Interview with Tim Lefebvre

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On November 17th Tedeschi Trucks Band did a show in Utrecht, The Netherlands. Bass player of the band nowadays is Tim Lefebvre. Tim is one of those bass players that speaks any musical language. It doesn’t matter if it’s experimental electronic based music with Mark Guiliana’s Beat Music, Blues-Rock with Tedeschi Trucks Band or Synthpop with KNOWER. I was lucky to talk with him in one of my favorite coffee houses in Utrecht because besides bass player, writer, producer and sports fanatic, Tim is a big coffee freak as well. We talked about LA vs. NY, TTB, recording sessions, inspiration, and the new Bowie track that would be released two days later.

You made a switch from NY to LA. How did you get started there? Did you have any gigs already?

I had nothing actually, I just pack up and went. I just felt like I should go to LA for a while. So I had nothing on the books.

How did you come up with the idea ‘I should go to LA for a while’?

I just started not liking living in N.Y. I lived there for 18 years. It’s a hard place to live. I was just feeling that the sun and the mountains would do me some good.

When I was in LA I noticed that everyone is working really hard.

Yeah it’s intense. There’s a bunch of young kids that are trying to get gigs with the American Idol bands and they’re good players. So that’s were the competition is. But there’s a lot of recording going round in LA. People are doing records all the time, even if it’s not for a major label. And I’m always involved with doing recordings. So that’s fun.

How did you get into the recording scene in LA? I can imagine the scene is pretty different than it is in NY.

It’s definitely not the creative thing, although it’s getting better. There’s a good creative scene in LA right now but it’s more in the background. But there’s a bunch of guys doing some New York-ish stuff.

Did you get any help from other bass players or drummers?

Yeah some. Little bit. Here and there. Actually, my friend Mike Valerio hooked me up with my first film score stuff.

Tell me about film scores.

Well, you just have to be able to read. Not just sheets but also mind reading. The composers mind. Those guys do a lot of stuff with MIDI and some of it needs to be interpreted. Some of it they want you to play as it’s written and some of it is more like a suggestion. So you need to figure that out. Actually, I haven’t done one in a long time. It’s pretty tight nowadays. There’s just as many movies coming up but things don’t pay as much as they used to and there’s a lot of strange politics going on.

How do you prepare for a studio session?

If they send you the tunes and sheets then you’re ready to go. But a lot of the times the moment you’re familiar with them, they’re gonna change it anyway. So they’ve sent you these demo’s and then they say: ‘We don’t really want it like that and you have to rethink everything. So you just have to adapt and move on. Go with it. But the cool part is that when you’re recording live with other people, like drummers, reimagining the parts will come easier.
But if you’re just doing an overdub session… No wait, it’s also kinda fun actually… You can just create and not worry about stuff. Hmm yeah, it’s interesting, sometimes doing it by yourself is also fun. I do a lot it at my own place.

You have your own home studio?

Yeah.

Don’t you miss the environment with people around giving feedback?

Yeah sometimes that helps.

Guys like Aaron Sterling record their parts at their own house. You record at your house. How about the: ‘You sent your stuff, I’ll play mine on top it’.

I’ve done a record with him that way. Well, it doesn’t bother me. It’s just the way it is nowadays. In fact, sometimes I play worse when I play live in the studio. My performance would not be what it should be cause I’m battling the drums and everyone’s interpretation of time is little different. And when you’re overdubbing you sort of figure that stuff out.

If you had to choose between studio and live, what would it be?

I think I like live better. Especially with this band, the Tedeschi Trucks Band, there’s a decent amount of creating you can do. Every night is a little different. We’re taking stuff different places, which is really fun.

In the Tedeschi Trucks Band you play Oteil Burbridge’s parts. Do you change the recorded parts when you play them live?

It really depends on the track and it all changes a little bit but I basically stick to those parts. I stay in that area. However, some things are not negotiable, you just have to play the exact parts.

Were you familiar with the music you play now with TTB?

Vaguely. Of course I was familiar with it but I wasn’t obsessed with it. And these guys are obsessed with it so I had to do a 180. Cause I played with Wayne Krantz for so long, which is very experimental. And Wayne told me to play original, don’t play derivative. Don’t try to sound like anyone else. So i really avoided it for a long time. It just didn’t work in Wayne’s trio. Now I’ve come around and gotten better at playing within a tradition.

