The Tim Buckley Archives


San Diego Door

Conversation with Tim Buckley and Maury Baker - Escondido 1971

(Editors note: Thie original published article was rife with misspellings.
They have been changed to protect the guilty and enhance your reading pleasure.)

by Unknown

Tim Buckley played last Sunday, November 1, in Escondido at a small coffee house called In the Alley. It was a nice change from the run- of-the-mill weekend concert of pushing, pulling, and hasselling... what a refreshing change to go someplace where everyone simply sat down to listen!

Paul Potash was first to come on stage with some real fine folk and blues. Most of this set was nice and mellow and I figured that by the time Buckley came on, I would be in the perfect mood. I was so wrong. I was, to say the least, somewhat surprised when the first two on stage were ex-members of the Mothers of Invention. Before the night was over, my mind was completely blown!

Tim and his new group play some of the finest improvisational music that I've heard. If you get a chance to see them, don't miss it, but if you're one of those who insists on hearing some of a performer's old stuff, don't bother, because you won't.

Can we start by getting a little background on the group as it is now?

(Tim) You play what you can play. If you write, you write what you can write. You may not be happy with what you can do, but you do it anyway. In order to write what I really want to write I have to develop. With experience you get confident enough to write something you feel is really true. You never really get to it, but you get close enough to believe it's enough to write down.
"When I'm playing my guitar, I'm not concerned so much with chords as with the horn lines and counterpoint. It took a long time to get out of all that. Man, I learned the most beautiful chords when I was 16, and one of these days I'm gonna use them..."
If you play a guitar, you have to go through certain things like country music, folk music, etc., because there are things you can play on a guitar. Then, after awhile, you get to express yourself through your singing or drumming, whatever. Now, if you compose, you experieince the total view and you don't have to play anything.

That's the essence of where it's at - what it boils down to is chemistry of people you work with. For some odd reason, improvising in three's and five's is usually best.

Can you tell us how you picked the people up that you did? How you got the particular group you're with now?

(Tim) Well, I used to travel around with Carter C.C. Collins, our conga player, and Lee Underwood, our guitar player. We did that for a very long time, but they fell off like leaves off an artichoke after awhile. Because of the respect we had for each other, it ended. There wasn't anything new happening. The time may come around again when we'll play together.

In fact, we do every once in awhile. I found John [Balkin] through Lee. We played a mariachi gig in Canada with John and Buzz. John, Buzz, and Bunk, the two horn players and the bass player, have known each other since before WWII. They've done a lot of gigs together. They make tapes at home all the time; they have libraries upon libraries of what they do together on tape. They have a fantastic little [studio in a very small place with fantastic little goodies and gadgets.

Anyway, they've known each other for a long time. I decided that I had to get myself together and really get into knowing what this stuff is all about and it's been working out pretty good. That's basically what it was. When Maury [drummer Maury Baker] came along, everybody knew this drummer that played the timpanies and somehow got around to us.

He was playing at the Polynesia Room with some Hawaiian cats. I came in and played one afternoon, then he came and recorded our last album. That's how I found Maury. You see, you seek levels. You can play a certain thing and somehow you just know the other cat has got it. It always comes out in the music.
"I'm not going to tell grown men, thirty-eight, forty years old what to play. It's stupid. If they can't hear it, then they won't play, or they'll do something else..."
It's so much more important in the kind of stuff you're doing because...

(Maury) Because even the bass tones have got to be together. I think, the way the band is now is perfect---balance wise.

(Tim) For a long time we were trying to get away from chords and chordal instruments. When I'm playing my guitar, I'm not concerned so much with chords as with the horn lines and counterpoint. It took a long time to get out of all that. Man, I learned the most beautiful chords when I was 16, and one of these days I'm gonna use them.

Right now though, I'm pretty much caught up with what I intended to do. I completely went through the spectrum of new star horizon; gone thru the meat grinder. Get a lot of money, lose the money, on the road constantly, the whole thing. Now they don't dig us in the big cities cause we're doing weird music. I made money for every one of those guys. But I'm not gonna start talking about that.

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