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Tim Bluhm:

Given for You

A Golden-coast
Exclusive

By: Todd Walsh


Tim Bluhm surveys the beach, February 2001.



Tim Bluhm, Given For You, Part two.
Go to Part one.


Golden-Coast: In terms of promoting the new record, what about going over to Eurupe? When would you go?

Tim Bluhm: July. Future Farmer has had pretty good luck with getting their bands some attention in Europe and several of Future Farmer's bands have gone to Europe on tours.... We're getting a pretty good response there right now.

G-C: Really?

TB: Yeah, but that's like one of those things, "I'll believe it when I have my plan ticket in my hand."

[Editor's note: Bluhm just told golden-coast that Europe has been pushed back to at least the Fall, maybe the Winter, as the record has just been released there, and is starting to get some play.]

G-C: How long would you go over there for? A month?

TB: Two weeks or something like that. Play everyday. I guess it's pretty intense when you go over there, because it's so expensive.

G-C: Go from town to town and you have to pack 'em in.

TB: I've heard it's not the best way to see Europe (laughs). But, that should be really interesting and would be a huge opportunity for us to reach new people.

G-C: Are you familiar with Chuck Prophet (from San Francisco)? From what I've read he's got a big following in Europe.... not as big here.

TB: I know that's the interesting thing. If someone who is as successful as Chuck Prophet is here, is even more successful in Europe. If you apply that equation to our situation, we'd be sooo...... stoked!

G-C: Do you consider yourself as big as Chuck Prophet?

TB: I don't know that much about his operation, but from what I see we definitely play bigger venues more often. But, I don't know that he plays all that often. I don't know what his deal is. Maybe becuase of his Europe thing he doesn't have to. We have to play here as often as we do so we can pay the bills. But I would say we're probably more popular if I had to say. But, I don't know. I mean, he wants to open for us at Slims...

G-C: Really? That'd be great! I'd love to see him play.

TB: Yeah, I saw him once, at the Makeout Room. It was good. Really good. He's a really good singer.

G-C: Pretty good songwriter too.

TB: Yeah, he's a pro. He's obviously been doing it for a really long time.

He has a song on that Kris Christopherson tribute record that we have a song on.. and it was my favorite one.

G-C:When did that record come out?

TB: It hasn't come out yet.

G-C: Did you record that in one location or in different locations?

TB: Yeah that song was recorded at Gideon Zaretzky's house in L.A.

G-C: What song do you guys cover?

TB: We did Sunday Morning Coming Down. Pretty good choice. We were stoked to get that.

G-C: I started reading this book, Caught Inside, by Daniel Duane. It's about a surfer's year on the California coast.

TB: Yeah I read that!

G-C: It's all based in Santa Cruz.

TB: Yeah, yeah.

G-C: He's got a ton of historical references... the Spaniards discovering Monterey Bay and their time here... and Sir Henry Dana down around what's now Dana Point. There's a lot of that in the book, which is really interesting. The history... there's stuff that's hard to believe happened in California and how it evolved.

Seems like in your songs, you touch on some of those same kinds of themes.... stories looking back. How has that come out in your recent songs?

TB: Well some of the songs have historical references, but most of them are literary references, just because I like to read a lot of books. And in the last couple years I've gotten into reading historical accounts of travels in California and things like that. Of course, Two Years Before the Mast (Sir Henry Dana), Up and Down California by William Brewer, about a geological survey - the Whitney Survey in the 1860's.

I think it becomes increasingly important to look back -- for me, personally, as the present state of California just kinda gets bleaker and bleaker, you know more crowded. Mostly I'm referring to just how crowded this place is.

G-C: The traffic is insane!

TB: The freeways, the waves, the mountains. You have to wait in line to see a movie, you have to wait in line to get a cup of coffee, wait in line to buy flowers for your girlfriend. You gotta wait in line to deposit your own money in your own bank.

G-C: Yeah, yeah.

TB: To me that's just insanity! And I think it makes people sick. I think there's a sickness of man.

G-C: ... that people don't even know about. A lot of people don't even think about it. Things are so crowded they just accept it. And maybe they haven't been many other places. Or they want something so badly that they'll just put up with traffic and...

TB: Yeah that's what it comes down to, it's that California is such a wonderful place to be to experience that people put up with each other to experience it. And I do as well...it's just discouraging to me. So many times I just get frustrated with ... how many people are here.

G-C: Sure.

