Timothy B. Schmit Discusses Upcoming Solo Tour
Timothy B. Schmit, renowned as bassist with The Eagles and also for his work with Poco, is about to go on a month-long American tour. This is to promote current solo album Expando. Here he talks about the tour and the album.
What songs can fans expect to hear on this U.S. tour?
“Mostly, I hit the new album pretty hard and I sprinkle it with some history. I do a few things from Poco, and I do a few things from The Eagles. And I’m still considering a couple of other songs. It’s strong on the new stuff, but not without some nostalgia.”
Can you talk about how you came up with the set list? Is that all you, or did it come together with you and your band?
“Actually, this is my thing, so I have been putting it together. It’s been interesting, because it’s different for me to be the alpha dog, although it’s very much a group effort when we’re on stage. But I make the decisions and the set list.”
On Expando you’ve diversified and it’s reflected in the music. It’s a mix of Americana, folk, country, rock and even some blues and a verified array of guests. What inspired you to keep musically expanding?
“Every artist wants to keep expanding; otherwise it gets dull, boring and meaningless. This album was my first attempt, at the risk of sounding corny, to find out who I am musically. I tried to be fearless on Expando, and I thought, ‘What are my roots? Where does this all come from?’. Well, it comes from folk music, and I’m still on this path while I’m writing a new album. It’s just me and an acoustic guitar, and I record that first. Everything else comes afterwards. I want the song to be able to stand on its own, as is, in its most naked state. So, as these songs develop, I just have a lot of fun experimenting with things.
“As far as having collaborations, only until after the songs are developed, do I think of who might be right for a certain song and what it needs. I was a big fan of Keb’ Mo’, but I had only met him once. So I got his number and talked to him and within a couple of weeks he came to my studio, which is at my home. That’s how it worked this time around.”
On Parachute, you brought in Graham Nash & Kenny Wayne Shepherd…
“As I was writing the song, it became really obvious that it was reminiscent of early Crosby, Stills and Nash. Rather than trying to take the song in another direction, I embraced it and called my friend Graham to sing on it. It was the right thing to do for the song.
“With Kenny, I wanted a blatant rock-n-roll bluesy guitar and that’s what he does best, and he agreed to come to come over. The studio is my little workshop. Most of the people I called were available to come down in-person and play. These days, you can send a file away and have someone overdub in their own studio; but I’ve never wanted to do it that way. I’d rather it be more personal.”
What would you like for people to take away from listening to Expando?
“I want as many people as possible to hear the record. I hope it brings some pleasure and joy into their lives.
“I’ve spent most of my career in bands, so there’s always give and take, trade-offs and compromises when it comes to songwriting. There are ideas you get in there, and some things you don’t. Working on my own, I decided I was just going to do whatever I wanted to without anybody else’s agenda. This is not a complaint in any way about band members past or present, it’s just a little more freedom for me. I was finally ready to embrace that freedom on this album. I’ve had solo albums in the past and for the most part, my favorite songs on all those albums are the songs I wrote myself. It’s all a learning process; an ongoing thing.”
What were the pivotal albums in your life, growing up?
“That’s a tough one. I grew up with music, my dad was a musician. That’s how he made his living — he played clubs mostly. The first record I bought was an Elvis record when I was 10 years-old; it was Hound Dog. I bought a lot of 45s when I was really young, single records; where you’d pile them on the record player and each one would drop to the next. I mean there was Elvis, Bobby Darin, The Everly Brothers, The Del Vikings, Little Richard, and the list could go on and on.
“Later on, I was into folk music. A bit more on the commercial side such as The Kingston Trio. They were a huge part of my life. I would call them my first Beatles. Then, I picked up electric instruments and at the time I was listening to a lot of surf music as well as anything on the radio, a lot of r&b; The Beach Boys and the whole British thing after that, The Beatles, The Stones and that whole scene. The Fulfillingness’ First Finale album by Stevie Wonder, that was a huge influence and one of my favourites of his. ZZ Top, Alison Krause. I try to listen to a wide range of music.”
“On the road I listen to jazz in the morning. At night after the show, I usually calm down with classical music. For one of the song’s on Expando called Downtime, I was able to get one of the top vibraphone players in the jazz world, Gary Burton to play on that song.”
Tell us about the players in your touring band.
“Hank Linderman is my friend and musical cohort in the studio. He’s an all-around talented guy. I originally hired him when I was building a home studio. I met him through my friend Gerry Beckley from America. After about a week, he became my engineer and we’ve been working together many years now. He is also a talented guitar player and he can sing.
“I needed a unique drummer. I auditioned a few folks and I found a soulful drummer named Herman Matthews, who’s an all-around great guy. Then I found Chris Farmer, who has done a lot of work with The Beach Boys. He plays keyboards, bass, and he sings.
“I brought in Bobby Carlos, who is my tech on the road with The Eagles and a bass player himself. I first brought him on the road as a tech, but there are a few songs where I need another player, so he comes up and plays bass when needed.
“I hired three women – -two of them sang on the song White Boy From Sacramento. I hired them just for one show, my first, in Los Angeles. It was so fun I kept them. Mortonette Stephens, ,Marlena Jeeter and Lynne Fiddmont. They’ve performed with everybody; Stevie Wonder, Elton John, and many others.”
What has surprised you most in your career?
“To this day, it still amazes me that this has actually all worked out for me. What it has brought me emotionally, spiritually and financially — all of it amazes me. I get to travel the world and have many adventures. There are so many people that want to do this and it’s not just talent, there are other things involved. Mysterious things, elements that come into play to push you forward. There are a lot of talented people out there that won’t get the chance. Why did it happen to me? I don’t know. I just try to not take it for granted.”
Find out more at www.timothybschmit,com
Tags: Beach Boys, Beatles, Bobby Carlos, Chris Farmer, Crosby Stills & Nash, Eagles, Elvis Presley, Gery Beckley, Graham Nash, Herman Matthews, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Little Richard, Lynne Fiddmont, Marlena Jeeter, Mortonette Stephens, Poco, Rolling Stones, Timothy B Schmit, ZZ Top