Blue Notes

San Francisco's Timco releases Gentleman Jim

Two-thirds of Timco are gathered in Demon Garage, the cavernous South of Market space where frontman/guitarist Kevin Thomson earns his daily bread. Inside, bassist John Wischmann and two friends perch on stools next to the cluttered desk that acts as Thomson's office. "All right, beat it," Thomson says, shooing the spectators out of the room as he settles into his swivel chair. "Yeah, yeah," they grumble as they make their way past Thomson's yellow '66 Plymouth Satellite, "we've heard it all before, anyway." "Oh, you mean that totally self-centered trip we're on?" Thomson baits.

Timco is assembled to discuss the soon-to-be-released Gentleman Jim, the band's sophomore effort but first record for the Basura!/Priority label. "We haven't even seen how the cover art turned out," Wischmann says. "It seems, no matter what, you're always the last to know." In swaggers drummer Ethel M. Deathel, harried from her day job as a bike messenger dispatcher at Silver Bullet. She drops a six-pack of Red Dog to the floor and extracts a sweating bottle. "Red Dog, huh?" Thomson teases. "It's what they had," she snaps, using her lighter to pry off the bottle cap, which pops into the air and nearly hits Thomson's head. "Ahh, yes," Wischmann says, taking a gulp, "that distinct Old Milwaukee taste." Deathel slides behind the wheel of the Satellite. "Don't talk to me until I've recovered from work," she orders menacingly, then tosses off a good-natured smile.

Not exactly the kind of behavior you'd expect from a band usually described as "sadcore." "We won't talk about that [sadcore] thing," Thomson says sternly. "We are not dreary," Deathel adds. "Jesus, the woman who made that [sadcore] thing up is younger than I am." Fine. Like most bands, Timco doesn't want to be pigeonholed with a catch phrase. Suffice to say, their music is moody and lyrically angst-ridden, marked by turgidly driving dynamics and minor-key melodies, what Wischmann jokingly describes as "music for rainy days." Still, there's a strong punk rock undercurrent on Gentleman Jim, courtesy of the trio's musical backgrounds.

Currently a big old-country fan, Thomson once played with Homestead rockers Nice Strong Arm, while Deathel came out of the '80s Austin skatepunk scene and Wischmann played with Philly industrial noisicians Sink Manhattan! (he's also an artist and co-proprietor of Figure Five Gallery in the Mission). Timco's first incarnation included Thomson's Nice Strong Arm mate Steve MacMurray, who dropped out of the band after the Mark Eitzel-co-produced Friction Tape was released. Timco has always had a strong club following, thanks to tight live shows and a listening public hungry for the intelligent brand of downcast rock proffered by locals like American Music Club, Wade (Thomson's other band), Red House Painters, and Toiling Midgets.

After signing with Basura!, Timco holed up in Wally Sound Studios, a converted garage devoid of digital recording equipment but full of ambience. "We really took our time," Thomson explains, clearly pleased. "The studio was very family-oriented. There were babies, barbecues. We figured Priority would probably drop us after this album, so we just relaxed and made exactly the type of record we thought we should."

"Our last one should have been rerecorded," he continues. "This one, we stand behind it 100 percent. No excuses. No apologies."

Timco and special guests play a record-release party Fri, March 1, at 130 Dore in

 
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