By Steven Blush
This guy Tim Harrington ain't the hippest guitar player in Rock. In many ways, he's not even close. But that's okay, cuz when was the last time anybody actually listened to what axe-losers like Yngwie J Mascis had to offer?
Many may remember Tim's soulful shreds on the critically-acclaimed, financially disastrous, Rick Rubin produced 1988 debut album by Masters Of Reality, or his brilliant follow-up flop outfit Bogeyman, who in '91 released a wonderfully bloozy disc, There is No Such Thing As... that went nowhere.
Over the years, Harrington's musical forte has been the classic power trio school or Cream et al- vocals and guitars wailing mighty melodies over heavy riffage. The only difference is that Tim's psychic stairway to the stars is closer to Monster Magnet post Seventies psycho-head blowout than it is to the AOR schlock pabulum of yore.
In '96, Tim had a solo release- a wicked off the wall disc for the innovative Triple X label called Master Frequency And His Deepness. A more traditional release, Shinola, for his embattled contractual slave masters at Delicious Vinyl, has yet to see the light of day due to that label's ongoing difficulties. together, these albums represent a necessary return to the heart and soul of the cerebral, pre-Grunge musical experience.
With a Tim harrington experience, what you see is what you get. And what you get is an onslaught of disjointed one-liners guaranteed to make even the most voracious Syd Barrett/Roky Erikson fans squeal with horror/delight. But "H" ain't just another twisted visionary or braniac drug casualty; he is, like most of us, a gnarly by product of the American Dream gone wrong. And what's more home-baked and believable than that these days?
Seconds: What have you been up to?
Harrington: I've been busy thinking about hate: hating every color, every creed, every scheme and every deed. It's everywhere, it's elemental. It's becoming more noticeable lately.
Seconds: What have you learned from the music business?
Harrington: Well, that's one thing that brings me back to hate.
Seconds: I assume learning some hard lessons from the business could-
Harrington: Give you better table manners? No, I don't eat people's pets anymore.
Seconds: What did you grow up with musically?
Harrington: I saw The Beatles on Ed Sullivan and said, "That's the shit." It was just such a phenomenon beyond music- it was a great public relations campaign.
Seconds: Who else inspired you?
Harrington: I like Chuck Berry a lot, who I didn't discover until I was older and trying to become more aware of where Rock and Roll came from. There's so many, really- too numerous to mention. I think there's a lot of talented people making interesting music. You don't get to hear it as much as you like but it's there if you look for it.
Seconds: How has Rock guitar playing changed over the years?
Harrington: guitar players have a herd mentality. they hear a sound that's selling and go for it, even changing the tonality of the instrument itself, like the buzzy metal guitars that are not so chic to have anymore. the grunge thing kind of brought back the Neil Young vibe but they still sound too clean to me.
Seconds: Why don't we talk about your days with Masters Of Reality.
Harrington: No, there's no point in talking about that for me.
Seconds: you don't want to talk about that stuff at all?
Harrington: Who cares? It's water under the bridge. Nobody knew about it then and less people care about it now. It's a touchy subject. After the Masters, I had a hard time with... things that happened. Now that some time has passed, I can listen to the record. I listen to it and say, "Wow, there's some good shit."
Seconds: That album was a nice refreshing departure from the Sunset Strip poodle heads.
Harrington: I attribute it to the saturation of hate in the ground where I live. We should get back to putting the hatin' back in Satan where it belongs. doncha think?
Seconds: What happened to the drummer in Masters?
Harrington: Vinnie Ludovico? He went on some kind of Huckleberry Finn adventure.
Seconds: What's guitarist Chris Goss up to?
Harrington: No idea.
Seconds: Then you went on to The Bogeyman.
Harrington: bogeyman were a divorce band. It was ill-fated and, in retrospect, I would have liked to sit back for a year and let the dust settle from what happened to the Masters. I think the Bogeyman record has some brilliant playing here and there but it doesn't really complete itself for me.
Seconds: your solo record was obviously a move to get away from a band.
