Death or Salvation: A Year In The Life Of Tim Loud

Antifolk singer-songwriter, Tim Loud, gives us a track-by-track insight into his latest album, ‘Salvation’.

Folk-punk antihero, Tim Loud, is due to release his third studio album Salvation via TNS Records on 28th September 2018. Salvation follows new musical and lyrical themes; a musical chronical of Tim’s personal quest for redemption. Shout Louder asked Tim to give us the background.

I was due to start pre-production on Salvation in December of last year, after a pretty shitty few months. Three years of heavy touring and trying to cram in some semblance of a personal life in the 5-10 day stints when I was back ‘home’ had taken its toll. I tried to go sans abode, thinking that if that financial pressure was gone then it might be better… but the uncertainty that added only made things worse.

My head popped at the end of a tour in August last year. I had to work out a more healthy way to carry on making music, if it was even worth me carrying it on at all?

I’d been drinking a lot over the years and had grown accustomed to taking a good ol’ cocktail of drugs to balance me out on the daily, so I decided to knock those things on the head. I still had a sparsely populated tour for September and October to complete, so I decided I would make those my last dates before taking a break. I wouldn’t stress too much about filling the last dates and maybe even take some days off to camp out in the Western European woodlands. I was doing this tour on my own; I often travel with another performer but due to my state, I knew I had to go this part alone.

Tim Loud Salvation Album Cover.jpg

I managed to stay off of everything for one month and then gradually began falling back into old habits, although with less gusto this time. I felt the time to clear my head had been useful. One of the last dates I played was at the ADM festival in Amsterdam; I have played there maybe a dozen times over the past 4/5 years and I have a lot of good friends there. They were all busy running the festival and tour fatigue had put pay to what remaining social skills I had left after the head-popping incident. I spent most of the festival wandering round on my own. It was nice, but it’s a strange experience when everyone else is so involved with each other and you’re just an individual.

So anyway, I wound up taking some acid and in the dawn-light in the back of my van. As electricity danced through every structure and a thin layer of ice shimmered atop everything in my line of vision, I had an epiphany of sorts. Two phrases kept repeating themselves in my head, “Find a home,” and, “I am me, and that’s OK,” for about 6 hours.

I put that together with everything else I’d been thinking for the previous years. It was time to take a break from touring.

I landed myself a job fairly easily when I got back, working as a chef for two months at the tail end of 2017. It reminded me that what I’d done for a job previously was infinitely better than any kitchen. I found it very difficult to take orders from people, after not having to for so very long. I walked out of the job after working 90 hour weeks and 10 day straight stints. It had drained what remained of me physically and, due to other personal problems, I dived back in for a nice end-of-year bender to cap things off. When it came to the new year, I had to pull it together.

I’ve always had an ability, regardless of my own mood or what else is going on, to just get on with the things I have to do but, since the previous year, this ability had waned and pretty much vanished. I struggled through the pre-production with a bunch of songs that I didn’t really know that well. Previous albums had been meticulously thought out using tracks that I had gigged for a long time whereas, due to the nature of a lot of the tunes on this album, I was unable to play them on my own or the ones I could I couldn’t muster the confidence to play for the first time in front of people. I came to the recording session in January with some dogshit guide tracks and a can’t-do attitude.

Thankfully for me, I work with Kurt Wood as a producer; he knows me well after recording my last two albums. He has seemingly endless patience and was able to coax out a good performance from me. I hated the album when it was first recorded and haven’t been able to give it any positive thoughts until the last few months as things have started to come together. I can see now what a great job Kurt and the other musicians did on it and I’m happy with my input. This is definitely the most varied work in terms of musical style and I think the content of each track as well. I think it’s turned out nice, as I hope everyone else will.

Sucker for the Blues

I feel one of the main difference in this album is that I’ve opted for more of a self-analytical approach on a lot of the songs. I did a course of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) last year and it sent me down a rabbit hole of self-discovery which has come out in a fair few songs on this album. However, this is one I wrote a few months before starting that course in the depths of self-pity, and written shortly after getting back from a full band tour of Europe where we lost a lot of gear to some burglars, including my electric guitar which I’d had since I was 18 and had only taken on tour with me that one time.

