Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open - 22
Back to the Bread 'N Butter
fter a decade pushing his craft to new
creative realms, Dallas-based guitarist
Andy Timmons is once again purveying
original instrumental guitar rock. His
2006 album, Resolution, was his band's last
in that style, and the ensuing 10 years saw
him record fusion albums with drummer
Simon Phillips along with an acclaimed
instrumental version of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely
Hearts Club Band. His new effort is Theme
from a Perfect World.
"It's hard to believe it's been 10 years,"
Timmons recently told VG. "I'm never really
out of the instrumental songwriting mode,
it just took a while to get back to the studio."
Timmons used a plethora of vintage
instruments on the album, and likened
selecting them to trying different vocalists.
"The main guitar is essentially singing the
melody, and we had a great time auditioning
'singers' for each song. We tried different
guitars until we found one that best suited
each song," he said. "A lot of the songs were
written on my '94 AT100 prototype from
Ibanez, so that guitar is on several songs."
The lineup is impressive. Fenders included
a '65 Strat, a 1960 hardtail Strat, Teles from
'67 and '68, and a '68 Jaguar. Gibsons were a
'57 J-45, an '85 Hummingbird, an early-'90s
Les Paul, and a Pete Townshend signature
SG. Other brands and models included a '66
Rickenbacker 330/12, a '66 Mosrite Ventures
Model, and an early-'90s Martin D-28.
Theme from a Perfect World doesn't contain
jamming or show-offy guitar races, but all
have a complete feel, implying they were written "all the way through," but with allowance
"There wasn't a conscious move in that direction," Timmons averred. "It just seems the songs
were the focus, and if the arrangement didn't
require a solo then that's the direction we went.
Early in my career, I may have been more concerned about demonstrating my abilities on the
instrument, but I've always been equally aware of
the necessity of a good song first and foremost.
Andy Timmons: Simone Cecchetti.
Now, I'm most interested in presenting the song
in the best way possible regardless of the guitar
prowess utilized in the process."
While there are plenty of powerhouse riffs
on the album, several tracks open with ethereal
passages before cranking up. Of particular
note is "Sanctuary," which has an intro that
almost sounds like a new-age piano.
"That's one of my favorite tones on the
record!" said Timmons. "That's my white
AT100 signature guitar with the Wilkinson
bridge set up to float slightly; I'm normally
an "on the deck" guy, running through two
Mesa Boogie Lone Star 1x12 combo amps
split in stereo via a Strymon Timeline delay.
I'm also hitting the front end of the amp with
my signature Carl Martin compressor, mainly
using it as a significant boost without much
compression. There's no reverb, just the lovely
delay with a bit of modulation on the repeats."
The title track has several different guitar
tones and tempo changes.
"The main chordal theme of the song - I
guess you could call it the chorus - is completely inspired by all things Todd Rundgren.
His sense of chord work and melody has always
intrigued and inspired me. I also imagined this
chord sequence in the chorus as something like
'Court Of The Crimson King' and originally
thought we might employ a Mellotron to beefup the sound, as on the King Crimson classic,
but a Hammond B3 ended up winning that
role. The arrangement - and title - is very
much inspired by 'Utopia Theme' from the first
Utopia record. It's like Mahavishnu goes pop!
It took us a while to find the right tone for the
song but it's mainly a Gibson Pete Townsend
SG Special with .012s, except for the second
verse melody, which is the '65 Strat."
Timmons was asked about the passage on
the album in which he takes the most pride
in having created.
"That would have to be the solo and bridge of
'Winterland'," he said. "It has a nice energy, is
very melodic and leads into the bridge, which
has a great, emotional feel to it."
The guitarist also plans on continuing to
write and record guitar music.
"That's something I really appreciate about
instrumental music," he reflected. "Listeners
are free to attach their own meaning or feeling to it."
And it won't be another decade before
the Andy Timmons Band releases another
"I am always documenting song ideas and
filing them away for later," Timmons said.
"My intention is to massively trim down my
outside musical projects and focus entirely on
my own music." - Willie G. Moseley