There’s no denying that Tim Nelson is one of Australia’s most dynamic and accomplished folk-rock talents. Having supported bands like Birds of Tokyo and Hoodoo Gurus over their seven-year stint, his band Tim Nelson and the Infidels has grown an undeniably impressive following. Having released their sophomore album last year, the group has hit WA’s music scene like none other in recent memory. This month, Nelson is performing solo at the Lights Out Arts Festival. Music writer Tom Munday caught up with Nelson to chat about performing solo, is inception into Perth’s music scene, and the band.
How did you break into the music scene?
Peter (Forgus, drums) and I had a band called The Cartridges in high school; Myspace was the thing to do if you were in a band and through that we got in touch with other bands around town. Our first gig was in Northam with The Novocaines around 2006. Their singer, Corey Marriott was telling me one day about getting out there and making things happen for yourself, rather than waiting for gigs to come to you, so I picked up the phone book and looked up every hotel & pub I could find, called them up, asked for the person who booked live music then lied and said I was the manager, to seem more professional. I think I was sixteen.
How did you and your band The Infidels come together?
I was playing solo a lot and recording at home. I’d layer up every song with different guitar parts and harmonies and wanted a band to play with and replicate that. Putting the band together was merely a case of asking my friends who I thought were awesome musos and would suit the music, I showed them the songs which they liked and said they’d do it, and that was that!
What goes into each song you write and perform?
It’s a very shambolic, non-formulaic process during which lyrics & music somehow get written, at some point, but it’s hard to get more specific. Sometimes a lyric falls into your head or sometimes to pick up the guitar and all of a sudden an A minor chord sounds different to how it did yesterday, and then songs start to happen. In the band we give a lot of attention to the parts and the arrangement. There isn’t a lot of people just playing along, we’re tend to put every bit under the microscope until it feels done.
You’ve toured extensively across Australia and have developed a strong cultural following. What makes our music scene so emphatic and diverse?
Perth’s music scene, or community, is very self congratulatory which is great I think – we have things like WAM and RTR’s In The Pines festival amongst others, which is all about supporting each other and patting ourselves on the back. You go to places like Sydney and it feels like the bands don’t have that sense of community, it’s more competitive. Perth’s so isolated that it feels like we don’t make a big deal out our bands, no one will, and in turn it feels like you’re a part of something rather than just another band fending for themselves.
What have been your tour highlights and lowlights so far?
Being on tour is awesome, it’s really like one big holiday trip with your friends, and you get play shows as well. I wouldn’t say this is a lowlight necessarily, but there is a realisation upon having played in other cities, that it’s a big wide world out there and your band is but a blip on the radar, and you’re gonna be pushing your shit up a very steep hill for a very long time before you make a break, it seems. To me that’s exciting, and after every tour I just want to get back out there and keep working, but it can dishearten some people.
What will you bring to this year’s Lights Out Arts Festival? How important are music festival like these to Perth music culture?
I’ll be playing on my lonesome, some new songs and some old songs, and as per usual I have no idea what rubbish might come out of my mouth on stage. Events like this make the city come alive and it’s important to have a vibrant culture in any city.