It’s a fairly standard country song for the most part, I’ve never played any of my songs that slowly before and people have remarked it stands out in live sets because of that. Also, the vocals are a lot slower and clearer than the country-rap style of stuff like Age Of The Idiot or things on other albums.

My friend Freddy Fudd Pucker said he really likes the opening line, “I’m tired of singing songs about what I hate,” and I guess this works as a nice intro into the different style of writing on Salvation. I’ve tried to be more positive (or at least less negative) about what other people do… for the most part.

What Am I?

This was the title track of my last album. I’d intended for this song to be on there, but I couldn’t get the lyrics right and one thing or another meant it ended up on Salvation. After doing a few full band tours, I really like the sound of an electric guitar alongside the 12-string, so this was a nice opportunity to put that into play.

I think one of the reasons I was so down on this album after I’d recorded it is because of how personal a lot of the songs are. It’s easier to release the previous works where I say, “You’re fucked, this is wrong, do that better, etc.” but when you turn the microscope on yourself a bit it’s harder to push these things out there. With the former writing style, if people agree with you then great, you have an ally. If they agree with the stuff where you’re saying you’re a piece of shit then that’s bad, I guess. I wrote about 20 verses to this in all, so I had to work out which were the best (or least bad).

Lowdown & Ugly

“The jolliest song about hating yourself I’ve ever heard,” is how Kurt described this, and I guess that’s a reasonable starting point. Having spent the past however-long travelling around, it becomes lonely in a strange sense. You’re surrounded by people, but it’s very superficial in a lot of cases and you do end up missing certain human contact.

I’ve toured with a number of people who’ve written heart-breaking tales of short-lived love affairs and I figured I’d give that a whirl to add to my oeuvre. But, without the frame of reference of it actually having happened to me, I had to go down a different alleyway. I’ve seen people sing fake accounts of an encounter that it’s clear to 99% of the audience hasn’t happened, so I definitely didn’t want to try that.

Basically, I meet some amazing people whilst travelling round and I seem to fall head-over-heels for some of them without them even noticing me. After the hundredth time, it starts to sting a little, so that’s what this song is about. I hope this doesn’t end up on ‘Incels say the darndest thing’.

Ben Pike who played pedal steel on the album taught me the neat little trick for adding chromatic runs between chords when playing roots music, so I put that to use on here. He did a great job of the pedal steel on the track too.

There There

This is one of my favourite songs to play live at the moment. The key seems very natural for me to sing in, I think it’s got a nice pace with the 3/4 time and I’m really chuffed with how the strings have turned out (shout out to Luke Yates for that).

In terms of subject matter, this is me at my most nihilistic. I was having some doubts about my life choices as I wrote this, whilst in the process of stripping away all my belongings to bare essentials before I went to having no home for a while. There was a strangely liberating feeling to getting shot of things that had no use or value and that I’d hoarded from house to house for years. I feel as though that comes through in the track; it’s triumphant or uplifting… or something.

The lyrics hold a cathartic quality to me as it basically says: whatever I’ve done, so long as I’ve done what I want and not hurt anyone along the way, I’m doing OK. That’s the best I can do because, come 100 years time, I’ll be gone and none of it will matter anymore, anyway. That’s uplifting, right?

This nearly got pulled from the album because I tried to do some midi strings on it at first and it sounded dogger, but I managed to get Luke to re-record the parts I’d written and it transformed the track completely.

Salvation

This follows on from the ‘do what makes you happy’ theme of There There and is trying to convey that, in order to do this, a lot of us need to shun societal norms in order to find our own place. There’s so much of life that’s laid out for us as soon as we’re born. If you don’t fit into these very strict guidelines, you’re a failure whereas, in truth, it’s the system that fails us. There are so many incredibly talented people in the world who feel they’re failures in life because they don’t have the right pieces of paper from the right old, white dudes when, in fact, they’re doing great and if they only had the confidence, they could excel.

