TIM BRAGG
Revamped 3
(Tim Bragg Music)

 

Rare is the drummer who not only keeps a great beat but who is also a fine singer-songwriter. Ringo and even Phil Collins comes to mind and you can add the name Tim Bragg to that list. Living and working in France, by way of his native England, Bragg furthers his standing in the pop world with the 2014 CD release of Revamped 3. With a range of albums to his credit, Bragg’s vocal and song writing style should have appeal among fans of both Van Morrison and Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy. Revisiting and remaking some of his classic tunes, Bragg keeps the steady beat on the third volume in the Revamped series. Featuring Tim on lead vocals and drum kit—leading a solid rock band with some great guitar work from Jules Reason and Stratobiker and Bragg himself on a track here—these Revamped 3 songs have an appealing groove, sometimes in the spirit of Van Morrison’s songs. There’s also a track or two that could stand out as hit singles, most notably track nine “What We’ll Miss” while, the Knopfler-esque like “Private Time” is another standout. Bragg’s Revamped series is up to three now and, hopefully in future editions, will reveal other songs from Bragg’s prolific song catalog. Timeless 21st century sounds, Tim Bragg’s Revamped 3 features 14 tracks of soulful pop that packs a punch.



mwe3.com presents an interview with
TIM BRAGG



mwe3
: How did Revamped 3 come together as a CD of new music? Last time we spoke you were talking about revamping Fields Of England and an album of chill out music. I guess there were too many great new songs coming and that ended up on Revamped 3. When was it written and recorded?

Tim Bragg: Well, firstly, I did revamp Fields of England. An EP was released digitally and later the full CD released, but not digitally. Also I did finish my album of chill-out songs, under the title Crossing Over by Tim Bragg & The Other Side. I wanted to make sure this music was seen differently from my usual stuff. In fact Crossing Over tells the story in tunes of the journey of the soul from consciousness to heaven. The story isn't tied to a religious doctrine.

Revamped 3 continues in the form of Revamped 1 and Revamped Too, in that it has taken old songs previously recorded and well, revamped them. Unlike the previous Revamps there are no covers or new songs. I have plenty of material! But earlier this year I wrote and released the 'blues' EP – Beat Bones & Alchemy. Folks can find that on the web (Spotify/itunes etc). Beat Bones has been quite successful in its own small way... maybe made people view me in a slightly different manner.

mwe3: There’s a number of musicians playing on Revamped 3. Do you have a core band and who’s playing guitar with you on the Revamped 3 album? Who’s Stratobiker? Sounds like you’re in sync with a number of fine players in France these days. How’s France and where are you living in France these days?

Tim Bragg: There are some great players on this album. Take the bass parts... apart from my very basic bass work there is Nicolas Vautrin, a French player who played extensively on Revamped Too, and Stratobiker...(ssshhh) plus Brad Lang, who has worked with some top folk, some of the very finest musicians, and Will Ganner, who's about to make a big name for himself. What an honor to be working with all of them.

On guitar it's Jules Reason who has the lion's share... a superb guitarist plus Julien Harold, a French chap doing some splendid work and Perry James playing some nice country riffs on “Night Is Fallin”. I add a few licks here and there. Oh yes, and there's Stratobiker... Who Is Stratobiker? Well, folk will have to search for him/her... they exist! And they played an important part in the album's formation.

Dave Vaughan (sax), James Vargas (sax) and Gordon Woodcock (harmonica) are all in England... well James is touring at the moment I think. Lynn Garner does some superb backing vocals and, as with Brad she has an impressive pedigree.

France is still France you'll be pleased to know! I'm living in the same place southwest of France...

mwe3: Your albums always sound interesting. What’s your recording setup like in the studio? It’s impressive how clean and sparse your sound is on the Revamped 3 album. You can really hear every instrument. Who else helped you get the sound together on the album, from recording through mixing and mastering? Do you use special mic’ing techniques?

Tim Bragg: Everything you hear on the CD Robert, is from me. I record, engineer, mix and master, as a matter of necessity. Obviously other musicians record parts at their homes if not chez moi, and I import these tracks and work on them. I have learnt a lot in the past eight years and continue to learn. I'm working on a new drum sound just now. My 'setup' is a computer with some good software. I use a cheap but great DAW: Samplitude 13. I midi out the drums from a Roland TD6, otherwise everything is audio. On the Crossing Over album I play a lot of EWI - electric wind instrument – and this can trigger synths and sax etc. I have to thank other musicians for listening and putting in their 'penny's worth' too of course but it's been mostly a solitary process. One interesting thing was laying down the drums live with Stratobiker on “Infinity”. I don't use any special mic'ing techniques but I do take in as much information as I can about the mixing/mastering process. Joe Gilder’s (Home Studio Corner) help and hints via e-mail are great. I work hard on getting a good performance, obviously I'd love to record with a full band...

mwe3: Do you have a special way you use to record your drums? The sound you get from your kit is excellent. It really sounds attached to the music and not overpowering. What was your drumming set up on Revamped 3 like? What other instruments do you play on the Revamped 3 album?

