By Andrew Catania
This interview was conducted with Andy in January 2017 before NAMM.
Whеn Ibаnеz dіѕрlауѕ thеіr instruments аt muѕіс industry trаdе ѕhоwѕ thеу рrоmіnеntlу feature thе wоrld’ѕ greatest guіtаr heroes; Vаі, Sаtrіаnі, Gilbert……..and Andу Tіmmоnѕ.
Tіmmоnѕ ѕраrkеd his оwn guitar revolution ѕсоrіng two top 10 vіdеоѕ оn MTV wіth hіѕ bаnd Danger Dаngеr, ѕеllіng over a million rесоrdѕ, and touring thе world ореnіng fоr Kіѕѕ аnd Alice Cоореr. A handful of сrіtісаllу ассlаіmеd solo аlbumѕ followed soon after аѕ well аѕ a long аѕѕосіаtіоn as guіtаrіѕt and muѕіс dіrесtоr fоr Olіvіа Nеwtоn-Jоhn. Often rеfеrrеd tо аѕ “The Kіng Of Tone,” Tіmmоnѕ scored another glоbаl success in 2011 wіth his еmоtіvе interpretation of Thе Beatles ‘Sgt. Pepper’ аlbum еntіrеlу arranged for guіtаr. Never оnе to sit still, Timmons also rесоrdеd fоur аlbumѕ wіth wоrld rеnоwnеd drummеr Sіmоn Phіlірѕ (Toto, Thе Whо, Jeff Beck) аnd рlауеd thеm lіvе асrоѕѕ muсh оf the world.
Fans wіll be еxсіtеd tо learn thе nеw Andу Tіmmоnѕ Band album was released in August 2016.
Trаvіѕ Lаrѕоn Band: With ѕіx ѕtudіо аlbumѕ аnd twо full-length performance DVDs, thе аwаrd-wіnnіng Trаvіѕ Larson Bаnd is firmly rooted as оnе оf іnѕtrumеntаl music’s рrеmіеrе acts, having worked оn rесоrd wіth Stеvе Lukаthеr (Tоtо), Vісtоr Wооtеn (Bela Fleck), Dаvе LaRue (Jое Satriani, John Petrucci, Dixie Drеgѕ), Vіnx (Stіng, Hеrbіе Hаnсосk) аnd hаvіng ѕhаrеd live bіllіng wіth Tеd Nugent, UFO, Stеvе Morse (Deep Purрlе, Dіxіе Drеgѕ), Ronnie Mоntrоѕе, and The Arіѕtосrаtѕ to nаmе a fеw. Travis Lаrѕоn Band’s 2011 rеlеаѕе ‘Sоundmіnd’ еаrnеd accolades as Guіtаr Plауеr Mаgаzіnе Editor’s Top Thrее and their recent CD/DVD расkаgе ‘Shіft Happens: Lіvе’ earned a five ѕtаr rеvіеw іn Progression Mаgаzіnе.
Timmons also has a Signature, Ibanez. Thіѕ sweet-looking аldеr bоdіеd guіtаr features a double cutaway design wіth a bеvеlеd еdgе оn thе lоwеr bоut to make іt еаѕіеr tо access frets thаt give уоu thе most squeal арреаl. The guіtаr also fеаturеѕ аn AT 1-ріесе mарlе neck with KTS TITANIUM rоdѕ tо еnѕurе lоngеvіtу аnd a Wіlkоnѕоn WV6-SB Brіdgе wіth a whаmmу bаr. Hеlріng сарturе аnd ѕhаре уоur tоnе аrе DіMаrzіо Thе Cruiser рісkuрѕ at thе nесk and mіd роѕіtіоn, a Dimarzio AT-1 brіdgе рісkuр, a 5-way pickup selector, аnd Vоlumе, Neck & Middle, & Bridge Tоnе соntrоl knоbѕ. A hardshell саѕе is іnсludеd fоr when уоu’rе nоt rocking out of your ѕhеll wіth this Ibanez оrіgіnаl.