I read a nice statement online from a friend (can’t remember who, sozzer) who was showing their support for gay pride. I can’t find the direct quote so this is paraphrased, “It’s not about choosing men over women, or women over men. It’s about choosing happiness over the societal norm.” The last part of that resonated with me, and I’ve tried to carry that with me, now with the added, “Find a home,” and, “I am me, and that’s OK,” mantras tagged on.

I shot a video for this song in April with my friend Celina Baluch. I’ve known Lina since my very first tour of the mainland with Bootscraper and have seen her every time I’ve been out there since. I sent her the track at the start of the year and she immediately came back with a fully fleshed out storyline for the video which totally captured the ideas behind the song and fitted well with the tone of my music. I can’t tell you how nice it was for someone to just get me and it like that. I had decided this would be the title track of the album before I’d even started pre-production as it just sums up so much that I’ve tried to say before but never quite managed.

Grief Whores

This is one of the tracks that Kurt said he couldn’t see an end point for with the ghost tracks I’d sent, and admittedly it took a few re-writes in recording to get it right, but I am delighted with the end result and a few people who’ve heard the album have highlighted this as a strong point.

One of the things I’ve noticed from my own experiences and the accounts told to me by other musicians who tour the DIY circuit all year-round is that it’s not as great as other people might think. So many of my friends who play music are depressed, substance abusers or both and that’s what this song is about for the most part. I’ve seen people get berated for posting publicly that they don’t enjoy touring anymore with cries like, “Oh, nice for your fans,” but, as with all things, you can overdo it with touring and no one can really understand the things that get to you unless they’ve done it. I know a lot of my music pals will know what I mean. In the words of Everlast, “It’s a fun job, but it’s still a job.”

The track gets its title from the weird phenomena of when a musician has had enough of it all and kills themselves, and the weird after effect of everyone suddenly having always been their biggest fan. I’ve actually seen someone display a strangely gleeful quality upon finding out someone they knew had passed away, as it seemed to give them something to talk about onstage, something to gain them sympathy, as though it was something that had happened to them. It disgusted me.

This is a really simple song in terms of structure as in it is just the same chords over and over, so we had to work on the build up to make it work. Joe Dimuantes, who drummed on the heavier tracks on the album, has done an amazing job of doing this and then, through all the layers of guitars and vocals, I think there’s a nice climax towards the end. I noticed whilst recording that this song sounds like about half a dozen early-mid 90s alternative tunes so I tried to chuck in a little nod toward each of them in the track. It’ll be interesting to see if anyone notices what they are.

Great River

This song came to me one afternoon in December and I managed to get the lyrics and everything written for it in a few hours. This happens sometimes: I just bash out a tune and it’s a great feeling, especially when it’s a song I’m really into. Other songs need to be changed and rewritten to get them right.

I often see people talk about writing as though they have a specific formula for setting the correct conditions to get creative. I’d love to be able to do this but it’s not the way it works with me. Some songs start as lyrics, others as chord progressions, sometimes I use a few songs that have been abandoned for their overall quality but have nice bits in that I want to use still.

Luke asked when he was recording the strings if this was my attempt at writing a James Bond theme tune. It wasn’t but if that’s what it sounds like, I’ll take it. I’ve been a big fan of Richard Hawley and Elliott Smith for a while and for me I think that influence comes through the most on this track. The beauty of making music on my own is that I can try out different genres and writing styles, I’m not tied down to any group expectations and, largely, there are no expectations of my work from any fans either, so I can just do what I want ALRIGHT!?

