Interview: Tim Hart

Tim Hart
Image Courtesy of Tim Hart

Tim Hart, drummer for Boy & Bear and accomplished singer-songwriter, will release his debut solo album Milling The Wind this Friday and from what we’ve heard of it already we can tell you it’s very very good. We got on the phone with Tim Hart direct from Prague where Boy & Bear were taking a small break from their European tour to chat about the album, the collaborators who helped bring it all together and juggling a solo career while part of a hugely successful band.

Gareth Hugh Evans: Your new album Milling The Wind comes out this Friday. I’ve been listening to it over the last week or so and I really really like. How’re you feeling about it?

Tim Hart: I really appreciate that. It’s come together really well, I’m really excited to release it. It’s been a been a project I’ve been wanting to do for years and it was just the right timing at the end of last year to record. Mark [Myers] is a good friend of mine, from The Middle East, and we worked together on it – I just couldn’t be happier with the result. I wanted it to be all stripped back and I wanted it to be about the songs and that was something really important to him as well. It’s not flashy, it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, but I think it’s an album that’s about the songs. I’m really happy with the outcome, it’s really nice to put out a record that I’m 100% proud of and behind.

GHE: I was going to touch on the fact that it does sound so raw. The production just feels like you’re sitting in the same room as me.

TH: And that was really important to me. The albums that I grew up listening to were Simon and Garfunkel, Neil Young, early Dylan and Nick Drake. For me, regardless of how intricate those albums were, they were always about songs, they were always about great song writing and I guess that’s the tradition I wanted to follow in. I don’t profess to be a great songwriter at all, I’m still just learning my craft, but that was my benchmark, what I was aiming for, the whole idea of it being raw. I love the fact that it’s an album that you feel like you’re sitting in the same room as me playing my songs. That’s exactly what I was aiming for.

GHE: The press around this album has the same touchstones you’ve commented on – Simon and Garfunkel, Neil Young, Bob Dylan. I do get the Simon and Garfunkel influence quite a lot in a number of songs. Are you, like Paul Simon, quite meticulous with your songwriting? Do you agonise over every lyric?

TH: I’m a real self editor. It takes me a lot to be happy with my own lyrics. That can be tough because the songs can take a long time to finish. I mean one of the lyrics on the record was only finished about half an hour before I recorded the song. So I guess I am a real self editor. And that’s not always a good thing – it can be quite agonising.

GHE: I can imagine. It must slow down the songwriting process quite a bit.

TH: It does. But then again I don’t think it should be rushed. There are guys like Neil Young who believe that a song should be recorded straight after it’s written but there are other people like Leonard Cohen that might not finish a song for two or three years – I guess I’m probably somewhere in the middle. If there’s a song that just falls out and it’s great and it doesn’t need any editing then that’s a real bonus but it definitely doesn’t happen for me all the time.

GHE: I saw you supporting Ben Howard and Michael Kiwanuka in Sydney a couple of weeks ago. On stage you mentioned you’d been playing covers in pubs and clubs for a long time. Was this album being written during that period?

TH: By pure necessity and by pure fact [Boy & Bear] haven’t really gotten off the road for the best part of two and a half years it had to be written on the road. And to be honest it’s not that hard – 80% of a musician’s life is just hanging around so whenever I’ve had spare time I’ve been writing. I look at my dad and he’s been working 10 to 12 hour days all of his life so I can’t really complain.

GHE: I imagine that playing with Boy & Bear has opened a few opportunities for you?

TH: Definitely. It’s all a journey isn’t it? I think the fact I have been with Boy & Bear it would be silly to not to use some of their connections. At the same time it was never a project I wanted to be riding on the coattails of what we’ve been doing with Boy & Bear. But the great thing is you still have the same network of people and that’s actually really important I think. You do have creative people around you and you can ask them for advice and people are really willing to give it and I feel really fortunate for that.

GHE: It’s going to be inevitable that your slow work is going to be connected and compared to Boy & Bear. But it seems like those guys are really open to you exploring this solo path. And you’ve even worked with them on this record as well.