- Nесk tуре: AT 1-pc Maple nесk wіth KTS TITANIUM rоdѕ
- Bоdу: Aldеr wіth dоublе сutаwау dеѕіgn аnd beveled lоwеr bоut for easier ассеѕѕ
- Frеtbоаrd: Maple frеtbоаrd wіth blасk dоt іnlау
- Frеt: Jumbо frets wіth Prеmіum frеt еdgе trеаtmеnt
- Bridge: Wilkinson WV6-SB
- Nесk рісkuр: DіMаrzіо Thе Cruiser (H) nесk pickup
- Middle рісkuр: DіMаrzіо The Cruіѕеr (H) mіd pickup
- Brіdgе рісkuр: DiMarzio AT-1 (H) bridge pickup
Controls: 5-wау рісkuр selector ѕуѕtеm рluѕ Volume, Neck & Mіddlе Tоnе, Brіdgе Tоnе соntrоl knobs
- Hаrdwаrе соlоr: Chrоmе
- Sunburѕt finish
- Hardshell саѕе included
- Nесk dimensions:
- Scale: 648mm/25.5″
- Wіdth аt Nut: 40.5″
- Width аt Lаѕt Fret: 56mm
- Thісknеѕѕ аt 1st: 21mm
- Thісknеѕѕ at 12th: 23mm
I caught up with Andy just as he was getting back from his latest tour.
How’s your tour going?
Man! We just got home basically. We did three weeks in the states, and then we just got back from two weeks in Southeast Asia. So I’m happy to be sitting in my office right now and just getting back from Goodwill, the post office, and the city dump you know, I’m getting stuff done here.
The city dump
Yes, this is rock star stuff man! When you’re traveling, these are the things you miss doing. Some grounded normalcy you know away from the craziness that is touring. No, but we had a great I guess it’s been about five weeks of gigs and getting out there and playing the new record. It’s been remarkable. Nice to get the new record out there. The response has been good. Home for the holidays and we’re getting out there again next year
Yes I like your new album
Thank you, man! I appreciate that
I’ve always wanted to ask you. Are you going from like they always considered Danger Danger hair metal or terms like that
No that’s accurate
I always wanted to ask you-you were a University of Miami grad. You graduated with your degree, and you went from hair metal to your style of playing is I believe it’s one spectrum to the other it shows as an artist you know
Well, that’s the thing I should clarify that I did not get a degree from Miami. I was there for two years it was my third and fourth year of college I started off as a traditional major at the University of Evansville where I grew up in Indiana but then transferred down there. I would have had about a year to go to graduate, and it was clear that you know I got so much information and grew so much the time I was in Miami, but I was ready to get out and make money instead of going further into debt with student loans. I got an offer to join a band at the time with Steve Bailey on bass and Ray Brinker on drums, and we moved to Texas. That’s how I ended up in Texas in the mid-80’s. I grew up as a straight-edged rock & roll guy in the 70’s playing KISS and Rush and Foghat and REO Speedwagon and kind of all the arena rock of the 70’s but we got into jazzier stuff and hence my path down to Miami and yes it kind of came full circle when I got the opportunity to join Danger Danger . It was at a time where I probably would have been happier to get a call from Miles Davis to take Mike Stern’s place, but you know what I mean. But I was equally as glad to get this opportunity to join a band that was signed to a major label because that was certainly particularly at that time, not so much now but at that time that was kind of the holy grail of the music business to be in a band and signed to a major label. So these guy’s they already kind of had things kind of in motion and so all I had to do was hop on the train mainly and was happy to do it man like I said the Andy Timmons Band had already started in 1988 and it was actually the demo’s that I recorded with my first band that got the attention of some of these other bands so, yes it took me on a detour indeed from where now but it was a great experience. I call it my music business education primarily
Well, it helped me to define what I want and didn’t want I had to find myself. I was in my 20’s and still trying to figure it out
When you were growing up how did you get involved with the guitar?