Tim Bragg: Ah... I jumped the gun! Well, as I said, I midi out from a Roland TD6 (I wish it were a TD20!) triggering acoustic drums. I have developed a way of playing the electronic drums so that they have the right 'feel'. It's harder playing electronic than acoustic drums in this primary stage. I've worked hard on the sound too and, as stated earlier, I'm now working on getting a better sound. Time, patience, tenacity and being impecunious focusses the mind!

I also play bass, rhythm guitar, a bit of lead and keyboard and some percussion of course! I like playing different instruments but if there's someone better than me, they get to record.

mwe3: Some of the Revamped 3 tracks sound very influenced by Thin Lizzy and Van Morrison. Were you influenced more by drummers than guitarists? It’s great to see a pop-rock drummer recording an album of pop originals in 2014. Does that make you unique?

Tim Bragg: (Lol)! You've sussed me out! Yes Thin Lizzy and Van are big influences. Now your question about 'influence' is interesting. I'm really not sure. I love the drums and listening to drummers but I've been very influenced by the guitar as a sound... as the main instrument of composition. Hendrix, Robertson, Gorham, Trower, Eric Bell, Jeff Beck... Too, too many to name...blues, rock, soul, reggae, jazz... all the genres with their great guitarists and musicians.

Am I unique? I wouldn't have thought so... but nice idea. It's more unusual to think of drummers writing in the pop-rock world. Do they crossover to become songwriters foremost? Narada Michael Walden impressed me with his pop/rock/funk stuff and Phil Collins became an icon of the drummer-songwriter. It's certainly more difficult for us to get our stuff out and I notice a lot of drummers become studio engineers. Maybe that gives us a level playing field?! More power?

I don't really consider what I write as 'pop' but that's fine by me as a title. Drummers need role models not just of expert drumming but drummers as vocalists, multi-instrumentalists and songwriters.

mwe3: Who are some of your favorite drummers? Are you too young to have seen famous rock drummers like Ringo and Keith Moon? What era of music did you grow up in?

Tim Bragg: I did see Keith Moon play! But had to leave to catch a train home... how rebellious! I was young! lol Drummers... even harder to cite their influence than guitarists. I love Mitch Mitchell's playing and that three-piece set up. Brain Downey is also a major influence. The 'top' for me is Buddy Rich – just blows me away each time I see/hear him. I love the avant-garde jazz stuff and the drummers from the bebop era. I have specific albums I'll refer back to also like Romantic Warrior (Return to Forever) and Lenny White's playing. I've been revisiting/listening to Ginger Baker recently too. Each drummer I see and watch has an effect. There are some superb young drummers out there too! Again... just too many to mention. I'll kick myself for not mentioning more specific names.

I suppose I got turned onto music in a big way in the mid-70s going to Birmingham Town Hall and seeing acts like Dr. Feelgood and Rory Gallagher. Each decade has brought forth something new in terms of my relationship with it.

mwe3: What other songwriters do you listen to and how does that influence come into play in your song writing? Is the art of song writing still alive and well in 2014?

Tim Bragg: Second question first. Yes the art of song writing is well and truly alive! We are flooded with new bands, old bands, great musicians... songs of all descriptions. I was trying to explain to my son (15) how it was way back... how you couldn't even get to hear any rock music, apart from the Old Grey Whistle Test and Alan Freeman on a Saturday afternoon... maybe some John Peel and Radio Caroline. Most folk were tuned into BBC Radio 1 and Top of the Pops.

I listen to so many songwriters... all the time. Music is an obsession and drumming the epitome of obsession! I wrote fifteen novels between the late 1980’s and 2005. I forget but music took a back-seat for a while in terms of the major obsession at times. I think I even took a break for a couple of years when we moved so often I couldn't join or stay with a band!

I have no real idea how all these songwriters influence me. I will say that it was Van Morrison who turned me onto the romantic poets, who I later studied at Warwick University. I'm tempted to say who I've been listening to recently but that would only skew people's perception.

mwe3: Do you like writing songs with instant pop hooks more than setting moods or grooves? There’s so many great songs on Revamped 3. Track 9, “What We’ll Miss” sounds like Van Morrison or The Band playing rock ‘n’ roll. What’s the sentiment behind that song? There’s a great solo in there by Stratobiker. Kudos.

