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pix Interview: Andy Timmons pix
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pix pix by Guglielmo Malusardi  

Page added in October, 2006 More [Interviews]

About The Interview

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Guitarist Andy Timmons has put together an impressive career over the past twenty-plus years, first with the rock band Danger Danger, then with a number of independently released solo albums and special projects, culminating with two recently released albums on the Favored Nations label, "That Was Then, This Is Now" and 2006's "Resolution".

Guglielmo Malusardi crossed paths with Timmons long enough to talk about his new record, his deal with Favored Nations, and fatherhood.


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  Guglielmo Malusardi: Let's talk about the cover and the title of your recently released new album, "Resolution". Why this title?

Andy Timmons: The title works on several levels for me. One of the literal meanings from Webster's defines the record perfectly. "To reduce something complex to it's simplest form..." The whole idea (musically speaking) of this record was to return to a much simpler recording style and vibe - meaning no unnecessary overdubs and production - a very honest '70s approach. There's generally only one guitar track on each song - no rhythm guitars or layering of melodies. Very little EQ was used. Absolutely no EQ was used in the recording, and very little in mixdown. We wanted the most natural sound possible. Resolution has a more direct meaning also in "the passing of a dissonant note to a consonant note". Tension and release. This is a device I'm aware of at every point of the process (consciously and unconsciously) from writing to improvising. To have an ear for and understanding of this particular essence of music is the beginning of really being able to convey emotion through music.

And yes, some meaning on a personal level... much of which has to do with the general desire to simplify my life (especially since the birth of my son Alex two years ago). I'm rediscovering so much through his eyes - stopping to smell the roses (so to speak) .


Guglielmo Malusardi: Who had the idea for the cover? What is the meaning of the cover image?

Andy Timmons: The photo on the cover was taken by Mike Daane of his son Evan. Early on in our recording process, he presented this photo to me as a cover possibility. I thought it was a great photo, but at the time it didn't work for me! I didn't like the idea of a baby on the cover of a rock and roll guitar record. However, when the song "Resolution" became the title track I realized just how perfect the photo really was. It very much represents the rediscovery of our rock roots and that initial inspiration in your youth when everything is fresh and new.


Guglielmo Malusardi: Why the choice to use just black and white?

Andy Timmons: It just looks cool! A lot more vibe and vintage feel. It matches the music. If it were financially feasible, I would have mixed the record in mono and released it on vinyl only!


Guglielmo Malusardi: At our last two meetings, the first in Italy (June 2005) you answered my question about the release date, "It's almost ready, it will be released in late November, or early December," then at the second one, in Spain, you told me that it will be released around May of 2006, because you decided to remix it. What exactly happened?

Andy Timmons: I didn't want to release the record until I was completely happy with it. I knew it would be an important release in my career and it had to be right. I'm very glad I took the extra time. I'm very proud of the results.


Guglielmo Malusardi: Let's start to analyze it musically. Can you provide a short personal comment - track by track?

Andy Timmons: "Deliver Us". The first track completed for the CD, it really sets the tone for the record.

"Helipad". A great groove from Mitch and Mike written in a jam session. The solo section is fun as I use an old Roger Mayer Octavia pedal (think Hendrix Purple Haze) and then add a Boss Octave pedal to that half way through. A very rude raw tone! Great energy on this one.

"Ghost Of You". My favorite Mitch groove on the record, also written in a jam session. Nice moments during the out solo.

"Resolution". During the recording process, Mike would constantly be going into the cutting room to move the microphones on the guitar cab speakers (as I said, no EQ, only mic placement) so I would frequently play little funny tunes to try and crack him up while he was out there. This riff just happened during one of those moments and I just kept playing it each time he would go to move the mic. It really had a relaxing, peaceful vibe to it. We already had 12 songs we were working on for the record but Mike said "you should finish that!" I did later that night and brought it in the next day. We flew Mitch in the next week to cut it. Very Hendrix meets Daniel Lanois.

"Redemption". Just a straight up rocker also written in a jam session. I purposely put a couple of brief musical quotes in there to amuse myself. One from Ace Frehley. One from Charlie Parker. Can you find them?

"Lydia". Yes, it's actually about someone named Lydia and it just happens to have a Lydian sound to it! My favorite solo on the record is the middle solo on this track.

"Gone". Written on 9/11/01 so fairly self-explanatory. I was on a tour bus headed for Atlanta as the horrible events unfolded before our eyes on CNN. I had phoned my wife to make sure she was OK just as the towers were falling. All I could say was "they're gone... they're just... gone". Dedicated to all those lost that day and their families.

"Move On". The main groove was written during an ATB jam session - classic Mitch Marine! I originally thought of it as a potential vocal tune, so the melodies actually started off as vocal melodies... not a bad way to write.

"Beware Dark Days". Another song that started with an ATB jam - great drums!

"The Prayer/The Answer". A very intimate and personal song. I wanted it to feel like a conversation with God.

"Headed For The Ditch". We put this song on as a hidden bonus track because it really didn't seem to fit the rest of the record thematically, but it had turned out so well that we had to include it ! I'm playing a '68 Telecaster on this one - it just has the twang!


Guglielmo Malusardi: Tell us about the guitars and amps and whatever else you used in the studio.

Andy Timmons: 90% of the record is my Ibanez AT300. I also used my AT100 for "Helipad" and a 1968 Fender Telecaster for the hidden bonus track "Headed For The Ditch".

The main sound of the record amp-wise is a 1968 Marshall Super Lead and a 1979 Marshall JMP both run clean with a distortion box and tape echo before the amp. That's about it. Also used were a Mesa Boogie Lone Star, a 1964 Vox AC30, and a 1969 Marshall Super Lead.

