Surfing Magazine Interview by Nathan Myers
Timmy in Iceland circa 2007, filming with Taylor Steele and honing his music by night. Photo: Myers
A few years back, I was in Iceland with Timmy Curran, Dan Malloy and Dane Reynolds. After long days of driving around looking for waves (surfing Iceland is a pain in your frozen ass), Timmy would burrow away in his room with Dan working on music for the movie (Taylor Steele’s Castles in the Sky). I wanted to hear them playing, but they were all locked away up there.
I’d spent some time with Timmy during the release of his previous album “Word of Mouth,” and we’d spoken about his writing process, public surfer/artist persona and releasing music for free. He’d been writing songs in bathrooms, closets, and tiny private spaces for years, never imaging these intimate creations going public.
That night, Tim opened for the Foo Fighters in an open-air arena-sized amphitheater. As the sun was setting, Tim played a beautiful opening set. Tender and sweet, as people found their seats. But at darkness took over, Dave Grohl rode his Harley down the backstage hallway and came thundering onstage with his nine-piece rock conglomerate and smashed the place to bits with stadium-sized mega-hits from his latest post-Nirvana chart-topper, $14.99 at Target.
I don’t think Timmy dreams of playing halftime at the Super Bowl. Nor is he giving his music away free in the Radiohead sense of the word (around that time, “In Rainbows” came out as a free download and made the band massive piles of Euros via online donations — we downloaded it in Iceland, where you swerve your car to avoid crashing into rainbows). Timmy’s giving it away because that’s what the music is to him: a gift to be passed along.
Dan Malloy reads at the table while Timmy strums in the background. Photo: Myers
Near the end of our Iceland trip, Timmy came down to our living room and — with little prelude — launched into the song he’d been writing up in his room. It was just a small crew of us, bonded by two hard weeks on the road, and the memory of Timmy’s song is something I’ll never forget. It wasn’t meant to impress us or blow us away, just a personal little offering from the depths of his quiet, intimate soul. Very precious.
Timmy’s music wasn’t meant for stadiums, it was meant for moments like these.
Watching this section of Castles always brings me back to that night, so I’m glad now to have that track, as well as ten other new intimate and personal Tim Curran nuggets on my iPod — I’ve got ‘em shuffled into various mixes and they get better each time they poke through the crowd.
“Options” is Timmy’s third studio album and his most mature, dynamic release to date — each song feels carved from some vastly different and highly personal journey, then boiled and hammered into a shining diamond of sound in some tiny, secret closet space. —Nathan Myers
SURFING: YOU’VE COME A LONG WAY AS A MUSICIAN. WHY ARE YOU STILL GIVING YOUR ALBUMS AWAY FOR FREE? TIMMY CURRAN: Music has been a blessing. I never thought I would be putting out records and playing shows. The band and I really enjoy sharing our music, we all like going with the flow. We also release all of our music on iTunes and similar sites, so people can still support it.
WHAT’S DIFFERENT ABOUT THIS ALBUM FROM THE PREVIOUS ONES? I recorded scratch vocal and guitar tracks at my house with Andy Smith, who produced the record. Andy has been playing with me since the very beginning and is an amazing musician and producer. His music influences are all over the map, which shows in his playing and producing. I gave Andy 100% creative control with this album, so when I heard everything put together it was almost like I was listening to a different band. Andy got some great ideas from Jesse Carmichael and Jesse Taylor who both play in our band. Catherine Clark, who is a great surfer and singer/songwriter from Ventura, is featured on two of the tracks: “Suddenly” & “Timeless Road.” She is only 17 and there will be great things to come from her in the near future.
HAS MUSIC OVERTAKEN SURFING AS FAR AS YOUR “MAIN THING” YET? OR DO YOU SEE THAT HAPPENING EVENTUALLY? Surfing pays the bills. In no way could I live off my music career and support a family. That is always a misunderstanding from the outside looking in. It actually costs a lot of money to tour and practice. I guess giving your albums away for free doesn’t help, but I don’t plan on changing that any time soon. It would be nice one day down the road to live off the music if it keeps getting out there.
YOU USED TO SAY YOU’D NEVER SOLO…BUT IS THAT YOU DOING A BIT OF SOLO-ING ON THIS ALBUM? Haha, I’ve stayed true to my word, so far. That is Andy Smith laying down his sweet solos. Maybe next album…
THREE (OR FOUR) ALBUMS ALONG, DO YOU FEEL MORE CONFIDENT AS A MUSICIAN THESE DAYS? To be honest, I don’t ever feel confortable on stage. Singing and playing is really fun, but in between songs is strange for me. I dread public speaking, so in between songs I am always kind of tripping. I feel like I always fumble jumble it on the mic. Maybe one day I’ll figure that out.
WHAT’S BEEN THE BIGGEST OR SCARIEST MOMENT MUSICALLY SO FAR? ANYTHING BIGGER THAN OPENING FOR FOO FIGHTERS YET? Opening for Switchfoot at the US Open last year was kind of nerve wracking. There were so many people and being that close to a surf contest was intense. I was on stage thinking that I was having an out of body experience — shouldn’t I be in a heat or in the water right now? I was thankful to be a part of it all though.
ARE YOU PLANNING ON TOURING THE ALBUM? LIKE, WHERE CAN PEOPLE SEE YOU PLAY SOON? We hope to do a small coastal tour in September and October.
THERE’S A LOT MORE INSTRUMENTATION ON THIS ONE. DO YOU HAVE A FULL BAND NOW? OR JUST VARIOUS GUESTS? I have had a band for the last four years. We may bring out another electric guitarist for the September/October tour. As the music and ideas evolve, it seems endless what you can add. We always make sure to have a few simple stripped down songs on all of our albums. I hope to release songs from the last two albums solo acoustic, so people can hear them that like that as well.
WHAT’S GOING ON WITH “CONTRADICTIONS?” WHEN THAT CAME ON I WAS LIKE, “WHOSE ALBUM IS THIS?” I thought the same. That is 100% Andy Smith. I thought it would be great if Andy had a song that he wrote and came up with all instrumentals. I like that song, and hopefully we can incorporate that sound on a few songs for the next record.
IS THERE A SONG FROM YOUR OLDER STUFF THAT YOU THINK IS LIKE YOUR “HIT SINGLE?” Blue Eyes.
YOU WON A CONTEST AND RELEASED A FILM THIS YEAR…SO YOU MUST STILL BE FEELING RELEVANT AS A PRO SURFER, RIGHT? WHAT’S THE PLAN FOR YOUR SURFING FUTURE? The plan is to do as many local contests as I can. I watch so many of the contests online, it’s hard to sit back and not do any. I hope to do a lot more contests for the next couple years. I love competing and it gives me something to focus on while I am free surfing. It is fun getting to see all my friends who I don’t normally see if I am not doing contests.