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Interview: Band Of The Week – Tim Pare

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His story is an astonishing one. Tim Pare left his broken long-term relationship and job in Sheffield, England. Selling everything, he moved to Shandong, China to teach English. A year later on the Trans-Siberian Express, somewhere deep in the forests between Vladivostock and Moscow, 60 Russian conscripts from Siberia and Kamchatka got on the train. Tim says, “They were aggressive, sexually-deprived, testosterone-flooded killers and they wanted to be pissed [British term for drunk] all day. They were friendly until they asked us to give them some of our possessions and to buy them vodka.” These were desperate men in need of distraction.

It was then, surrounded by violent, barbaric, drunken Russian conscripts and with a knife to his neck, that Tim began writing what he would later record and title Trans-Siberian Express (T-SE). It may not be as mind-blowing or exciting as its birth would imply but it is very good at what it is, heartfelt, life-experience and emotion filled acoustic pop. Tim Pare’s world weary lyrics are straight from the hip and his warm, rich vocals lend themselves to the heartrending feel of his debut EP Trans-Siberian Express.

Tim and GuitarTim is a warm, friendly guy with a unique gentleness to him — that is reflected in his music — and a strong Yorkshire accent. Tim and I recently talked about his experience, about how he became a musician and what was in the cards for him next.

Tell me how you got into music.

My dad used to write songs, well religious musicals, and a bit for the church service. I had to learn two instruments as a kid. I chose the guitar. My parents got me classical lessons but I sucked and started learning a few chords in secret and singing. I always loved singing.

Then my music teacher asked us to write a piano composition – oh, piano was the other – and I spent hours on it and was really proud of it. He ripped it up in class and told me to write another for the next day. I was so angry I thought “Fuck you, you're getting nothing” but intrinsically I'm scared of authority so at the last minute I grabbed this little 3/4 guitar I had and wrote a song really quickly – in about 10 minutes. It was okay, but the girls in class loved it, absolutely loved it and that was me! (laughs)

It always comes back to sex doesn't it? (laughing)

Seems too shallow, whilst wanting to be seen as being deep. (laughs)

Shallow maybe but at least it's honest.

I think that's a thing in my song-writing actually. This is me, warts and all.

Your EP, Trans-Siberian Express, (or is it an album?) is as singer-songwriter, correct?

Yep, that's right. I wanted a “sketch”, if you like a kind of basic introduction to my songs. I'm a big believer that if you can strip a song down to the bare bones then it's a good song. That's where I wanted to start, to show I can write.

Tell me about Trans-Siberian Express. It's all about a heartbreak?Tim , Pensive

Not all, but I guess the feel of it is probably that. Some people find it a little dark but many find it quite relaxing. It's about reflection, I think, and a large part of that period was about the feeling of waste, that I had chosen badly and been kicked in the teeth. Anger at myself for not being strong enough to say “enough is enough”. And when you have a bad relationship I think it's quite natural to look back at a better one, or moment, and dwell on that.

“Afterglow” is optimistic I think, and “Exorcism” and “You've Got Your” are both about the turn, the moment you leave something behind and give life another try.

What inspired these feelings and thoughts?

I split up with my partner after trying to make it work for a long time when I should have left. I was in a bit of a rut with my music. I'd split up my band and was not really ready to write singer-songwriter stuff. I was too angry I guess. I got a pension letter telling me that I could claim mine in 2048 if I continued full time for the council. I sold my house and went off on a one way ticket to Indonesia.

Then I think I got space and time and looked at where I had begun to settle for that three on the dice. I'm on a five now.

Sorry I don't understand the dice reference.

It's a thing from The Office (UK) this guy is explaining why he has stayed at the office instead of going back to Uni (British term for University) and why he hasn't made the move on the girl of his dreams and he says he is on a three in terms of his life. That he could roll again and get a six but he was scared of getting a one. Lots of people settle for a mediocre three. I guess I threw again…

So did you actually write Trans-Siberian Express on the T-SE?

Yeah, got the basic songs down, I wrote about eight or nine, it was a bit of a surprise really, I had spent six months in China and only written one average song but on that journey it all went off. Never been that prolific before or since.

Tim Pare But now you are going to be moving to a full band sound, how come?

Yeah, I've written the first full album and some of the songs just wanted to go off at the end and really spread the sound and become a bit more epic I suppose. I started demo-ing them with Tom Jarvis — bloke who recorded T-SE and they sound fantastic.

I think also that we want to have a go at the proper singles and record deal thing. I'm putting the band together now in London.

So are these new demos similar to T-SE?

Similar songs in terms of strong melodies and lyrics but they have a bit more variety and bite. They don't rock out, but they do build and have some lovely harmonies and guitar parts and strings and stuff. I'm trying to show a credible progression and depth to my writing and development I suppose.

We're recording the singles in London this month with a guy who did (produced) Elvis Costello. I'm really excited.

So what has inspired your new stuff? If not pain?

Lots of different things, still women, I've only just got that one right. The first single is called “Still in Love” and pretends to be about a lover but is about China and how difficult I found it to leave. There's a song about my Granddad and his Parkinson’s and a song about my first love. We're doing a couple of full band versions of “Afterglow” and “Exorcism” as well and they might get on.

A couple about me being a bastard. (smiles)

(laughing) Are you a bastard Tim? You don't seem it.

Sings “All the chances I was taking while you lay in my bed waiting… For every one that you discovered there were three or four others…”

You cheating bastard!

Now that's my “albatross” song. “My Lover” second single, heart wrenching balladBugs? formula. (grins)

I have been more sinned against than sinner though. I have a real guilt thing and so when I behave badly it really stays with me. So I write a few songs about it. I find it difficult to do it the other way around and talk about the many good things I do and strong friendships I have.

What are your hopes and dreams where your music is concerned? Where do you want it to take you?

I always wanted to have one person, unknown to me, have one of my songs as their favourite in the world. I guess, to a degree, MySpace has enabled me to achieve that.

(laughs) Everyone dreams of signing a record deal and getting on Later, with Jools Holland. Only I wouldn't let him play piano!

If you would like to hear Tim's music you can visit his MySpace space.

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