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Civilized Tears: "Keep This Music Simple And Essential"

Tim Bennett answered my questions via e-mail. Published on Feb 03 2013.

  by Mario

Civilized Tears, Tim Bennett and Bambi Monroe, are almost half way through to their funding goal on Sellaband. I talked to Tim about the project and his change of style ...

50K MUSIC: It's just over half a year since you've started your new Sellaband project, you're at 44% of your funding goal now. Are you happy with the progress so far?
Tim: Yes. We have 92 Believers and I feel incredibly honoured any time someone invests money into our career.They have put their faith and trust in my art and creative model and that means a great deal to me. Of course I'd like to see us reach 100% as soon as possible so we can make the album and show everyone our new songs.

50K MUSIC: I've seen a few of your current photos with Bambi Monroe lately. Have you changed your style?
Tim: Yes, there has been a 180 degree shift in style and image. Bambi and I both cut our hair! Gone with the long locks. Actually we cut each others hair as we can't afford to pay a hair stylist. In fact we do everything ourselves including taking the photos. We spend a huge amount of time creating the right style to match our music. We both love the punk and post punk aesthetic of bands like the Clash and Joy Division and are fans of Johnny Cash and his stark, fearless, dark visuals and lyrics.

I think those styles really reflect our music and philosophy. I've definitely developed as an artist and how I write songs also. So has Bambi. I find myself writing on the guitar using single notes or octaves rather than my usual chords. It's simpler, more honest and raw which reflects the state of mind that pulled be through the dark hole that I found myself in over the last 5 years. The new writing style is completely unintentional and I can trace it back to last May when I wrote the song 'Start a Riot'. I think the new musical direction was born from frustration and the pain of the extreme life-changing experiences I've had since the last album. The loss of my home, divorce, illness, leaving UK and the ensuing chaos , legal battles and emotional break down affected me very deeply.

I realized that I had very few friends and my loneliness left me with thoughts of despair that fermented into anger. This inspired me to recreate myself and I found a huge source of energy in that anger which led me to explore my inner thoughts and social structures. I realize that modern life is so much more fragile than we think. It's like a city built with playing cards and I refuse to buy into that precarious social infrastructure anymore. These new songs, including the ones written with Bambi, are stories about exile, rebellion and defining new life patterns. She too has experienced some dramatic changes in her life including family rejection, deportation and having much of equipment stolen. Her lyrics are autobiographical and particularly revealing especially for a 20 year old. She's definitely been through more than her fair share of personal challenges.

50K MUSIC: Any other plans to promote the project?
Tim: We'll promote on all on-line platforms available and we've already started performing in small clubs. We debuted many of the new songs on our tour in Texas and were surprised how positively people reacted to the new material. Sincerely it was a shock. The sound is much more punk, high tempo and gritty and I thought people might take a while to get used to the more aggressive, raw feel. But actually it has been the most favorably received music for a long time, maybe ever. We will record a few new tracks in Austin in February and will support this with a new music video in March. So we'll be very busy.

50K MUSIC: What else is new?
Tim: Well the line up is new. As most readers will know Bambi has become a member of the band last year. She'd never played electric guitar before and we needed someone to fill that spot on tour. She's been a revelation. She learned 16 songs in 3 weeks ! Her limitations on the new instrument have pushed us to be creative when writing guitar lines and that has forced us to simplify and boil down the musical stew. And I love what we came up with. I also started playing live with electric guitar and that has opened me up to a new sonic vocabulary which has been an amazing adventure. However, I've been very cautious not to overdo the whole guitar effect thing and have reduce my sound to just four pedals. We want to keep this music simple and essential. Anything that doesn't add to the music is thrown into the fire.

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