TH: I’m the kind of person that if people are around, and we’re friends and we’re in that community together then I want them to be part of what’s happening. Like Killian [Gavin, Boy & Bear guitarist) was away on his Honeymoon but he’d already recorded my demos for me and Dave [Hosking, Boy & Bear lead vocalist] flew up for a couple of days and Jake [Tarasenko, Boy & Bear bassist] was up there too with me – it was a case of whoever was around. Jordan [Ireland] was there one day and he was just hanging around, we had a beer or something, and he was playing banjo along to a song and I was like “that sounds really good, why don’t you lay it down?” and he did. That’s kind of how the record was made. It was me and Mark driving it the whole time and a flood of people coming in and out – if anyone was there they played on the record which is lovely.

GHE: Looking at the list of names you’ve got playing on the record – I love that you have Jake Tarasenko playing the flute and fife, that’s really cool.

TH: He’s incredible man – he just learnt it one Christmas

GHE: And you mentioned Jordan Ireland from The Middle East and you’ve got Faith Lee singing backing vocals on one track, and obviously Dave Hosking’s vocals on another which are quite distinctive.

TH: Dave and I used to sing a lot of covers together before Boy & Bear so it’s really interesting to hear his harmony behind me again rather than the other way around – it’s the way the things should be in life [laughs]. It’s really generous of those guys to give their time to sing on the record.

GHE: You have talked a little bit about working with Mark Myers but I wanted to know how he is as a producer. It seems like everyone who works with him says he’s very collaborative.

TH: Yeah he is. The greatest thing about Mark is that he’s able to turn my airy-fairy musician etherial ideas into reality. And then on top of that push the songs further. He’s a real straight shooter so I was able to get a lot more out of my songs by working with Mark. He’s very easy to work with but at the same time he won’t pull his punches if he feels like a session needs to go a certain way. And that was important for me – I felt like I needed direction, I felt like I had the ideas but to get to the end of the record it was important I had someone like Mark.

GHE: You have your tour coming up in September – it seems like you the spaces you’re playing in are much smaller than what you’d play with Boy & Bear. Is it nice being back in those smaller clubs?

TH: At the heart of what I do I’m a musician so these venues feel really life giving to me – I love doing smaller venues, I love having an intimate crowd. That’s what I love about folk music – it’s music of the people. We still try and do that with Boy & Bear but it becomes more difficult to transmit and show people who you are when it’s a bigger stage or you’re in and out at a festival. It’s a real treat for me to do tis tour. Can’t wait.

GHE: Thank you so much for your time today. I’m looking forward to seeing you again live.

TH: Cheers mate.

Milling The Wind is released this Friday 17th August. Tim Hart will be touring the album nationally from the end of August – the full list of dates are below:

Thursday 30th August – The Grace Emily, Adelaide, SA
Friday 31st August – The Ellington Jazz Club, Perth, WA
Saturday 1st September – The Newport Hotel (upstairs), Fremantle, WA
Wednesday 5th September – The Front Gallery & Cafe, Canberra, ACT
Thursday 6th September – Beav’s Bar, Geelong, VIC
Friday 7th September – Workers Club, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 8th September – Baby Black Cafe, Bacchus Marsh, VIC
Wednesday 19th September – Lizottes, Kincumber, NSW
Thursday 20th September – Lizottes, Newcastle, NSW
Friday 21st September – The Vanguard, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 22nd September – Yours & Owls, Wollongong, NSW
Sunday 23rd September – Clarendon Guesthouse, Katoomba, NSW
Thursday 27th September – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 28th September – The Loft, Gold Coast, QLD

1 Comment

  1. August 17, 2012 at 15:30

    […] “The albums that I grew up listening to were Simon and Garfunkel, Neil Young, early Dylan and Nick Drake. For me, regardless of how intricate those albums were, they were always about songs, they were always about great song writing and I guess that’s the tradition I wanted to follow in. I don’t profess to be a great songwriter at all, I’m still just learning my craft, but that was my benchmark, what I was aiming for, the whole idea of it being raw.” – Tim Hart chats to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here. […]

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