T.C. Folkpunk: Likes going it alone

Timothy Cameron is a solo artist from Toronto, Canada. He kindly agreed to talk to us about his music.

Who are you and how did you come about? I’m T.C. Folkpunk and I came about as a result of my father (D.G. Folkpunk) meeting my mother (M.C. Folkpunk). The only band member is me, and I’m in charge of vocal, guitar and harmonica duties.

What’s the reason behind your name? Actually, my real name’s Timothy Cameron (or Tim Cameron if you go back far enough into my discography), but it turns out there are a few other Tim or Timothy Camerons out there in the music biz. I’ve actually received the occasional email that was meant for one of them, so I chose T.C. Folkpunk since “T.C.” is a nickname that a few friends have called me since my high school days. The “Folkpunk” part was taken from the url of my website, which I settled on when I was first setting up my website and discovered that “timcameron.com” was taken, as was ‘timothyc.com” and “tcameron.net” and “timcam.org” and any other variation on my name that I could think of. One of the aforementioned high school friends had once described my musical style as “faux pas folk punk”, so just for a laugh I tried for “folkpunk.com” and to my amazement it was available. The gods of url were smiling upon me that day.

Describe your sound and indicate any influences. Um, did I mention “faux pas folk punk”? Basically I went through my teens and early twenties forming one little garage band after another. My family were living in a small town, so by the time I was 23 I’d been in a band with every musician in town it seems, so the only musical direction left was for me to go solo.

I’d discovered early Dylan when I was about 15, and I was fascinated by the idea that one guy with a guitar and a harmonica could revolutionize things the way he did. Before I ever got a chance to pursue that direction I was bitten by the punk/new wave bug though, so I was temporarily brainwashed to think I couldn’t do anything without a band. Then when I was about 23, I decided I’d have my cake and eat it too, so I started playing solo gigs with an acoustic guitar, but with the high energy attack of the punkier stuff. I’d wanted to try it solo with an electric guitar, but I wasn’t convinced it would work. Then one night after a gig I went to a party and somebody put on Talking With The Taxman About Poetry by Billy Bragg and that pretty much ended my relationship with my acoustic guitar. We still see each other on weekends, but we don’t go out together.

What are your releases to date? I released a vinyl 7-inch when I was 19, which thankfully has been lost in the mists of time. Then a series of three or four cassette albums in the 1990s, followed by my first CD, ‘Never Mind The Hyperbolics’, in 2000. That one was a bit tame sonically, more folk than punk. My second CD, ‘…every cloud has a sulphur lining…’ was released in 2004 and it had a bit more caffeine in its veins. Both of those were released under the name Timothy Cameron, but the most recent one is the eponymously self-titled ‘T.C. Folkpunk’. I have the songs written and ready for the next project which I might start recording as soon as this summer.

Which debut album do you wish you had written? Wow, what a great question. And a tough one to answer. I can think of lots of artists whose work I love, although I wouldn’t say their debut albums are my faves from their individual discographies. Hmmm. There are a couple that come to mind. Billy Bragg’s first one, ‘Life’s A Riot With Spy Vs. Spy’, has a few of those “damn I wish I’d written that” moments. The Clash’s first album was great. And maybe Get The Knack, because the royalty cheques for “My Sharona” must have been staggering!

TC Folkpunk

T.C. Folkpunk at The Cavern

Tell us about any gigs you have lined up. I’ve been invited back to Liverpool for the International Pop Overthrow 2011 festival, so that’s a big one. I played it last year and got to stand on stage at the Cavern. When I was a kid the first thing that ever sparked my interest in playing music was a Beatles album my aunt gave me, so when I played the Cavern I felt like I’d come full circle or something. I’ve sort of been hibernating from the Canadian winter for a few weeks, so there are a few dates in and around Toronto that are not yet confirmed, but I’ll be back out there when the snow melts. Cold air just puts guitar strings out of tune anyway.

What’s your favourite album at the moment? There are two that have been played repeatedly here at Chez Folkpunk this week. One is ‘Howlin’ Wolf: The Definitive Collection’ and the other is ‘A Date With A Smoke Machine’ by Chris Page. Chris is another solo guy with an electric guitar who lists Billy Bragg as an influence.

If you could choose a band/artist to support you, who would it be and why? Actually, the above mentioned Chris Page would be great to share a bill with. We’ve even talked about it, but he’s based in Ottawa which is about a five hour drive from Toronto so we haven’t put that one together just yet. There’s also another solo electric guy from Montreal named Frank Makak, and I think the three of us would make a great line up. I think in a case like that though it would be hard to say who’s supporting whom, we’re sort of equal. We’d probably end up flipping a coin before each show to see who’d go on first.

Name an ALBUM, an ARTIST and a SONG and tell us why you thought of them in particular.
Album: ‘Twin Cinema’ by The New Pornographers because it’s quirky in all the right ways.
Artist: Art Bergman, because he should be better known for the great stuff he’s written. Hopefully some of the people reading this will search for his music.
Song: “Deuces wild” by Link Wray, because it just came on in the background a minute ago, and I love the galloping loopy drums. It sounds like the drummer is just barely sober enough to play, or maybe not even.

OK, now some quickfire questions. Which do you choose and why?

Fanbase or Record label? Fanbase, although I wouldn’t say no to a small dedicated label if the opportunity arose.

Twitter, Myspace or Facebook? Reverb Nation. It seems to be the only one where people don’t post what they had for breakfast or what colour socks they’re wearing or other similarly titillating details.

Spotify or Emule? Whichever one gets clothes whiter.

mp3, cd or vinyl? I was MP3 for a while, but I’m back to CD I think. Vinyl is nice the same way a rotary phone is nice or the way a camera that requires film is nice, but it’s not entirely practical.

Recording studio or live performances? Hmmm. It’s sort of six of one and half a dozen of the other. They’re two different environments each with their own rewards. Playing live forces you to think on your feet and be in the moment, while recording allows somebody like myself to add lots of icing to the cake. And when I say icing, I mean drums. I try to write the best songs I can, so that they’ll work in either mode.

Tell us about your objectives/prospects for next 12 months? Well, I know I’m supposed to have some sort of business plan and goal achievement mindset and all that, at least that’s what books about succeeding in the music industry have always said. Whenever I tried that in the past though I found out the hard way that life rarely wants to co-operate with that sort of approach, so over the years I’ve developed more of a roll-with-the-punches opportunistic seize-the-day anti-method that seems to work better. I can give you the big general picture though: play lots of music to lots of people in lots of places and make sure we’re all smiling at the end of the gig.

Anything else you’d like to add? I seem to be allergic to canola oil… and possibly Simon Cowell.

A really interesting insight into TC there. We’d like to thank him for taking the time to talk to us and ask all readers to show him a little support. While the snow melts in Canada, you can check him out on his Myspace, Twitter, Facebook or YouTube pages and also listen to a couple of tracks – “Whenever I sink my teeth into you” and “Zero to hero (in sixty seconds)” –  which are taken from his new album and he’s kindly allowed us to stream on the iMusicator.

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