Words: James Frostick
Band image: Max Goodman
Sydney punk three-piece Tim & The Boys are putting the lid on their 2018 LP Growing with a visual treatment for the album’s last track, ‘Silent Room’. Perhaps the album’s most personal statement, the clip for ‘Silent Room’ utilises archived television footage to create a patchwork of moments, a summation of memory and experiences overlaid with disquieting statements about the human condition.
Tim & The Boys are the kind of group that both invites study and also defies easy understanding. They’re not some kind of profound oddity that exists beyond human comprehension, but rather their work is so tightly wrapped in tongue-in-cheek posturing, deliberate ambiguity and sonic pivots that it takes a minute to get a mental grasp of what you’re listening to. The combination of Daniel Grosz (Bass), Tim Collier (Vocals, Drum Machine, Synths) and Will Harley (Guitar) enjoy dismantling, skewering, subverting, perverting, confusing and agitating – they revel in the bait-and-switch, tampering with form, stirring the proverbial pot, shaking the tree to see what drops, pushing boundaries and seeing what they can ultimately get away with. It’s all of this and more that makes their 2018 record Growing (out through Sydney label Meatspin Records) such an impressive release. Jokes and double entendre shelter intelligent critique of everything from masculinity to pop-culture, with everything leading up to earnest closer ‘Silent Room’. The track that perhaps draws the most from Tim Collier’s own experience, ‘Silent Room’ is also one of the most impactful numbers, which makes it worthy of being given a visual treatment, even almost two years on from the album’s official release.
The clip is comprised of a collection of archived film snippets, featuring everything from television adverts to dogs to war footage. These cut-together moments are given extra nuance by the addition of attention-grabbing mantras – each cutting to the quick, raising questions about the nature of living experience and creating a succession of rapid-fire existential crises. The notion that older memories warp and blend under the weight of new memories; that nostalgia is merely advertising for another time in your life; that all knowledge is an ever growing pile of contradicting interpretations of stimuli; that your life doesn’t follow a cohesive narrative; and that true horror is something that can’t be addressed by conventional psychology – it’s enough to do your head in if you dig deep enough. Rarely to clips give such food for thought – I’ll be chewing on this one for a while.
I had a quick chat with Tim Collier about Growing, the genesis of these visuals and what’s next for him and The Boys:
It’s been just over a year and a half since Tim & The Boys dropped Growing. Now that there’s some distance between you and the record, what are you most proud of / what would you have loved another crack at?
The thing I personally am most proud of is how distinct it sounds. I think it’s an album that’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it sounds like, who the most obvious influences are. We were able to have somewhat of a distinct point of view, which I’m pretty happy with for a first LP. I don’t know if I would do anything differently, or redo. There are things you’ll evolve over time, change in the next recording. But that album is what it is – a time capsule for what we were doing, listening to, who we were hanging out with at that time. When you’re making an album you could tinker with it forever, at some point you need to just need to call it and say it’s finished.
What sort of feedback did you receive regarding the record? From what you could gather, do you think people picked up on the sentiments you were putting down?
It was a mixed bag. I feel like people were curious about our intentions. We had a really interesting chat with my friend Bryony that Maximum R’n’R published, that made me think about how people might interpret the content of our songs. You can have a lot of very cerebral sort of thoughts about writing a song, or these very conscious concepts. But when it comes down to it, if the song doesn’t communicate that clearly then the audience will never really understand what you were really trying to do. Which I think is part of the reason we make music. All that said, lots of people have said they enjoyed it and sometimes that’s all people say. I always think it’s funny when you get someone saying to you something like ‘your songs are catchy‘ or ‘I had a boogey to it‘. People sometimes enjoy something without having that much of an interaction with the intentions of the music.
You’re releasing a new video for ‘Silent Room’ – what made you choose this song to get a visual treatment?
I think we always knew that this was one of the best songs on the album and one of the songs that people would enjoy the most. When we released the album I think we had every intention of releasing the ‘White Guys‘ clip to establish the themes and general approach of the album and release ‘Silent Room’ soon after it. As with all things when it’s not your job, time gets away from you and things you had planned change. I think ‘Silent Room’ is maybe the only song on the album that has a very sincere emotional story, we wrote it right after a particular event in my life and we had the explicit intention of writing a song about this thing that had made us all really upset. I think because of that it’s a song people connect with and I wanted to give that more meaning with a video.
Give me the low-down on the clip – how did it come together and what did you want the visuals to bring to the overall listening experience?
I liked that the song felt really universal but also specific. People had asked me what the song was about and I was always quite vague about it if they didn’t already know. So I wanted a video that could capture that mix. When it came down to how could we film, and some of the concepts we’d had for the film, there were some realities we had to face in terms of filming. In the end, I had a friend – Cameron Drew – who edits video at my work who wanted to help out, so we figured out ways we could make a clip with him with as little filming as possible. I’ve always been a big fan of Adam Curtis and I thought it was an interesting contrast between his dry, alien style of documentary making and the sincerity of this particular song. So we created this narrative with found footage and archives we scoured the internet for.
It’s the last song on the record – does this clip release signify a closing of the Growing chapter for the band?
I guess you could say that. The song is about endings and we won’t be doing anything more with this album, so it makes sense.
How would you say the group has evolved since the release of growing, and how do you envision that manifesting in the next release from Tim & The Boys?
I think our sound is more focused and less free now. Our songs are less meandering and jammy. I am trying to write in a less analytical way. I think the thing we are keeping is an ambition to be distinctive from any particular genre or musical legacy. We want to create songs that are challenging and have a sound that’s not predictable. Hopefully it’s finished soon. In terms of things the next release will do differently, I can only speak for my role in the band, but I definitely want to bring more effort to the vocals and getting them right, rather than good enough. Not feeling like once it’s written it can’t be changed. There are songs on the next record that I just don’t like the lyrics or the vocal melody for, or I’m not satisfied with synth parts for, so I’m happy to rewrite them or redo them. Instead of feeling that it’s recorded so that’s what it is.