True Widow -- Dallas, Texas, slowcore stonegaze band -- recently went on a mini U.S. tour. Widow's travels come to an end in Lawrence, Kansas, tonight at the Replay (doors and show at 9 p.m., with local support from Mansion).
Timothy "Slim" Starks, True Widow's drummer, spoke with The Pitch and discussed the band's sophomore album (As High as the Highest Heavens and from the Center to the Circumference of the Earth, out on Kemado), the tour and how the band members met.
FYI: We had a terrible phone connection. A lot of the interview was muddled. But Slim stuck with me and was patient. Here's what my recorder caught.
The Pitch: How did you guys decide on a band name?
Slim: There wasn't much talk about a band name, to be honest with
you, because we never really expected to be a band. It just happened.
The reality of a potential band was there. When that moment actually
occurred, it was, like, the next day we knew the name of the band.
I think we have a bad connection.
I'll go outside. We stayed in this giant old church last night
in Cincinnati, and we're still here. I slept in the sanctuary and I was
actually about to climb in the bell tower when you called, so I'm
headed back outside.
Can you tell me a bit about your newest album? How did it come to be, and what influenced the sound and the name of the album?
We had the idea going in for the second record that maybe we
could do a bit more material. We wanted to try to do something that
pushed what we did the first time. And that goes for everything.
That title basically represents everything -- the all: us,
where we are, the planets, the starts -- everything. So it means
something different to each one of us, and I'm sure when you break it
down like that, it's going to mean something different to everybody
because everybody has their own belief structure. It's like a -- I
can't think of the name -- it's pretty much a philosophy. Spiritual
mysticism. We all really thought it was cool, and we've caught a lot of
flak for it being so long, but deciding what the name of the record was
going to be, it just felt natural. We had a lot more time to work
with these songs.
A lot of the songs on the record are over a year old,
and the songs on the first record were barely six months old and barely
got played live at all. So we all felt comfortable, but we didn't want
to re-record the first record. We approached everything differently: the placement of the amps, the placement of the mics, the placement of
the drums. And even the way that we tracked things between takes, too.
And then Kemado was able to let us know a few things while we were in
the studio. There were technical things taken into consideration, too.
Who writes the songs? Is it a collaborative effort?
I would say Dan [Phillips] is the primary songwriter. He'll come up with
songs. He likes to work them over on his acoustic guitar by himself
sometimes, and sometimes he shows up and he has a riff, and they all just
play with that. We never really practice, so when we are together, we
jam. I guess you could call it a writing phase. There's more influence
now with Nicole [Estill] and myself. It's definitely turning into more of a
I've read that other people have described the noise you all create as another instrument in the band. Was that intentional?
The noise is something that we think about. There's a fine line,
and I think we do try to stay just on this side of it. As far as a lot
of bands will just cross over into complete chaos, which is awesome
because I love chaos, but for us, it's not really becoming of what we're
trying to do. We experiment. We do put some forethought into that.
Are you all from different areas?
Dan and I both grew up in Dallas. Lived there our whole lives.
Nicole was relatively close when we met her. She grew up in Texas just
outside Dallas in the Fort Worth music scene. Dan and I kind of wrapped
a few of our songs together, and we had an idea of adding a lady's
voice, so we put our feelers out and talked to a couple of people that
we knew. We went to a few different shows and eventually we ended up
meeting. Dan gave her a cassette that said, "Dan Jams" on it or
something, and a couple days later, we were all together, playing. Nicole
was planning on moving when we met her, but instead of moving where she
was planning, she moved to Dallas.
Has Dallas influenced your sound at all?
Um, the only way that the Dallas music scene has influenced my
sound would be trying to avoid the Dallas music sound. Yeah. Don't get
me wrong. There's a good scene there. It's just not a great scene,
because there's so many scenes, you know? If you want to find a niche
in Dallas -- part of it really wants to be Austin. There's some metal
-- and I like metal music -- country western and the blues. There's
tons and tons of blues bars, and the jazz scene is pretty strong. But
creative rock and roll is few and far between.
How's the tour been so far? Have you played with any interesting bands?
The tour is incredible. Lawrence has been really good to us. Our
shows seem to be a lot of fun there. And it's the last show of the
tour, so it'll be a big hoo-ha, and everyone will lose their minds.
We haven't played with a whole lot of bands. But we did play
(earlier this year) with Surfer Blood and They Will Know Us By the
Trail of Dead, and those guys -- they all ended up really taking to us and ended up making what could have been an extremely awkward and
miserable situation a whole lot of fun. That ended up being really
huge. They got us into cities we hadn't been able to get ourselves
into. We were playing early, like 8 p.m., and people were still showing
What do you guys do in your downtime? I know Dan's into art.
Dan, as long as I've known him, has been into art stuff. He's
really gotten more into painting lately. I do anything to keep myself
busy. We all pretty much work for ourselves, so when we're at home,
we're serious. Going on tour and playing the music is like our
downtime, which is weird. We do this because we want to have fun, not
because we want to get bogged down. I've got stuff I've got to do when
I'm at home. We have a really good time.