Although he recently played drums on a 2010 CD by English pop surrealist
Dirk Speksnijder, musical renaissance man Tim Bragg is actually
a gifted singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist in his own right.
With a number of solo albums to his credit, both pop vocal and instrumental
releases, Tim follows the 2011 CD release of Revamped 1 with
the 2012 CD release of Revamped Too. A mix of
pop and rock, featuring Tims vocals, guitars, drums and much
more, both albums capture Bragg in rare form, mixing a roots rock
approach and a post New Wave kind of pop punch. Commenting on his
position as drummer turned pop singer-songwriter Tim adds, My
main instrument is the drums and I still think of myself as a drummer
first and foremost. I like it when drummers compose music and play
other instruments...its very healthy. I am happy with both my
playing and sound of the drums on these albums. The drum sound
is first rate throughout but clearly Tim's electric guitar playing
is also quite impressive. While Revamped 1 was mostly Tim multi-tracking
in the studio, the 2012 Revamped Too features Tim recording
with a number of musicians. Although the sound is sometimes low key,
or rather not over-produced in places, there is a fertile Do-It-Yourself
pop approach in play on Revamped Too. Bragg cites Van Morrison
as a big influence, and you can also add to that list the late great
Phil Lynott, who Tim covers on Revamped Too with a version
of Kings Call, from Lynotts first solo album.
Also, check out Tim's cover of "The Boys Are Back In Town"
on Revamped 1. A most welcome addition to the pop world of
2012, Revamped Too is a very approachable, user-friendly CD
of breezy, electric pop-rock. www.CDBaby.com/Artist/TimBragg
mwe3.com presents an interview
mwe3: Where do you live now and where are you from? What do you like
best about where you live now?
Hello Robert, Originally from England I now live in a rural part of
France. I love the space, the countryside and being an outsider.
Im married to a French woman too!
mwe3: I first heard you playing with Dirk Speksnijder, on his album
playing drums. How did you meet Dirk and what can you say about your
playing on his The Man With Two Brains CD? I met him when he
came to Little Neck when he was living in the NYC area. How did you
go from that period a couple years ago to the new Revamped 1 and
Revamped Too albums and can you say something about your background
as a recording artist and musician?
TB: I was in a band with Dirk many years ago and with modern communication
and each searching for the other we eventually hooked-up.
The Two Brains CD was fun but I wish Id had better
technology then...I could have done a better job for him. Dirk, in
his non alter-ego form, played on some of my previous stuff and weve
both developed our recording abilities pretty much in tandem.
a drummer I have gone from tapping out rhythms and fills on a keyboard
to using midi software and my Roland electronic kit to trigger acoustic
drums. In a short time Ive progressed from absolute scratch
to producing, I trust, professional sounding albums. It was for this
reason that I have revamped earlier songs, which frankly
werent recorded well enough. Its been a really interesting
past six years...I only wish we had had this technology...ummm a number
of years ago! Also, though I had recorded some flute, and guitar,
bass etc, previously in commercial studios, recording at home meant
much more focus on these other instruments rather than the drums.
Thats been a huge challenge at times.
mwe3: When I heard you play with Dirk, and now hearing your CDs I
didnt realize you were like Dirks musical twin, maybe
youre the McCartney to his Lennon-esque forays into pop psychedelia.
But then again, theres a killer cover of Willin
on Revamped Too that really smokes. Why release two albums
and not a double for Revamped 1 and Revamped Too. Its
like the red album. (lol) Quadrophenia Tim Bragg style. How did the
songs come together into double album form and did you write all the
music and play everything?
Great questions! Well I wrote all the music apart from the covers!
