Tim Easton is one of those guitar-wielding troubadours that wins your affection from the first time you hear him sing. There’s something about his voice that calls you home, back to your roots and the front porch of grandma’s house. Or maybe that’s just me.
In August, Easton released his newest album, Not Cool, which definitely draws its listeners deep into the South, lickin’ their chops for a whiskey to toss back while listening. Again, maybe that’s just me, but I reckon you’ll feel the same when you hear this gem.
In anticipation of his Cleveland performance this week, I caught up with Tim regarding the new album, his move back to this side of the country and his pride and joy: his daughter.
When did you first pick up a guitar?
I was around twelve years old. My brothers played.
Was there an album or artist growing up that made you want to delve into music?
The Beatles first. The just made it feel so good. Then later on, the many bluesmen that had a way of conveying joy and pain in a way that made me want to do the same.
What about growing up in the Midwest has stuck with you?
I’m having a hard time answering this question! It’s hard to say. I’m a Midwesterner, for sure, but now I live in the South, as do other members of my family. I lived in Japan as a kid, too, so I’m kind of all over the place in regional values and traditions. Akron was a great place to grow up, learn how to drive, go on first dates…all forms of culture pass through the Midwest to inform the hungry artist types who grow up there.
The first time I saw you in Cleveland, you were living in California. What inspired the move to Nashville?
The birth of my daughter was the main thing. We had to get back to a more regular environment with trees and rivers and lots and lots of children. I had made four records in Nashville, and resisted moving there for a while, but now it was time. Not Cool is the first record I’ve made since moving here. Now, I’m back in the music business, so to speak, and that reminds me why I moved to the desert in the first place!
Is it important to you to make music a part of your daughter’s upbringing?
She’s my main focus these days. I want her to be able to improvise with the best of them and it looks like drums are her calling. At least, this week. I’m actually truly depressed about leaving her for a few weeks to go on the road. It’s not easy and I’m not sure how I’m going to manage as today is just day one. As soon as she can carry, set up, and break down the drums, she is on the road!
Are there any musicians who inspire you to keep pushing yourself to grow personally?
Certainly. Lots of them live in my neighborhood! Then, there is Patti Smith.
Let’s talk a little bit about the new record, Not Cool. What inspired your sound on this album?
It’s most definitely a Memphis thing. People in Memphis would possibly disagree with me, but I definitely wanted the Tennessee Three sound of Sun Studios; live, raw, no fussing around, with plenty of greasy attitude. I wanted to make the sound of a honky-tonk band going at it on a Friday night, and then wind it down to rest your bones after a few rounds on the dance floor.
Was the recording process different than previous albums?
Way more live and singing the keeper vocals with the band right there. It was made really quickly. On day one, we cut six songs.
The first time I saw you, you had the boys from the Madison Square Gardeners backing your set. How did you choose the people who recorded the album with you?
I walked into a place called Robert’s on Lower Broadway in Nashville. There’s been a consistent scene of great players on stage there ever since the 90s vintage music resurgence and it’s still like that now. I guarantee it’s the best band you are going to hear on that strip, no matter what time of day or night it is. I saw J.D. Simo on guitar there and Joe Fick on upright bass and hired them as the core of the band.
Are you still painting?
Yes. I’ve painted nearly fifty LP jackets for the NOT COOL PAINTED LP series. I’m going to have a show in Nashville this December and it’ll be on TimEaston.com as well.
Why do you think that vinyl is making a comeback?
I think people love how much room it takes up in their house and how fun it is to haul it around every time you move!
Seriously though, some people say it’s because it sounds better but I don’t think that is true. It can sound better and often does, but what I think is that people are looking for something more authentic. Anybody can whistle into a computer and put something up on iTunes for ninety-nine cents these days. When somebody has taken the effort to craft an album, people make take notice. This is something true music aficionados have known all along. These days, if you are not putting your music on vinyl, then you are telling most music freaks that you really don’t care about it that much, so why should they?
Tim Easton will delight Cleveland on Wednesday, October 9th at the Beachland Tavern. Joining him for the evening will be Brent Kirby. $10 gets you in and doors are at 7pm.