First published on 6 Aug 2012. Updated on 9 Aug 2012.
Tim Hart is best known as the man behind the kit with beloved local folk-rockers Boy & Bear, but now he’s stepping out on his own with his debut solo album.
“I hadn’t really been sitting on them,” he says of the songs that make up Milling the Wind. “I have always been writing, and when I joined Boy & Bear I was a singer/songwriter already, Dave [Hosking, B&B’s singer/songwriter] was like ‘man you can do both – you know, how J. Tillman does Fleet Foxes.’”
Tillman, of course, recently quit as drummer from the Foxes to concentrate full-time on Father John Misty, but Hart is quick with assurances that he has no plans whatsoever to leave Boy & Bear – in fact, as we speak he’s in the car with brother and bandmate Jon en route to rehearsal. “Boy & Bear is always a priority for me,” he insists. “I will go straight from doing a B&B rehearsal into a Tim Hart show. I think in many ways they definitely self-seed: a lot of the ideas and techniques that I learnt from Mark really helped the B&B thing, and vice versa.”
The Mark in question is Mark Myers, formerly of much-missed Townsville combo the Middle East, who produced the disc. “He is the kind of guy who tells you exactly what he thinks. He was really into it, luckily, because I don’t think my fragile ego would have been able to take a beating from him,” Hart laughs. “I can honestly say I had two of the best weeks I’ve ever had in my life.”
It sounds like it was a very collegiate affair: Myers’ ex-bandmate Jordan Ireland popped by to add banjo, while Hart’s bandmates Jake Hosking and Jake Tarasenko also appear on the disc. “I am in a really fortunate position, I play music with my closest friends and it seems like a really strange thing to do a record and not have them around to help,” Hart shrugs. “So of course they were there! I wanted multiple people to create that almost band like situation, where I had people to be honest with me. Whenever you are doing a record you are too close to it, you need people to help pull you out of that.”
It’s one thing to record as a band, but when it’s your own name on the cover there’s no distance between the singer and the song.
“That is a really valid point,” he concedes. “As a songwriter there is a point where you have to think, although this is going to put me out there in a quite vulnerable position, you can either choose to do that, or not. For me I think that is really important, you look like a bit of a freak, and maybe a manic-depressive, but that’s part of my writing.”
Does that make people uncomfortable? There are some pretty naked moments on the album…
“I am a bit of an over sharer, and I’m kind of OK with that,” he explains. “During the process of writing this record, just as it was done, two weeks before I went away to record it, me and my fiancé broke up. She knew at the time it would all come straight out in the record. When you’re close to a musician, as Paul Kelly says, you know they are going to thieve off you. Whether that is the right or the wrong thing, I don’t know.”
Milling the Wind is out now through Universal