A Chat with Slim Tin Fox (24.06.2020)

Slim Tin Fox is here to make the soundtrack to your action movie. The band includes TJ Lynn (vocals, composer), Arthur Lopes (bass), Robert Grehan (guitar) and Justin Capocci (drums). Bringing raw tracks to the scene, the band has released their new single ‘Molly’. We sat down with vocalist TJ Lynn (TJL) to talk about the new track, their music and much more!

OSR: What drew you to the music industry?

TJL: I don’t think any of us were necessarily drawn to the “music industry” per se, but we’ve all been drawn to music at an early age as kids. I was listening to the Eagles and Guns N’ Roses in my dad’s car as a kid and I’ve been actively seeking out music I liked ever since. After learning the basics of guitar, I realized it was a hell of a way to get out frustration and some self-therapy.

But the scene in Ireland makes me happy. There’s honest to god top tier talent playing at some of the coolest and nicest venues and pubs that I’ve ever seen. The current music scene in Ireland in terms of playing rock and roll is very small, which makes it easy for new bands to mix with other musicians and to play shows. However, getting exposure and potentially making the big break on the Irish music scene is very hard, even if you are a really good band. The possibilities to play shows, express yourself and showcase your talents, however, is second to none for any type of music that you are playing.

OSR: What sets your music apart?

TJL: I often seek out other musicians in our genre, hard rock and alternative and there are tons of talented people out there. However, what I’ve been paying attention to lately is the production. It’s so difficult, especially when recording, to capture rock and roll energy. Often I find it too clean, too sterile, which I think is at odds with the energy of rock and roll. If you want a clean sounding song, great! But I don’t think its rock and roll.

I subscribe to the Funhouse album by Iggy and the Stooges sort of rock production and maybe we overdo it ourselves! However, I figure it’s better to be two feet out the door in a certain direction, rather than one foot out and one foot in.

That’s what you can find in our music. Grit. Attitude. Energy. With a production that does that justice.

OSR: What has been the most challenging aspect of your current release?

TJL: The most challenging aspect is figuring out what to do with our music when we’re ready to release it. Do we release singles? Do we dump it into a full album and throw it out there?

As a whole, it’s up to interpretation on whether the music industry is a necessary “evil”. Like we can release and promote our own music but at the end of the day what do we get?

We have to organize all the shows and promote ourselves, which takes away from musicianship. We also don’t see a return financially on our investment, but we oversee our own music. Right now, we live for playing shows in front of a crowd which is hopefully to resume shortly. Without someone taking 20 – 40% of your creation, how do you get to the next level? What are you willing to sacrifice to get there?

There’s only so much you can do on your own as an artist. Spotify doesn’t pay much. So you have to look at what you want out of yourself as an artist. Do I want to trade a percentage of my hard work to maybe get on a bigger stage or keep busting my ass as an independent musician for maybe no return other than the satisfaction of playing shows and owning our music? That’s where we are at. So as a whole, I don’t know what the solution would be, but we as a band we are torn between “drinking the kool-aid” or not.

OSR: When did you start writing music?

TJL: As a band, we starting writing immediately when we formed in 2018. Personally, I started writing music when I was about 14 or so. Had been playing the guitar for a few years and wanted to put some words to go with my hands.

OSR: What inspires your writing?

TJL: Hmm, lots of things. A very private battle with bipolar disorder gives me a lot to write about. I think it helps and hinders my work in different ways. Do many artists deal with some sort of mental struggle or illness? Or series’ of tough life circumstances? I would say yes.

Think about it, right? Music is something you work on in private, to perform in public. So there’s an enormous amount of creative energy and introspection that goes into working on this stuff privately. Then you get up and perform this stuff, this private stuff, publicly? Takes a bit of a loose hinge to even consider that in the first place.

OSR: Which musicians do you admire and why?

TJL: Iggy and the Stooges blew my mind the first time I heard them. Just the rawness of it, the “not give a fuck” attitude of the vocals. Also, the poetry of Bob Dylan, Lou Reed and Neil Young. The weirdness of the Pixies, experimenting without losing themselves. The political stance and energy of Bikini Kill and Rage Against the Machine.

Slim Tin Fox

OSR: How do you handle mistakes during a performance?

TJL: Ah, just go with it! No one’s gonna notice and if they do, fuck it! Performances should be a time to reward yourself with all your hard work. Get loose and if you’re lucky like me, you’ll have three other buddies on their instruments covering up your mistakes.

OSR: Which musician would you like to collaborate with?

TJL: I’d actually like to get into more electronic/synth sound, but keeping it punk. Sort of like Le Tigre. Hopefully, I’ll meet some like-minded people then we can make that happen.

There’s a band I really like called Rincs (LA), would like to do something with them someday. This band called Chemtrails is also fantastic. Fang Club out of Dublin is also great, maybe there’s a future show or collaboration in the works?

OSR: How has your music evolved since you started playing together?

TJL: Well, personally I’ve learned to let go a little bit by answering these questions myself. Like, we’ve learned to be open to each other and also importantly to scrap things that just aren’t working with no hard feelings. Some songs don’t work for our sound. That’s ok, they’ll have a second life somewhere else.

We’ve also started to get more experimental. ‘When I Get Off’ is a good indicator of where we’re at currently. Look forward to more stuff like that.

OSR: What advice would you give to someone wanting to enter the music world?

TJL: Not everyone can create something from nothing. Not everyone can muster up enough confidence to take something personal and put it up for judgement in front of strangers.

You’re gonna make mistakes. You’re gonna write bad songs. You’re gonna have a bad performance because the sound guy is shit. Be happy you have those life experiences. Most people never get on a stage or broadcast their interior life to the world.

There’s a great song by Modest Mouse that kind of says it all, ‘Missed the Boat’ off the album We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank:

Tiny curtain's open, and we heard the tiny clap of little hands
A tiny man would tell a little joke, and get a tiny laugh from all the folks
Sitting, drifting around in bubbles, and thinking it was us that carried them
When we finally got it figured out, that we had truly missed the boat
Oh, and we carried it all so well
As if we got a new position
Oh, and we owned all the tools ourselves
But not the skills to make a shelf with
Oh, what useless tools ourselves

Sometimes as an artist, you’re lured into thinking that people need you, but I find that in the music industry that’s not the case. They don’t need you at all. Audiences don’t need you. You need them and even if you have all the tools, you still need someone who knows what they’re doing to open a path for you.

I may sound pessimistic, but I’m really not! I sort of understand the reality of it and it’s a bitter but acquired taste.

Thanks to TJ Lynn from Slim Tin Fox for chatting with us! You can find more about Slim Tin Fox on their website, Facebook, YouTube and Spotify.

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