Day 36: Timothy Monger

Timothy Monger
If you haven’t heard the name before, where have you been?  Timothy Monger, probably best known for his work with Great Lake Myth Society (GLMS), has come to be a hometown name for the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti areas.  Playing music, singing, song writing, and traveling to share his music with the world has been his focus since he was a teenager.  This summer on June 21, 2011, Monger released his first solo record, The New Britton Sound.  Written, recorded, and produced by himself over the last three years, The New Britton Sound is a phenomenal album.  If you’re smart, you’ll go listen to and purchase the album on his bandcamp HERE.I had the fantastic opportunity to sit down with Monger for a beer in the beer garden at Corner Breweryin Ypsilanti and talk about the new record, the process, his career, Great Lakes Myth Society, and more.

Timothy Monger.

When did you get started in your music odyssey?

Monger: Got my first guitar for my ninth birthday and within a few years I had learned the three chords to Anarchy in the UK by the Sex Pistols.  Eventually, I came up with some songs and when I was 16 I started playing paid gigs.  The first album was in ‘99 with The Original Brothers and Sisters of Love.  By 2003 I had wrapped the second album when we had finally called our label to find out that they were done, and when 2004 came around we released that album under the new name Great Lakes Myth Society, which was the original members minus the violinist.  Stop, Pop, and Roll put out the first GLMS album in 2005.  We’ve really lucked out with always knowing someone that could pick us up.  Then our second album was put out by Quack Media here in Ann Arbor.

What happened with Great Lakes Myth Society?

Monger: GLMS will be back!  We are not broken up, just kind of on hiatus.  Things really weren’t coming together the way we wanted to for the third record.  We do have the basics of quite a few songs laid down, but for one reason or another it just kind of seemed like it was time to take a break.  I had started recording this new solo record three years ago while Great Lakes was still active and just, sort of by accident, has turned into my main gig right now, which is great because I’ve never really had the time in my adult life to focus on my solo career. I feel like I’ve been able to do a lot that I wouldn’t have been able to had it been in between Great Lakes.

The New Britton Sound. Timothy Monger.

Where do you hail from?

Monger: I’m from Brighton, but I now live in Britton, right off M-50 about 7 miles west of Dundee, with my girlfriend on her family’s farm.

The New Britton Sound

Monger: All cover art from Britton is done by my girlfriend, Kristie Brablec.  The front cover is on Brablec land and the back cover is a plane that she and her dad own and we actually have a grass runway out our back door.  The second track of the album, North Side of the Road, is all about our farm and the general area; definitely the autobiographical centerpiece to the album in my mind.

I’m very fond of themes and tying things together, but this was intentionally not going to be a themed record for me.  I’ve done so many other things with Great Lakes or my first solo record that were very intentionally tied together by some common message or theme, but this one, in the end, kind of accidentally came together.  It has a very rural feel, influenced by where I’ve been living, where I recorded it…it’s very out there.  It’s a calm, interesting, quiet place, and I feel like that definitely influenced it for me.  The album title came late, which is kind of how I write.  I’ll write something and later realize what it means to me.  It’s a very personal album about solitude and living out in the rural area.

Timothy Monger.

It was my first time self recording which really isn’t unusual these days, but this was the first time I’d done most of an album.  With my solo stuff and Great Lakes, we’ve always been really careful to make a good sounding, really professional product, so I was really conscious of that.  Tape Op, a recording magazine that focuses on anything from big studios to DIY stuff, really helped me for references on everything, especially if you have a shitty computer, one mic, and a carpeted 10×10 room.  Kind of pulled it together with a lot of long nights with subtle mic moving, and lots of road noise. It was definitely tough, but I really learned so much about the craft of engineering.  With the solo thing, there’s a lot of experimentation, but it was kind of like school for me.  Some people could probably accuse me for over producing, but I work over a very long period of time.  I’ve never done a quick project and I’ve started to accept that that’s my process.

For the record release you did a day tour of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.  How was it?

Monger: It was really fun…I don’t think I’d do ten shows again.  It wasn’t like I was doing full sets, but four times ten is 40 songs in eight hours.  Scheduling was kind of funny, too. A friend of mine runs The Robot Shop where a kids class was going on and I had to play for like, 30 kids.  Gotta cut out all the songs that are depressing or about drinking; what’s got rhythm and isn’t too offensive.  But it was a great thing as far as publicity events go, and the release show at Woodruff’s was a great night too, playing with the full band, Timothy Monger State Park.

What do you say are your biggest Influences?

Monger: Today I mostly listen to The Darkness.  I don’t really have too many direct influences.  I listen to a lot of different stuff.  I have my lifetime favorite bands: The Beach Boys, XTC, Queen, Bowie, Fleetwood Mac, Lindsey Buckingham. I love interesting songs that are well written, well arranged, well produced. New bands?  King Creosote, Stornoway, The Guilla Mots and Fleet Floxes.

Timothy Monger.
What’s your day job?Monger: I am a violin set-up guy.  I work for a big string instrument retailer in Ann Arbor.  I set up inexpensive Chinese violins for kids, occasionally working with higher quality stuff, installing parts.  I don’t play myself, but I am credited on Electric 6’slast record for a for a violin track.  They just sent me an e-mail asking if I could do anything with it, which I’m sure was auto-tuned and buried in the mix, but no, I don’t play.  Just one of those instruments I haven’t been able to get to third base with.Where’s one of your favorite places to play?Monger: Houghton/Hancock, MI, up in the Keweenaw.  Not on any circuit.  Not convenient for any band.  You can drive out to do a few shows in New York in the same time and distance it would take to stay in Michigan to play in your own state, but so worth it.  They really listen to you there.

 

Keep up-to-date with Timothy Monger:
The New Britten Sound is available Here
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