Introduce yourself and your bandmates and tell me about how the Broken Poets got started.
I'm Tim McDonald and I play guitar and sing lead vocals. I'm a singer-songwriter, and I've been doing it on my own for a long time. I've had a mix of members if you will. The current band came about when my wife, Svetlana Antropova, played piano on a video I did for a song called "Built upon the Present Regardless." That was filmed, by the way, by the independent film-maker Marco Santiago. I didn't have a band at the time, but I knew she'd play great and look great on the video. Russ Phaneuf is our new drummer and he's working out great. Michael James is our bass player. The first incarnation of Broken Poets, before I forget, was a heavier version in New York City with a powerhouse rhythm section that included Jonathan Mover and Keith Lentin.
I grew up with an older brother and sister who force-fed me with the singer-songwriters from the 70's. I was just a kid and I didn't get it or appreciate it at the time. I was too busy listening to KISS and anything hard like AC-DC. I'm indebted to my brother and sister now because once I started writing, I had a standard for lyrics and melody. If I write something crappy, I don't use it. I'm somewhat prolific and that helps. My work has a way higher standard of quality than it would have been if I didn't listen to great songwriters like Jackson Browne, Karla Bonoff, Joni Mitchell, and James Taylor. I guess they all came out of Bob Dylan, who I've gone back and gotten into once I got older. Dylan really took me, and how I feel about music, to another level.
I once said that songwriting is as much about location as it is about personal experience. People think it's weird, but I often grab my acoustic guitar and go out to different locations, whether it's a patch in the desert or under a highway overpass. It's really cool and I enjoy woodshedding the songs I'm playing for an upcoming set or writing in general. I guess it's a little eclectic. It's more locations in Arizona than spots I've seen while touring when I don't have much free time. Traveling with Lana back to Moscow was inspiring yet it's sometimes hard to say which song came out of which place. Without sounding like a cliché, all the different experiences and places can come together and make a good song.
Tell me all about your current CD, "Optimism in 'E' Minor."
That CD was released about a year and a half ago. We did a pretty successful college radio campaign in 2006, and this year I rounded up the financing to bring our publicist, Kelly MacGuann, aboard. We are working as much as we can to get our upcoming and untitled new record ready to drop. We have song clips from "Optimism in 'E' Minor" at both our website and our MySpace page if any of your readers want to check out our sound. They can buy it online through our website. Our sound is very lyric and melodic-based alternative rock with a strong rhythm section. "Optimism in 'E' Minor," with the addition of piano, takes the band back a bit to a sound that lends itself better to the songs I'm writing now. The previous record, "Reincarnation," was a more aggressive three-piece band with heavier sound.
Tell me about your live performance and touring plans for 2007.
We'd love to expand our touring base outside of Arizona. It's hard, being an indie band, to find the right booking agent to take us to the next level. It hasn't happened so far. We do one-offs in San Diego, Los Angeles, Nevada, and anywhere around our area that lets us keep our day jobs. Live performance is really important for me. It bothers me when I see a band live that cannot translate what they did on their record. I really try to keep our live set within the guidelines of what we expressed on the record.
Comment on the positives of being an "indie" musician in the 21st century and what an asset MySpace has been to your musical career.
I started my musical career with the mindset that you get good at what you do and then the machine comes to you and brings you aboard. I waited years to get discovered. Then I finally looked up and realized that you could do things by yourself and stop worrying about the rest. I may not have reached a huge level, but I've reached a level where people are hearing my music. I guess it's the best of both worlds, growing up with the Internet and being able to use a computer to market ourselves. I've gotten to a point where I did as much as I could while realizing that bands who take it further hire companies to push it along. There's only so much that you can do on your own. Plus, when you hire the right team, you can stay hands-on and help guide the project.
Feel free to promote anything else you'd like that applies to your band.
Marco Santiago, who I mentioned before, filmed us at The Whiskey in Los Angeles. We'll have a video of our song "Somewhere Somehow" ready soon. It's exciting to work with him. Marco was one of the finalists last year for the Cannes Film Festival. We have a great working relationship and hopefully our music will be a part of his future films. Our first video with Marco, for the song "Built upon the Present Regardless," is at our website, our MySpace page, and at YouTube. Right now, our website's merch page only has our CDs. I'm really excited about our new line-up and our new sound. As a team, we really communicate on a musical level. I'm excited to take that to a new level with our next record. Our fans should expect bigger and better. We're trying to up the ante and bring it to another level. The sky's the limit on what you can create musically. Even if we don't make it on a huge level, I hope the fans are happy, and that they see us as an incredible band and wonder why we didn't make it.
Please share your thoughts on the senseless murder of Dimebag Darrell.
I was never a big fan of Pantera. They were a lot heavier than what I was listening to. I had a lot of respect for his music that I gained from friends that turned me onto his music and style of guitar playing. Watching a show on VH-1 after his death, I saw the vibe he gave off. He was an incredible human being and he was so genuine. That makes his death an even greater injustice. He didn't let the fame and success go to his head. Dimebag was the kind of person that we should all strive to be.