Tim 8a – Interview

Band leader Tim 8a of former pop-rock band At Sundown is interviewed about forming his first band at sixteen, being in unison with his audience, his appreciation of those who’ve supported him along his musical journey, and much more.

What first got you into music?

Music runs through my family’s blood, so I think the passion for playing music and my musician path was pretty much destined. In 1995 I was 16 years old and became the leader of a band called “Grey”. We had a 10 year old drummer. He would have rather been riding his bike or playing football, but he was a natural bada*s on the kit so we had to learn how to keep him in check. His 14 year old brother played bass and preferred playing barefoot, which seemed totally cutting edge and rebellious at that time!

Our lead guitarist was a 15 year old kid that idolized SRV, to the point of dressing like him EVERYDAY. We recorded some originals, played some gigs, gained some groupies, and had lots of fun, but eventually went our separate ways. I was hooked from that point on, and here I am, almost 30 dammed years later!

Who are some of your influences?

My musical influences change like Georgia’s weather! I’ve gone through phases with pretty much every popular style of music. As a musician and band leader who plays “for the crowd”, I’ve learned to try and find the “good” in songs that other people like, even if I don’t recognize it right away. I’ve also learned that if you listen to a shi*tty song enough times, it usually becomes tolerable.

This joint was an hour away from any real civilization, which meant it operated much like the “Wild Wild West”

What is the best advice you’ve been given?

Don’t burn a bridge and expect to be sent a boat. Music scenes, regardless of what city you’re in, are tight knit.

How did you get your start in the Savannah music scene?

I was shacked up at the Hyatt on River Street for almost 2-years because of my bill paying day gig. My family was back in Central Texas, so I had a lot of solo time to explore the various live music venues around the city. The first year that I was here, I wasn’t really interested in playing music, but I got to know and became friends with a lot of the local musicians, venue owners, and folks that book live music in the area, so I decided, what the hell… I’m going to start playing again. I hadn’t touched my guitar for about 2-3 years at that point. I followed some Craigslist leads in attempt to join a band, but inevitably ended up assembling the first of several, “At Sundown” bandmate configurations. With the band’s professionalism, song selection, musicianship, and my booking persistence it wasn’t too difficult to book gigs and repeat those bookings.

What’s your favorite song to perform?

I don’t really have a favorite song to perform. I can tell you that my favorite moments when performing come when everyone in the room is in sync. There’s magic in a room sometimes. Sometimes, we all breath in unison, or something like that, and those waves kinda’ make us one. It starts with everyone on the stage feeling as one, then that feeling bleeds into the listeners.

Next thing you know, we all get silent together, then we all get loud together, then we all hit a bad note together, and then we all hit the most perfect note ever together. We get so in sync that unconsciously the drummer is playing the bassline on his kit, the bassist is playing the lead guitar on his bass, the lead guitarist is playing the drums on his guitar, and the folks who were only listeners become singers! Those are the moments that make it worth it.

What was the craziest performance you ever had?

It was about 20 years ago at a Roadhouse called the “Horny Toad” located in the middle of BFE Texas. This joint was an hour away from any real civilization, which meant it operated much like the “Wild Wild West.” Loud music, dancin’, gamblin’, brothel’n, fightin’, sometimes shootin’, and guaranteed mass uninhibited buzz’n was what this place was known for, and it lived up to it’s reputation every weekend! We were tearing the stage up one night, and this was confirmed by the hollow wooden dance floor that was filled shoulder to shoulder with people stomping and jumping in unison. I’m tellin’ you… the whole building would shake if this place liked the music.

Thanks to several other gigs at this joint, we knew to tie down and secure our gear, so, that night, we were on a worry-free ride! About halfway through our 3rd set, I noticed that the bassline had disappeared mid-song. I looked over at my bassist and he was staring at his fingers which were resting motionless on the neck of the bass and he had a sh*t eating grin on his face. I yelled over to him, “Dad WTF!?!?” or something of that sort. (Yeah, my bassist was my 50-something year old dad) This dude looked up at me with his sh*t eating grin and glassy eyes and then he nodded for me to look at his bass as if it were an art piece on display, and then it became clear to me that my pops was buzz’n that NEXT LEVEL buzz.

At that same moment I looked up and realized that 99% of the people in that rockin’ place (literally) were most likely buzz’n at the same level as my dad. I ended up having to finish the night playing bass and that sucked, but damn… I could make your face hurt from laughing at all the stories I can tell from that night! Ask me about it sometime.

What is one message you would give to your fans?

Thanks for hanging around because this music thing wouldn’t be any fun without you!

I have a family that supports me, loves me, and deals with my music BS

Talk about your favorite local venues to perform in …

First and foremost, I gotta’ mention Flashback in Richmond Hill. The owners, the staff, and the patrons all play a huge part in making this place feel like home to not just me, but anyone who visits there.

I’d also like to mention Blueberry Hill in Garden City. It’s not everyone’s cup-of-tea. It’s loud, smokey, stinky, and generally a lil’ bit raunchy, but damn, these types of joints are a dying breed! It’s a unicorn and I dig the sh*t out of it!

Your thoughts on the state of the Savannah music scene?

I’ve traveled and played all over the country and can say with full confidence that Savannah, Georgia has one of the best music scenes in the nation. I feel blessed to be a part of it, and I pray that the new structural developments don’t f*ck it up.

What’s next for you?

Maybe I’ll record something, or maybe I’ll write something. Who knows? I’m in a kickass band, I have a gig this weekend, and more gigs after that. I have a family that supports me, loves me, and deals with my music BS. Hell, I’m pretty content with that.

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