Interview: Tyler Hanan [9/13/11]
Timothy “Slim” Starks, drummer for True Widow, recently took the time to speak with us. Though I was fresh off long hours at my day job and he was stuck for long hours in a van, we had a great conversation about the band’s experiences, the “Skull Eyes” video, the upcoming EP, and much more. I urge you to read ahead to discover more about this excellent trio, as their long-titled full length is one of the better releases of 2011. If you haven’t listen to As High As the Highest Heavens and From the Center to the Circumference of the Earth, I urge you to do so.
Tyler Hanan: How have the shows been going so far?
Timothy Starks: Good, man. We were pretty surprised at the reception we got at the shows. We’re a little heavier.
TH: How would you compare it with the other recent tours you’ve done? What would you say is your favorite tour so far, or your favorite locations in the country to do shows?
TS: Each time we go out on the road we add a new one to the list, so it’s growing. When we started out, it was trying to get to San Francisco, or trying to get to New York. Now there are other places, like Richmond… Each time we go out, we come back with a new favorite place. It’s been a pretty interesting year because most of the stuff we’ve been doing, we’ve been doing support for other bands. So it’s kinda cool. We’re playing at venues that if we were by ourselves we probably wouldn’t be in. So we’re getting to a little bit nicer stuff.
TH: After your last album, you guys have been getting a lot of attention. Your fame, or your popularity, has been growing. Besides finding yourselves playing at bigger venues with these big bands, how else has it changed everything that’s been happening to you as a band?
TS: Huh. I guess I’d have to say we’re still in that gray area. There’s definitely been more attention on us since the new record came out. We’ve been able to get some good support gigs for bigger bands and whatnot. But we’re still working on the same pay scale, and still have all the same problems any other young band would have trying to get on the road. The biggest thing, I think, is there’s more of a name recognition now from the promotion that the record did get. That’s probably the biggest thing, because of all the support Kemado was able to give to us via the record as opposed to when we first came out.
TH: Do you have plans to record anything soon, or is still just touring and everything else?
TS: Yeah, a little bit of everything really. We’ve been working on the final touches of an EP that’s supposed to come out in September. We’re putting out a 12” EP. It’s got some songs from the last studio session that we ended up making the record out of, and it’s got some songs that we recorded ourselves in a little studio when we first got going. I think that’ll be pretty cool. I really don’t know about a full length. If there’s a new song, we tend to get together in the winter time and demo stuff. That’ll happen this year as well. (On a recent post on truewidow.com [link], Slim revealed that the EP will be titled “I.N.O.” It will feature three songs from the “As High…” studio session, two self-recorded songs, and new artwork from D.H. Kenneth, and Mats. It will be released in October.)
TH: That’s really cool, I did not know about the new EP.
TS: Yeah, we haven’t really talked to much about it, but it’s happening.
TH: Great. Obviously it’s hard living as a musician without being one of the bigger ones. What do you guys do besides your music to support yourselves?
TS: Yeah, I gotcha. Well all work for ourselves by phone. I do screen-printing, t-shirts and all that kind of stuff. Dan does a lot of wood-working. He’s really into early American furniture making, and that keeps him pretty busy when we’re at home. Nicole’s a makeup artist. We all have a real world to go back to that takes a lot of attention.
TH: That sounds pretty good. There are far worse jobs out there that you could have to do to support yourselves.
TH: I was wondering about the music you guys make. How did that form, your music? Was it because of certain influences you had and idolized, or did it just come from jamming out and finding yourselves for a while?
TS: More of the latter, you know? A lot of the influences that get listed for us, for our records, a lot of the time it will be the first time I’ve heard of a band. I think the sound, the songs kinda of came from within the selves. We just talked about the different sounds that we enjoyed and tried to find a cool hybrid, a way to put them together in the context of the song. It just evolved from that. Tones are key. That stuff’s just as important as the song-writing, I think.
TH: Definitely. You’ve mentioned the EP, do you have any other plans for the future beyond this tour and that recording? Have you talked about other tours or certain sounds you want to pursue?
TS: Once we get through this year and we roll out with everything, we’ll probably start talking to Kemado about doing the second full length. There’s no real rush on it right now, because we’re just now getting our legs under us with this new record and we getting attention for that. We’re in a good place as far as that goes, because we have to do these shows, and we have two albums worth of material. So there’s a lot to work with. When that EP comes out, we’ll have three different records to play through. We enjoy setting all the stuff up and recording ourselves. It just seems like winter’s the time when everybody has enough downtime to do that. We’ve been playing a few new songs. I think a lot of the stuff is getting close to being ready to be demoed. That’s when we end up doing that stuff. We haven’t even talked about where we’d go, if we’re going back to the same place, or if we’re going to work with somebody different. That’s all stuff where we’ll cross those bridges when we get to that situation. We have the two records to reference, between both recording experiences, we’re definitely striving to put something new out and just refine our approach to recording. I’m sure that the third record will evolve in a similar manner as the second did to the first.
TH: That’s all exciting. I’m sure fans are really looking forward to the new material. You did a video for your song “Skull Eyes” off the latest album [link]. I love this video, it’s really cool looking, it’s sharply done, and it matches the vibe of the song really well. How did that video come together? Were you approached about making it?
TS: We got an email when our first record came out, and he (Mats Ek) befriended us through email. He’s from Sweden, he’s a photographer doing videos for bands over there. He said he had an idea for a video. We used the song “A.K.A.” off the first record and he made a video for that [link]. It’s got a girl wandering through all this snow. It was really beautiful looking and took us all by surprise with how well it came out. So when he found out we were working on a new record… he wanted to make a video with the band there in Texas. We weren’t able to facilitate that financially, and so he flew himself to Texas. Hanging out with everybody, we got to know each other. We spent a lot of time together and kicked around a lot of ideas, and he was shooting random footage, and the idea for the video evolved from that. We shot all of that stuff relatively close to where we’re always at, so it felt pretty natural. The rest of it was just Mats’ magic, making it look as awesome as it did. That guy was incredible, if you get a chance check him out. He does a lot of skate videos. Now he’s doing music stuff, but everything he does is pretty sweet. We just lucked out on that one man. (You can find Mats’ work here [link])
TH: That is actually a really cool story, how that all just fell together. I will definitely mention his name, because I really like the video. It’s nicely done.
TS: Yeah, it’s pretty sweet.
TH: What is it like for you, touring? Do you get homesick for Texas, or is it just really cool discovering all these new places. I know we addressed this a little bit earlier.
TS: A little bit of both, yeah. We tend to keep the tours short and sweet, like we were talking about earlier. Having that reality leash bring you back home is a good thing in a lot of ways, I think. Some bands get out and they just stay out. Tours aren’t as easy as people might think. Playing for nine months out of the year can be pretty exhausting. We just try to pace ourselves. Home’s usually not too far away. We’ve been back and forth to the coasts for the last couple years now. We’ve been fortunate to make friends and have cool places and fun stuff to do all over the place. Usually we don’t get too homesick. Food. I get homesick for Texas food, sometimes. We really like the process of experiencing stuff, exploring places, trying to find something new.
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