Harrington: Not really, just more songs- the Freque record is something altogether different.
Seconds: How do your two recent records differ?
Harrington: They don't differ all that much, they're just being presented in different rooms. The Shinola material is really song-oriented, with no excessive noodling. A very stand-up song record that women seem to gravitate to.
Seconds: Why do you think that it is?
Harrington: They're pretty. You hang a lyric on a nice melody and break the girls' hearts.
Seconds: People have lost focus: Rock is supposed to be about sex.
Harrington: There hasn't been a lot of fun in it. It's such a huge business and so many people govern it as such. There are people who actually like the music but it's like there's a wall between those two types of thinking.
Seconds: It just seems like it got away from its initial impulses.
Harrington: Rock and Roll is about sex: fucking and shit... that's not all it's about, but it was supposed to be fun. I may be off balance but I think there's a lot of humor to be found on the Freque record, but I wouldn't want to explain it. It makes me laugh when I hear parts of it. It's nice to enjoy something like that on a physical level.
Seconds: Talk about Master Frequency And His Deepness.
Harrington: There's a frequency violet ray- the purest frequency is the guiding wand. you should never use one alone; don't ever try and use one alone. I don't know what else to say.
Seconds: Let's talk about the record.
Harrington: It's hard for me to talk about the record. I did it. You talk to me about the record. Tell me what you liked.
Seconds: There's a certain return to the heartfelt soul- I don't mean soul in a Black way-
Harrington: But I am a Black man! You haven't seen me lately. to me, the record is not about ephemeral deepness, it's about real deepness. I'm not really His Deepness, I just know him better than anyone else. Deepness has the answer but it's just so hard to get him on the phone.
Seconds: It had been a couple of years since you had a record and then you had two happening at once.
Harrington: People needn't be confused by the costumery of the different types of music. There's just songs there. If they remember the letter "H"- because all my friends call me H- you don't know where it came from. Triple X liked some of the most eccentric material I had and Delicious Vinyl was interested in a straight ahead song style thing. It was good to have both projects working simultaneously because I could vent some of the madness on the Freque record that I would have to restrain on the Delicious record.
Seconds: How would you define your music?
Harrington: I just take ideas that seem like they're faxed to me on another level and try and make a recording that sounds like the experience. That's the key thing, to make a record that sounds like the experience, not a performance of the experience.
Seconds: Do people have to come to you or do you want to make the experience for everybody?
Harrington: It's got to be for everybody. If hate is for everybody, shouldn't everything be available to them?
Seconds: There's a lot to be learned through hate.
Harrington: I'm a great Hater, with a capital "H." It's elemental, like God and Satan- you can't have one without the other. You can't have it both ways. That's where censorship becomes dangerous, because people need to have something to subvert their hate and art has always served this purpose. taking away people's homicidal playthings isn't going to make them better. If you can channel your hate and rage in a direction other than another human body...
Seconds: Something about extremes make one a fuller person.
Harrington: The Freque record is all about longing for redemption.
Seconds: What do you see as the future of music?
Harrington: It looks black, a big black hole.
Seconds: Are there too many bands now? In the Seventies, one was a virtuoso above the crowd; now it's more equal.
Harrington: for me, I would rather perform live in a theater setting. I'm interested in the master frequency tone and I want to hear it. But I think there's shit you can definitely dance to on the Freque record. It's not an out of body experience- but it is.
Seconds: Why do you think people are afraid to dance to Rock these days?
Harrington: When people are dancing, their vision is focused on themselves and you're not seeing the performer. that's why Dance Clubs are great, they serve that purpose.
Seconds: In the past decade, people were afraid to dance.
Harrington: yeah. People aren't doing as much cocaine as they used to.
Seconds: Is H music drug music?
Harrington: Drugs open your head up a little bit- just as long as you know how to close it.
Seconds: Is your music a reaction to what's going on?
Harrington: yeah. Something in a life experience is what rubs you wrong and makes you want to write a song or bang on a drum. It's like a little kid sitting in the corner banging because they want to get something. It's that mentality of the playpen that creates musicians.