Timothy Nelson & The Infidels – The Best In The West

You may be asking who are Timothy Nelson & The Infidels? Unless you live in the fine city of Perth you would be anyway…

W.A’s finest, young singer/songwriter and his band have been doing some amazing things over in the west for the last few years. Tim, himself picking up a couple of WAMI Awards for songwriting and the band being hand picked by some this countries finest acts to play support slots in W.A.

The group have released their second single of their (delayed) forthcoming record. The track You Don’t Know What We’re Waiting For is healthy slice of folk induced pop thats warm and friendly to listen to. I caught up with Tim for a chat to get the rundown on the band, the art of songwriting and how he came to write the greatest hit Oasis ever had!

Music Feeds: Lets start with the Timothy Nelson and The Infidels history lesson?

Timothy Nelson: Well our drummer and I were playing in a band called The Cartridges in 2006 to 2008 when the Infidels started. I was getting tired of that band and was doing a lot of solo gigs. Basically I was writing all the songs for this band but it was becoming more and more contrived because we sounding like a Strokes rip off and I didn’t want to do that. [chuckles] as you can imagine!

So I started doing a bunch of solo gigs doing all the songs the band didn’t want to play. Then that band kind of phased itself out and I decided to up the ante in my own pursuits and get a band behind what I was doing at all the solo gigs and that became the Infidels.

We got Brad first on bass who’d we known through high school and always wanted to play in a band with but when we had our first band going around, he had another band and so he slotted in the band straight away.

We had done alot of gigs with a band called The Floors and the main guy in that, Luke, who is an amazing guitarist and so I pretty much poached him from there. We originally had his girlfriend Meg in the band, but she left after a year to pursuit University stuff, studying broadcasting and ended up getting a job presenting on ABC in W.A and stuff like that, so it worked out pretty well for her.

Then we found Ellen, whose been in the band for the last two years. She was playing in another band we saw at a gig one night and thought “she’s good, lets get her.” Thats how we fitted all together.

We started playing gigs and rehearsing like every band does, we played like 2-3 a week for a few years playing anywhere and everywhere hoping people would notice us or notice us so much they got sick of us!

Then I bumped into a fellow at Laneway Festival a few years later, his name was Christian and he was thinking about managing bands and we were thinking about getting a manager ’cause I was going out of my mind trying to organize four other people and myself. And me trying to organize anything is a death wish!

Since that happen, we’ve really started kicking things into gear and try and do this band thing properly. About two years ago we stepped into the studio, metaphorically speaking, and started recording our album. It was sort of just off and on for two years there.

Me and James Newhouse, the producer, working on getting guitar sounds lined up the songs during his spare time and my spare time, doing the mates rates thing really. We were just tinkering away but now we’ve finished this album and we’re very proud of it and the single I think you’ve got is one of the first tastes off that.

MF: The second single is about to come You Don’t Know What You’re Waiting For, can you tell us a little bit about that song in particular?

TN: I wrote that when I was about fifteen, going on sixteen….as you would! Alot of the songs on the record are quite old. There’s only one song on the album I wrote during the recording process and we’ve been recording this thing for two years as I’ve said.

When I wrote it, I was thinking of bands like Badly Drawn Boy and The Beatles, who I usually think of anyway and it all just kind of pulled it out. It’s a very wordy song and it doesn’t…stop….talking [chuckles].

It’s the song that doesn’t shut up!. And it all just kind of came out in one big lyrical vomit, so to speak! Obviously I was in high school at the time and I didn’t have a bridge, a middle section written until we had an assignment due, actually in music class and we had to have a song finished. So I spent half an hour before that class trying to finish off the song as it was the only song I had finished at the time. Our teacher hadn’t heard it so I finished it around sixteen or like that.

It then kind of sat around on my computer as a demo for years after that. I never really got sick of it myself and no one else did, so we kept it for this record. It’s kind of all about growing up, as you do, and wondering at what point are you going to turn into this big sensible adult that everyone talks about becoming. Or what everyone else seems to be when they become older. When is lightning going to strike and I’m going to become older or do I have to do it all myself? What am I going to do with my life and being a really neurotic douchebag! [laughs]

MF: The debut album, as you’ve said has taken a couple of years, and will be coming out in April. What can people expect when the album does drop?

TN: Ummmm about eleven more songs than the single! [laughs] It’s got a very large production sound on it. Which I think the single kind of indicates anyway. We laid alot of stuff on it, not to drown out anything or sound like we had more money than sense, because we had no money, thats for sure! I wanted to make something that sounded really big. Thats the way I hear music in my head. That’s why we took so long. I didn’t want to come out with something lo-fi and budget sounding and then come the second album, if there’s a lot more money to do the big production thing. That’s when people start calling you sell outs.

I just wanted to start by hitting the ground running. I like songs that sound really big. there’s loads of orchestration on most of the tracks, banjos and harpsichords and all kinds of guitars and wind chimes, so that’s what I think you can kind of expect it to sound like. Mostly there’ll just love songs really, of one kind or another. It all kinds to work together that way, as one long thing and try to tie it in in the end.

It’s actually not coming out in April anymore. We had it coming out in April but then that date got kind of taken away from us and pushed us back to about June. Which is a bit of a shame, but that happened just after we went and told everyone it was April! So it’s a bit annoying.

MF: You’ve been working on it for two years and now that the album has been pushed back to the middle of the year, by the time it comes to playing these songs on the road are you going to start to thing “Geez these songs are a bit old, I want to be playing newer stuff or writing newer stuff?”

