Cruisin' Pacific Coast Highways
(Rolltop Music)


One of the great guitar instrumental albums, in the spirit of West Coast instro-cool, to be released this decade, Cruisin’ Pacific Coast Highways - The Longboard Collection brings San Diego guitarist Tim Coffman back into the instro rock spotlight. In recent years, Coffman has successfully diversified his Rolltop label and has even released a vocal / instro album of Hawaiian music (called Ka Hula O Na Niu), but the 2011 CD release Cruisin’ PCH is a solid Ventures / Sandals West Coast style dig. In fact you can almost hear the echoes of the “Endless Summer” theme permeating through the Cruisin' grooves but Coffman actually spins off the classic sound by adding steel guitar to his Strat / Tele style twang. The CD serves up a most solid spin that also works as a surf-rock soundtrack, while the CD closer, “Last Set” will leave you misty eyed. It's worth noting that while Coffman writes and performs a number of instruments here, he also spotlights a number of musicians that make some awesome contributions, including Duncan Moore on drums. As an audio experience, the distortion free CD sound is quite full bodied and has the capacity to bring out the best in audiophile stereo equipment. (for those of us old enough to remember such things!) Throughout, Coffman employs a wide range of guitars and all vintage gear to get that classic surf-rock sound. Interestingly, Cruisin’ PCH is actually the first in a series of guitar instrumental albums that Coffman has planned that celebrates California’s long and winding coastal highways. Surf-rock guitar fans will hang ten in guitar paradise while admiring the merits of Tim Coffman’s latest instro rock masterpiece.

mwe3.com presents an interview with

mwe3: Tell me about the events that led up to the release of Cruisin’ Pacific Coast Highways - The Longboard Collection. I hear you’ve got a whole series of Cruisin’ CDs / instrumental soundtracks (as you call them) planned that are devoted to sonically depicting the scenic grandeur of the California coastline. Why did you call this first one The Longboard Collection in the title and what other titles do you envision coming out one day?

TC: Several years ago I was in Oceanside California at the California Surf Museum and I had some time before my next appointment so I decided to drive south on the Coast Highway rather than take the freeway. There are parts of Coast Highway that are right next to the Pacific Ocean and it was a beautiful summer day, the beaches were full, the surfers were riding the waves and you just couldn’t help being in a great mood. I have traveled that road many times and had never really thought about the great impact it had on me. That was the start of the idea to commemorate the Pacific Coast Highways.

I called the first CD The Longboard Collection because that best describes the style, although there are many other influences, all the tracks take you to the beach. It also is the beginning of my own story, my first board was a 11’ 6” Longboard.

The next CD in the series is called Island Breezes and it’s almost ready to release. The music is Instrumental Soundtracks that bring together the Aloha of the Hawaiian Islands with the California beach culture. The next two will be an original collection of spy music (Bond style) and a collection of western music.

MWE3: I heard you played a number of instruments on the CD. How about drums and how did you get such a clean sound in the studio and can you say something about the vintage guitars you play on the album and how they were recorded? It sounds like there’s some steel guitar on there as well.

TC: One thing that is important to me is the drums themselves, I have a 1965 Ludwig kit that I had all the bearing edges re-cut and with new skins this kit sounds amazing. The next thing for me is a great drummer. Duncan Moore is the primary drummer on the CD and he does a great job of pulling the sound out of the drums. I used many guitars, Strat, Jaguar, Mustang, Telecaster, Ventura and a old Silvertone. Most of the time either a Shure ‘57 or Royer 121 into old Neve’s or API Mic Pres. The Steel was recorded in Hawaii with my friend and Hawaiian steel master Greg Sardinha.

MWE3: In an effort to enhance the guitar sound, what part does using vintage amps, effects and vintage recording gear play in helping you get that clean, retro surf-rock sound.

TC: Here is an interesting story. I recorded commercials for a few years and my job was to record the music with a specific sound in mind. One day the client would be looking for the sound of Revolver by the Beatles, the next session might be BB King, The Beach Boys or Charango. I had to listen to the sound, do the research and learn what guitars. amps, effects and recording gear would produce that sound. It was crazy at times but I learned how to produce authentic vintage sounds and I have used that experience on my own music. You never stop learning in the recording business but there is one thing that never changes, there are no shortcuts to a great vintage sound. You do need the real gear to get the real sound.

