Tim OReagans debut solo CD, Tim OReagan, was released by Lost Highway on June 27.
After 10 years as the only Kansan on the roster of the Jayhawks, drummer Tim OReagan, in the grand tradition of rock drummers, is ready for his solo debut.
These particular Jayhawks are that is, were the alt-country band that, with Uncle Tupelo, practically created a genre. In 2004, the Hawks finally called it quits. I had always wanted to make a record, OReagan explains. We had this rehearsal space, and I had accumulated all this gear ... there were no more excuses for putting it off.
Jayhawks fans whove loved OReagan songs like Dont Let the World Get in the Way and local indie fans who remember OReagan as half of the Leatherwoods (with Lawrence songwriter Todd Newman) and that bands classic Topeka Oratorio might argue its about time.
OReagans roots gave him a fascinating start. I was actually from Leavenworth, and then I went to school in Lawrence, and then I moved to Kansas City, then Topeka ... so Im from that whole northeast quadrant, OReagan explains. When I was in Kansas City, I was playing in soul bands, mostly. In the late 80s, OReagan played with folks like Ira Wilkes (who played with local soul heroes Bloodstone, as well as on Lucinda Williams first CD) and a funk/fusion guy called Dr. C.
OReagans self-titled solo debut has moments instantly familiar to Jayhawks fans, especially since singer Gary Louris and bassist Marc Perlman played on several tracks. Im not much of a bass player or a guitar player, says OReagan, explaining his work method. Three songs are basically done with a lot of outside help, and the rest were done with me mostly kind of futzing around in the studio, piecing stuff together. As a singer-songwriter, OReagans Lennon-like voice and his ability to turn a phrase make him much closer to someone like Freedy Johnston or the New Pornographers Carl Newman.
The records first song, These Things, opens with a melody seemingly nicked from a B.J. Thomas record and an accordion solo Edith Piaf mightve loved. I think that accordion is called a musette, OReagan says. Thats kind of the idea a French café kind of sound.
The songs delicately wistful harmonies contrast starkly with the lyrics; the guy in the song decides that whiskey and pills will probably do just fine, at least until he meets the girl of his dreams. Its supposed to be a pathetic kind of guy, stuck in the muck and mire, waiting for stuff to happen, and allowing himself to get stuck in the downward spiral of substitutions for happiness, OReagan explains.
Its supposed to be kind of humorous, too, he throws in quickly.
Even with an August tour with a band featuring Minneapolis stalwarts Jim Boquist (Son Volt, Paul Westerberg) and Peter Anderson (Polara), OReagan still finds the whole idea of writing songs pretty new. Im only recently considering myself a songwriter, he says. I have been trying to be a songwriter for quite a while, he says, laughing.
Im so modest, arent I?