Tim Vantol interview (Hit The Deck 2015)

Last week at Hit The Deck, we checked out Tim Vantol and his band, and were so impressed by them that they made it into the top three of our picks of the festival – read the full review here. We also took the chance to catch up with the singer/songwriter himself where he opened up on his lack of understanding in promotion, but his limitless enthusiasm for making music.

My name is Tim Vantol from Amsterdam, Netherlands, and I’m here right now in Nottingham.

You used to be a solo act and you then acquired a band – why did you decide to make the change, and how did you go about choosing the band?
I started solo because I wanted to keep on touring, but then I started to miss the band, and what we did back then was once a year I’d get a band together, I’d grab all these people that I’d met on the road from different countries, get them all back to my place, practise for two days and hit the road, and that last one, I think it was 2013, was such a good one, such a great tour, and then I decided that we needed to do that more than once a year. So I just got some friends, back then it was all from different countries and it’s still a bit spread out, but it’s good right now. Like, the bass player, he’s always been there, I think I will never get rid of him, and I don’t want to get rid of him, he’s a good dude, he’s one of my best friends. the other two guys, the old guitar player left early this year so the one I’ve got now is a good friend who helps out sometimes, and the drummer is a replacement drummer as well, as out other drummer has a good job, a normal life so he can’t come all the time, so he tries to help us out as good as possible. So that’s the story of the band.

So you’re from Amsterdam; do you prefer playing shows where you don’t know the places, or hometown ones?
Well, I don’t play that much in Holland.
How come?
Good question. It’s Holland. I play most of my shows in Germany, that’s my biggest market – I hate the word, but that’s a fact. I love Germany, for music it’s such a good country. If I prefer to play shows where I’ve already been or new ones, I think in new places I love to play as a support act for when people are like “I’ve never heard it, but I like it”, that’s the best thing ever. But I also like seeing how things are going – one time you play for five people, next time you play for ten people, it’s a long way but it’s good.

You’ve already played your set here today – we thought it was brilliant, how do you think it went?
Thank you – it was nice. It’s the same as yesterday, you get like ten minutes to changeover and you get to play a set of like twenty five minutes – I love that. I’m not lazy, I love to play a long set as well, but in front of new people I think it’s good to give twenty five minutes full of energy just to give it all that you’ve got, play all the songs that you like the most and get off stage again. Everyone was singing along so it was a nice show for us too. When we play it’s always good, it doesn’t matter what’s going on, cause my friends are there and we have a good time always; maybe if something bad happens or the sound is terrible, then sometimes we’re bummed out, but then sometimes we go out and have a good time anyway. I think that’s the best thing about me in band situation, the guys I have around me, I pick them out, and I don’t want to play with session musicians  – I want to do it with friends. Being on stage is  tiny little part, it’s twenty five minutes in a whole day, and the rest of the day you want to spend with friends.

Who else are you going to see at the festival, is there anyone you’d recommend?
John Coffey, those are our friends from Holland. They’re good, they’re like an awesome live band, and I really want to see Cancer Bats.

You released the special edition of your album this year – how do you decide what you want on an extended edition?
The special thing was a session record that I released already before. I’m just a guy, give me a guitar and I will play my music, just leave all the “how can we give them extra things”, or whatever, leave all that to other people. I’ve always been like that with this whole music thing, my first ever tour was in the UK as well, and I played on front of five people, sometimes two, sometimes twenty people, and every time you come back, you see they’ve brought some friends, and that’s exactly how it goes for me. I don’t know anything about marketing bullshit, I don’t know anything about promotion, and if people like it, then let people talk with their friends and let them bring their friends and that’s what it’s all about for me, and luckily I’ve got some help from other people and they know how it works. I always start to panic, like, “we can’t do this, I can’t go on tour that costs me money, that’s bullshit”, and they’re like, “yeah, but next time-“, and I’m like “I just want to make music, you guys do whatever you want”. I still have everything under control, but a lot of people know how it goes, and I don’t know how it goes. I just want to make music. If there’s five people smiling, that’s victory, if there’s one person smiling, I’m happy, of course if there’s a thousand people, that’s great, but for us that’s not a difference. If we sell two CDs it’s like, “eh, we only sold two CDs and we have and a long way to go and it would be nice to fill up the gas tank”, but then we’re like “two CDs! Two people got two new CDs! That’s great”.

And finally, what are your plans for the rest of the year?
Well, hopefully when I get home they won’t give me more last minute stuff, like, “I was supposed to write a new record, how the fuck am I going to do that?”, so after this run I return home for one and half months and then I’m back for some UK festivals, festival season, a German run, that’s going to be amazing, and then at the end of the year some things are gonna happen, and then in January the new record will be here and we’ll be all over the place with a fresh start. I’m excited.

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