I’m the youngest of 4 guy’s. So I was the youngest brother all four years apart. My oldest brother was 12 when I was born in ’63, so there was always music around the house, and they all played a little bit of guitar. So there were always acoustic guitars around the house, and I had a toy plastic guitar from 4 years old on so it was something I was always enamored with and I loved the sound and liked the look of it. You couldn’t keep me away from it basically, even when I wasn’t supposed to be grabbing my brother’s guitar’s I was you know taking full advantage when they weren’t in the house. Just trying to figure out you know how to make noise and how to watch them play the chords and know how to do it when they weren’t around. That grew from there I certainly took it more seriously as years went on than they did. They were always kind of hobbyist and could play a little bit, but they detained going any further with it. That certainly was my inspiration from day one. Music in general and all the 60’s rock & roll and just try to learn how to play
Who were your influences growing up?
By the time I was learning by ear after you get past all the Beatles and the 60’s stuff which still is my favorite era of music Ace Frehley and Ted Nugent were my teachers and Alex Lifeson you know I’d put the records on. You know like now there is such a welcome of information at everybody’s fingertip’s with the internet even going back 15 -20 years ago cassette tapes and VHS tapes and your favorite guys showing you how to play back then you didn’t have that. There was maybe you were lucky to get a chord book from the diagram company that would show you where to put your fingers. But it was up to you to find a teacher which I didn’t have or put your records on and figure it out, and that’s what I did from the age of 5-16. But in my early teen’s it was that 70’s rock so the KISS Alive record was literally how I played. I learned how to play that and the first Ted Nugent record 2112 and All The World’s A Stage that was how I learned. It was years later that I realized that when I started encountering students that wanted lessons from me and I realized they’re just getting everything from written transcriptions and or ever they weren’t developing their ear and that’s the biggest asset of a musician is their ear’s and being able to recognize what is happening. So kind of unknowingly I eventually took lessons and learned how to read and all that but it was the formative years of having no choice than to dig it out and earn it you know on my own through listening. That was my biggest asset and still is to this day.
During your teenage years did you have a band that you started?
Yes. My first gig was my 8th- grade graduation dance in 1976 and the core of the band myself and drummer Glen Gore. The band was called Thunder Road, and it was this trio bass, guitar, and drums. We didn’t have a singer but we still got the gig and all we played was KISS, Rush and Foghat and Nugent and maybe a couple of the pop hits but we were pretty much power trio. That drummer and I worked together for the next seven years we worked in a band called the Taylor Bay Band. We became local heroes from where I grew up in Evansville IN we made a record and we were getting radio play and all that. So it was a tough decision when I decided to leave for Miami in ’83 we were you know I was sending tapes out to record labels and getting a very positive response, but it was a situation where I didn’t feel the rest band was quite as motivated as I was. They were all older I was a kid in the group so they were all getting married and you know, and real life responsibilities were taking hold, so I decided to move on down to Miami to continue my path. It was a great band really, and we created some terrific tunes and could have easily been signed back in the day and gone a different route, but it just wasn’t meant to be. It was a wonderful way to grow up because I was gigging on the age of 13 three nights or four nights a week eventually and as any musician knows you’ve got to get out. Out of your bedroom, you know you’ve got to get out there and play and get in front of people. You know for me the stage fright took a long time and I still get nervous before gigs you just learn how to channel it into a positive energy, but it means you care it means you want to do well. So that band Taylor Bay from ’76 to ’83 I was gigging. Those were my guy’s you know
Wow! That’s awesome. How did you get hooked up with Ted Colby and all those guys’?
