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, Braggs 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
kitleading a solid rock band with some great guitar work from
Jules Reason and Stratobiker and Bragg himself on a
track herethese Revamped 3 songs have an appealing groove,
sometimes in the spirit of Van Morrisons songs. Theres
also a track or two that could stand out as hit singles, most notably
track nine What Well Miss while, the Knopfler-esque
like Private Time is another standout. Braggs Revamped
series is up to three now and, hopefully in future editions, will
reveal other songs from Braggs prolific song catalog. Timeless
21st century sounds, Tim Braggs Revamped 3 features 14
tracks of soulful pop that packs a punch.
mwe3.com presents an interview with
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: Theres a number of musicians playing on Revamped
3. Do you have a core band and whos playing guitar with
you on the Revamped 3 album? Whos Stratobiker? Sounds
like youre in sync with a number of fine players in France these
days. Hows France and where are you living in France these days?
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. Whats your
recording setup like in the studio? Its 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 micing techniques?
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 Gilders (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? Its great to see a pop-rock drummer recording
an album of pop originals in 2014. Does that make you unique?
(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.
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?
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 1980s 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
mwe3: Do you like writing songs with instant pop hooks more
than setting moods or grooves? Theres so many great songs on
Revamped 3. Track 9, What Well Miss sounds
like Van Morrison or The Band playing rock n roll. Whats
the sentiment behind that song? Theres a great solo in there
by Stratobiker. Kudos.
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. Whats
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.
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
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
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.
What about long term plans and looking into 2015 are there other things
youd 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. Im
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.
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.
to Tim Bragg