By Nicholas Jason Lopez
A co-founding former member of Arcade Fire and The Wild Light, Austin, Texas-based songwriter Tim Kile has dropped his debut album ‘These Are Things Being Gathered For The Fire.”
The album has already sparked six singles, the most recent being “Wasteland,” an indie rock anthem praised for its simplistic, yet catchy chorus of “Wasteland / Satan / Spray Tan.”
No stranger to mainstream success, his musical path has gotten him to share stages with the likes of The Killers, LCD Soundsystem and MGMT. With his new album, he’s now ready to show the world just what he’s got all on his own.
The Music Bugle had the chance to speak with Kile about his new music and more.
Music Bugle – What was your goal for “Wasteland”?
Tim Kile – I felt like it was a opportunity to say something kinda big. Not every song is like that. You wanna do it gracefully and maybe with some humor, so you don’t come off like Bono or something. I feel good about where it ended up. For the recording and the release, I felt like it had the most potential to be a “hit” of any song on the album. With all the other songs, I did the basic tracking in a home recording style at my producer Brady Watt’s place in Harlem. Then, for the final sessions, I spent a couple weeks in Los Angeles with an engineer named David Spreng, who works on records with people like Bob Dylan and Lucinda Williams. We sort of brought all the homemade stuff up to level. “Wasteland” was the only song I recorded entirely in the LA sessions. If you listen to the production, you can tell it’s more slick than the rest of the record. It’s more slick than I would prefer, honestly. If it were a little more raw, I’d probably connect with it more, but it’s the one song where somebody who doesn’t like the rest of my music – they might still like that song. Those songs can be useful, beyond just being good. Like a “crossover” type thing. I’m not above thinking about that stuff at this stage. The ultimate aim is to be able to make as much music as possible, as freely as possible, as often as possible and at this early stage, a crossover song can help get you there. That might make the song a bit of a sacrificial lamb in a way, as far as the execution.
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?
Tim Kile – What excites me and this sounds so lame, but I feel like I can do whatever I want. This record is pretty eclectic and when your music is eclectic, there’s the risk of becoming in-cohesive, so there’s a line to walk there. Whether this album is fully cohesive is for someone else to decide, but I was conscious of the problem. When it works out, it leaves you in a place where you can feel free to go in any direction. My favorite records were usually varied stylistically – the White Album, Pavement’s ‘Wowee Zowee,’ ‘Ween,’ stuff like that. I loved stuff that was all over the place, but still had this unifying identity, but then, I also loved the Ramones, so go figure. I feel now like I can hone in on any little corner of the sounds on this record and go deeper. This record is pretty guitar-oriented, but right now, I’m feeling like there’s a deep dive on synths somewhere in the future.
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Tim Kile – PJ Harvey, Leonard Cohen, Alvvays, Bob Dylan, Ariana Grande, Bach, Squeeze, Still Corners and Lana Del Rey.
Music Bugle – What do you hope for from the rest of 2021?
Tim Kile – Good question. Things are going really well with the release, but it would be great if we got an unexpected break or two, a little bit of a bigger pop. There’s another level that things can go to and a bigger circle of people I can reach, but you need to get some breaks for that to happen. Looking forward to wrapping up the promotional cycle too and getting centered to start making more music.
Music Bugle – What has been your biggest musical challenge lately?
Tim Kile – I need to take my studio engineering skills to the next level. I don’t know if I’ll ever be a great engineer, but I need to be able to do more than I can now. In the demo-ing process for the next record, I want to be able to take things further along in the process before needing to incorporate other people.
Music Bugle – How would you describe Austin to someone who has never been there before?
Tim Kile – Austin’s lovely. It’s arty and ultra-liberal, but it’s in Texas, which makes for this weird, idiosyncratic mix. People here are very fun-loving and warm. It’s rare when a place is an artist-hub, while also being upbeat and positive, maybe because most artists are completely fucking depressed, but somehow, Austin seems to have found a balance. As a native New Englander, the weather remains perennially novel. People bitch about the heat here, but “You don’t shovel heat,” as they say. I tell ’em to go spend a winter in New England and get back to me.
Music Bugle – What was it like putting together your album ‘These Are Things Being Gathered For The Fire’?
Tim Kile – Dream come true. When I was done, I felt like I’d done what I set out to do, whether anybody liked it or not. Of course, I hope people like it.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Tim Kile – In a weird way, it catalyzed a lot of positive activity. I’ve heard this from a lot of creative people. If you got laid off from your job, as long as you were able to survive, it gave you a space to re-conceive things and do some things you’ve maybe been trying to do, but haven’t been able to get together. There was plenty of stress and tragedy for too many people and that can’t be minimized. We did our best to make the most of the situation. I was lucky that I was set to release an album, which can be done from home. If last year was the year I was supposed to be on tour all year, that woulda been a fucking drag. Your heart goes out to the entire live music industry.
Music Bugle – Does social media help or hurt musicians?
Tim Kile – Honestly, I think it helps. We all know social media is evil and we feel compelled to constantly bemoan this fact and rightly so to a certain extent, but the reality is, you can do things from home that you could never do before, without any help, or money, or promotional team, or managers, or publicists, etc.. All those things are very helpful, but you can start out by going out on the internet alone, just hustling on the corner and you can go very far that way. Social media is the only reason most of us were able to keep advancing our cause throughout the pandemic. This past year, I self-released an album and did all of the surrounding work – promotion, distribution, publicity, etc. – online. A lot of this stuff actually costs nothing. Being stuck at home didn’t affect anything. Obviously, there are trade-offs. There’s some kind of weird transition happening in our souls in relation to the way our desires are mediated by one another via social media and that’s a bigger deal than music promotion and screen time is just destroying our brains, I have to imagine. In the end, the question of whether it helps or hurts is sort of irrelevant, it just is.
Music Bugle – What’s something that people might be surprised to know about you?
Tim Kile – People might be surprised how obsessed I am with sports. I grew up in the Boston area and professional sports transcend all aspects of life there. Age, race, gender, economic caste, artist, jock, musician – everyone follows it, so I follow the baseball, basketball and football teams pretty closely. Hockey less so, but I’ll watch the Bruins in the playoffs. The culture around pro sports in New England is so intense, often very critical and some would say negative, but it’s very passionate and very entertaining. People are saavy about the games. Boston sports talk radio is like this cocoon in which I spend most of my days. Although I live in Austin now, I spend my afternoons answering emails while listening to Felger and Mazz on the Sportshub, pretty much every day. If you’ve ever gotten an email from me, I was probably listening to Boston sports talk radio while writing it. I always tell people that being raised with Boston sports loyalties is like being raised Catholic. You can run, but you can’t hide. It’s branded.
*Photo Credit – Tanya Lacourse*