It was through Buddy Blaze at Kramer Guitars. I had gotten a call from Buddy Blaze this was sometime in 1988, and the guys’ from Bad English were looking for a guitar player. It was Johnathan Cain, Ricky Phillips, and John Waite singer for the Babys. And Neal Schon had done demo were with this group but decided he was going to go on his own and do a solo record for Columbia. So Ricky was a Spector endorser who was made by Kramer so they reached out to all their companies and said hey we’re looking for a bluesy kind of rock guitar player who can help you recommend? So, Buddy, he didn’t know me at the time, but he’s from the Dallas area where I was living at the time, and he got ahold of a journalist friend of his asked David Hoffman who was up and coming, and my name came up. And so through Buddy, I sent a tape to the Bad English guys’ and flew out to San Fransisco, auditioned, got the gig. You know, they had been auditioning all these big name guitar players, and I got the gig. They said hey we’d fly you out to LA for a month and we’ll see how it goes. During that week Neal Schon changed his mind and said basically hey I’d like to redo the group, while I was out there rehearsing with the band. And so they broke it to me in a way like well we’re going to spend a week with Neal now, and we’ll let you know. It was pretty easy to see that you know things were going well. Ok, they could have half of journey or some unknown kid from Texas. So as history would show that didn’t pan out. Buddy Blaze also knew the guys’ from Danger Danger, and they were looking for a guitar player, and they had been signed to Epic and already had been done with the record and were looking for someone to join the band and do the videos and tour. So they sent my tape to Bruno whom likely heard flew me out to New York to play with the band. I think I went on two different occasions to audition and got that gig you know. So that’s just kind of the way it worked out, but it was after getting the gig with John Waite and Johnathan Cain so. And a very funny aside is that Bad English record and Danger Danger came out the same day on the same label. So something was in the works there you know. So anyway that’s the little story in a very Reader’s Digest version.
If you had to choose between doing Bad English and Danger Danger looking back, without Bad English releasing you, what would you choose before
I didn’t make the decision Bad English did. You know it’s funny though the decision I did have to make though is that I got an offer to join Tower of Power at the same time I got the Danger Danger offer. I’m not sure if you are aware of Tower of Power but very cool Oakland-based funk rock band. They made a bazillion records over the years. I chose Danger Danger over that thinking that it would be better and bigger exposure. It would have been a whole different path. You can’t go back and say oh could of, would of, should of. I’m pleased with my experiences in the band. The band had a lot of fans, so that was certainly my introduction onto the world stage. You know after the group I started putting out my music, and it was certainly different. It was a little rock based, so it appealed to some of those fans anyways. I did have to spend a bit of time you know on the credibility front where you know if that makes sense as far as Danger Danger did not have a credible reputation as far as on the musician front. Very lumped in with the hair bands and that type of attitude. So I had to kind of overcome that stigma that might be attached to that. You know what I mean as far as being a little bit more beyond you know what the capabilities of a typical hair band player might be. So I took the good with the bad and certainly have no regrets, but I won’t say that that was easy to step out of that particular shadow
Was that your first solo album in ’94?
Yes, Ear X-Tacy would have been the first solo record. In fact, some of the recordings on that album were recorded before I joined Danger Danger. There’s a song called It’s Getting Better which is the first track I ever did with my band in the studio. That survived and made the record, and there were recordings I were doing while in Danger Danger like Cry For You and Carpe Diem you know these songs were being recorded when I had time off from Danger Danger. I’d fly out to Texas and play with my guys. And you know we all figured that we were just recording demos. The demos came out so well you can’t replace that so we just kind of kept it. When Danger Danger folded at that time I came back to Texas, and we recorded like Electric Gypsy and Farmer Sez and Turn Away and that flushed out that first record. But yes that was indeed the first solo record
And that’s what you’re talking about having to come from a band that wasn’t musically thought about having any music and stuff
It certainly wasn’t the same respect that I was hoping to garner you know being that my heroes at that time were like Eric Johnson and Satriani and Vai, Steve Lukather and those guys.
Right. So you came out with Ear X-Tacy in ’94 and kind of established
When you still did, I Still Have The Best Name Ever did you find it easier after putting out a second record that people were accepting you as a serious musician with immense talent?
