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Tim Mcmillan Band
Hometown: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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Beat Magazine (Melbourne) 09 Jul 2008

Tim McMillan
by Kelly Griffin

When guitar maverick Tim McMillan says he likes to add a bit of mayhem to his shows, he sure as hell ain’t kidding. Stumbling into Bar Open on a typically wet, winter night, I spot Tim in a Mario Bros hoodie, hunched in a dark corner, huddled over his acoustic guitar. He politely warns me that I’ve just stepped into a Frankston-themed, poetry slam, and apologies in advance for the prolific dropping of the C-bomb.

Within half an hour, he has hurled himself on-stage, aptly accompanied by rampant drummer Shane Evans (Engine Three Seven), and the two are playing this insane metal-meets-hip hop-meets-comedy set. Tim is dousing himself with jugs of beer like he’s at a wet-t-shirt competition and is screaming German into the microphone in his best metal-head voice, while a random homeless guy from outside takes to their stage and starts rapping this awesome, gritty song over the top of Shane’s frantic drumming and Tim’s maestro guitar playing – it’s completely nuts.

“This probably wasn’t the best gig for you to see,” Tim vindicates afterwards, alluding to the fact that his solo shows are not usually so shambolic. “I’m in a few different projects. Like tonight we’re playing in a comedy, hip-hop group called McFrost ‘n’ Tre, but Tre couldn’t make it so Shane played Tre.”

Shane pipes in: “You work at Beat right? You’ve probably heard of Engine Three Seven?”

Tim accusingly quips: “Don’t name drop your own band in my interview, buddy,” then turns to me and kindly shrugs, “Don’t listen to him. He’s trying to get his band mentioned in the article.” He leans in closely to the dictaphone and pronounces robotically: “don’t…mention…his…band”.

Tim is quirky, to say the least, and obviously incredibly intelligent and deft. When he fuels his eccentric energy into his guitar playing, the result is truly phenomenal. For over a decade, Tim has been playing his freakishly impressive brand of what he calls “acoustic, Viking metal/power folk” – a fusion of eclectic styles that includes flamenco, blues, finger style, classical and latin jazz. He has toured extensively through Europe, Ecuador, Costa Rica and India and has played locally at festivals such as Woodford, The National and even ye’ old Yackandandah Folk Festival.

“All I can remember from my childhood is watching The Simpsons and re-watching it and just playing this Metallica exercise over and over again,” he begins. “By the end of the show, I’d forget I was even playing. So I use to just sit there like a zombie,” he recalls, then enacts a zombie for comic effect.

Tim’s eclectic and unconventional approach to guitar can be traced to his musical influences (Metallica, Pantera and most significantly Alice In Chains – “they’re my favourite band ever, one of my biggest influences”), and his varied musical background – studying jazz guitar at Monash Uni and even taking part in the uni’s choir… Wait, a choir? “Yeah,” he affirms nonchalantly.

“I’ve also done about five soundtracks for PlayStation and I’ve been asked to do a few short films, you know, like Socialist documentaries,” but says he’s been too busy to further pursue these avenues. “I spend a lot of my time writing new stuff, just trying to write that zinger, get that zinger out. I spend a lot of time working on one phrase and sort of visualising what will come next.

“I try to make everything sound like Jerry Cantrell – a cheap rip off, “ he jests, before explaining that his approach to songwriting is actually quite mathematical. “I just sort of write something and then fiddle around on the fret board or pick an alternate tuning I don’t have any clue about and just start from scratch; that’s when some of the best stuff comes out.”

While Tim is currently in the throes of recording his debut LP at Sing Sing Studios to be released in Australia later this year, he has already released an LP, Afterparty, through T3 records in Germany. “I’m doing better over there than over here,“ he explains, adding that he has only recently returned home from a thirty-date, sold-out tour in Germany. “But hey,” he chirps, “I’m no Hasselhoff…as of yet,” and repeats in a bizarrely Shaun Micallef sort of way, “as of yet.”

“When I’m touring England and Europe, I’ve got a guy called Shisha PM,” he leans into dictaphone and repeats: “Shi-sha-P-M”, and continues: “He’s like one of my best friends and one of my favourite musos and he’s my accompanist over there so he does a lot of vocals and guitar.” But because, well, he’s over in Europe and Tim’s here in Australia, “What we’re doing at this [up-coming, major] gig, is replacing Shisha PM with lots of people.” Such guests include Bar McKinnon (Mr Bungle, Umlaut), Shane Evans, Simon Phillips, Trent Menassa (Lan Party, McFrost ‘n’ Tre), Jason Leigh (The Good Time Party Band) and Anthony Casey, with support from Mammal frontman’s side project Ezekiel Ox and The Fury – what a line up!

As the interview begins to wind-up, Tim unleashes a wave of anecdotes, retelling ridiculous tales from his adventures busking in Melbourne and playing at a grand old church in Dresden, Germany, to abandoning his mate Shisha PM at The Dog on the Tickerbox in Gundagai.

“Hey, did I tell you I quit my job?” he asks, throwing in a line. “But did I tell you how I quit my job? Oh,“ he says as though shifting into fifth gear, “this is an awesome story…”

“I had to pay for my recording so I thought I’d get a real job and see what it was like. I did a month of training at a call centre and my first day on the job was Superhero Friday, where like 500 dudes come to work dressed as Superman or Wonderwoman. Anyway I just thought ‘I can’t do this, this isn’t me’ so I told my friend ‘oh, I’m thinking of quitting’ and he went and dobbed me in. The boss came out dressed as a gorilla and he was spitting at me and I just couldn’t stop laughing. So the deputy boss, dressed as Superman, walked me out while I was throwing copies of my CDs to people I had promised them to.

“I didn’t dress as a superhero, which added insult to injury. What I did was get these signs like KAPOW and BAM and covered myself in them so I was like this punching quote man getting escorted out by Superman while flipping CDs with this gorilla guy yelling at me.” Awesome.

The ever-ecentric Tim McMillan with the incredibly chops, plus friends, will play the Northcote Social Club on (Superhero) Friday July 18 with support from Ezekiel Ox & The Fury, Jason Cadd and Lesha.

Tim Mcmillan Band
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