Omaha Rainbow Poco special

Omaha Rainbow Poco Special

Following is an article/interview from a British publication called Omaha Rainbow. It's from their Poco special from 1975.

It must have been inevitable that at some stage in his life Timothy B. Schmit, the "B" is for Bruce, would become involved in music. His father was a musician who played in clubs, mostly in California, and the whole family spent a lot of time on the road with him. Traveling around meant that Tim went to a lot of different schools, and it was in high school that Tim's first group, Tim, Tom and Ron, came together. "It was with those guys that I first learned guitar playing and singing. We were all high school friends, and in fact I had known Ron Flogel since I was about nine years old. We were playing folk music then and singing mostly songs by the Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul and Mary." Folk music gave way to the surf sound and to Tim's next musical venture the Contenders's.

Tim: "In 1964 I was at junior high school and we decided to borrow some electric instruments and some funky amps and we got a friend of ours, George Hullin, to bring over his drums and we started to get into playing surf music. We were really high on surf music and at the first few dates that we played I remember that it was a whole new energy. Right after high school we changed our name to the New Breed and we made our first studio endeavour and had a mild hit record. This would be in 1965. It was a song that we all had written called Green Eyed Woman. We were taken into the studio by a programme director of a radio station in Sacramento and we cut two sides in about two hours. The record was released on a label called Diplomacy, and it achieved mild sucess. Rusty remembers hearing it played in Denver and another friend of mine remembers hearing it in somewhere like Washington D.C. It was scattered about, and it was almost a hit. I think that if we had been with a good solid record company it could have done something."

The New Breed were highly influenced by the English rock groups of the period as well as some of the American West Coast music at that time. Tim began to write a little, but for the most part the songs were collaborations within the group. Around 1968 the group got involved with Terry Melcher (although it would seem that he maintained a low profile), which eventually led up to recording an album. Not before another name change though.

Tim recalls how it happened: "We met a record engineer in L.A. who helped us put together a record deal with Terry Melcher. Actually I never met the man until years later, but it was his production company, and it was on ABC Records. The record company more or less named us Glad, although they did suggest the name Never Mind but we threw that right back at them. The songs on the album, which was called Feeling Glad, were mostly Ron Flogel's, and I only collaborated on one song on the album. I never thought of myself as a song writer until a little later. Terry in fact didn't have much to do with the album at all. He was really just the guy who signed the contract. The engineer/producer for the album was a guy called Eric Weinburg, who originally came from Norway, and who was an 'in house' engineer at Sound Recorders in L.A. Now we were all at college at the time so what we would have to do was to load up a van with our equipment and drive down to L.A. We'd then go in to the studios and cut a few tunes for the album and then we'd have to drive back. We had no control over anything and one time we went down there we found that Eric had added a whole load of strings to one track which had completely changed it. We knew that he wasn't the best engineer, but he was the only thing that we had. He was a very efficient engineer with what he wanted to do, but we had no influence ans so other people called the shots. We never liked it, but that was what happened." The album was released in 1969 but it sank without a trace and Tim subsequently left Glad, who, it should be noted, continue to this day under the name of Redwing.

Now in the summer of 1968, Glad had moved out to L.A. with hopes of finishing the album and also hoping that being in L.A., something might start happening for the band. The group rented a huge house in Hollywood, but as things would have it, they didn't get around to any recording until the last two weeks of summer. During their stay though, Tim was visited by a mutual friend of his and Richie Furay's, who told him that Richie and Jim Messina were putting a band together and they were looking for a bass player who could sing. After a few days of contemplation, Tim finally got around to called Richie and went for an audition.

Tim: "I was totally amazed at what they were doing and the kind of music they were into. The situation at that time seemed a little unreal to me. I didn't believe that I could ever be a part of it. Well, after rehersal they asked me if I could come back a couple of days later, and so I figured that they were really interested in having me. That coupled with the fact that they were also checking out my draft status. Well the way it turned out was that they tried Randy Meisner the day after and they went for him. After that I felt really low and went back to Sacramento and back to school and I was really getting depressed because it would have been just what I wanted to do, and in fact I never stopped thinking about it for the next six months. I really wanted to do it so bad and then one day I got a call from Richie who said that it hadn't worked out with Randy and so he had left and was I still interested. I said I was and he asked me when I could get down there and I told him 'tomorrow'. I quite school then and there and just split."