Do you listen a lot of records in that genre?

Here and there. I mostly listen to the TTB originals. And it’s playing a lot of I-Vs. Willie Weeks is similar. I like him better cause his sound is bigger, he’s amazing. So yeah there’s a lot of stuff going on, which I wasn’t used to.

How do you keep developing yourself after playing for so many years?

I just try to play music with musicians that kick my ass! Like Mark Guiliana. All the guys that are young and and all the guys that just smoke. Those guys reflect what’s going in the music today. So that’s fun. At least you have keep involving yourself in projects, even if you don’t have a lot of time. Always say yes. There’s always something you can learn from it. And it forces you to grow.

Is there stuff you say ‘no’ to?

Latin music. But nobody calls me for that so that’s OK. Or serious bowing on an upright.

How did you get into electronic music like Drum & Bass?

Because of Zach Danziger. And also Jojo Mayer. And I know Deantoni Parks was doing it but I never met him during that era. It was late 90’s, early ’00s in NY. We were doing live drum and bass sets so I was trying to emulate those sounds, which was really fun.

What effect pedals do you use?

It used to be al lot of BOSS OC-2 but now I have my my signature pedal by Three Lead Audio. Those guys are making some new stuff that is incredible. And I use some distortions, little tremolo here and there. And a lot of delay. I use the Carbon Copy Bright by MXR. It’s less thick than the regular Carbon Copy. I try to do specific things with it. Either crashy, huge chords, or some Roger Waters stuff.

How did you get to know KNOWER?

Haha they we’re fans of mine! I hate to say that, cause I’m a huge fan of them. They like Rudder and Wayne Krantz, and Louis is a big Keith Karlock fan. They just started showing up to gigs and I ended up doing a quick tour with them, before it was KNOWER, just Louis and Genevere. And were doing a CAN cover project with KNOWER. I’m looking forward to that.

What music do listen to nowadays?

Uhm… I’m really into this band called Fink. That band is incredible man! Did you see the concert he did in The Concertgebouw, where they play Sort of Revolution and he sits down with the delay pedal? He got the Roland RE20. That’s my favorite band. Martin Vink (Dutch drummer) gave me the Distance and Time record and I was like: ‘What?!’. And than on KCRW I heard Sort of Revolution and on The Walking Dead there was Warm Shadow. I didn’t really get Perfect Darkness until six months ago, cause I was really into Sort of Revolution and Hard Believer. And than my friend said I had to listen to Perfect Darkness and of course it’s the best record ever. Are the big in Holland?

They are.

I love them, I’m obsessed with them. And I like Jose Gonzalez too, and Junip. I want them to do another Junip record, that would be great. But I really like Jose’s Veneer record, the one with Heartbeats on it. And if you read Fink interviews, there would be no Fink without Joze Gonzalez.

Any other records?

Let me look at my f*cking iPod. Uhm… Beck, any Beck record. Bobby Bland. He’s an old blues singer and he did some records in the 70’s that are really good. Flying Lotys of course. And Here We Go Magic. That’s a really cool band. This record, A Different Ship, was produced by Rigel Godrich. The guys who did the Radiohead records. LCD Sound System is a guilty pleasure. Oh, and Deadmau5. That’s great.

What are the new projects you’re working on?

David Bowie! There’s a new single coming out this Friday. I’m really excited about it because I can finally tell people about it. It’s one of those $100.000-fine-if-you-leak-information-projects. The band is basically Donny McCaslin’s band with members of Mark Guiliana’s Beat Music (Mark Guiliana, Tim and Jason Linder). It’s crazy. They’re releasing it November 19th, it’s a 10 minute track with a really cool music video.
And I’ve been working with Empire of the Sun. I’ve been writing with Nick Littlemore (Nick Littlemore forms Empire of the Sun with Luke Steele) a lot. I co-wrote the single for the new record. That’s the fun thing about LA, that stuff just kinda happens.

What do you do when you’re not making music?

I ride bikes.

Well, you came to the right country then.

And I’m obsessed with American Football. I always wanted to be a sports announcer. Man… I need to go. My soundcheck starts in 5 minutes!

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