
TIMOTHY: To this day, it still amazes me that this has actually all worked out for me. What it has brought me emotionally, spiritually and financially–all of it amazes me. I get to travel the world and have many adventures. There are so many people that want to do this and it’s not just talent, there are other things involved. Mysterious things, elements that come into play to push you forward. There are a lot of talented people out there that won’t get the chance. Why did it happen to me? I don’t know. I just try to not take it for granted.
Catch TIMOTHY B. SCHMIT and his full band on the road this fall:
|Fri||11/25||Phoenix, AZ||The Compound Grill|
|Mon||11/28||Solana Beach, CA||Belly Up Tavern|
|Wed||11/30||San Juan Capistrano, CA||The Coach House|
|Fri||12/2||Brooks, CA||Cashe Creek|
|Sat||12/3||Agoura Hills, CA||Canyon Club|
|Tue||12/6||Santa Cruz, CA||Rio Theatre|
|Thu||12/8||Bend, OR||Tower Theatre|
|Fri||12/9||Bellingham, WA||Skagit Valley Casino|
|Mon||12/12||Seattle, WA||Kirkland PAC|
|Tue||12/13||Portland, OR||Aladdin Theatre|
Pictured below: THE EAGLES – 1994.
Pictured below: POCO – 1973.