You know, it’s hard for me to be exacting about it because how do you measure people’s opinions? But I do think I heard from a lot of people if they only would have heard from that band they would have been surprised you know that kind of record from that type of guy. There was the NAMM show in ’93 that preceded of that record in 1993 that played at the NAMM show back when I was in a group with Simon Phillips and Gerald Veasley we backed up Satriani and Vai and Shawn Lane and Paul Gilbert while in between playing with some of the music that I would later do with Simon Phillips which is a whole different level of ability than Danger Danger. I mean that would be kind of a pivotal point as far as people having an awareness of ok this guy is not just this particular rock & roll thing there are all these other elements you know. So I kind of think Ibanez made an effort to try to set me apart from the pack you know they saw the potential for what I was going to do after that band. And even in spite of being in the band, that’s what I was being told by the A & R guy we don’t like your band but we like you and your playing, but we want to work with you. So a kind of interesting way to go about it but yes I think things like that and exposure in some of the guitar magazines. You know even because of some of my experience with major labels I didn’t even send my solo records to the major labels. I put it out on my own but still got it reviewed in the magazines and just sold on-line, and it just worked out great, and I’m still doing it until this day but now it’s a lot easier to get better distribution with all the independent companies like CD Baby or Tunecore that want to distribute your music. You don’t need the major labels especially these days. But back then I was bucking the trend. Steve Vai was the first guy to come on with Favored Nations when he developed Favored Nations I was one of the first people he signed you know he had me in mind. I think I might have been one of the first three artists he signed. It was the perfect thing because he was one of the first guys to come along as a labeled entity to say ok it’s a 50/50 split after expenses artists and labels share equally. That’s what kept me from pursuing labels after the Danger Danger thing I saw how fucked everybody got and they were without exception. I said this is not why I play music. I want to control what I play, how I play, and what I record. I want to own it. Because we recorded the third album for Epic called Cockroach that basically when we got dropped from Epic it made it impossible to regain the rights to that record and I thought why in the world would you work so hard on something and have it not belong to you? So that was my takeaway education to Danger Danger. Own your work and don’t bow down to what anybody else’s demands are. You’ve got to make the music that is in your heart you know that’s the bottom line. So that’s what I’ve been able to do ever since is make decisions based on not business or finances just what do I want to do? And therefore I’ve got a much happier existence since then.
Wow! Yes, I did not know that about Cockroach. That’s interesting
Yes, Bruno and Steve finally got the rights to release that like ten or so years later. I was thrilled for it to come out. I was proud of that record. I thought it was a good record. You know there’s all this history with Ted leaving the band and getting Paul Laine to come in, and both versions of the album were great. I’m glad they were finally able to get the rights to release it. It killed the band for the label to do that; there’s no doubt.
With your varied background I mean you’ve done sessions with Paula Abdul, Paul Stanley. You’ve done the G4 Experience with Paul Gilbert. Is there a particular favorite of those I mentioned that stick out more to you than the other?
Well for me it’s always just been a loving ability to do all those things. I mean my favorite thing is my music and band of course, but I played with Olivia Newton-John for 15 years as her music director and guitar player but also being in Simon Phillips’ group. It couldn’t be more at the opposite end of the spectrum as far as the chops that it takes to do, but they’re equally as defining and I’m equally proud of both. I guarantee there are not many rock players that can do Simons gig and there are not many rock players that can do Olivia’s concert and do it well. Not that I’m patting myself on the back it’s just the way it is. It’s a pretty short list of guys that can do that. And I think for me that’s been a huge part of my ability to keep busy. You know after Danger Danger folded you’ve got to pick up your pieces and make a living right? I’m able to get a guitar and fit into almost any situation because of a lifetime of really loving all styles of music and not being an elitist in any way. There are some jazz players that are very elitists about oh man it’s got to be jazz or heavy metal guys that it’s got to be metal. I love it all equally, and I love the process of learning and the process to try to assimilate most organically and authentically really and to be able to play these different styles. It helped me make a living all these years and so it’s a lot of fun for me and very rewarding when I can get into some of these situations that are very diverse. But to try to play what’s right and what’s appropriate, you know musically at that time. Believe me; it’s not about when we shred this up what’s going to make her sound great? The same with Simon, you know. It’s what’s going to be appropriate for this piece of music. And that’s great advice for anybody wanting to be a professional musician and maybe outside as a solo artist in a particular band. Just be interested and be open to playing a lot of different things. If it’s truly in your heart, you know.
