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Tim Morse

Interviewed by Gary Hill

Interview with Tim Morse from 2018

MSJ:

It's been about three or four years since we did an interview with you. What (beyond the new album that we'll get to in a moment) has been new in the world of Tim Morse?

In addition to my musical activities I’ve been pursuing my passion for traveling.  A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to visit Japan for the first time.  It was a wonderful experience; the people and their culture left a huge impression on me.  It also gave me the chance to add to my music collection and sample the incredible food.  This last summer I went to Alaska and completed my bucket-list goal of visiting all fifty states.  I found Alaska to be spectacular, living up to its reputation of presenting mother nature in her pristine, Technicolor glory.
MSJ: Speaking of the new album, now that you are able to look at the experience of creating it in the rear view mirror, what really sticks out about it to you?
It’s still early to look in that rear view mirror, but while the experience was enjoyable it was also a fairly overwhelming time as my mother was terminally ill.  The last six months of working on the album was kind of a sanctuary for me from the emotional intensity that was going on in my life at the time.  However, the album isn’t about that experience, the material was already written and much of it recorded by then.  III is more an examination and celebration of life. There’s only one song about loss (“The Mary Celeste”) and that was composed before my mother was ill.
MSJ: How do you feel it compares to the rest of your works?
They are all different, but I think this is my most consistent work to date.  I believe III is the truest to my vision of what I was hoping to achieve, which was capturing the emotional essence of the music.  There’s no question that the vocals are the best I’ve ever recorded, since I worked with and relied on the expertise of Craig Long at Paradise Studios.  I definitely feel that some of the songs like “My Ally,” “The Marquis” and “The Path” are among the best I’ve ever written.
MSJ: What's the best thing that's ever been said about your music?
There have been quite a few, so it’s tough to choose.  I received a great review for my last album Faithscience from the writer John Bollenberg of the iO Pages.  Let me dig it out…”Faithscience is a brilliant record that exudes musical and lyrical quality from beginning to end. Tim Morse deserves to make it into the mainstream, as he is surely one of the greats of the genre.”  I have to say I am proud of that review, I’ve thought about framing it and hanging it up in my studio!  It’s always nice when a musician you respect listens carefully and makes positive comments on your music. I’ve been fortunate to have artists like David Sancious and Steve Howe do that for me in the past.  But more recently a friend told me that he and his wife had listened to my new album with a glass of wine and were very moved by the experience and I thought, ‘that’s it! I’ve done it.’
MSJ: What's ahead for you?
In January a limited edition LP of III will be released, and there will be a companion bonus disc featuring unreleased songs.  After that I plan on doing some archiving of older music. There are a lot of demos on tape from the past that need to be put on the hard drive.  It’s still early to think about the next project, but the idea of doing something in the instrumental fusion genre has been knocking about - we’ll see what the future holds.
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
Adam Holzman released an amazing album called "Truth Decay" that I’ve been listening to for the last few weeks.  It combines classic fusion like Weather Report or RtF with a modern edge.  Also, I love the way Adam uses synthesizers in his arranging, and the performances are incredible.  I was recently turned onto Once and Future Band (their eponymous album) - great progressive rock, and unlike most new prog they have a vibe that sounds like the band was in the same room and cut the tracks live.  It’s a fun album, well worth seeking out.

Royal Canoe continues to make interesting pop music on their latest Something Got Lost Between Here and the Orbit.  There’s some older remastered music that’s been getting attention from me, including The Beatles White Album, the Kate Bush collections and, of course, the Jethro Tull (Steven Wilson remixed) box sets continue to show everyone how it should be done.  I’m always trying to get people to listen to the band Field Music - if you like quirky, intelligent pop music, then you should run, don’t walk - to buy one of their albums!

MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?
Two novels that I read recently and enjoyed were All The Light We Cannot See and Little Fires Everywhere.  For nonfiction I can recommend The River of Doubt about Teddy Roosevelt’s harrowing journey down that river in South America.  I also liked Brighter Day: A Jellyfish Story - I was happily surprised to discover that someone had written a book about a band that had such a short lifespan.  Finally, I’ve been rereading Shakti Gawain’s Return to the Garden, which was an important influence on me writing the song “Wake Up.”
MSJ: Speaking of books, how about any new writing underway?
Very little these days, occasionally I will champion a new, deserving band or do something with an artist I respect.  I’ve had a book project simmering on the back burner for some time now. Maybe 2019 will be when I take a serious look at completing it.
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
I’ll mention the last two: Pat Metheny who came through and put on a wonderful performance with his band - no fancy production, just a stripped down quartet playing its heart out.  And I just saw Mike Stern and his band play a burning set at Yoshi’s.
MSJ: Do you remember the first concert you attended?
I do indeed, it was Yes in 1977 for the Going for the One Tour.  It’s still one of my top three concerts of all time.  To witness that performance by Yes in their prime was a life changing experience for me.
MSJ: Have you come across any new gear recently that you love?
I’ve been getting into using soft synths - the Arturia CS-80 virtual synth was used on III, especially on the song “Labyrinth.” Also, the Sonic Reality mellotron samples have been great fun to play with. I’m particularly a fan of the choir sounds.  You can hear them featured on “The Mary Celeste.”
MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?
Yes, I’d like to thank anyone who has made time in their life to actually listen to music.  There are so many distractions in modern life, and I truly appreciate when someone makes time to listen, not just to my music, but to music in general.  For me personally, listening to music and going to live performances is life affirming - it’s a survival need. Also, I’d like to thank you, Gary, for your writing and interest in music.  You’ve provided a wonderful forum for artists to communicate and share with their fans. I appreciate it!
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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