Soothing textural and atmospheric guitars permeate the basis of Tim Hart’s latest single Great Escape. A driving drumbeat sits below the track, making it the perfect road trip song. His vocals are consistently doubled, reminiscent of the late and great Elliot Smith.
This wholeheartedly enjoyable song is no surprise in how sincerely groovy it is, coming from the solo project of Boy & Bear’s current drummer and backing vocalist. Luckily, Tim had enough time in his busy schedule of dominating the local music scene to take us through the track.
Can you tell us a little bit about your latest track Great Escape? What is the track about? And what does it mean to you?
This track for me was born out of thinking about a past relationship. I guess it’s about letting go of the past and wishing good things for someone that you were once really close; and being ok with the fact that you might never know how they really are.
I noticed this song is very guitar-heavy with sensational and tasteful layering and arrangement. When writing music, do the guitar parts come first, do the lyrics, or does the concept?
I think for me songwriting wise, the chords and melodies have always come first and usually pretty much at the same time. And if I’m lucky I get a bunch of lyrics too at the start. From there it’s about refining and layering. So yeah, the guitar layering and other stuff definitely comes later.
How do you separate writing for Boy & Bear and writing for your own solo stuff? And are there ever any ideas that come from one project that translates into the other?
That’s a good question. I think the Boy & Bear process is so collaborative, that when I get a chance to write on my own, I feel a sense of freedom. I get to do whatever I want and it doesn’t pass through the filter of the other four lads. At the same time, I love being in the band room and hearing a new melody Dave has come up with or a guitar part Killian has written. I think I definitely draw inspiration from the Boy & Bear process. And yeah occasionally an idea with filter through either way but the two have always felt pretty separate for me.
Continuing this, how does the process vary between writing for your solo music and writing for the band?
The big difference between the band and the solo stuff is the melody and lyric writing. Predominantly Dave writes the melodies and lyrics. And while I collaborate with him on lyrics, I feel like they are his stories, which is what feels right for us. Other than that, the Boy & Bear process as I said is so collaborative and often times feels like a great band room exploration, whereas my writing is done with just me and a guitar or sitting at the piano. I love both processes, but I have a real love for story telling so getting to tell my own is a real privilege.
What got you into writing and creating music?
I think in general it was a mixture of curiosity and a love of music. When I was young I used to read the liner notes from my parents’ LP’s and want to know who wrote what song, and who played what instrument on it. I was really enamoured by those artists that could sit down and create something that previously hadn’t existed. It made me want to do the same thing. I love the idea that you can connect on such a deep level through music. It feels to me, that it bypasses the logical mind and connects straight into the soul, which I find magical.
Who are your main musical influences that inspired your sound, your writing and your playing?
Oh wow, there are so many. I guess initially artists like Peter Gabriel and Paul Simon were big for me. Crosby, Stills & Nash and Joni Mitchell for her beautiful story telling. Also, artists like Nick Drake and John Martyn for the mood they create. Even bands like Phoenix for the brighter, sunnier sort of vibes. To be honest I don’t know how it all seeps through into my music but I’m sure it does and ends up becoming its own thing. I think the big thing for me these days is just embracing the music that makes me happy and listening to and writing that type of music. It sounds very simple, but it can be hard to do as an artist.
What was the first album that got you hooked on music?
This is going to sound like a bit of a juxtaposition I know, but it was either Simon & Garfunkel ‘Bridge Over Troubled Waters’ or Pearl Jam’s ‘Ten’. I can’t separate them in my mind as to how pivotal to me they were as albums. The timelines are a bit sketchy for me as to what I was listening to first.
As both a successful solo artist and a member of a successful touring band, how has COVID-19 affected your career? And where there any positives you got out of the isolation period?
This year has been tough. I think every artist you talk to would say the same thing. But at the same time there’s been heaps of positives. My little boy Jack (my first) was born in January, and having the whole year with him (apart from a Boy & Bear Europe tour in Feb) has been amazing. Also, I’ve started working with a new manager which has been amazing and had a lot of time to put more energy into my solo work which has been a real blessing. I think there are so many people far worse off so although there are times when it’s really frustrating, but I’m trying to focus on the positives and be grateful for them.
What do you think is the most important part about working in music?
I think authenticity is the most important thing. I think it’s the foundation off which you can have longevity in music. I think a lot of people spend too much time worried about writing or making music for a particular audience or creating a certain image for themselves. Maybe it works for some people but for me personally, it would eat me up inside. I can’t imagine releasing and touring music that I didn’t truly believe in. I think when you stay true to yourself creatively it allows you to work harder for longer because you’re working at something that you genuinely believe in.
And finally, what is the best piece of advice you can give to anyone who may want to pave their own career in music?
Work as hard as you can at getting better at your craft. That might be as a singer, an instrumentalist, a songwriter, a producer, or whatever. But whatever it is, work hard at it. And don’t forget why you started out in music. For most of us it’s because we love it and feel we have something to express. I think it’s so important to not lose the love of music. Keep listening to new music and discovering new artists and songs. And be open minded to it. It’s a great journey.
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