Interview with Tim Lannen about the album “Collarbone”
In the early 2000s, I founded the internet magazine Crazewire.de with a few good friends. A pretty clever idea, as we always got all the current releases of well-known and – even more interesting – many bands that were completely unknown to us. So at Christmas 2005 the debut album of a New York band was lying on my desk – THE DIGGS. “Commute” is a rather solid album as a whole. The opener “It’s Just Like You Say”, on the other hand, is one of the greatest songs of all time. I love this piece, its dynamics and the stoic singing to this day. One would probably say life changer today.
This song is also the reason I’ve been looking for the band for the jubilee. Then last year I accidentally found THE DIGGS singer Tim Lannen on the internet. A likeable guy who, as luck would have it, released a new solo album in June. Reason enough to ask how he has fared in the past few years and what we can expect from his new album.
Hello Tim, I could imagine that many of our readers are not familiar with you. Would you like to introduce yourself and tell us something about your musical career?
Tim: Hey! I’m so glad to be here! I grew up on in New York on Long Island. I live in Brooklyn, work in Manhattan, and I’ve been playing music since I was a teenager. I really got into playing guitar in the early 90s after seeing JOHN FRUSCIANTE in the “Under the Bridge” video, as silly as that sounds. I mean, I totally have Fender Jaguar that same color and everything. Candy apple red. Early on, my focus was songwriting and less of being any kind of virtuoso on guitar. In the early aughts I fronted a band called THE DIGGS. We have two albums, which you can find anywhere really.
After two EPs in 2016, you’re releasing your first solo album this year (june 30th). How did it happen after such a long break and what can the listener expect from your new record “Collarbone”.
Tim: I guess the long break is mainly due to that I run a coffee shop full time, but I also really took my time recording all the guitars and vocals. The drums and bass were recorded in The Bunker Studio in Brooklyn, which was a very cool experience. I strongly recommend their B room. Todd Carder, the engineer, as a real pleasure to work with. Very chill and professional. Most of the writing for this album started during COVID, but there are a couple of the songs that are a bit older. “Collarbone” feels like a cross between my sole stuff, and The Diggs. I don’t know, I guess you should expect it to sound like me!
The album will be released on the small independent label Totally Real Records. Will there be worldwide distribution of the album? As an independent musician, what are the major challenges for you in 2023?
Tim: Yeah I suppose it releases worldwide. It will stream everywhere basically, and it will release via Bandcamp. As an independent musician and on a personal level, I sometimes find it hard to be motivated to create, even though it almost always brings me happiness and satisfaction.
Why is the album called collarbone? Is there a background-story?
Tim: Someone I know from work came in one day and told me about how they recently broke their collarbone and that collarbones have been said to be ‘designed’ to break. To be a buffer for bigger and more important bones. I loved the concept and decided, on the spot, that “Collarbone” should be the album title.
In the video for your first single “The World’s A Toothache” you throw album covers (for example SUNNY DAY REAL ESTATE-singer Jeremy Enigk) and graphic novels (“Black Hole” by Charles Burns) on the floor of your room. Are these the influences we can expect on your album? Where else do you get your inspiration from?
Tim: Inspiration is everywhere. Lyrics, in particular, come from everyday life. If I read something, or here someone say something, i jot it down in a long notebook file that I have on my phone. I’ve become a bit of a comic book reader over the years and I really did love “Black Hole” but I can’t say it influenced any of the songs in any way that I know of, but you never know. I suppose inspiration has a way of seeping in from all sorts of different places whether you’re aware of it or not. I love that Jeremy Enigk record! I don’t know if “Collarbone” contains any songs that would remind anybody of his work, but again, you never know. I had a lot of fun making that video! I woke up on a Saturday morning, knowing that I had to make a video and I just started fucking around with my phone and some editing software that I barely knew how to use. By the end of the day, I had a video!
Let’s talk briefly about your lyrics. Lines like “Have you ever been lucky? If I have, I’ve forgotten. If I’ve forgotten, refresh me” appeals to me personally. How important are your lyrics to you and do you approach them autobiographically?
Tim: “The World’s A Toothache” has become a special song to me. On my phone, I had a demo of the guitar and some fake drums. One day I recorded a bunch of different ideas I had from my lyrics file, just to have something to listen to and meditate on. I realized quickly that structurally the song was finished. In rehearsal, I believe it was Charlie who recommended using different dynamics and tempos and Steve’s bassline really adds some much-needed dimension. I think my lyrics are mostly autobiographical, even though I’ll occasionally grab a line of dialogue or text from something I’m reading. I guess the song almost always ends up being about me, me, ME!! As I get older, I find that I want my songs to make sense lyrically and thematically and that maybe I hope the listener knows what im trying to say. It’s cool if they dont though, I guess lol
On the one hand the income from the sale of vinyl and CDs – especially at live concerts – is extremely important as an independent artist. On the other hand, I would not have discovered you without a streaming service. How do you deal with this situation?
Tim: At this stage I am really into writing and recording music with my friends and mostly playing local-ish gigs. I hope the vinyl and cassettes sell, but really, I just want people to hear it. I DO need to brush up on my social media and Internet skills, but that’s typical for old people like me.
The album will be released at the end of June, what will happen to you then? Are you going on tour with your band? And are there any plans that could also take you to europe?
Tim: There is not a tour planned but I do hope to get this album to as many ears possible, whether it’s through the cassettes and vinyl that are releasing via Totally Real Records or through streaming. Playing Europe would be cool! Shows are still so much fun to play, whether it’s just me solo or me with a small band.
Thank you Tim. And good luck with the new album.
Tim: Thank YOU so much!
Article written by Lasse Paulus
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