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Tim Bluhm:

Given for You

A Golden-coast
Exclusive

By: Todd Walsh


Tim Bluhm amidst some Pride of Maderia flowers



Golden-coast recently had the opportunity to sit down with Mother Hips front man, Tim Bluhm to talk a bit about the new Hips album, Green Hills of Earth, and how things are going for the band.

Although we'd been rapping between sets (of waves that is) during early morning surf sessions up and down the coast, this was the first time Golden-Coast had had a chance to formally interview Bluhm since summer 1999. That 1999 interview took place on a couch in the back of a packed Mick's Lounge (San Francisco), right before the acoustic duo (Tim n' Greg) hit the stage. Loud bars and surf breaks are not bad places to talk about music.

This interview, however, was decidedly more professional. I met up with Bluhm along the PCH at the Beach Chalet, on a gorgeous February morning, just 7days before the release of the highly anticipated new album. Bluhm was relaxed, upbeat, and very forthright about expectations for the new record and what he's been up to (hint: he'd just gotten back from Lake Tahoe). Between bites of a Belgian waffle and black coffee, Tim came clean. Enjoy.

Golden-Coast: So the new album is right around the corner. Ten days out or so.

Tim Bluhm: Seven days. Sitting on the egg for seven more days.

G-C: What's the feeling like in the band right now?

TB: Everyone is, how should I say it? Reserved but excited. Trying to not get too expectant. We've been through all of that before. But it's hard not to though, because we all believe in the record and like it a lot. And there's a lot of activity around it right now. More than there has been relatively to Later Days at least.

G-C: Yeah it seems we're seeing a lot of reviews of the new album already which I don't think we saw with Later Days-- not initially at least.

TB: No. The timing is really good with this one. Mostly has to do with Future Farmer doing a focused effort. They've done a really good job with that, and they've gotten really good results. I think the product is worthy of writing about.

G-C: Apparently, KFOG played Seems to Ease Me on the radio last night. How did that make you feel?

TB: Unbelievably... stoked! That would've been the last thing I ever

would've guessed would happen. We've been trying to get played on KFOG for years, as you know. With little success. We've been played on there before, but even with a major label pushing a song, and having an actual single released, it was sparse. And now, for some reason,
KFOG is playing a track from a record that hasn't even been released yet.

G-C: Kind of makes you wonder how stuff like that happens - if it's happenstance - or - why that happens?

TB: I don't know. You can try so hard to do one thing forever, then when you're not trying, you're not paying attention, BOOM! That's a good sign. We have some really good, high profile press coming up. The Chronicle. The front page of the pink section of the Chronicle on Sunday.

G-C: Front page???

TB: Yeah, of the Pink section.

G-C: Really!? A shot of the band?

TB: Yeah,a picture. A full color photo!

G-C: Wow!

TB: So. at least in San Francisco, things are exploding. It's hard not to get excited and sort of assume, more things are going to happen on a wider scale. But that's a dangerous attitude for us to have. We have to focus on what's in front of us. Just the good things we do know are happening right now to be grateful for those, instead of expecting greater things to happen.

G-C: Speaking of San Francisco, what was the inspiration behind the promo shot of the band. That was shot in San Francisco right?

TB: Dennis Mitchell, who operates Future Farmer... we were talking about doing the photo. It's inevitable, every time you release an album, you have to do a publicity shot and for album art. As everyone knows, there's so many boring, kind of tough looking, stupid band shots! It's really hard not to do that. It's hard to photograph four people close up and have them not look really stupid. And we've had our share of marginal - and bad - press photos. So, this time, we were resigned to the fact it'd be marginal or bad, so we thought we might as well make it interesting and fun. We had a lot of fun. We just bought some matching white outfits. Went into the middle of some intersection in downtown San Francisco...

G-C: Market Street?

TB: No, Montgomery. North of Market street. One of those streets that cross diagonally and all four stop at it. So, we could run out in the middle and strike this ridiculous, absolutely over-the-top pose. And the photographer would run out there with his assistant and snap all these photos. People were just mocking us!

G-C: People hooting at you?

TB: Someone threw a penny at me. It hit me in the face! It was just this humiliation factor.

G-C: Have you ever had a penny thrown at you?

TB: No. Maybe, but never hit me. People were yelling at us!

G-C: Well, it elicited a good response at least.

TB: Yeah, I mean we knew we were on the right track when we were getting any response at all.

G-C: Did you do any other photos?

TB: Yeah, we did some in the photographer's studio, but all in the white outfits. It kinda goes with the theme of the album art. Sort of this retro - future. Like Logan's Run, or 2001 Space Odyssey.

G-C: And your brother, Erik, did the album cover and art work?

TB: As usual. He's done them all, except for the very first one. He and I had this concept of doing a collage. Some of them are photos but they're mostly drawings that we found on science fiction paperbacks from the '60's. We went out and bought like 30 paperbacks! We looked through hundreds and found the best ones. Ones that had cool images... weird cities. Or guys running down halls.. then he got other photos from other magazines.

G-C: Would you say the new album is a "theme album" or "concept album?" Is there a thread throughout the music or the album or no?

TB: No, I think the theme was kind of imposed on the body of
songs afterwards, just to make it more thematic. But, I think musically, I'd like to say it was a concept album, but it's not. It's not quite that ambitious. I mean, it's pretty ambitious, but the songs, they don't necessarily relate to each other or interlink. But it's definitely a time capsule.

G-C: A friend of mine thinks you guys should have a big following in the older rock and roll set - the aging rock fan - 40 and 50 somethings. You know, Neil Young fans and whatnot. What do you think about that? Do you think of your target audience when you're making an album?

TB: Not really. Of course you're always aware of it, when you're trying to make music professionally, you can't ignore those factors. But, I would assume that people my age, or within a certain bandwidth on either side, would be able to relate most to what I'm saying, cause I write from where I'm at. I always have.

[Waitress comments, "Filling isn't it?" and clears my plate. Tim continues to work on his.]

I think we reach people in a pretty broad demographic partially because our influences are older music. Like you were saying, like, Neil Young is probably one of our biggest influences and we've been pretty true to that style of music. Try to make it contemporary in content and approach, but you know the equipment we're using is all from the 70's and 60's. And we're not really too influenced by modern music.

But at the same time there are a lot teenagers that really like us. Which I'm actually pretty proud of. I think it's an achievement, because when you're a teenager, someone who's 30 years old, is like an old dude, you know? [Laughs] I can remember it clearly. And it's hard for old dudes to be cool, especially when they're not like, really famous. Fame, is cool no matter what.

G-C: Right, right.

TB: But people like us, we're not we don't have that to fall back on. If we can impress teenagers, I think, I rate that highly among my accomplishments!

Go to Part 2.


 

Comments? Send an e-mail to Todd Walsh at, todd@golden-coast.com.

Golden-Coast Productions, 2001