TB: And I'm one of them. I take responsibility for taking up that much space.

G-C: That's interesting though, coming from your perspective. Compared to the regular 9 to 5 job or whatever... you have a little bit more freedom to avoid crowds or peak hours, or traffic... but you still feel the impact of those things?

TB: I think it's impossible to escape it, if you have to come into the cities to do your work, then you feel it for sure. I mean, most of the time, I'm driving out of town on Sunday night and passing all these millions of cars stacked up going the other way going into the city. And that's one of my favorite perspectives, I lvoe that. And vice versa...

G-C: ...But you know you're going to get caught on the other side of the guard rail...

TB: Oh, it definitely happens. But, it's really nice to get up into the mountains on Monday morning and stay there until Thursday night when there's noone there. But, I see it going the other way all the time and it just makes me sad. It makes me worried about people in general.

G-C:Yeah, yeah.

TB: There's too many of us. And so that's why I like to read these histories -- these historical accounts of California when there was a hundredth of as many people living here. And how pristine it was. It really fascinates me.

It's the closest that I can get to living in California a hundred years ago, which I sooo badly would love to be able to do. I think about it all the time.

G-C: Yeah, yeah. Or even twenty years ago, really... thirty years ago.

TB: Well well we did live in California twenty years ago (laughs).

G-C: Yeah, but I mean to be able to live under those conditions now as a grown up.

TB: Yeah.

G-C: You spent some time down in San Luis Obisbo. You lived down there for a little bit. (Central Coast, California) What was that experience like?

TB: That's kind of one method of going back in time. Because a place like San Luis Obisbo is -- as far as development is concerned -- is probably twenty years behind Los Angeles or San Francisco.

It's growing really quickly unfortunately. But there are a lot fewer people there because it's a little more isolated. And as a result, you have a larger chunk of what's around you to yourself. You don't have to share it quite as much. Which is really valuable to me. And it is beautiful. I loved it there. I still do love it there. Big Sur is really close...


G-C: But you moved out of San Luis? Did you get tired of it? Or it wasn't worth it economically?

TB: Well, it was because I met a girl who lived in Yosemite. I was actually going to move out of my house in San Luis because I was sick of paying rent and I was spending so much time camping in Big Sur that I didn't want to be indoors. That still persists. I still have that feeling. I mean, I don't live indoors, but at that time I had an opportunity to move to Yosemite Valley that I couldn't pass up. And that was an incredible experience to live there for a year.

G-C: I imagine car camping and whatnot kind of loses its luster a little bit during the winter months. It's a little more difficult?

TB: Yeah, you tend to find more couches to sleep on in January, February and March. But what I figured out, instead of suffering through the rain, down here on the coast. I figured out-- just put some skis in your car and when the weather turns nasty, throw on some snow chains and drive to the mountains. And there the bad weather is exactly what you want. So that's what I've been doing. I've figured it out. Go where the rain turns to snow.

G-C: So where do you imagine yourself five years from now? Or a few years from now? Where do you imagine the band will be? Tough question.

TB: Yeah, it's a tricky question because experience has taught me to never expect anything. Or rather to expect... yeah, you know what I mean. I would just say I hope we're still making music. I hope we're still able to make a living making music on any level. That's a blessing. Hopefully, I'll have a bigger truck, maybe a bigger truck to sleep in (laughs). I hope I'm healthy. I don't thnink I'll ever be able to leave California.

G-C: Yeah, I realized... I spent 10 days over in Hawaii this year and I missed the Northern or Central California weather here. Even though Hawaii is great, and you can body surf until sunset and walk home in your shorts and a towel. You know, there's something about the weather here that I missed...

TB: I experienced exactly the same thing. I was in Kaua'i, January of last year. And I missed the cold water, the color of the water, the kelp. And the way that California gets so glassy. That doesn't happen in Hawaii. And I've experienced that same home sickness in other parts of the world that are considered paradise.

To me, California is paradise.


G-C: Yeah, you come home and you step off the plane and it just hits you. The weather, you know the Fall weather or the Fog or whatever it is...

TB: The quality of the air, the smell, the feeling on your skin. We're Californians! Can't get it out of you.



Special thanks to Tim Bluhm for his time, and to Ocean Beach for providing the inspiration for this interview.


We'll hopefully have a little slide show of images from the interview as time permits. Please check back...
[P.S. click on the images above for larger versions.]



 

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

Golden-Coast Productions, 2001