Having established himself as a member of Pop Will Eat Itself and Gary Numan’s band, Tim Muddiman invites ReGen to see and hear his latest and most personal musical outlet, Tim Muddiman and The Strange.
An InterView with Tim Muddiman of Tim Muddiman and The Strange, Pop Will Eat Itself, and Gary Numan
By Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)
In a few short years, Tim Muddiman has garnered a considerable reputation as a respected sessions player and live performer; as a member of the legendary alternative act Pop Will Eat Itself, and having worked closely with synth/rock icon Gary Numan both in the studio and on the stage, he has demonstrated his skills to become one of today’s most exciting musicians. Now, the man is ready to strike out with his own musical outlet – Tim Muddiman and The Strange. With the release of two singles – “Wildwood Stone” and “Rolling Stones” – along with corresponding music videos co-directed by Muddiman himself, there seems to be virtually no limit to the man’s creativity and artistic ambitions. With a full-length album in the works, along with more live performances to follow in all of his musical associations, Muddiman speaks with ReGen Magazine on his career and the formation of his new band, letting us in on the processes by which he approaches his music, some insights on the current state of the music industry and where it has yet to progress, and just what audiences can expect from him in the near future… and from the sound of it, contrary to the darkly monochrome visual schemes employed in his music videos, that future is looking very bright indeed!
Your latest creative outlet – Tim Muddiman and The Strange – to get a couple of pedestrian questions out of the way, could you give us some background into how the band got started, who else is involved and how they came to be part of TM&TS?
You’ve released two singles – ‘Wildwood Stone’ and ‘Rolling Stones’ – and I’m guessing there is a full-length album in the works? What can you tell us about the development of the band’s sound and style to culminate in the singles we’ve heard so far? What would you say have been the most important lessons or skills that you’ve learned that have held the most benefit to your creative process?
Unlike your work as a member of Pop Will Eat Itself and working with Gary Numan, TM&TS is a project in which you are the front man; what have you found so far to be the major differences in your approach to making music with TM&TS vs. when you are a supporting/collaborative band member?
Muddiman: I have always tried to inject my musical personality into everything I have done with other people, but with still having the respect that it isn’t my music and wanting to do my best to help put their music across. I’ve been fortunate to never have to play anything I don’t genuinely like so it hasn’t been hard. This time, it’s what I want to do and I make the rules. It has been daunting as well as exciting, but most definitely I’m putting in practice what I’ve always thought about and lived by – so, ultimately more fulfilling creatively and it just feels right.
Having co-directed the music videos for the two singles you’ve released thus far, what can you tell us about the significance of the visual component of the band’s music, how it complements and/or extends the lyrical themes (and vice versa)?
In relation to the previous question, what are your thoughts on the levels to which many modern bands have exercised control of the visual aspects of their presentation?
Muddiman: I think it’s vital. With the affordability of equipment and more people being skilled at it, every creative person will know someone who can help out. I also think that our generation is very well educated compared to people from the ’70s and ’80s. We’ve been surrounded with all kinds of visual art in publications and more recently the internet, so inspiration is never far away. There will always be something that one can do differently, even if it’s minor. Every person is unique so everyone’s visual representation should be unique as well and personal to them.
The pop market is certainly not the same now as it once was, so this might seem like a rather banal question; having worked with two pioneering acts of the last 30 years, what are your thoughts on the progression of music and where do you feel music has yet to go (or to put it another way, what do you feel is the next evolutionary step) – both creatively and in terms of the industry?
Muddiman: I struggle to think what will be the next evolution. In my opinion, since the early ’90s and the explosion of dance music and even grunge, there has been no revolution to speak of. Big steps were made from the ’50s with rock & roll to punk in the ’70s to acid house in the ’80s (this is only naming a few, obviously). I feel like things have just filtered outwards rather than taking big steps forward. As they filter out, more people have enjoyed music and more people are writing music. The formula is well known. Doing something new is personal and smaller. Good songwriters are golden and this is only where my head is at when listening to new music. I like to hear a quirk or something that relights that fire, even if only for a while.
However, I hope I’m wrong and hope something does come along, but with the internet being in everyone’s pocket, I don’t know where the human energy from subcultures lives anymore. Without that energy, the underground seems to exist for only a very short amount of time.
As for the industry, I think that streaming and piracy needs to be policed way more. It’s ridiculous that music is undervalued these days as it’s now practically given away. It’s incredibly hard to even make music without any money and then trying to sell it to live like any other tradesmen or entrepreneur is almost impossible because of video streaming, audio streaming, and other internet music platforms. I know one particular person who is championing a campaign to really look at this situation. Some of the things I have become aware of recently are gloom ridden where musicians are railroaded by the huge search engines and advertising campaigns that they sell on the back of music. It’s a tough position to be in where you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t use the internet to get your music out there.
What can you tell us about bringing TM&TS to the live environment? What sorts of challenges have you seen in bringing the band’s sound to the stage, and how do you feel you have or have yet to overcome those challenges?
Muddiman: The main challenge has been recreating the demos with human beings live. It’s been an organic process. Like I said earlier in this InterView, I have become attracted to making the album more live sounding and less electronic and rehearsing and playing live has had an important impact on my learning this. Now it has had a reverse effect where I am more able to visualize ad hear how things are going to work live while I’m writing and recording. My band is good. It gets better and better with every rehearsal and every show. The more experience we get, the more it will change and grow in every area.
There is a notion that since sales of music are lower than they once were, a band truly survives only by playing live. What are your thoughts on this based on your experiences playing live?
Muddiman: For established bands, I imagine this to be true. If one has a good back catalog, I would assume that the artist is pushing for the songs to be synched on TV/movies and ads to make money. Right now, my head is all about getting good music and good videos out there and getting them to as many people. Can we speak about this in a year’s time?
Of course. While you unfortunately will not be joining PWEI during the band’s performance at ColdWaves IV, what are your feelings – from the perspective of a performer – on how this particular festival has developed in the last few years and what directions you see it going in, or that you’d like to see it go in? And the same question can be applied to other festival/events that you’ve taken part in.
What is next for you – both individually and with regards to TM&TS?
Muddiman: Right now, I am reworking some of my demos and rewriting the lyrics. I love this process. I then tour with Gary Numan playing residency shows in Los Angeles and then in London. On the 16th of October, Tim Muddiman and The Strange will play our first headlining show at 93ft East, Brick Lane, London, and the following week, we support Numan on the 23rd of October. That night will be a double shift; I can’t wait. In the meantime, I am organizing production for my next single to be released in November, and then making the next video and learning about 50 new Numan songs! Did I say I can’t wait? Then it’s onto the album. There is so much involved; it’s for the love! More music, more art, and more shows!