On Revamped 1 I wanted to do a slow, acoustic(ish) version
of The Boys Are Back In Town which Id had knocking
around my head for a while and a Phil Lynott fan had asked me to do
a cover of Kings Call so I obliged and put on Revamped
Too. Willin I knew by Little Feat of course,
but maybe it was the Kursaal Flyers version Id heard as
a kid that prompted my uptempo reworking. Anyway, it was that kind
of country-rock feel Id had in mind for a long time and that
I so wanted to record. Also, with that song Id asked a particular
friend to play slide-guitar but he had time problems and I wanted
to finish the album, so I played the solo/guitar parts myself and
used a nice little effect which made it sound like a cross between
slide, pedal-steel and a violin!
I didnt release the CDs as a double album because with some
new technology Id been given, for which I am still very grateful,
and following on from some mixed reviews, good and bad but mentioning
production on a previous album, I needed to step up a gear or two
and get something out there of higher quality. Thus Revamped 1
came out last year, to wholly good reviews, so far, and then I
was able to relax a bit and concentrate on Revamped Too. There
are also more revamps on their way!
Regarding the playing on Revamped 1 I play all the instruments
on some tracks but on Revamped Too the bass is played by a
young French bassist (Nico Vautrin) who I work with in one of the
bands here. Hes made a big difference! There are guest musicians
on both albums, English and French, who add color to my otherwise
split musical personality!
mwe3: You play every instrument. How much of a challenge is that when
recording and what is your main instrument? Can you say something
about your guitars and amps and some of your recording techniques?
I play every instrument on some tracks and some instruments on all
tracks. This partly through necessity. My main instrument is the drums
and I still think of myself as a drummer first and foremost. I like
it when drummers compose music and play other instruments...its
very healthy. I have made every mistake possible in my past recordings.
The learning curve has been very steep. The faults are too numerous
to list and cover performance, mixing and production. Maybe some interesting
things are my use of the AKAI 4000s wind synthesizer, an electric
wind instrument (EWI) that responds to breath control, which I can
midi out too. This can be heard on Rock The Boat, Better,
The Fightings Over... Also I have had to develop
a style of playing, a technique, on the Roland TD6 electronic drum
kit to make it play and sound most like an acoustic kit. The sound
is there now (as it triggers acoustic drums and cymbals) and I hope
the style is authentic. Its a different approach for sure and
harder. I was in the studio recently with a blues band (Chauffeur
Blues) playing my Sonor kit and the subtleties, nuances and resonance
of the drum and cymbal sounds are just simply there. I can really
explore the sounds of the hi-hats for instance and use natural bounce.
But I am happy with both my playing and sound of the drums on these
albums, there are also a few tracks where acoustic drums were recorded.
On Revamps 1 and Too the sound of the drums,
and their placement in the audio field, has made a huge difference
to the overall feel, sound and production, given it depth and warmth.
Other instruments I use include an Ibanez electric guitar and a handmade
acoustic guitar I inherited from a friend, a Norman Wood, on Revamped
Too only. I often put down acoustic guitar first, layering from
there. My ability to work with and to use a click has improved incredibly.
Using a click but keeping the sound fresh and moving is
always an enjoyable challenge.
mwe3: What are your plans as far as the new album and other writing,
recording and performances as we approach 2013?
Well therell be a CD release of one of my French bands, as I
said above, with both studio and live recordings. Im also going
to finish working on a revamped Fields of England. I have also
already finished an album titled Crossing Over where I play
all the instruments and feature particularly the EWI and flute. Its
ambient/chill out/jazzy, the other side of the Bragg if you will,
and tells the story of a journey from consciousness to Heaven/Paradise...this
inspired by my interest in the synthesis of science and spirituality,
though, I confess, titles may have been applied to work already under
way. I didnt want to release this album before Revamped Too
and may do so under a slightly different name.
Generally I have all the songs I need and with more to come
and so now only need to summon the energy to record Revamped Trois!
Recently I have been recording drum solos on a small practice kit
and uploading onto the net, feeling the need to reemphasize that I
am foremost a drummer.
In France the season for gigs seems the opposite to England but there
are already gigs lined up for 2013 and on New Years eve Im
playing with two bands, that should be fun!
Thanks To Tim Bragg @ www.cdbaby.com/Artist/TimBragg