Yes, your versatility is amazing
Thank you! Thank you, man!
There are few people that can go from Olivia Newton-John to Kip Winger to Paula Abdul to Paul Stanley and then go with Vai back to Gilbert
Let me say, talk about somebody tell me the stigma of the hair band thing with Kip Winger. This guy is easily by far the most talented guy I’ve ever worked with, and I’m including anybody I’ve ever worked with there are a lot of great guys on that list and girls. But this guy is just a brilliant dude and for him to get bashed the way he did and that band of all bands they were the one band that could play. Nothing against every other band in that genre but come on man, these guys were just freaking bad ass to the bone. Every one of them was just basically virtuoso on their instrument and so to watch a guy like that just get beat down. In television, metal bands are making fun of him in concert. You know this takes a toll on a person but for him to rise through that. That first record he made This Conversation Seems Like A Dream was easily one of the top three or four favorite things I’ve ever done. That was incredible to be a part of that was a great record, and he has gone on and writing more music, he’s writing more catchable music. He’s writing for the New York Ballet. There are a few notable names out there that I won’t mention. I raise a huge middle finger to them. Kip is a talented guy. You’re getting the brunt of my frustration about that.
That’s ok! I think the Beavis and Butthead show did a number on Kip.
That was a huge thing. There was another notable group that threw darts at his picture. I know it hurt the guy. I’m proud of him rising above the shit. The stuff he’s done on his own and with Winger is amazing. We have some stuff on the back burner that was going to work on when we get a chance. That will continue my friendship with Kip. He’s one of the deepest cats that I know.
When you’re writing, do you write the lyrics first or the music?
It depends on the song. Sometimes the melody or figure out the harmony. The songs on my new album are about specific events that have happened to me. I’m very proud of my new record.
With your new record, as a player myself, you take me out of my comfort zone from what I usually listen too. The technical aspect of your new album is amazing.
Ok good! That’s a big compliment! Don’t get me wrong I still think the world of the shredders. I recently just saw Yngwie play for the first time in the last two years and it was one of the best performances I’ve seen. My shredding days aren’t over. There might be another Ear X-Tacy record in the future. I just want to continue and grow as a player.,
What’s your rig these days?
Mesa Boogie Lonestars. I prefer 2 2×12 combos 2×12 rectifier cabinets. JHS AT Signature Exotic BB Pre Amp, Kiley, Timeline echo sound, Carl Martin GNI multi fuzz, Dunlop expression pedal.
Your signature guitar is the AT-10P
My main guitar is the at-100. The AT-10p is an Indonesia made a version of at100. The original AT-100 came out in 1994 and will have the 9th set of frets being put on. So, hopefully, it will carry on. I was skeptical about doing a lesser expensive of my AT-100. They opened the plant and-and copied the specs. They nailed it. We just had two weeks, and Southeast Asia and I must’ve signed at least 30 of them. One of my best stats is my 83 Squier. The USA made guitars can be great. So can overseas be made.
What are your plans for 2017?
I’ll be staying home for the first few months with my family. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends touring extensively. What I’ll be doing is putting up a website where I provide content and people will pay a monthly subscriber fee. Doing a playthrough of all of my songs. It will have all kinds of content. I’ll still be promoting my new record. I’ll be doing a special at NAMM with Tony McAlpine and others.
Check out Andy at his website http://andytimmons.com/
Buy Andy Timmons Band CD https://andy-timmons.myshopify.com/collections/compact-disc/products/theme-from-a-perfect-world