The Sun Sawed in ½ released two EPs in the past few months. ‘Sirens’ and ‘Beaches in Bali’ are musically very rich. That sound did not arise in a swanky recording studio. The pandemic made songwriter, guitarist, and producer Tim Rose look for new ways to record his music. He found it and told Sweet Sweet Music about the creation of, in total, eleven new songs.
How did the new music come together?
Owing to the pandemic, I had a lot of time at home. So I began playing with Logic Pro X on my Mac for the first time. I ended up building fully realized demos to more than 30 new songs during my learning curve. Then I found that I wasn’t the only musician sitting at home. I got in touch with our lead singer, Doug Bobenhouse, and he and I started culling and building the best of the material.
Thankfully, I was contacted by a start-up company in Portugal called Musiversal that helped pro-studio musicians during the pandemic by giving them easy 30 minute booked gigs during the day doing a remote recording. This was incredible as it allowed our band to work with some world-class players and use sounds and instruments we never thought to implement.
What’s the gig you will always remember? And why?
The Sun Sawed in ½ has had some really fun gigs. From opening for bands such as Echo & The Bunnymen, Semisonic, and Cracker to performing with Chuck Berry in the audience.
However, having the opportunity to play at the Cavern Club in Liverpool was a stand-out. Given the Beatles were my role models as a young songwriter, just the chance to be in their hometown was enough of a dream come true. But to perform at the International Pop Overthrow at the Cavern was the icing.
When was the last time you thought, ‘I just wrote a hit!’?
For everything we produce that we foist upon the general public, we put through a rigorous cycle of doubt. We deconstruct the song, question the lyrics, poke at it, trash it, and if it still wakes us up at night bouncing through our heads, we know we have a hit.
To answer the question directly, the last song I wrote gave me that feeling right away. However, like all the others, it needs to go through the scientific peer-review process before I’ll swear to it.
Recording music. What’s all the fun about?
Everything. It’s like designing a palace. Building the structure and then adding the filigree and the frescoes. Today, it is really simple to build a fully realized song online. With Zoom, Audiomovers, and a Mac, we were able to record hundreds of sessions with talented musicians with ease.
In fact, we never set foot in a recording studio for these EPs. And, everything sounds as good as the work we did with Keith Olsen at Sound City/Goodnight L.A. studios in the ’90s. Technology has been really kind to composers and producers. I’ve had more fun making these EPs than anything else we’ve done with The Sun.
You can pick three co-writers to write new songs with. Who? … and Why?
Given that none of my picks are likely, I will pick those who are purely hypothetical.
- Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky would be a wonderful mentor to write with. His sense of melody is sublime, and his deep knowledge of music and composition would push our songs beyond anything anyone is doing today. I remember listening to The Nutcracker with headphones in the dark and thinking how this was the first epic rock opera.
- Nina Simone is an artist I admire, owing to her unique voice, piano skills, and her ability to take a song and turn it into an emotional journey. I would love to access that depth of my soul and have the skill to translate it to my music. Few artists have done this or can do this. Brittney Howard comes to mind for someone still with us. But, Nina is in a class by herself.
- Sam Cooke. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard a better voice on a human. And, that talent goes way deeper than his smooth voice and stellar performances. Sam was an impassioned songwriter who was first to bring the pain of the black existence to the masses and a decade ahead of Marvin Gaye and “What’s Going On.” On top of that, Sam Cooke was a brilliant writer who knew what a hit song sounded like and had the directions mapped out in his mind to drive there in style every time. One of my mentors, Andy Partridge of XTC, is an A-level Power Pop songsmith, and his “Earn Enough for Us” song has a Sam Cooke pastiche from “What a Wonderful World.” To be that sure of myself and to be that talented would be ideal. To co-write with someone at that level would be a life-changer.
- I wanted to mention the names of my songwriting influences: Brian Wilson, Lennon-McCartney, Dylan, Elvis Costello, etc. I don’t think it would be ideal to write with any of them because I’ve studied them in detail my whole life. However, it would be an honor.