During C2C weekend in Berlin we caught up with Tim Hicks for a Sitdown. Read his interview talking about playing Europe, writing and tour life.
CITUK: Welcome to Country to Country Berlin. You’ve certainly been racking up the miles this weekend. TH: It’s a little bit like that on the road wherever you are. I joined a band because I thought I could sleep till noon and stay up all night to drink and party. As it turns out, as soon as you get a record deal, everything happens at five in the morning. It’s okay though as I’ve got two kids at home. So I’m used to being tired.
CITUK: You played in Berlin Friday night, Amsterdam on Saturday and now back to Berlin! Do you get much time to relax on the road? TH: My partner in crime, that’s been playing with me just recently moved to London. So, the plan is to pub it up for a few days and get reset.
CITUK: Out of curiosity, have you played previously in Europe? TH: I have but never as myself. I was a working musician for 18 years. Before, I ever had a song on the radio. I worked in cruise ship lounge bands, cover bands, tribute bands, duos, trios - anything I could do to keep the lights on really. I played in Europe lots but never as myself the artist. This is an exciting first time for that.
CITUK: Your new EP, Wreck, came out just a few weeks ago but it only has three tracks! TH: Yeah, only three but that won’t be the last you hear. There’s a plan in place, which will reveal itself soon. It will start making more sense when the next one comes.
CITUK: You’re not one of the quieter acts on stage are you? TH: No! Last night in Amsterdam I had a lot of people approach me after the show that said I’ve never heard of you, but that was a lot of fun. To me, that’s the whole point of being here. I wanted to show up, freak people out and hopefully from that they start following along.
CITUK: And in Canada, you get plenty of airplay on the radio. TH: Yeah, they’re very kind to me and I feel lucky that my music has found a home in country radio at home and elsewhere. What I do really pushes limits and I can’t help it! I listened to everything when I was growing up, from Led Zeppelin to Waylon Jennings. I’m just lucky that they play me really!
CITUK: You’re towards the rockier end of the country music spectrum, do you think that makes you stand out? TH: I think so. People have said that I’m in my own lane. Which is an analogy I like! There aren’t too many guys or girls in country music doing the kind of thing that I’m doing. That’s kind of fun to me as it allows me to stay true to who I am and not really follow anyone’s leads. I’m not afraid to take risks when it comes to writing and recording because I really don’t care and want to be who I am. Let’s just see if we can keep this train rolling.
CITUK: I don’t know where to start to talk about this track, but “No Truck Song” Where did the idea come from? TH: This is how it happened. I was writing with two fellas that I write with all the time and when I’m in Nashville we do these night writes because typically when we’re there it’s a day job. You go in at 10/11 am and are down by ¾ pm, you’ve got your song and everyone goes home. I have a family at home in Canada and always try to do two writes otherwise I’m just sat around missing them. We do what we call wild card night where no holds are barred. You can say anything and no one can say no and I was writing with Bruce and Geoff. Bruce said to me what do you want to write? I said I’d really like to get something like a real country song. Somebody said just no truck songs because we’re never going to get it cut. As soon as someone said that I was like, this ain’t no truck song. We all fell about laughing and then it wrote itself. I think you can tell on the track just how much fun we were having when we wrote it; how much fun we had we recorded it. What’s interesting is when you release new music there this period where you have to go back and relearn your own songs because you want to change them or you wrote them a year ago and only sang them one time at the studio. The hope is they’re always as fun to play as they were to write and that one sure is.
CITUK: It sounds like it’ll be a crowd-pleaser. TH: I hope so, so far so good. My fans seem to like it and is just starting to pick up a little bit of steam on radio. I love the video, we went out to California in the desert which is always wonderful as we don’t have any landscape like that in Canada. Any time I get a chance to go I just love it! We actually managed to find ourselves a Canadian actor by total coincidence. On the set I said to him are you ready to be famous in Canada just joking around with him and he said Canada? I’m from Calgary!! It was just perfect that we found a Canadian guy trying to make it as an actor in LA and he became our star of the video.
CITUK: What can we expect from these shorter sets you’re doing on this trip? TH: I’m doing the campfire version of these songs. The goals are to come over and freak some people out hopefully gain a few new followers and then hopefully bring the band with me next time because that’s when I’m in my natural habitat - the six of us on stage. I’ve had the same band for years, my drummers been playing with me for twenty years. We played every chicken wing bar in southern Ontario, every legion, backyard bbq, so to now get to play arenas in Canada with these guys is a real pleasure to share that with them. It’s painful a little bit to say I’m going to go play in Europe as they ask when do we leave? I had to say not you guys! So hopefully next time.
CITUK: Is there a little bit of jealousy at all? TH: I mean, in a fun way. They totally get it. When I started touring in Canada, getting a record deal and doing the artist thing, I did an entire tour where it was just me and a guitar player. It was attractive to me when management came back and said we want to do this with just two of you, how do you feel about that? I said that’s how we started in Canada so we might as well start Europe that way too.
CITUK: No pressure from the rest of the band then this week? TH: No, I’ve been a performer my entire life and I’m very at home on any stage and I love the challenge of trying to gain new fans and I think it’s great.
CITUK: Currently, there is starting to be a Canadian Country artist takeover in Europe, what have you heard about it so far? TH: We have a cool scene going on. Believe me, everyone took notice when people started to come to play. I think everybody looked to that and said I want to do that. For me, this is just icing on the cake. I only ever wanted to play music in my own country. It’s a different world now from what it was twenty years ago so with the internet and everything you can have a global career and it’s very tenable if you want to put the work in. To me it was a no brainer to come over. As modern country music takes off in Europe, to be on the cutting edge of that is really exciting.
CITUK: Thank you very much for sitting down with us today. TH: Appreciate it, my pleasure.
True country music is honesty, sincerity, and real life to the hilt. Garth Brooks