Poco's first album Pickin' Up The Pieces was released in the U.S. in June of 1969. It never has been put out in the U.K. Randy Meisner had quit mid-way through doing the album and Jim Messina was forced to add the missing bass parts. On the album sleeve, Meisner is just credited with supporting vocals and bass, and upon leaving Poco he took up with Rick Nelson & the Stone Canyon Band. Tim joined the group just two weeks after the album's release and so he found himself playing some of the material from the album on his first gigs with the band. In between the first album and the second one, David Geffen entered into the picture. "Geffen was directing us and he was unofficially managing us too. He was managing Steve (Stills) and when CSN made their first album he invited us up to his apartment along with Steve to listen to the album, and that was when we first met him. He pulled us out of a lot of things and that's why we dedicated that album to him."

The group's third album was called Deliverin' and it was a live album recorded at the Boston Music Hall and the New York Felt Forum. Didn't Tim think that it was early in the group's career to record a live album?

"We didn't think that it was that early, we thought that it was the right time. In truth, the album took off and did really well, and a lot of people still talk about this album being one of their favorites. We recorded two shows, one night in Boston and one night in New York, but in fact most of the album comes from the Boston shows."

A little while after Deliverin' was released, Poco underwent another personnel change, this time Jim Messina being the one to go. "We knew Jim wanted to leave and we had all talked it out, and basically, we had worked it out that Deliverin' would be his last Poco album."

Jim's replacement in the band came in the shape of Paul Cotton, who had been introduced to Poco's Rusty Young by Chicago member Pete Cetera. Nothing much was happening with the group that Paul was in, Illinois Speed Press, and being a Poco fan of sorts anyway, he accepted their invitation to talk things over, the result being that Paul joined the group, From The Inside being the first album on which he appears. That album was Poco's fourth and it was produced by Steve Cropper, but not without a few problems. Tim explains: "Producing was somewhat of a new endeavour for Steve, plus we had a brand new studio that still didn't have all the bugs worked out. We were told that we would have access to a sixteen track, which was kind of standard, but when we went in we found that it was just an eight track. In fact the sixteen track was installed in the middle of our sessions, which disrupted a lot of things. We did have a problem relating to each other also, but there's some good music on that album."

In February of 1972 Poco made it across the Atlantic for the first time and wowed audiences at the Rainbow in London. The line up of the group at this time was Richie Furay, Rusty Young, George Grantham, Tim Schmit and Paul Cotton, and it was this line up that recorded Poco's next two albums, A Good Feelin'To Know and Crazy Eyes, both put out over here in 1973. A Good Feelin' To Know is regarded as a classic album to those who know Poco's music well, and I asked Tim how the group viewed it. "We liked the album a lot and we knew that it had a lot more to it, that it had some kind of special charge to it." The album was produced by Jack Richardson and it contained a song of Stephen Stills' called Go And Say Goodbye which had first appeared on the Buffalo Springfield's debut album. Jack Richardson was also responsible for producing Crazy Eyes, which was to prove to be the last album on which Poco founder member Richie Furay was to appear. The title track of the album is a haunting song of Furay's in which the lines 'You sing songs about brass buttons and shiny silver shoes' lead us to believe that the song is about Gram Parsons, especially as Parson's own Brass Buttons appears on side one of the album. The song Crazy Eyes had been written long before the group got around to recording it, a fact which Tim Schmit confirmed. "Yea, that's right. I can remember him playing that song to me when I first got to L.A., and I really loved that song from the very first. I don't know why we didn't record it before then because every once in a while I would tell him that we should do it, but we just didn't get around to doing it. We finally got together with Bob Ezrin though, who was part of the Jack Richardson organization, and it was turned into the production that it is. At this time I think that Richie was getting a little disenchanted, but we still didn't know that he was planning to leave. I think that one of his main frustrations may have been that he thought that by this time the group should have been getting high chart placings and we couldn't see the reasons for it, because we thought that they were good albums." After it taking so long for the song to be recorded it seems ironic that Gram Parsons should die just a couple of months before the album was put out in the U.K. A simple twist of fate.

