Hi Tim, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Thanks! I’ve been quite well thank you.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “The Eighteenth Hole”?
Sure…I don’t tell too many straightforward narratives in song, but this is. It’s basically the story of going to your ex-girlfriends wedding. And of being driven by regret and self-loathing and sadness from the wedding reception out onto the golf course to drunkenly roam and disappear until found by your golfing uncle the next morning.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write the song?
Haha it is fairly particular isn’t it? But i suspect the feeling behind it we’ve all had inhabit us.
The single comes off your April album Forever Overhead – what’s the story behind the title of the album?
The title is taken from a David Foster Wallace short story of the same name in which a boy decides to leave the comfort of his family, climb away from all he knows, and jump off the high diving board at the public pool on his 13th birthday, and into his new life, full of fear and uncertainty and freedom. That obviously resonated with me (Hey Rosetta even being about 13 years old at the time i started in on this solo project). Also, it carries a double meaning for me as I’ve always dreamt of making a solo record, since the very beginning with the band and in a way it was always just in the offing, forever over me and just out of reach.
How was the recording and writing process for the album.
It was a long process. I started with some b-sides that never fit onto Hey Rosetta records, and i was excited to give them life. But soon I realized, beyond that, I had to try and discover what music I made without Hey Rosetta, and I had been writing music for that project for really all of my adult life. So it was a long, searching, shifting process through many different songs and kinds of songs to try and find what clean and separate road led beyond the long (and beautiful) shadow of that band. I felt I had to go back and find the road before it intersected with Hey Rosetta to see where it might lead after – because i wanted to make something as true and natural as possible – which is why you can hear plenty of influences from the 1970-80s records i heard around the house growing up. All in all it took about a year of writing and a few different recording sessions before my producer (Marcus Paquin) and I found the path.
What was it like to work with Marcus Paquin and how did that relationship develop?
Marcus is a dear friend and he produced the last Hey Rosetta record (Second Sight) and i couldn’t imagine working with someone more aligned with my own creativity and sensibility and personality.
How much did he get to influence the album?
It ended up listed as a co-produce simply because i did so much planning and overdubbing and head-scratching without him around, but he had a huge impact on the record. I sent him scores of demos for his point of view on the selections. And in the studio he’s very creative and always pushing to get sounds and parts more & more unique. Its always the right kind of challenge to make music with him. Huge gratitude to this man.
What role does Canada play in your music?
Thats a question i’m not sure i can answer. Beyond being a total product of my time and place and culture its hard to measure. Canada has a surprisingly tight-knit music community for such a huge and far-flung country. I think we doubtless influence each other. And I definitely write about wildness and nature which we are so lucky to have so much of in Canada. And over the years i’ve also been supported by countless provincial and federal and private grants to help get us off the ground and along the road. And my band or me never would have been anything without the pride and support of so many Canadians, and Newfoundlanders & Labradorians in particular. So I guess my answer would have to be: a very large role.
How has Jackson Browne and Randy Newman influenced your writing? Or what aspect of the 70s did you get to explore on this record?
They are two of many aforementioned 70s-songwriter-influences from my childhood. Others being John Lennon, Cat Stevens, Elton John, Paul Simon, Warren Zevon, Van Morrison, Nina Simone, Dion, Neil Young, and on and on. As i went back into my musical past i think the element i reconnected with the most was the honesty – not just of the lyrics but of the musical palette. It felt real like real humans playing real feelings on real instruments and though its harder and more expensive and slower and all the rest we eschewed synths and samples and autotune and perfection to pursue something that i remember being so great and real.
Any plans to hit the road?
I’m on the road this afternoon writing this! Just finished a cross-America tour yesterday and will be back to Canada for some Quebec and Ontario dates later in the fall, and then over to Europe for a winter tour all through the UK, as well as Ireland, Germany, France, Holland, Switzerland, Austria & Portugal.
What is happening next in Tim Baker’s world?