London solo artist Tim Brooks is far from your bog standard singer-songwriter, bringing a heavy focus on lyrics and wordplay alongside a much rockier approach than you might expect.
Having started out on the more typical acoustic route he’s gradually evolved towards a sound that merges the boundaries of folk, rock and pop-punk that. As Tim explains: “I guess the music I make, in the simplest terms, is just the music that I like and have been brought up with, but also draws on the last two or so years of playing acoustically. So maybe a blend of songwriter-esque traits, like more personalised and reference-heavy lyrics, but mixed with big rock hooks that I experienced growing up. Throw all of those in a melting pot and you’ve got something close to what I aspire my ‘sound’ to be!”
But it took a while for Tim to get himself out there with his music, as he tells us: “It took me ages to actually get up on stage and perform, I’ve not had a history of being in bands, you know. It came to a head a few years back. I was at a dead end, living with this girl who I’d just broken up with because neither of us could afford to move out, stuck in this pointless shitty job, and I thought ‘sod it, let’s just go all or nothing into this.’ I think I’m a bit of a control freak as well, so the whole singer-songwriter route suits me!”
But now that he’s got things moving there’s no stopping him. He released latest single Quicksilver in April, which gives us a tastier of Tim’s rockier edge. It opens up with high-pitched fast-paced guitar notes over a driving bassline, with the latter continuing under a laid-back opening verse. But it explodes into life in a high-octane, catchy chorus, then a funky little guitar lick comes in to add depth to another laid-back verse.
A big burst of the opening guitar chords follows the second chorus, then repeating edgy vocals before dropping into drawn-out guitar chords over chilled vocals, before a cry of “Shotgun shapes were carved in my chest, I am bulletproof but I sure fucking feel it tonight” leads into a final blast of the chorus. Check it out in the video below:
And when it comes to what influences his music, Tim explains: “For me, it’s just a really wonderful way of communicating an idea through an artistic and creative format. It can be the simplest, dumbest thing that you can spin a few chords around, and it can really mean something in that moment. I’m quite an up and down person, like a heart on the sleeve kinda guy, so I often find a massive release through songwriting!
“Themes and topics are only limited if you put your own limits on them. That said, I think I like to write a song with a meaning or a purpose often through my own experiences, rather than something throwaway and vague like songs about your car or something! Something that I can look back on and use to paint a picture of where I was and what I was feeling.”
We haven’t spoken to too many solo artists recently, so I was intrigued to hear Tim’s thoughts on making it alone in the current music industry. He said: “It’s changed, I’ll tell you that. I’d say the tools are there, they just aren’t in the same places. People stream now, and music is everywhere and most of the time it’s free. That’s not to say money can’t be made, but like…. CDs vs a really well-produced video that gets thousands of hits online…. Anyone who thinks that its easy to make a living or be successful at anything creative, let alone music, is deluded.
“We the public can always do more, for sure. People can always buy more merch, people can always go to more shows and keep the fire burning, but bands have to be reactive too, and can’t bemoan the industry whilst standing still.”
There’s plenty more to come from Tim, with a new record coming out later in the year featuring his full band material, while he’ll be doing both acoustic shows and full band gigs around London, plus more recording. You can see him play at Bar 512 in London tomorrow night (6 June), Stone Free Festival at the O2 London on 17 June, The Spice of Life in Soho on Saturday (9 June), then The Fringe in Bristol on 26 June and Apples and Bears Bar in London on 27 June. More info on all his gigs is on his website and here.