16 Jul Peerage
recently I have been posting pieces about friends that inspire me. I think that Tim is an amazing song writer who is woefully unheard. Please grab one of the videos below and share it. Let’s get Tim some listens.
I met my friend Tim Simmonds the old fashioned way; through a band flier posted on the street. He visited this past weekend and we spent a little time debating the time frame, but it’s now clear that it was about eight and a half years ago. I was in the midst of a transition away from a life in music when his advert proclaiming “bass player wanted” caught my eye. I was taking my three and a half year old daughter out on Halloween when I paused and grabbed a number.
A little over a decade earlier I had started to play in a band, and very quickly it became the center of my life. It was not a hobby, but it was also not a career in that it could sustain me financially. I was not, and am not, a musician. For me being in a band was a way to be an artist. The best thing about being in a band was the way it connected me with other people that inspired me.
However, after a decade of putting all of my energy into the band, I was burnt out emotionally, physically, and financially. I had started a side project with a friend who had originally hired me to play in his major label band. This side project started to take off in England, and it looked like we might even make enough money from it to pay our rent. Then, right when the big offers came in, my friend decided that he should get all of the money.
I’m struggling to find a word that describes how I felt at the time, but suffice to say that it was dark. I wanted nothing more to do with the business of music. At the same time my wife and I were finishing a movie about the music scene and I was wrapping up the production of my first photo book which documented the previous decade of rock. These works were kind of the final scene of that act of my life. I pretty much stopped playing music, or going to shows. By the time I pulled that flier off the light post on Halloween, I had moved on to making documentaries and being a father. However, the musical references on the flier were all bands that we had played with or been inspired by, so something clicked inside me. I wanted to play again.
We lived near the campus of Pratt University so I figured it was probably some Pratt kids, and that I would be a decade and a half older than the rest of the band, but called the number anyway. When Tim, the flier’s author, stopped by to drop off his CD I was surprised to find that he was my age. I was even more surprised when I listened to the CD and it was really strong. I knew that I didn’t have a lot of time to play music, but this seemed possible. Tim had a practice space in his house a few blocks away, and he even had a bass I could use. It also turned out that the drummer was a guy knew from the music scene. We played for about a year and half before it became clear that I couldn’t devote the time needed to help the band take off. Tim and I remained good friends.
Like so many other friends, and peers, Tim has spent decades slowly and calmly developing his craft. A couple of years ago Tim collaborated with his girlfriend as the musical director of a play she was putting on. The play took off but their relationship did not.
Unfortunately, it’s incredibly difficult, for one reason or another, for many people to make their art their living, so Tim has been working as a copy editor. He continues to work at his music but he works slowly, and still hasn’t put out a full record of new songs. He’s a bit meticulous, so while he was visiting last week I challenged him to let me film him doing a few of his songs acoustically. He has great sonic ideas, but it was clear to me that the songs were as strong stripped down- stronger even. They really shine acoustically.
This is the first one we did. It made me think of the “I wanna job, I wanna good job“, scene from Sid and Nancy, but in a good way.
Later my daughter, who was 4 years old when I first started playing with Tim came in to help sing back up on “Beacon”. At 4 she knew all the lyrics to “The Rules”. That’s her in the band picture I took after I had left the band (and that’s her in the link above singing on stage with us with my cousin denisha holding her up the the mic”