When Richie Furay left and headed in the direction of the SHF Band it didn't take Poco too long to decide to carry on as four. Tim Schmit: "It took us about five minutes, maybe three. After Richie split we felt some kind of new excitement because we realized that we didn't need to replace him, we felt that we just didn't need anybody else." Poco's first album as a quartet was Poco Seven, which was released in the U.K. in June of 1974. The group again used Jack Richardson as producer and the cover of the album sports the Poco logo, designed by Phil Hartman, which the group now seems to have adopted. The next album Cantamos (which means 'we sing') was put out at the beginning of 1975 and was the first album which the group produced themselves. Tim: "We felt that we were ready to produce an album ourselves and also we were getting a little tired of having to go through a middle man. It was exciting for us because it was a new thing, an adventure, and we didn't find it that hard."

Now, at this stage, Poco owed Epic one more album after the release of Cantamos to fulfil their contract, and they decided that they would like to record another live album. Tim: "What we did was to go out on a tour and record a bunch of live gigs. We put together an album and took it into the studio and mixed it. We then handed it ove to the record company - and they still have it. I'm not too sure what they are going to do with it, but as they own it I expect that they will release it sometime. We didn't have a title for it, but if they are going to release it I hope that they consult us. The songs on the album are similar to the ones in our stage act now, but without the songs off the new album." Instead of issuing the live album, Epic put out a compilation The Very Best of Poco, made up of previously released material, and the live album remains in the can. After their contract was up with Epic, Poco went shopping, and the result was, of course, they signed with ABC. Rumors that their signing with ABC involved a swap with Epic for another group seem to be untrue. Tim: "That didn't have anything to do with it at all. It just so happened that they went to CBS at the same time we signed with ABC." Moving across to ABC was just like going to stay with old friends for Poco. Tim: "The newly appointed director of the record company had been our business manager for two years previously, plus our old publicist is one of the executives. Even a guy who used to road manage us works for the company, and really it's kind of like lots of friends."

Recording for Head Over Heels, the group's first album for ABC, began around April of this year at the Record Plant in Los Angeles. Of the ten Poco originals on the album, Tim Schmit wrote, or had a hand in writing three, including the group's current single Keep On Tryin'. Tim: "Keep On Tryin', except for one rhythm guitar, is acappella, which was something that we have always wanted to do. It's just capitalizing on an all vocal thing really, but it came off pretty well." The only guest musicians on the album are Al Garth, from Loggins and Messina line-up, and Garth Hudson, from the Band. Tim: "We asked AL Garth along because we are friends and we needed a fiddle on Lovin'Arms, and Al is an excellent player. Getting hold of Garth Hudson was a complete thrill for me because I am a Band freak. We got him because Mark (Harman), our engineer, is good friends with all those people, and Garth was in town and he came down." The only non original song on the album is Dallas, written by Steely Daners Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, with whom Tim had worked on Pretzel Logic. Tim: "We do about ninety-nine percent of our own material, but once in a while if there is a song that we like we might do it. We didn't want to rule out completely the possibility of doing other people's tunes on this album and so I called Donald Fagen and asked him if he had any tunes floating around, and he said he had. I asked him to send me a tape and Dallas was on it. Rusty wasn't that keen on doing it though, but the rest of us were really into it."

Head Over Heels certainly has more drive to it than the later Epic albums, a fact probably related to the renewed enthusiasm within the group. Tim: "I think that we have grown incredibly musically, so Head Over Heels is a better album all the way around. It's a big step between albums and it's coupled with our excitement with the new company. We have a lot more touring to do next, but sometime after the first of the year, we'll probably get started on a new album. I'm writing some songs now, I think that we probably all are, and we are getting the beginnings of the working of it, although we won't know what we have until we throw all the songs out to each other. We all really believe in Poco. We've gone through lots of changes, both musical and head changes, but through it all we've stuck it out because we really believe in it, we really do. We believe that it's a good thing, and that if we just hang in there and keep improving it's just bound to happen."

Like the man says, Keep On Tryin'.

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