Well, who'd have thought it? The Eagles are back, treading the boards with a reunion show for the new century that's been wowing crowds in the UK this week. Singer and bassist Timothy B. Schmit is also promoting a new solo album, 'Feed The Fire', so it was with little surprise that Audiostreet's Nick Coquet picked up the phone to find this well travelled artist on the other end?
Timothy, you're quite the busy boy at the moment, back with your fourth solo album 'Feed The Fire' and playing the first Eagles live shows in a long time...
I'm quite the busy boy today, I'll tell you that!
In the past your solo work hasn't really coincided with Eagles activity - how are you managing to fit it all in?
My solo album is being released at the same time as the Eagles tour but it wasn't really planned that way, so I'm trying to do what I can on the side because I'm so busy with the band. If I have some time, I would consider doing some live work - I'd probably do some small shows just to get going and see how it goes, but I really don't know if I'm going to have time, we'll wait and see. I did some really small little shows just prior to these Eagles shows to promote my record and to be honest I was a little frightened by it and I've always sort of shied away from it. It's much easier to play in front of 50,000 people than in front of 200 or 300 as your own solo self. But doing these little shows has given me the confidence that people will come along and do want to see it.
If we can go back to the beginning, you joined Poco in 1970 in time for the second album, and you stayed with them for about seven years and ten albums?
The Poco vacancy came about when Randy Meisner left the band, to join The Eagles. Seven years later you were replacing him in the Eagles. Did you have some kind of pact with him?
Just a twist of fate I guess. It just happened that way - I happened to be the guy who fitted the bill.
You joined the Eagles fresh from their massive 'Hotel California' success. Did the band feel the weight of expectation on its shoulders with the 'Long Run' album?
There was stuff going on previous to my even being around that was building up to all this stuff including the pressure of trying to follow up 'Hotel California'. I didn't personally feel it as much as they did, being new on board, and any tensions that were going on I just interpreted as being regular band problems. I certainly had no idea of the magnitude of it, but of course I eventually found out when we split up for so long.
Presumably there was a fairly established power base in the Eagles by that time - was it difficult to get your own songs and influences into the set?
You know what, I don't look at it that way. I think that my career is more than fair - I have nothing to complain about.
After the double album 'Eagles Live' came out in 1980, we didn't hear anything from the band until the split was officially announced a couple of years later. Did you make a conscious decision then to concentrate on solo work, or were you tempted to hitch up with another band?
Whatever I was to do, and whatever I did do, was just practising my craft - I sang on a lot of records, I did some solo stuff, I even toured here and there with some people - I simply did what I do, you know what I mean? I didn't go out and work in a market or anything, I try and keep doing what I do.
You've certainly been pretty busy over the years guest starring on other people's records, from the Simpsons to Spinal Tap?
Yeah, well I like to work. A lot of times I'll meet someone who I'm a fan of and simply tell them that, because I really mean it, that if they ever want any help then I'll come along and sing. A lot of times they say really? You would? And I'll go sure, why not and sometimes they call me back!
You obviously kept touch with your old band mates, Don Henley played on your 'Tell Me The Truth' album and I notice that your current drummer Scott Crago was involved with the Eagles as well?
He still is, he's the other percussionist in our road show. He's a good drummer and a great guy and real fast at what he does.
What made you wait 11 years before releasing another solo album?
Oh I don't know, I mean right in the heart of things the 'Hell Freezes Over' album project with the band kept me real busy. I don't really know, I guess the time wasn't right. To conceive of putting out a record on my own label, which is what I've done in the US, it didn't occur to me years ago. I was having difficulty getting anyone to look twice at me from a major label and I decided it's OK, I accept that, you know? I'm probably risky business for them but you know what? I'm going to do it anyway, on my own and on a smaller level.
Has anything you've heard over the intervening decade influenced the new record?
I can't be specific with answering that, but I really believe that everything I hear goes in and influences me, in some ways it's got to. There's a lot of great talent out there.
Was it refreshing to be able to record at home in your own time?
The whole thing of having everything under my control is more than refreshing, because the buck stops with me, I don't answer to anybody.
One thing that struck me about 'Feed The Fire' was the production which you largely did yourself - is this something you want to do more of in the future?
I've done a little here and there. I've been doing this long enough that I know what I want and I know what to do and how to get it done. I'm not bragging, but I've been doing this for so long. Sometimes it's good to have another person involved but in this instance it was a good experience.
Is production something you want to do for other people?
I don't know - not too many people have asked me.
What's next on the agenda for you?
Well, I have to see what's in store in the bigger picture, with the band. Our plan is to finish the European tour, take some time off, but not too much as part of the idea of this is that we want to get into good singing, playing shape. Then we're going to attempt to write some tunes again.
There might be a new Eagles album on the way?
We're going to attempt to make a record, yeah; we'll see what happens. After the tour finishes in July we're going to start, we've cleared our schedules and try to write some tunes. Hopefully it won't take forever, but we can safely say next year at the earliest.
What was the motivation to reform the band after all these years? Presumably The Eagles aren't short of a few bucks?
We all do very well but at the same time we're all driven to work, we want to do this and it's what we do. We're at a level now where it would be almost foolish not to do it. We put a lot of work into our stage show - we could probably do a couple of rehearsals and throw something together but that's not what we've done - we worked very hard with long, long rehearsals. We pay a lot of attention to every aspect of it. It's not thrown together; it's very methodical and professional - that's how we wanted it.
So, Eagle-eyed observers of Mr Schmit and his cohorts, you heard it here first. In the meantime, you could do a lot worse than investigate Tim's new album, 'Feed The Fire'.
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