TN: Well we have been writing newer stuff. We’re still proud enough of this record to give it the time to push it back and release it properly rather than rush it out just cause we’re sick of it. I think that’s a mistake a lot of bands make and we’re not sick of it yet, so we’re going to do whats best in the end.

Sometimes we play these gigs and these old songs and it gets a bit boring, but now that people are starting to hear on record and knowing the songs, the shows are starting to become a lot more communal because people are singing along. More people are showing up for one and we kind of feed of the crowd, particularly when playing old songs, but we still get enjoyment out of playing new stuff. It’s nice knowing, now that we’ve pushed back this album, it just gives us even more time to make sure the next album is right as well, rather than having to rush that one as a quick follow up I guess.

MF: Yeah that’s true. You’ve made a fair impact in the scene in W.A, you’ve won WAMi awards for songwriting. Been handpicked by quite a few bands to play with, when are you getting across to the East Coast for us to check you guys out?

TN: It seriously depends on when people really start to pick up on this music we’re giving out to radio and everyone. where get some decent airplay on stations at the moment and we’re hoping that will build and build and then it would make it possible for us to get over there to tour. Or maybe we could get some decent supports with a bigger band that have a crowd.

A few us have been over east before to play shows and you kind of come away feeling kind of miserable. You come over and play random gigs for the sake of touring and you come back and your wallet is in the negative and you’ve basically played to the barman. We’re pretty much going to go over there when we feel like we can play shows over there and people are there to see it. You know five people in a plane is expensive!

MF: Thats the thing it is the cost for you guys to come over is huge. It would take a fair bit to really get you to come over.

TN: Yeah it’s wrong to think money can play such a huge part in you doing what you love to do but it’s the one thing that gets in the way every time. I’d love to have the change to throw at the band and we could go and play wherever and come back and it wouldn’t matter but at the end of the day you’ve got to think things through better than that.

MF: You touched on the songwriting process when it came to the new single but generally how do you attack in the songwriting process? How does it all come about for you?

TN: If I knew the formula for writing a good song I don’t think I’d tell you! I don’t know it that’s for sure. [laughs] it kind of just falls out of the air half the time. Sometimes I’ve sat down and out of sheer frustration from either writers block or whatever, just having a bad day and gone “Fuck it! I’m going to write an awesome song!” and then just having that extra push to come out with something good.

I can’t sit down and write songs everyday and have a great song. I think Nick Cave approaches songwriting like that and he comes out with great stuff by sitting down and working everyday and I think that’s pretty cool. One day I’d like to be able to do that, but I’m pretty irresponsible with my songwriting formula. It just kind of happens.

I generally like pop music, so my taste in music is fortunate so the stuff that comes out isn’t like avant garde/acid house fusion/jazz/progressive sludge that no one will like. [laughs] I make it sound like I never write songs, but I’m always writing something, I just don’t know exactly where it all comes from. It’s all just swirling around in my head. It’s not always a case of the music coming first or the lyrics coming first, it’s both. Sometimes I’ll hear a whole song in my head and it’s a matter of eliminating the parts of the song and being able to break down in my head what I’ve got to do with it. It gets a bit confusing but it happens often enough for me to keep writing songs that’s for sure.

MF: Do you remember what the first song was you wrote?

TN: Something rubbish. Probably some pop punk crap. when I first started playing guitar I was listening to Green Day and lots of those bands. I still like Green Day, but I was listening to all kinds of bands of that ilk. So I probably wrote something that sounded like Green Day. In fact I probably did a parody of a Green Day song to make some friends laugh and it started from there.

But for the record, I wrote a song called Wonderwall and that did very well for me. [sniggers]

MF: Really. I believe some guys in Britain covered that one and it did alright for them.

TN: Yeah they covered it, they took it to some new heights. But I got all the cash. [laughs]

MF: Would’ve been some good royalties out of that?

TN: Yeah they were pretty good. Considering I was six at the time! [laughs]

MF: Who are your musical inspirations?

TN: The first ones I can think of off the top of my head is The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Shins, Wilco, Neil Young, Oasis too. I’m a massive Oasis fan. Lots of different bands. I know, I hate it when you ask that question and they say “oh I like lots of bands”, but it’s really confusing actually to pick the ones out that you really love the most.

Elliot Smith and all that kind of folk/pop rock n’ roll kind of stuff, particularly older music. I try and listen to new stuff thats out there but a part of me naturally leans towards the history of music and where it all came from. I feel like I’m wasting time listening to new music half the time.

MF: It’s true, it’s a point I make a lot that you can like new stuff but you need to know where it came from and you discover so much gold that has come before hand.

TN: It can certainly make you come across as a bit of a snob when you come across someone who say, likes a Bright Eyes song, as great as Bright Eyes are, but has never heard a certain Bob Dylan song that it might be ripping off. “Oh you gotta hear this song”. I think it’s important to know where songs come from. I don’t know why it’s important, but it’s important to me!

MF: I’ve got one question left for you Tim and then I’ll let you go for the evening. If you’re going to make a mix tape, whats the first song you’d put on there?

TN: Ticket To Ride by The Beatles.

It might not be if I sat down and thought about it, I might come up with something else but thats the first thing to come to mind.

MF: What is it about that song?

TN: It’s one of my favourite songs of all time. There’s just certain songs I’ll always come back to, like that or Oasis. the first track off their first album. That just kind of sums up everything about a band about to make it. In fact, I’ll probably switch my choice and go Rock N Roll Star to be the first song I’d put on a mix tape.

Listen to: Timothy Nelson & the Infidels – You don’t know what You’re Waiting for here

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