Until beginning of last year, Timber Rattle was an unknown band to me. Thanks to my colleague and friend Nenad Borovčak, sometime in January last year I received a link to Timber Rattle's bandcamp page. After only a couple of times listening to the "Phantoms of Place" record I was completely drawn into it and intrigued by the band one can find almost nothing about on the almighty interwebs.
(za hrvatsku verziju intervjua kliknite ovdje)
Timber Rattle's music sounded like something I never heard before and at the same time it sounded very familiar. I was not certain how and why, but that was a fact no one could prove me otherwise. Knowing that Timber Rattle had a concert scheduled later for March same year in Zabok I wasn't sure what to expect from the live performance. I didn't have any idea on how would they be performing the songs in a live setup because I couldn't imagine how can one produce such chamber and orchestral soundscapes at the same time.
There and that night I realized it has nothing to do with any specific instrument or set of instruments but rather with specific emotions and experiences Timber Rattle puts into their songs.
Hi Adam. It has been almost a year since we met after the concert and shared a couple of Pelinkovac shots in Zabok's only open and decent bar that night. How are things going for you and Timber Rattle?
Things are going great! We finished all the Pelinkovac that we brought back home with us, and we are very excited to come back to Europe, and especially Croatia, so we can enjoy some more with you.
As far as I'm aware, you're still touring to support the current “Phantoms of Place” record released digitally and on cassette - did you manage to get it released on vinyl in the meantime? Have you been working on new songs and a new record perhaps in the meantime? If so, will the Croatian audience have the chance to listen to some of them?
We have yet to release it on vinyl, but it is still a hope. We have a couple of new songs that will be released on a 7-inch by Zen Hex (from Arezzo, Italy). Our hope is that the 7-inches will be ready for the tour, but unfortunately, there is no guarantee of that yet. We'll be performing the new songs, as well as stuff from Phantoms, and some older songs that we like to play and that people have asked us to play.
Timber Rattle's music is something I can't compare to any other music I have listened to. How would you, if you had to, describe your music to a wider audience in your own words?
The most succinct way I have been comfortable describing it is "psyche-pastoral"... "psyche", I guess for obvious reasons; the sounds tend to be spatial and repetitious, and seek to create a sort of reflective environment, whether that's outward or inward. And "pastoral" mostly because I feel like it refers to a sort of solitary or individual experience with nature - something we are always celebrating musically - as opposed to "folk" or "americana", which I think characterize our music also, but which are laden with a lot of cultural and musical connotations that don't really point to our primary concerns.
Listening to your music, I can't obviously point out any specific musical influences. I guess you rather draw your inspiration from somewhere else than music. I can almost imagine that it comes to you in a sort of a ritual or a ceremony taking place somewhere outside the studio, in a hidden forest lodge or from a mystical place that radiates specific kind of wisdom and knowledge we as people don't usually pay attention to in our everyday lives. Is this only my imagination or do you get inspired by less mystical and etheric things and experiences?
I don't really know why it ends up just the way it does. I try to be patient and wait for ideas and melodies and lyrics to sort of manifest themselves without "working" on thinking them up. And yeah, you're right, a lot of that happens in the mountains and the woods and the desert and the ocean. I guess that's what "Phantoms of Place" is supposed to mean. But we definitely have musical influences too. Big time! I think maybe what we take from those is less an overall aesthetic though, and more piecemeal concepts like tone, pattern, scale, palette, etc. And then what's really fun is appreciating the coincidence and continuity of being inspired by places that have been inspiring music for millennia, as well as being inspired by music that is also necessarily inspired by some place. So that's why we've never strayed too far from the pastoral/folk/Americana kind of sound, because we are celebrating and exploring the primordial and arcane wild that we are surrounded by, as well as exploring an iteration of the music that that same landscape has influenced historically. I guess the way Timber Rattle sounds is just one version of superimposing the two. Also, the record is recorded IN the forest lodge!
Your music is certainly far away from being popular and I get that being popular is not something you're looking for, so what makes or keeps you recording and playing your music live?
It's fun. It's fulfilling. It's a way to share ideas and feelings and energy, and to get to travel and meet awesome people and see amazing stuff. Everything about cultivating an "online presence" for the band is the opposite of what I'm interested in doing, so I feel really lucky that we have been able to tour and stuff despite being pretty much off the radar.
For me, a non-native english speaker, it's kind of hard to completely understand the lyrics and their meaning in the songs. What are some of the topics you sing about? And what do those mean to you?
I think they end up mostly being just a verbal exploration of the same things that the music is exploring. Land and bodies and life and death and magic and language and ritual and myth and space and cycles and animals and plants and food and poison, etc, etc... and our relationships to any and all of those things. I really like singing, especially with the harmonies, but the lyrics are intentionally kind of obscured, since the sound itself is more important to the music than being able to understand the words. I think the "meaning" can be real distracting.
Last time I saw you, Timber Rattle performed in a three men line-up. Are there any changes to that? Could you also introduce the guys to our readers?
Yeah! It's Jonny and J.T. Same as last time. J.T. and I did a tour a couple years ago, just the two of us, and we had the idea to ask Jonny last time, so we could do all the three-part harmonies and percussion parts. J.T. also slays it on the keyboard. Outside of the music stuff too, it's a great group to be traveling with. We have a real good time pretty much all the time.
I have seen you perform live last year and sort of know what to expect, but I have to ask on behalf of our readers – What can we expect from your performances in Klanjec and Zagreb scheduled for March 2015?
Well, one of the best things about touring is getting to experience so many new spaces sonically and energetically, and we basically have our "set" as our constant for doing that. We're going to play a selection of songs from all three of our previous recordings (timberrattle.bandcamp.com), plus from the new 7-inch. There will be guitar, keyboard and percussion and we will all sing. It tends to be quite mellow.
I appreciate you taking the time for this interview and I have to say that I'm really looking forward to the concerts in Croatia.
Thanks Bojan! We really appreciate the thoughtful questions. We are also super excited!
Photo: Nenad Borovčak