Interview: Tim Langworthy
The Sanctum is honored to have you and eager to learn more about the craft of Tim Langworthy. Let’s take it from the very start. Can you name a few artists you grew up listening to and have possibly inspired you as a Rock artist?
Thank you very much for the chance to interview with you. I loved R&B artists such as Boyz II Men, Babyface, Jon B, up until I was about fifteen years old. I had learned to sing gospel, R&B while in choir early on. My Junior year of high school a girl I went to school with let me borrow a Toad the Wet Sprocket CD, Fear, back in high school. This was an ear and eye-opening experience for me as it truly changed my taste in music. I began listening to 90’s rock from artists such as the Gin Blossoms, Goo Dolls, The Cranberries, and more. I still feel this music leaving a lasting impression on me. I later became a huge fan of the Eagles, John Mayer, and many others, and I can certainly hear influence from these artists in many of my songs.
What is your birthplace and where are you currently based? Has any of those affected your music or the way you’re expressing yourself through it?
I was born in Grand Haven Michigan, but moved to the east side of Michigan after I met my wife, though I’m back to the west side of the state monthly to spend time with family. Yes, I believe music I grew up on has affected my music. I can remember being 4-5 years old and hearing the Carpenters, or John Denver when my mom would play their records. I was often mesmerized by the harmonies in their music and would sing some of these songs to myself at a very young age. This interest in vocal harmonies carried through to later years.
From songwriting to production, what parts of the creative process is Tim Langworthy in charge of? Is this a one-man show?
I started off in my earlier albums trying to do everything myself. Literally writing, singing, all of the instruments, mixing, production, you name it. I finally realized that I don’t have the time to become an expert in all facets, and I started reaching out online for help. I was recently connected with a producer, Andy Warner out of New York. He really helped me with sound production a great deal on this album. I believe working with a professional in mixing/production really helped take my music to a whole new level.
According to your Spotify profile, Illustrative Anecdotes seems to be your debut release. Are there any other releases, tours or musical journeys previous to that which we should know about?
Technically this is not true. I actually released 'Marigolds' last year, but the production value just doesn’t match up to 'Illustrated Anecdotes'. I also released 'Future Memories' many years ago, along with another album. I feel this latest album is my first truly professional sounding album, though I really want to re-record Marigolds, as I believe the songs are also very strong off that album.
What was the drive behind the creation of Illustrative Anecdotes and what did you need to communicate through it?
I started having songs just come to me in bunches starting around spring of 2022. I literally dreamed one of the song, 'Old Man Sitting on a Step'. I would hear music while in the shower, driving to work, you name it.With this album these songs truly just came to me, and it was fairly easy to write.I never sat down and thought to myself 'I need to write a song'. I was more afraid of losing the songs in my head, and I wanted to make sure I hummed the melodies into my iPhone.This may or may not have led to some moments where I looked rather strange to others nearby. :)
There are three completely different tracks that stood out for me personally. It would be an honor if you shared the stories behind ‘Starry Night’, ‘The Letter’ and ‘Abuse’ as long as it does not feel invasive.
'Starry Night' really resulted from a great summer day last year. I was out with my family and it was just one of those days where everything went unexpectedly well. I was walking out to the deck late that night and looked up at the sky where the stars were shining brightly, and thinking, these are the same stars and sky our ancestors and deceased loved ones once looked at, and I wondered what thoughts went through their head, what was life like for them? I think we’re all pulled in so many directions dealing with everyday life, along with being caught up into mostly inconsequential political and cultural nonsense, it’s easy to forget about the beauty of simple moments that life occasionally offers us.
I was inspired to write 'The Letter' after reading a copy of a letter circulating online sent from a Ukrainian soldier to his daughter. The letter really hit me hard, and being a father of daughters myself, this one pulled at my heart strings. I tried to keep most of the words intact from his letter, while moving a few words around to keep the meter/pacing of the song intact. Really my goal was to keep the spirit of his letter true to form. After I wrote the song another producer I had been working with connected me to a metal guitarist who’s actually living in Ukraine. He suggested the guitarist may be interested in contributing towards the song. I reached out to the guitarist, who goes by 'Planet47' online for anonymity’s sake. He ended up being excited to contribute the guitar work on this song, and said this opportunity really meant a lot to him. True story, he literally recorded his guitar work while he and his family left their village to move to the other side of Ukraine to escape the Russians. I know this is a very dark and difficult song to listen to, but I’m very proud of this one. I just cannot imagine the pain the Ukrainian people are going through right now. I did share the completed song with 'Planet47' and he has been sharing the song with people he knows in Ukraine. On a side note, he’s a great guitarist and an even better human being. It was really nice having the chance to work with him on this song.
