By Andrew Catania
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.
Andy Timmons is a versatile guitar player. Starting with Danger Danger to his more current music, Andy shows his variety of playing skills.
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.
When you were growing up how did you get involved with the guitar?
AT: I’m the youngest of 4 guys. 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 hobbyists 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.
Wow! That’s awesome. How did you get hooked up with Ted Colby and all those guys?
AT: 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 a 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 the 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
AT: 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.
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 online, 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 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.
Reflecting on his connection to the instrument, Timmons shares with All That Shreds, “Music and specifically the electric guitar has always been my solace and my foundation: something that I can always count on in good times and especially in bad. Something I can trust. In a world of so much misinformation and deceit, I find music and playing music more important now than ever before. Electric Truth.”
He continues, “When my friend (producer and guitarist extraordinaire) Josh Smith invited me to his studio to record, I jumped at the chance. I was looking to do a record outside of my usual band just to change things up a bit. I was a fan of Josh’s playing, and really loved the bands he puts together so we decided I would just come out to L.A. as the “artist,” and he would produce and put the studio band together. We co-wrote a few things, and I wrote a few ballads as well. I’d say overall the record has a funky/earthy feel to it with plenty of melodies. And it certainly rocks as well.”
Joining Timmons in the studio were drummer Lemar Carter (Joss Stone, Raphael Saadiq), bassist Travis Carlton (Larry Carlton, Robben Ford), and keyboardist Deron Johnson (Miles Davis, Stanley Clarke, Seal). Corry Pertile laid down vocals on a couple of tracks, while Smith performed on “Johnnie T”.