Tim Bragg: Moods and grooves are for Tim Bragg & The Other Side, though I could explore those more with a gigging band. Maybe I should step out from behind the kit?

I write songs on acoustic guitar normally. The chords/words/melody arrive when and how they so wish. I don't force anything. Well, let me cast my mind back re: “What We'll Miss”. In fact the album that that was on originally was preoccupied with existence beyond this earthly one... or appreciating this short life too. It's about cherishing what we have because everything passes quickly and cherishing the important things like nature and relationships. This is what we'll miss. It had quite a lot of intense lyrics on that album though it wasn't 'dark'. “Heaven On Earth” from Revamped 1 is from that album too... again appreciating what we have and a kind of 'return to the land' and nature. I did do quite a lot of digging at one point... a huge vegetable plot and this manual act is a great contrast to sitting at the computer. Being outside and active in contrast to the ostensibly cerebral - but you can think as you dig!

mwe3: “Private Time” has a great groove It has a kind of British invasion sound to it with the jangling guitars. What’s up with “Private Time”?

Tim Bragg: My wife had a hand in that sound in fact. I dropped the sax part and treated the song differently. A lot of folk say it sounds very 'contemporary'. A fluke I guess (lol). The lyrics again point to a passing of time and 'leaving this earth'... well it's an oblique, implied reference. And it has a 'groove' too so I manage that on occasions! lol It was also a late inclusion on the album.

mwe3: Are you also playing in other French bands? What else interests you musically? What about your interests in science and spirituality? How does that impact your music and what does the other side of your musical style sound like? Would you consider releasing instrumental music too?

Tim Bragg: I have released instrumental music Robert. Crossing Over was from 2013 and folk can hear “Night Ferry” on the web. It's not as well recorded as stuff now but it has a nice feel I think... certainly a strange feel. One of the songs from “Night Ferry” is about traveling from the 'other side' into this life, being born... time running backwards. The opening track from Crossing Over “Will You Be Waiting”, exists as a song too... and that also talks about folk waiting on the 'other-side'. Blimey, I'm obsessed! I'm very happy with the flute solo I did on that, especially its sound. I like listening to both flute and sax players... horn sections too.

I like writing simple enough lyrics that hint at otherworldly stuff. I am fascinated by quantum physics and what that means for us as 'beings' and time too and what that means. I have written about this stuff and it can be found on the web. On Revamped 3 I have also written about relationships... putting myself in the shoes of other folk.

Existence, death, life, quantum physics, survival of death, time, eternity or otherwise, all these things fascinate me... What is the soul, where is it? How does it interact with 'us' and how we think of 'us'? Body, mind, spirit, time... those words typed into the web will lead folk to some of my musings.

I currently play with a number of bands in France... British players on the whole. The range of styles I play varies from 1920s, 30s jazz to full on rock with soul, blues, country even some disco in there and original stuff too... maybe even some of my own songs eventually getting an airing.

mwe3: What about long term plans and looking into 2015 are there other things you’d like to do musically?

Tim Bragg: 2015. Another year! Time! Okay... more gigs. This last year has been great for gigs! I might get the chance to go on tour... I'll be working on a full blues album and I've made some great contacts on the web, especially Facebook. I'm involved with a few Indian musicians too, in fact I have just laid down some drums/sax (ewi)/flute on a version of the Indian National Anthem. I reckon there'll be more of those projects. I also did some session work for an Indian musician, a female composer too and would like to do more like that. I've got a bit of a following in Germany and am about to work with a German guitarist on some stuff. Also I've written a song for Lynn Garner with Brad supplying bass and am hoping that will come to fruition and lead to more songs. These are all such talented folk.

I want to begin on Revamped 4 and help out any other musicians that might need me. I have both the
energy and time so I want to make the most of them.

I'd like to go on as many tours as I can in the coming years. I’m open to offers... play as much and as varied music as I can, get better at all the instruments I try and play. Write more new songs. Just generally improve. I continue to work on my drumming and intend to release many new drum solos... plenty of stuff on the web.

I want to capture music that's real, that is good technically but that technique simply allowing the spirit, the feel of the music to escape and become its form. Music is the great healer. It is a fragment and maybe more of the original or one of the original creative acts. All music was there when the so-called 'big-bang' happened. I am a drop in the ocean. I know that but each little drop counts. I hope.

Thanks to Tim Bragg















 

 
   
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