Q&A with Horrible Things’ Tim Reynolds

horrible Things picTim Reynolds has been busier than usual in these past few months. The Champaign musician is gearing up for the release of his project Horrible Things’ new record Everybody Else, while touring between that project and his other band Hospital Job. I caught up with Reynolds while we were both at work and discussed the new record via email. You can read the conversation below:

Ghost Track: How long have you been working on the new record?

Tim Reynolds: I’ve been messing around with these songs since early 2013. In the last couple years, my friends I was playing with moved away from Central Illinois to pursue jobs and life, and stuff. I just sort of avoided getting it together for a bit while I focused on work and other things. Everything’s good though, I pulled it together!

GT: Did you write and record everything yourself on this one? Vince Aguilar helped out on Dumb Days if I remember correctly, right?

TR: Trevor Seal, Vince Aguilar, and Nick Bethune all played on Dumb Days. Credit to Alex Bulli, as well.

Luke McNeill did a phenomenal job recording this. We just chilled at his place in Springfield (Ill.) and worked on it during weekends. Gave me time to think about the recording in phases, so it was cool to analyze it for little and get ready for the next parts. It really made my performances better. I spent too much time songwriting, so it was really fucking exciting to see those songs come to life.

I played everything myself on this one, mostly just to see if I could do it. Drums were the hardest part because I’m relatively new to the instrument, but l love playing them and this was a good learning process for me.

I’ve got to give credit to everyone who played with me live while I was working on this, though. I picked up a lot of the final elements from the different ways these songs got played by my friends at the few Horrible Things shows that have happened in the last couple years. That was definitely a benefit of sitting on songs for a while before recording and playing with a rotating lineup.

GT: Why did you decide to go with Secret Pennies to release the record?

TR: Indiana (Laub) & Nathan (Lawson) have always been really supportive of Horrible Things and Hospital Job. Nathan’s band Hi Ho Silver Away! is fucking cool too. Indiana had originally reached out to do a 7” after Dumb Days. Due to circumstances and my own negligence, it didn’t materialize. Once everything was finalized with Everybody Else, I showed them the record and they were super stoked on it. To me, it’s an opportunity to make new friends in a different area and work on something together in real life. This kind of stuff is what makes the punk scene so incredibly fun and I feel excited about my music again.

GT: You mentioned the album had to do with solidarity and then realizing you’re “stuck on an island” in a way. How did that affect the writing?

TR: In a nutshell, I let my depression and anxiety get out of control for a bit after I got out of school. This led me to distance myself from a lot of people I care about. A possible positive outcome to having a low points is that it helps you really realize what you have though. A change in perspective and attitude can really help. Fortunately, songwriting gives me a way to articulate my thoughts and feelings. Since I usually tend to write about autobiographical stuff, it forces me be open and vulnerable and actually learn something from personal experiences.

GT: Depending on what you exactly meant, do you find there to be a point of “regret” or something after distancing yourself? Sort of realizing you’ve pushed yourself too far away?

TR: No, because that’s the bed that I made. My perspective at the time and the things that I let take me there is what I regret. Everything is a learning process, though. I probably need to practice better moderation in just about every facet of my life.

GT: It sounds like you experienced more with tones and effects on certain songs on this record, is that something you just attribute to evolving as a musician in the past few years since Dumb Days?

TR: All of these tunes started out being pretty simple, but I tweaked them so many times. I really pushed myself to not rely on the same shit I usually do. For instance, the end of “Those Eyes” is the first fade out instrumental I think I’ve ever done. I also feel more confident with my singing, so doing harmonies was way more fun.

GT: “Laundry Detergent” and “Half-Smile” have been written for a while, if I remember correctly. When was the rest of the record written? Which song was the one you wrote where you realized you had a full record brewing?

TR: I wrote “Half-Smile” on New Years Day 2013, but that was the earliest song for the record. “Laundry Detergent” was the last one but that was still a year ago, so they were all written in between 2013 and 2014. I’ve got a big folder of songs on my computer and when I know I have some keepers, I’ll comb through and pick out the best. That’s a new process I’ve found to work pretty well. I go into non-creative periods where I don’t think about it at all for months, though. I find it really helpful to take breaks during your artistic process.

GT: What does it mean for you personally to put out another record again? Obviously these albums are personal to you, is it sort of like closing the book on a chapter of your life or helping deal with stuff in a therapeutic way?

TR: I don’t really feel like much of a performer, I mostly write music for the cathartic nature of it. Why I find it helpful to write such personal shit is that I know this is the same stuff everyone deals with all the time. Sometimes you lose sight of the bigger picture and seeing response to my songwriting is the biggest reality check I’ve ever experienced. It’s really hard to be vulnerable, especially because I’m a pretty private person, but it really makes things feel real when people connect. So yeah, it’s like finishing a chapter in my book.

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