'Abuse' was a song I wrote over twenty years ago when I was in my band 'Bitter Ecstasy'. We had a bit of success playing in the West Michigan area, and this was a song we had played live many times in the early 2000’s. I had written the song after playing shows and seeing abusive boyfriends/husbands. These guys would drink their liquid courage, then proceed to push around their wives, grab them hard, talk down to them, etc. It used to anger me greatly seeing this play out while standing on the stage playing a song. I wrote this song as a bit of a revenge piece. I imagined what could lead to a victim of abuse unable to control their emotions after their partners has crossed the line one too many times.
Are there any songs in the album that felt too personal to be released? Also, are there any tracks that hold a special place in your heart for some reason?
I think 'Because of You' is definitely one of the more personal songs I’ve written. It’s a very simple song, but it’s more or less a thank you to my wife for giving me the space to breath and be myself, for being supportive of my passion of music. I think 'Old Man Sitting on a Step' also stands out on a personal level. Like everyone else around the world, I have friends and family that are on opposite ends of the political spectrum. I don’t think there’s a true one size fits all solution to any of our current problems. I wrote the song from the perspective of the older generation seeing the world change around them, as well as the younger generation. Often both sides think they have all the answers and know what’s best for our country and world, yet neither side truly has all of the answers. We live in a world where there are people who make a lot of money from encouraging and creating division. I think it’s important now more than ever for all of us to try to find common ground. Our younger generation can learn a lot from their elder’s wisdom, but our elders could also learn a lot if they tried harder to listen and understand where our younger generation is coming from.
What are the greatest challenges for an artist in this day and age and how is Tim Langworthy dealing with them?
I would say trying to not offend people through provocation, but also staying true to myself. The world and social media in particular are quick to judge and condemn very quickly. I’ve experienced this myself, and I would like to think I’m about as nuanced and middle of the road as a person could be in most instances. People are too comfortable sitting behind their keyboards or phones as they troll and attack others online. I feel we’ve lost a level of civility over the last twenty years with the progression of technology. I’m not interested in writing or performing material that is setting out to offend anyone, but I will also not filter myself or hold back, in a way that is disingenuous.
Can you name your worst fear and your strongest point?
My biggest fear is the unknown in any situation. This includes fear of losing loved ones, fear of death in general. I know death in and of itself is part of life, but knowing this doesn’t make the subject any easier. I think my biggest strength is having a decent ability to observe the world around me and separate people and events that are consequential from disingenuous hyperbole bullshit.
How would you like to be remembered by the world both as a person and as an artist?
Ultimately, I just want to have left a bit of a legacy on some level. I would be completely okay with a song being discovered long after I’m gone, that people at least hear and think to themselves, “hey, that’s a pretty song, I wonder what that’s about”. I think the entertainment world is fickle and self-serving on many levels, by design. I have no interest in trying to latch on to the latest trend for 5 minutes of fame. I know someone could read this and think, sure but he says that because he hasn’t had the chance to reach the highest level, so this is a coping mechanism statement. No, I’ve had other opportunities in the past, but I’m not interested in going against my core beliefs and conviction as an artist just to have the chance at making myself and others a few dollars or a few minutes of notoriety. And beyond my music, I want the people who truly mean the most to me to know they made a lasting imprint in my life, and I hope to make a positive lasting impression in theirs. This includes my parents, my wife, of course my children, true friends, and my family as a whole. I know we all get caught up in day-to-day life and probably don’t take enough time to let others know we’re thinking about them. I just want to be a source of positivity overall while I have the opportunity in this life.
Are you enjoying your new-born album being out in the world or are you working on upcoming releases, live shows etc?
I am enjoying it. It’s fantastic to hear positive feedback and hear from people who say a song really affected them in a meaningful way. I’m still struggling with figuring out how to promote myself, along with finding local musicians to work with, but it’s always a work in progress. I really hate figuring out how to use social media in an effective way, as it always braggadocios talking about my music, advertising my music, etc. But at the end of the day, I’m not a record label, and I have to look out for myself in this dog eat dog business.
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