The Writer's Share

“I Like to Keep the Flow Going”: TWS Talks with Tim Carroll


Rock and roll guitarist, songwriter and bandleader Tim Carroll sits down with the Writer’s Share to talk about the his start, as well as current projects. Originally from Indiana, he joined The Gizmos (Gulcher Records), a punk rock band, in 1979, which made a vinyl record and opened for The Ramones, before moving to NYC in 1980. By the late 1980’s, Tim had a band in New York called The Blue Chieftains, performing mostly his own rootsy songs. His songs have been recorded by John Prine, Asleep at the Wheel, and many others.

The Writers Share: How did you get started in the singer/songwriting line of work?

Tim Carroll: I’ve played in bands since I was 11 years old.  Bandmates would mention that to be successful, you have to have original songs.  So I started working on that – I wrote a couple of songs.  When I was in college and joined The Gizmos, I learned more about writing and was inspired to keep trying it… it took me a long time to get a handle on it.  Some local bands covered my songs, but my first professional “cut” was when John Prine recorded “If I Could.”

TWS: You’ve played venues from the Opry to the 5 Spot in East Nashville – what do you prefer?

TC: I like playing anywhere where there are some people to entertain. Small bars are fun and intimate and real, so that’s cool, but the most fun is when a situation is big enough to make you really nervous! That’s when you know you’re getting somewhere – like a television appearance. In front of larger audiences sometimes the set flows quicker and with less informal interaction with the audience.  Usually, the bigger the audience is, the shorter my set is, at least at my level. I do like to speak casually to any audience I address though, and just be myself.

TWS: Your songs can range from bluesy to rock – what genre most appeals to you?

TC: My style is defined one song at a time.  I never know where it’s headed and I don’t limit myself to a particular style or sound. I sort it out later.

TWS: What was your most fun story for a song that you ended up writing?

TC: It may not be “fun”, but one story I like is the way I wrote “Find A Way To Win.”  I had had surgery on my hand and couldn’t play my guitar for weeks, so I was depressed. But then I realized I could still write a song, even if I couldn’t play my guitar. So I wrote this song about overcoming obstacles, since that was what I was doing. Eventually that song wound up in the Reese Witherspoon movie “Election,” so that effort turned out well.

TWS: You’ve toured around the globe; how did the difference in cultures affect the show?

TC: Foreign audiences  seem to love American music, although sometimes they are very reserved until after the show.  Songs with clever words can fall flat in countries where people speak little English, so pyrotechnics work better than lyrics in that situation.

TWS: Can you talk a little about your current projects?

Right now, I am writing and recording at home every day. I play two regular shows every week in Nashville with my band, and I have a duo project with Luella (singer from Luella And The Sun), where we do my songs and things we co-write. I play guitar with Darrin Bradbury, a young folk singer from New Jersey, and I occasionally produce recordings for other songwriters.<s\/span>

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