The desperados are back - planning a UK tour and a new album. But that's not all...it's always life in the fast lane for Timothy B. Schmit
By Roger Newell
Although respected for his part in Poco and credited for guest work on a colossal list of albums, Timothy Schmit has gained his highest profile in The Eagles. His bass playing and vocal prowess helped to keep the band at the top when he replaced Randy Meisner, who left in 1977. When they split up in 1982, Timothy's distinctive vocals guaranteed him an amazing amount of session work with top artists; enough demand to last a lifetime, you might say. But creative urges beckoned and nostalgia stirred. And the result? The release of his first solo album in 11 years - Feed The Fire - alongside a busy schedule preparing for a UK summer tour with The Eagles.
Yes, they are reunited. Speaking from his studio at home, Timothy seemed clearly pleased with both the solo album and the band's reunion...
I was being objective about it too, because at the last minute I couldn't decide about a certain song on the album. One was written by me, the other wasn't, but there was no question that the song I didn't write was better, so I kicked mine off for the sake of good music, you could say.
The track that's begun getting airplay in the UK is Every Song Is You. There's also a Dylan number on there and a Stylistics tune, both of which work beautifully.
Well, I'm an old R&B fan. Some of it's almost corny but I just love that stuff. You Are Everything I cut in my studio with one of my songwriting friends, Hank Linderman, who works as my engineer as well. I love this song, so it's been in the back of my mind for years. We cut it over a couple of days even before I was serious about making an album. It was cool, exactly what I wanted to do. Then when we were working on the album the song still sounded really good - an obvious contender. I heard the Bob Dylan number, Make You Feel My Love, on his album and I immediately thought it would be so much fun to do.
Obviously it's very different; I could never sound like him even if I wanted to, but we thought it was a gorgeous song, so we put it in a gorgeous context. Then I heard it sung by Garth Brooks, and apparently Billy Joel did it, and Joan Osborne and I started to feel that I'd missed the boat! But you can't keep a good song down. It fits me and I love the way I did it, so why not?
You did most of the instrumentation on this record yourself...
What about the title, Feed The Fire? It's part of the lyric from The Shadow, but is there any other significance?
What's usually the first spark for you when writing a song? Is it a chanced chord sequence, a lyric or a melody?
Being a bass player, do you ever come up with a line and think, I could build something around that?
You've done a lot of sessions over the years, but mainly vocals...
That's you singing on Toto's, I Won't Hold You Back, isn't it?
Oh yes, and I'm still blown away that they used that much of my voice, as I wasn't part of the band. Yeah there's a lot of me on that and on a few others of theirs. When I first got computerised, which is not really that long ago, I got on the Net and thought, I'll type in my name and search, and I was blown away! I found a discography and I've never seen it all listed like that! There's still some missing, but I'm working on my own site now.
On the Hell Freezes Over video performance, the vocals are perfect. Is that as it really was, or was there a bit of tweaking done, strictly between you and me of course?
You recently appeared one night on Don Henley's tour. Did you enjoy that?
We're hearing all sorts of rumours about who's actually going to be in the band when you come to England.
So Don Felder is no longer in the band
I wrote them a letter and they gave me an audition, and it was so much fun. You know I was in the same room with the four guys, and I played for about an hour. I never expected to get the gig, but I went away feeling good about how I did. It was like Cinderella time; they were really great. At the time I didn't know they were just hiring a bass player; it sounded like they were looking for a replacement. We're just going from five to four, too - and we won't have any problems with the guitar or vocal parts.
You've used a Fender Jazz bass at various times with Poco and The Eagles, but recently you've also been using a Carvin bass and a fretless Pedulla.
Did you enjoy playing Pino Palladino's lines on that?
You've said you're a vocalist first, but do you still enjoy playing bass?
What basses will you be taking with you on this tour?
That's a timely question. First of all that white Carvin we touched on; I got that kind of accidentally. I went into the Carvin store quite a few years ago, looking for a simple home recording instrument, and the guy recognised me and put me in touch with their PR guy. He wanted to make me some basses, and I thought, Oh God, but I said okay.
I don't have flashy basses, so I thought I'd get this pearl white thing and asked them to take out all the crap, put the pickups internally and just give me a volume pedal. I had them take all the dots off the neck so it's real simple, but it just sounds great. I wish it was a better colour now, but I'm afraid to paint it in case it changes the sound or something. I'm using that on the whole album with the exception of You Are Everything, which is really bottom heavy, and that's the Fender Jazz.
I also played a Music Man bass a few years ago and liked it, so we got hold of them and they've made me two, one black and one sunburst. I haven't really played them with my rig yet, but you may be seeing me playing a little with a Music Man. So the Carvin is definitely coming with me and the Pedulla, even though I don't know if we'll do New York Minute, as we haven't started rehearsing yet.
And what rig will you be using?
You know I consider myself extremely fortunate, and I'm thankful for all these companies who provide stuff, although I realise it's beneficial to them too. But at the same time it kinda blows me away. I'm totally amazed that it happens the way it does.
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