By Steve Brennan
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By New Times Staff
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Timb has heard all the jokes. At 6-foot-3, with bleached-blond hair, morgue-pale skin, and a wardrobe full of industrial fetish attire, the Fort Lauderdale-based singer can be a magnet for wisecracks whenever he steps out on the town.
His attire, along with the massive four-inch boots he typically wears, causes people to stare, gawk, or make jokes about the weird-looking dude in the neighborhood. But Timb's an entertainer (and a darned good one at that), so it shouldn't come as a surprise that he's a master at capturing people's attention without even opening his mouth.
For years, Timb has ground away tirelessly as a die-hard member of South Florida's indie-music scene. Of course, because of his resistance to conformity and the eclectic nature of his songs, he lives on the fringes of the local music world, but that's where a lot of the true creativity resides anyway.
His compositions have always jumped radically from genre to genre, ranging from acoustic rock, country, and metal to synthed-out electro, grunge, folk, and anything else he's feeling at the moment. It's all pure freak-out madness but also deeply genuine — a mixture that earns listeners' respect regardless of whether they like what they're hearing.
Plenty of folks might recognize Timb's face. Over the years, he's been eager to play any venue, anywhere. Others might recognize him from his job at the Fetish Factory in Oakland Park, where he works five days a week, or from the monthly fetish parties at venues like Club XIT that he attends faithfully. But don't expect to hear a bunch of songs about bondage and role playing in his material.
"I could delve more into the sex stuff with my songs, but instead, I tend to focus more on what I find funny about society, and people take to it more," Timb says during a recent interview at his apartment. "I write songs about how I hate I-95 or why people should destroy their cell phones and how the government sucks. People can relate to that. I'm not sure that people connect to the fetish stuff. Plus, it's really a personal thing."
The 32-year-old Pensacola native, who's a graduate of the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, used to keep up a frenetic performance schedule, hitting every open-mic night he could find before graduating to regularly booking his own shows with the various bands he's fronted over the years. He's worked hard like that since he moved to South Florida permanently in 2003 and started releasing bedroom-crafted solo albums.
Long-time friend Aaron of the Freakin' Hott recalls the first time he saw Timb perform at Dada in Delray Beach several years ago.
"He showed up, and I remember thinking when I first saw him, this is either gonna be the best thing I've seen all night long or an absolute train wreck," Aaron says laughing. "I think he deals with people's preconceived notions all the time because of the way he looks, but the reality is, Timb writes songs in every genre really well. And he's absolutely impossible to classify."
Don't call Timb a run-of-the-mill variety performer, Aaron adds. "That's not his act. He's country, he's metal, hip-hop, polka, rock. And it's not a joke. That's not to say there's no humor in his material, but it's all done really well."
With a reputation for raucous live performances already established, Timb recently chose to slow things down a bit.
A few months ago, he decided to write and record from scratch a new song every day for an entire month. No matter what circumstances he might encounter in that period, he challenged himself to come up with a fresh composition for every 24 hours in April, recording each to his home computer. What emerged was 30 Days, his latest lo-fi piece of art, taking you inside his head and his humor. More than anything, it features Timb kicking ass by himself on a dozen or so instruments.
It wasn't an easy process. His girlfriend, Cassandra, ruefully notes that she barely saw him that month. The pressure to stay on point was, to put it mildly, stressful, he says.
But Timb considers the uncompromising artistic approach a necessary step.
"Without a doubt, this is the best album I've ever done," Timb says of the tenth release in his catalog. "I started on April 1 and finished recording the album April 30, just like I originally planned. Those first few songs, I struggled with. I felt like I was distracted. But once I really got started, I was like on rails, man — you couldn't stop me."
To fully comprehend how the creative process worked, it helps to see his dimly lit bedroom in a house off Sistrunk Avenue in Fort Lauderdale. This is where it all went down. There's a large accordion resting on the floor next to a guitar case. Littering the room are latex gloves, a guitar amp, a butt plug, paddles, recording equipment, and some type of sex swing hanging from the ceiling. Timb glances sheepishly at the swing. "I probably should have taken that down before you came up here," he says, laughing.
But without all that, there might have been no 30 Days. What the record lacks in studio polish it makes up for in pure grit and determination. Most impressive is the way Timb manages to turn his everyday conversations and feelings into danceable songs. "Boob Job" is a two-minute rocker about a girl at the Fetish Factory whom Timb unsuccessfully tried to talk out of getting a breast enlargement. "Beer Run" is about exactly that, going to buy beer for a bunch of cheap-ass friends, but through his lo-fi production and acoustic guitar playing, it feels like a dreamy Beatles song that you can't help but fall in love with.
"There were some nights where I didn't want to write at all," Timb admits. "If I was in a weird mood that day, I'd write dark, gloomy stuff. Some nights, I'd work on a song from the time I got home until 3 in the morning. I didn't give up, but I wouldn't eat dinner either."
The record is a labor of love in the notoriously low-paying indie-music trenches. Timb deserves to reap some benefits for this one. Interestingly, he's releasing the album in a digital format with a pay-what-you-want price scale similar to the scheme Radiohead won fame for; he's asking patrons to pay anywhere from $2 to whatever they can afford in support of the project. He's also pressing 100 copies of the album to sell at shows. If you bought 30 Days online and chose to pay at least $10 to download it, Timb plans to mail you a physical disc.
"I'm really proud of this album," Timb says at a local diner a few days later, Amber Bock in hand. "The songwriting is starting to feel totally natural. I'll write a song and think, 'Wait, this is a bit too personal — I should stop,' but I'll write it anyway."
Probing his vulnerabilities usually produces the best results, he says. "If you're honest with what you do, you're going to continue to make better and better art. And this is definitely the best piece of art that I've made so far."