Secret Admirer caught up with the dashing gentlemen of Shout Timber
Disclaimer: After reading this interview, you may experience the desire to shout 'timber' in a really motivational way at random passers-by.
Band Identification System
Alex: Lead vocals and guitar
TJ: Lead guitar and backing vocal
Sam: Bass and backing vocal
What's the idea behind the name Shout Timber?
There's this Audrey Hepburn line where she shouts "Timber!" during the classic party scene in the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany's, and since we're influenced a lot by old films and post-war era books and stuff it seemed fitting to link our name to something like that. It turned out to be a good decision. It's memorable and because it's sort of a catch-phrase, it gives our fans an identity (they like to literally shout "Timber" at our gigs). And in that way it also represents who we are - "Timber" has kind of become our war cry against all the rubbish in life. It's easy to be bogged down in all the bad stuff that happens, but shouting "Timber" has become our way of standing up against that - being positive and having fun playing music, whatever comes our way. Our fans and people in general, need that encouragement too sometimes.
How did the band come about?
Alex: It was a long time coming I guess... Sam and myself have playing in bands since our schooldays (I used to be the drummer for his band, "The Raves"), and then we went our separate ways at uni. When Sam finished uni I was still at UCL in London, and he moved back down and we decided to get a band starting again, but seriously this time. We had a big back catalogue of songs written by this point and it was getting really frustrating not doing anything with them! So we met Will, our fantastic jazz drummer, and TJ, our ridiculously hipster guitarist, at UCL and started playing as Shout Timber from around March 2011.
What do you write songs about?
Alex: When I write a song, I don't really decide "right, I'm writing a song about this particular subject". It sounds cheesy, but I do think that the music and the song itself guides you - I try to write a song that as a whole reflects a particular feeling, emotion, perspective or side of life really well (In fact, a good example is this Noah and the Whale song "First Days of Spring" that does that almost perfectly actually...). For example, to use a song we wrote recently ("Monaco"), I started with this riff and melody and noted down the first few lines it brought to mind, and then I looked at the common themes in those lines - which were a desire to experience new things and freedom, plus it had this vintage, old school feel - and I expanded on those. It's now become our roadtrip song - about driving in an old Chevy to Monaco (To the golden coasts of Monaco I'll take you for a ride, so shift this bird into fifth gear, we'll leave this all behind).
Who do you write music for?
Alex: Again I don't think we write music for anyone or anything in particular, apart from because we love doing it - obviously we do it for our fans and the people who enjoy it, but ultimately we try and make sure it's something that we get joy out of and are satisfied with. Because then we believe in it, and it's far more likely to bring the enjoyment and love that we want it to bring to our listener's lives.
TJ: This guy, he sounds like he's trying to win Miss Universe. He's got heart though, and it's true.
Alex: Whatever TJ... we do mean it though.
Is image a big part of your band?
Well, music should be an expression of something real and true, and should be something you believe in. What that is may vary from person to person but if the heart isn't there - if you're worried about pleasing everyone as opposed to doing something you like - it'll end up artificial and lacking any substance. Our "image" is an outflowing of our music - it comes from who we are and should reflect us doing what we love. The songs we were writing made us feel like we wanted to play them smart and in suits, so we did. And it works too because we love the whole classy feeling suiting up gives us, it gives us this sense of calm and sophistication straight out of a Bogart flick.
What has been the most fun show you have played so far?
We were recently in a competition called the Uni Music League (there were a series of shows held at 229 and ULU in London for the rounds/quarter finals/semi-finals) and the final at ULU was fairly busy and there was just this really exciting atmosphere in the air when we played. We had such a good night and made a lot of fans, so that was really fun. But thinking back to some of the smaller shows we've played like Buffalo Bar and AAA in Kensington, they were great, because of the level of intimacy you have with the crowd and your fans.
What other bands have you enjoyed meeting/playing shows with?
Islander, they're another UCL band who we played with a while back, and they're absolutely fantastic. We'd also like to shout out Fair Ohs - we had the privilege of supporting them a while back and getting some pearls of wisdom from them. You need to listen to them if you haven't already, tropical punk at its finest. Another excellent band we played with were Hannah Williams & the Tastemakers - brilliant funk and soul, and Hannah has an amazing voice. We supported Tom Williams and the Boat last week, and they're a great band too.
What are your fans like?
Alex: Enthusiastic, happy, committed, always excited. Look at me, gettin' all sentimental...they're the best freakin' fans in the world. Seriously, they are such a support and knowing that our music impacts them makes it all feel very worthwhile. They go pretty crazy dancing at gigs sometimes too... which is good, because I go pretty nuts onstage too, and so I don't look quite as insane.
If you could soundtrack a film, which one would you choose?
Alex: That is a tough question... I'd love to soundtrack a Wes Anderson or a Paul Thomas Anderson film, but then again a David Lynch film would be different and just as fun. It would be cool to soundtrack an old 40s or 50s film - I love the whole nostalgic, warm, scratchy feeling of the audio recordings back then. With sound-tracking, you usually want the music to be a sonic representation of what you're seeing. So I guess our band would fit the soundtrack of a film about a road trip to the French Riviera pretty well. But to honest it would be more fun to start with the visuals and then see what music we make from that!
If you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be?
From a song writing perspective, to collaborate with a band like Wilco would be a dream come true. But to play with anyone in the live arena it would have to be Broken Social Scene. Their live shows are indescribable, and they always seem to get the support bands to come onstage to play with them and stuff.
Do you have any gigs/releases coming up?
We're very excited to say that we're going to be going up north in May to record with Tarek Musa of Kankouran. We're going to record our song "East India Trading Company" with him, which has an ethnic-crossover feel, and he's great at bringing that kind of stuff to life. Hopefully we'll record another song too, maybe "Monaco". So that will likely be our summer release this year. We hope to play some shows up north in the Manchester/Liverpool area while we're up there, and we'll do some more London shows to support the release in the summer. Stay posted on our facebook/twitter/website for details on when the launch show will be!