An Interview with Tim Green of the Fucking Champs
  • TUESDAY, APRIL 24, 2007

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After the 1992 break-up of highly influential D.C. hardcore act Nation of Ulysses, Tim Green packed up, headed to San Francisco and eventually was recruited into the Fucking Champs by drummer Tim Soete and guitarist Josh Smith. Their sound, a mix of predominantly instrumental metal with a dash of atmospherics, drew from both New Wave of British Heavy Metal and free jazz noodling without succumbing to any of the pretentious, masturbatory playing heard among some of their peers. During the recording of 2003’s V, Smith left the band and since then, the group picked up frequent collaborator Phil Manley from Trans Am to fill the role. With the release of the more melodic VI, the group shows off their penchant for both brief interludes and epic guitar songs and the result is often fascinating and virtuosic. We caught up with Green at his home in San Fran to shoot the shit before the band’s latest tour.

Baeble: What kind of training did you have? Did you have any guitar idols growing up?

Tim Green: I started playing when I was 9. I was really into AC/DC. I had an 8x10 glossy of Angus next to my bed. I'm not a real guitar fanatic though. I’m more into the songwriting than the soloing.

B: Josh Smith, one of the founding members, left the band before this record was made. What happened?

TG: We did another record called Gold with Trans Am. We started in 2003 and went off and on for a year. That was during the time where he was quitting, but he didn’t really know if he was gonna quit or not. He didn't talk to us for nine months. He was sort of hiding out.

B: Was there any animosity at that time?

TG: He was just unsure. He couldn’t decide whether he wanted to keep doing it or not. And he didn’t want to talk to us until he had a decision. But at the time, we didn’t know. He just fell off the face of the Earth. In the meantime, we were working on the album. He finally told us he was actually quitting during the making of that album.

B: How did Phil get involved in all this?

TG: We started looking for another person to join the band. Later that summer, I was out in D.C. working on some songs for the Gold album with the Trans Am guys and Phil was asking how the search for another guitar player was going. I jokingly said, “It’d be a lot easier if you just did it” and he said, “OK, I will.” I thought he was kidding. And maybe he thought I was kidding and four months later, he moved out here.

B: So he’s doing the dual-band thing?

TG: Yeah, well, in the beginning of last year, he joined a fourth band [Oneida] and was gone with them for a lot of the time last year.


B: Was there any separation anxiety?

TG: It’s a drag. We toured all of 2005, and at the end of all that, we’re like, alright, we're gonna not play for a while and just focus on finishing writing songs for the album. Right after we made that decision is when he joined Oneida and was gone for eight months. It’s a drag because we were excited about working on the album and he just took off.

B: What was Josh’s official reason for leaving?

TG: I don’t know. He got to the point where he said that he hated music and never wanted to play music again. At least that’s what he told us.

B: What was your initial reaction?

TG: It was hard to believe but he’s kind of an extreme personality. He's a little bit obsessive and I can see how his mind could come to that conclusion. He’s in a band now that we played with a few weeks ago. We’re all friends.

B: What spurs your songwriting process? Is it just intuition or are there techniques you teach yourself?

TG: I run a recording studio here. I’ll be sitting here waiting for a band to show up and I’ll just be playing guitar and come up with a riff and scramble to record it real quick before the band comes.

B: Does running a studio inform any your own work or do you try to keep the two separate?

TG: I’m open to any influence. I’m sure hearing all these different bands is an influence on songwriting. But the last song on the album, for example, I was totally wasted when I wrote it. I don't remember writing it the next day but luckily, I recorded it.

B: That’s similar to how Keith Richards got “Satisfaction” riff.

TG: I’m in good company then.

B: This album sounds more melodic than past records. Do you guys have any game plan for the overall sound going into recording?

TG: Yeah, sorta like halfway through recording an album, it’ll begin to take shape and sometimes point to its own direction as to what the overall feel of the album is gonna be. But even then, it changes around and it’s not until you’re working on the last couple of songs that you know what the album’s gonna be like. I’m not sure why, but for this album, we ended up having more effects like phaser on guitars and drums, and reverb. Usually, our rock songs are the way we would do them live, whereas this album is a little more heavy on the production.

B: What’s the secret to naming instrumental songs?

TG: (Long pause) Ummm. For me, it’s just whatever pops into my head. If something pops into your head, you just know that that’s gonna be the song title. With “Column of Heads,” I don’t know why, but I was thinking of Hellraiser 3 in the beginning where there’s that column.

I came up with a song title that I thought was great last year and I was like, “Oh, I gotta use this for one of the songs on the album." None of the songs, though, felt like they were "Antique Dinosaur,” even though I liked the title a lot.

“A Forgotten Chapter in the History of Ideas” is probably the most esoteric origin. It’s named after a lecture that was given at Oxford University in 1970 on Rosicrucianism. I was reading this book on Rosicrucianism and when I read that....

B: Whoa. Whoa. Rosi-what??

TG: It’s a quasi-secret society of enlightenment seekers. They study a lot of natural law and ancient Egyptian mysticism. It’s sort of like a fraternal order but it’s the least sexist organization of that nature. They’ve always encouraged women to be a part of it. Edith Piaf was a member.

B: Are you a member?

TG: No, I’m not, but I was thinking about joining. Their courses of study sound so interesting. They have tantalizing titles like “The Essence of Eternity” and “The Power of Magnetism.” I suppose it could come off as New Age nowadays but they’ve been doing the same sort of shit since the 1300s.

B: How serious are you about joining?

TG: I’m pretty interested. It’s the kind of thing where you join and they have this 2-year course of study. They send you reading and you learn on your own. They have rituals where you go to the nearest lodge and they’ll illustrate these properties of nature you’re learning about. You don’t necessarily have to be involved in that. They don't force you to do anything you don't want to do and it's not religious at all. It's more about learning about natural laws, physics and astrology and things like that.

B: I see. You’ve got a long tour coming up. What’s the best and worst part of being on tour?

TG: The worst is having to get up early to drive somewhere far. The best is meeting so many Fuckin positive people who are so nice and positive about the music you’re making.

The Fucking Champs begin their U.S. tour April 24th. For more info, you can visit their web site HERE and Myspace HERE.

By Jason Newman

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