Sutures

I popped this one out in a relatively short time-frame too. I started writing it when I was driving from Berlin (where I had just finished a tour with Billy Liar) over to Leipzig where I was staying with some friends for a few days. Billy had gotten us tickets to see Beans on Toast on the last night and it was the first time I’d seen him play live. I really liked the blunt honesty of his lyrics whilst still maintaining an air of personality and charm. I got one of his CDs at the end of the night (Billy signed it for me which Jay found a bit weird I think, sorry), I listened to it on my drive over to Leipzig the next day and just had this jaunty melody with half spoken vocals formula stuck in my head. The next day when I woke up and had some time alone in my mate’s flat; I picked up my guitar and this came out. I really like this one musically but, because of the lyrics, I wanted to pull it from the album. It’s pretty wet and I’m not sure I managed the charming honesty I’d set out to achieve, more of a little whinge really, but Kurt said it should definitely stay on so you have him to thank for it remaining.

Instrumental #1

I’ve been learning finger picking on 6-string for a while now and this, as well as some textural bits on There There and Sutures, is what I have to show for it so far.

I wrote the chords and had a melody for vocals for ages, but I couldn’t seem to find the right lyrics to it so I just figured I’d use the melody and make it an instrumental. I’m really glad I did because it was nice to make a song that just has to rely on the instruments to convey the emotion of it and, again, it’s a new avenue musically for me. It verges on classical, I think, but the drums at the end add in a more contemporary feel.

For the drums on this one I had an idea for more of a train-shuffle rhythm to come in, but Ric Colley (who also played drums on the album) just started playing a different beat and it worked. I really enjoy working with other musicians on the albums because they always end up bringing more to the recording than I could have done on my own. Kurt’s also good for this; other people just hear things within the songs that I don’t until it’s pointed out.

Hate

I recorded a split EP with Revenge of the Psychotronic Man last year and really enjoyed thrashing around on an electric guitar, even though I’m pretty ropey at it. I’d had this song written in my head for maybe a few years but never thought I’d get round to recording it as it didn’t seem to fit anywhere. I figured I might as well use it for this album as there was a heavier element creeping in on other tracks and I knew it would work in the full band gigs.

It was great fun to record and I couldn’t be happier with the sound of it. We did the guitars at a studio called Tone Henge which I was fucking delighted I would be able to put on my album inlay, and we whacked about 8 layers of guitars through different vintage amps. Kurt just knew how to make it sound and, with Joe’s drums as well, I think it just sounds huge.

Lyrically, I started listening to a lot of Crass a few years back so I think this is me making an attempt at writing something political. There’ll be a video for this one coming out in the next month or so too!

Debate

This is a bit of a dig at a guy I used to tour with a lot, and indicative of a larger problem generally. Loads of people seem to want to debate everything nowadays but I see a shift in their reasons for doing so. For me the purpose of debate is to reach some kind of mutual understanding by engaging with others of a different viewpoint in an attempt to understand why they think what they think, and vice versa. However, more and more, I just see it being used as a way to bludgeon people with opinions and for people to show that they are the most right, the bestest winner of all the debates. Although a lot of the time, especially when dealing with intangible concepts, there is no hard and fast right and wrong… I’m going to be writing some articles for Shout Louder in the coming months and I’m probably going to go further into this topic so I’ll leave it at that for now.

The song itself is a mash up of two riffs that I had for a while and it worked out that they fitted together nicely. I have to give props to Henry Raby as the line, “The only way to win a debate is by kicking everybody in the goddamn face,” came out of a conversation him and I had about this shift in people’s debating techniques. I always knew that line would be in there but the rest of the lyrics I wrote at the end of last year.

There’s an excellent band from Italy called Super Horror Fuck and I paid homage to their singer, Dr Freak, by singing one of the lines in his style. I hope it does him proud.


So that’s some of what I think about the album. Thanks very much to Shout Louder for inviting me to write this track by track on the new album, turns out there is quite a lot to say about it and it’s rare for a musician at my level to be afforded this degree of insight into what they do.

Cheers for reading and special thanks to Kurt, Joe, Ben and Ric for helping to make the album which will be out 28 September 2018 on TNS Records. I literally couldn’t have done it without you.

Order Salvation direct from TNS Records now.

Tim Loud Tour

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s