MWE3: The CD closer, “Last Set” is a sonic masterpiece. Sounds like Glen Campbell meets The Sandals on the Kona Coast! How did you layer the guitars (how many guitars) on that track and overall how do you layer guitars and guitar sounds to get the maximum fretboard effect?

TC: “Last Set” is two guitars played in real time using different old limiters to get that sound. I can’t remember how many guitar tracks but there is a lot. Much of it is experimenting until you get the right sound. I also like old guitar pick ups, sometimes a modern pickup that is to hot will not give you the best recording sound. The Steel was recorded in Hawaii with Greg Sardinha and his track is a nice part of the song.

MWE3: Where did you grow up and what guitars (brands, looks, imagery, sound, etc.) and guitarists / bands influenced your playing the most?

TC: I grew up in San Diego and I love all good guitars. Fenders, Gibsons, Gretschs or Taylors they all have a unique and usable sound. I have always been open to a lot of different styles and artists. The early influences were the Beatles, Ventures, Frank Sinatra, Chet Atkins and the Doors. Later it was Fleetwood Mac, U2, Bee Gees, Foreigner, Bob Seeger and Tom Petty. Recently I have gotten into Donald Fagen, Asleep At The Wheel, Charango and Andrea Buchelli. I value soul and tone over style.

mwe3: What’s the latest news from your Rolltop Records? What role do you play there and who are some of the artists you’re working with on the label? Do you do A&R too? Does Rolltop have a label philosophy? How about mixing and mastering? Is that up your street (so to speak) too?

TC: We do have a philosophy at Rolltop Music. We are always looking for projects that are unique and artists that can be developed for the long term. We are very excited about our newest artist Sarah Maisel. She is a very gifted ukulele player and singer that does jazz and standards from the American Songbook. She is not only a talented musician but has a great work ethic, we are seeing her audience grow. Her first two CDs Have Uke Will Travel and In The Moment are doing well. She performs solo and with a band.

Rolltop Music is a small label and so we all wear a lot of hats. I oversee most of the A&R, artwork and promotion and will do the tracking whenever possible. I will give input, approve the final mixes and sit in on the mix sessions but I want the other Rolltop engineers to take the lead on mixing and mastering, they are very talented guys.

mwe3: What have you got planned for the coming year, musically, and with the Rolltop label and how about other plans up and coming?

TC: We would like to do 3 more Crusin’ Pacfic Coast Highways CDs, a new Sarah Maisel project and a new Christmas CD.

mwe3: Can you say something about the albums Rolltop has released by Sarah Maisel? How did you meet Sarah and decide to release her music and what do you think Sarah's music and CD releases adds to the Rolltop catalog?

TC: 5 or 6 years ago I produced several CDs for a prominent jazz singer named Marchand Melcher, a few artists heard those recordings and some doors opened to work on some nice projects. One opportunity that came from that was recording, The Dance Of The Palm Trees, a collection of classic Hawaiian music. One day the two Hawaiian musicians Frank Leong and Herb Pillilaau asked me if they could bring this girl named Sarah to the next session. After I heard her play, I asked her if she would like to do a song on the project and she agreed to record the song “Waikiki”. In the last couple of years we have done two more CD project with her, Have Uke Will Travel and In The Moment. The instrumentation includes drums with brushes, acoustic bass, jazz guitar, ukulele and vocals. What makes Sarah unique is she is a prominent female ukulele player in a male dominated field, she is an authentic jazz musician and she can sing very well. We don’t know of any other ukulele artist like Sarah that does jazz and standards. She also does some Hawaiian and country standards. There has been an enthusiastic response to Sarah’s music and she brings a new dimension to the Rolltop catalog. Her CD Have Uke Will Travel has classic songs like "The Lady is a Tramp", "Walkin’ After Midnight", "Lullaby Of Birdland", "On The Road Again" and "Misty". Her second CD includes "Quiet Night Of Quiet Stars", "Have To Say I Love You In A Song" and the James Taylor favorite "Carolina In My Mind". All recorded in a vintage studio, it’s fun to buy a CD again.

Thank you to Tim Coffman @ www.rolltopmusic.com / www.CruisinPCH.com / email: tim@rolltopmusic.com


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