Cabinets were Mesa Boogie Rectifier 4x12 and 2x12 loaded with Celestion Vintage 30s.


Guglielmo Malusardi: What approach did you use for the solos? Did you write them ahead of time, or did you improvise them?

Andy Timmons: All the tracks began as live performances with the trio, but when I listened back to the original takes, I was only 50% happy with what I had improvised. I heard myself repeating a lot of things I had already recorded. It didn't sound fresh to me. As I didn't want to punch in to fix the takes, I decided to learn the improvised parts I liked and then compose around those ideas until I felt like I had a really great cohesive statement. Because of this approach I can honestly say that I'm very happy with the result.


Guglielmo Malusardi: I clearly remember the first time I listened to "Deliver Us". It was in Barcelona, Spain on September the 26th, Guitar Fest 2003, with your band, Tony Hernando and Matthias Eklundh's Freak Kitchen. Tony Hernando and his guys made a joke about starting their soundcheck with your tune! Do you remember it?

Andy Timmons: Oh I remember very well! We got a big kick out of that! Our version is in the key of D, but they had put it in the key of A and with a very Spanish flair! Actually a pretty cool compliment!


Guglielmo Malusardi: Is it my imagination, or on track number 5, "Redemption", from about 3:06 to 3:08 you're paying a tribute to an excellent Indiana-born and Texas-based guitarist J?

Andy Timmons: Haha! Yes..the lovely "Groove or Die" arpeggio! Good call!


headline Guglielmo Malusardi: Is this your first release under the moniker Andy Timmons Band? Was it a label decision, or yours?

Andy Timmons: No, our decision, as it is the first truly ATB CD! Mike and Mitch have recorded on most of my other CDs.


Guglielmo Malusardi: Let's put the spotlight on your bandmates now.

Andy Timmons: Mike Daane is on bass and Mitch Marine is on drums - the original lineup of the Andy Timmons Band. These two guys understand my writing and playing better than anyone I've ever played with. You can develop a great telepathy with certain players over time. I rarely ever need to direct in the studio - it's all instinct between the three of us. They both have really unique approaches to music that surprise me and inspire me.


Guglielmo Malusardi: The CD has been released by Favored Nations. You previously released for them "That Was Then, This Is Now" - kind of a best of your three previous albums, "Ear X-tacy", "Ear X-tacy 2" and "The Spoken And The Unspoken" How did you get the deal?

Andy Timmons: It's actually just a best of my first two CDs "Ear X-tacy" "Ear X-tacy 2" plus five new tracks added.

Steve Vai approached me about joining the label very early in it's inception and it was his idea to release a "best of" first. I was very happy to do so realizing that having his name associated with the project would probably help my credibility in the guitar community. I have a lot of respect for Steve, not only as a musician but as a businessman. I knew I could learn a lot - and I have!


Guglielmo Malusardi: How do you feel when you think about the fact that the boss is one of the most famous rock guitarists on the planet?

Andy Timmons: It's a little daunting when you realize the first guy to hear your new record will be Steve Vai! It's a nice pressure to have!


Guglielmo Malusardi: After two albums with half of the songs with lyrics, you decided for an instrumental one (for which I'm personally very happy). What drove you in that direction?

Andy Timmons: It just felt right to do a very focused instrumental record. We really wanted to make a record that could stand up next to any classic guitar record (a nice goal to have!) I certainly have a lot more vocal tunes written and will eventually record them.


Guglielmo Malusardi: I deeply enjoyed every concert of yours. "Resolution" is your fourth official solo album release. I think the time has come for an Andy Timmons Band live CD. Do you agree?

Andy Timmons: Yes! Will happen soon.


Guglielmo Malusardi: To be precise, as far as I know, you appear as a guitar player on two live albums: "Out Of The Blue", recorded live during the 97/98 European tour of Simon Phillips band and "Pawn Kings Live", recorded live at the Blue Cat Blues in Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas on August 26, 1998. Tell us about these two quite different musical situations in your career.

Andy Timmons: You can also add Olivia Newton-John's live CD "One Woman's Musical Journey" - now there's three very different situations! (There's also a rare Danger Danger EP called "Down and Dirty Live".) The Pawn Kings was a very free-spirited band that was a great excuse for me to play once a week in Dallas when I wasn't on the road. We just decided to record one night and release what we found acceptable - it almost never came out! In Simon's band, we recorded every night. So at the end of the tour, Simon went through al the tapes and selected what he thought sounded best and sent to us for approval. There's some great moments on that one.


Guglielmo Malusardi: From your 'gold records' period with the world wide famous rock band Danger Danger, through many studio sessions, collaborations and your solo career, you've been surfing the "music wave" for about twenty years. How do you feel looking back over the years?

Andy Timmons: It's hard for me to ever be satisfied, but I have to say that I'm very proud to have had the professional opportunities I've had over the years. It's very rewarding to be known and respected amongst my fellow players and I hope to continue to improve and earn that respect in the years to come!


Guglielmo Malusardi: You've developed a kind of "Andy Timmons trademark sound". Did you reach this point naturally, or did you work a lot on it, trying to keep at a distance any possible musical connections with other musicians?

Andy Timmons: I think I've always had lots of my influences show in my playing. I think a player naturally evolves over time and settles into what becomes "their" sound. It may take longer for some than others.


Guglielmo Malusardi: A little bit more than two years ago, you and your wife became parents for the first time - Alexander Julian Timmons. This event surely changed you as a man; did it change you as a musician as well?

Andy Timmons: I'm not sure it has, though I have to imagine it has on some level that I might not be aware of just yet.


Guglielmo Malusardi: Thank you very much for the interview. Last question. What's in Andy Timmons immediate future?

Andy Timmons: Touring, more recording, and most certainly more diaper changing!


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