Interview with Tim Browning & The Widowmakers
I learned an important lesson this week and that’s that you should never judge a band based on where they are from or what kind of music they look like they might play. While Tim Browning & The Widowmakers’ debut LP Bad Intentions looked like it could be a straight up whiskey soaked country album on the outside it ended up being an LP filled with beautifully layered spaghetti western rock anthems that I can’t seem to get enough of. I was lucky to chat with Tim about where he got the inspiration for this cinematic set of songs.
Based on your hometown, I was honestly expecting a sound that was more country but was pleasantly surprised by the mostly spaghetti western rock vibes. Where did you draw inspiration for the record from?
Tim Browning: In February 2004 I completed my U.S. Army training at Fort Gordon in Augusta, Georgia. I was seeing a girl from L.A. who gave me a copy of Stephen King’s The Gunslinger. Around that same time I discovered Murder By Death’s Who Will Survive and What Will Be Left of Them? I listened to the album while I read the book on my very first airplane flight from the U.S. to South Korea. After finishing the The Gunslinger I continued to read all the books in King’s Dark Tower series leading up to the publishing of the seventh and final book during my first tour of Iraq in 2005.
Those books while listening to that album against the backdrop of the war in Iraq permanently changed me in ways that I am still discovering. I had always been a fan of Sergio Leone, Ennio Morricone, and the poems of Robert Browning but had never read any of Stephen King’s works. The seeds were sown as they say but it wasn’t until later that I started to identify with his protagonist Roland Deschain. My return home is when I found myself in a “world that has moved on.”
What was the writing and recording process for Bad Intentions like?
Tim: All of these songs have been with me in some form or another for the better part of a decade. It wasn’t until 2010 that I even had the opportunity to play with a backing band. It started off small with Beevare Jeffrey on guitar and our friend Ryan Herndon on bass. It grew to include Jordan McCown on guitar, Daniel Johnson on drums and eventually Adam Adkins replaced Ryan on bass. We spent a lot of time arranging and rearranging these songs.
My skill level as a guitarist and even more so as a vocalist has come a long way since those garage-band practices. I had always been so intimidated by the idea of recording in a studio that I have literally written songs for over 20 years with nothing to show for it until now. We spent 4 straight days in the spring holed up at Trackside Studio in Huntington, West Virginia living and breathing rock and roll.
Each song was tracked live take after take until we had almost everything we needed. I say almost everything because Bad Intentions would not be what it is today without the contribution of another life-long friend, Tony Mullins. Tony’s work on the organ took what we were doing and propelled it to the next level.
I know you got to work with Bud Carroll, who I keep hearing more and more about, what was that like?
Tim: An absolute pleasure. It was one of the greatest learning experiences of my life. There are certain people that just inhabit the space or dimension where creativity happens and are able to facilitate the creative process in others. Bud Carroll is one of those people. He has a sage-like quality that simultaneously comforts and challenges you. He produced and mixed this album. Bud’s hard work, time and dedication is evident not only on this record but in our live performance as well.
Bad Intentions is Tim Browning & The Widowmakers first full length LP, what do you hope listeners take away from it?
Tim: Catharsis. I hope they are able to arrive at the same realization as me. It’s not our intentions, be they good or bad, which determine anything in this life. It’s our actions. We all have choices and hard decisions to make. I want these songs to encourage people to trust their gut and act unapologetically.
If you had to pick one song on the album as a kind of gateway into really appreciating and falling in love with Tim Browning & The Widowmakers, which would it be?
Tim: Across the board I think all of us are in agreement that “Goodbye My Love” is the best representation of our talents and abilities but we have been fortunate enough to craft songs that have each connected to folks in some way. The feedback that has reached me personally has been very encouraging. I’m glad that it’s being appreciated as a whole.
I know you’re big on advocating for people getting out and supporting local music, is there a performer / band from your area that you think more people should know about?
Tim: My love for local music comes from fighting to overcome the discouragement of playing to an empty room. I’m only one guy but I put my best foot forward and show my support with the hope that people will do the same.
Over the years I learned that I am drawn to honest songwriting. Personally I still find myself hiding in between the lines but the one act that never lets me down is a fellow singer-songwriter by the name of Tim Lancaster. He is the epitome of a troubadour. He has a body of work that is full of both honesty and modesty. Tim embodies the same disposition of an old soul in a “world that has moved on,” although I think his intentions are better.
What’s next for Tim Browning & The Widowmakers? Are there any tour dates coming up?
Tim: We are headed out in support of the album with solo performances peppered here and there to keep building momentum. Another West Virginia music native William Matheny invited us to accompany him on the road for a couple dates at the end of the month so we will be sharing the stage at Dante’s in Frostburg, Maryland on August 26th and The 35th Star in Fayetteville, West Virginia on August 27th. I will be at the Huntington Music & Arts Festival the following weekend on September 3rd. Now that we have a great representation of who we are and what we do I hope to be busier than ever.